Lessons for the New Normal: Sad but Fighting My Way Back

Lisbeth Fitness, Inspiration, Mindset

kettlebells and dumbbells in a garage

I woke up this morning feeling sad.

And that worried me because I know what the darkness feels like … and I don’t want to go back in the hole.

We have such loss to process right now:

  • loss of life in the world
  • loss of jobs by friends and family
  • loss of freedoms (temporarily)
  • loss of community (temporarily)
  • loss of our old way of life.

It’s a lot to go through, even if we are lucky enough to still have income and we like the people we are isolated with. Pain is pain – and there’s more than enough of it to go around. We are all grieving and a bit frightened together. And I woke up realizing my old way of coping with sadness just got blown away.

I’ve self-medicated with exercise for pretty much my whole life. I bet it’s the same for some other people.

Life is easier if I remember to lift the barbell, press the dumbbells, and swing the kettlebell. Exercise is my reset button. Hit the gym and, even on the darkest day, I can deal with people and life again.

The barbell has saved my life so many times that it should get a co-pay.

But there’s one other critical element: working out with and near people has been a life-saver too. I like working out alone but I love working out with other people. A small gym isn’t just a gym: it’s a second home. It’s a place where souls come alive. It’s a place full of the family that you find. And it’s a place where – in a world that often makes you feel like you don’t belong – you suddenly belong.

And that’s gone for a while and no one is sure how long that while is. Even though I know we can survive (and I’m appalled at some gym owners not practicing social distancing and/or local laws), all of this distance makes me sad. I like the physical proximity of people.

I love community – and while the internet is a great place, it’s just not the same.

But this is what we have to do for right now and maybe more than that. All we have is right now though, so I’m working out in my garage but I also made a list of what I did that helped me today:

  • I made a calendar.
    • An old-school paper calendar. I’m counting by number the days of social distancing, the workouts, everything that helps me to remember who I am, where I am, and what I’m doing. Remembering the day of the week seems silly but it’s actually really helpful right now.
  • I listened to different music.
    • Plaintive Gillian Welch and Johnny Cash was great for a pandemic (who knew?) but today I put on some Stevie Wonder (“You Can Feel It All Over”) and some Crosby, Stills & Nash (“Love the One You’re With”) and the sky got a little brighter. Up tempo can bring you up.
  • I moved a small kettlebell next to my home desk.
    • A few swings and presses and snatches can feel really good between Zoom calls and emails.
  • I decided not to feel guilty when I laugh. 
    • We have to get through. I’m not laughing at people or situations but I am trying to keep my spirits up. Laughter can be an important component of maintaining an optimal mindset. Don’t feel guilty when you laugh. Be grateful that we still – even in the face of these losses and more to come – have the ability to smile and get through.

What are you doing to get through? What helps you as you establish a new normal?

Let me know. I care and I’m here for you.

And, remember, it’s just a stupid barbell, but it’s one kick-ass weapon against the darkness.

book cover that reads the world is brutal and you must be brave


Like this essay? Find more here. Please note: I’ve dropped the price of my Kindle books to 99 cents during this COVID-19 crisis. When it’s dark and you feel lost, power one up and boost your mindset.


Lisbeth Fitness, Inspiration, Mindset

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