When Regression Rears Its Ugly Head

It’s impossible to physically progress for the remainder of your life. If it’s not the natural bodily breakdown that occurs with aging, it’s injury, or stress, or pregnancy, or an extensive
By Abi Reiland, CF-L1 ,

It’s impossible to physically progress for the remainder of your life. If it’s not the natural bodily breakdown that occurs with aging, it’s injury, or stress, or pregnancy, or an extensive rest period. There are so many things that can steer you off the path of progression that it’s important to be prepared mentally. Here’s the thing: In CrossFit, people come to expect a PR every time they lift the barbell. They expect to maintain every skill they’ve ever learned. And they believe that endurance can be built quickly. And those notions can sometimes develop unhealthy expectations. Athletes need to understand that taking a step backward is inevitable. But regression isn’t the end of your progress.

I’ve been through some things in my three years of CrossFit. At the peak of my performance about nine months in, I began struggling with some severe carpal tunnel. Although not CrossFit-related, the problems progressed to the point that I struggled to hold a bar for more than a few reps because I couldn’t feel my fingers. So I had surgery … one hand at a time, totaling about 16 weeks of recovery. Now while some might blaze the path of posterior work while the paws are unavailable, I’ll admit it was nice to step away for a while, and I did. I lost some strength and stamina and regressed enough to be frustrated. I gradually got back into things once the doc gave the go-ahead. But it took some time to get back to where I was.

It’s no shocker that the high-intensity regimen we all adore burns fat like a mother. So after a few more months back in business, I began to notice some shrinkage in the chest department because of my leaner mass. I’m a thin girl to start and had almost nothing to work with. I’d considered supplementing my existing lady lumps with a little extra, and after a baby and with my new fit bod, it seemed like the right time. So I signed myself up for another surgery — one that would require more intensive recovery and more restrictions. My cautious nature with such a surgery and my doctor’s orders led me to another experience with regression.

Fast-forward six months. Met my now husband, got pregnant, opened our gym in the middle of growing a baby bump, and found myself again, regressing. I wasn’t able to achieve the same intensity and I wasn’t comfortable lifting excessive amounts of weight, so I stuck with moderate training. After the baby, my head told me I could do things my body wasn’t quite prepared for. It took some time and it took some effort, but I made strides to get not just back to where I was but way past.

See? Periods of regression are not permanent. So while they will occur from time to time, you can overcome. It’s important to know that despite where you were, where you are and where you want to be, the progression is not just physical, it’s also mental and emotional. The times I felt my goals were completely out of reach and regression seemed like an impassable obstacle are the times I learned that I can do just about anything I put my mind to. So when regression rears its ugly head, just remember that although progress might not be immediately possible, as long as you’re on the path, there’s potential.

Abi Reiland
Co-Owner/Trainer, CrossFit 8035
Author, prettyngritty.com

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