Back In The Saddle Again – Sort Of

I feel like crap.

I’ve actually been doing better lately. It seems since the first of the year, every time I tried to get back in the groove and work out regularly, the balloon would burst and I’d quit again.

Two things changed all that.

The first is I have a friend who suffers from ALS who I have coffee with every other week. He was very supportive of my lifting and ever since I stopped, asks if I’ve returned to it yet.

Then there’s my wife. Months have gone by and we’re still paying for my gym membership. I was laid off in April and have since gotten a temp job, but my income has been cut in half, plus I have to pay a ton of money for medical insurance so I don’t get fined by the government (thank you, Obamacare). My membership isn’t much, but we need to cut back everyplace we can.

So finally on Sunday, 29 October, I made another attempt to get back to the gym. It was later in the morning and I’d eaten and was feeling pretty good. I decided “what the heck” and told my wife I was going back. She immediately brightened up since, not only are finances her concern, but so is my general health, physical and mental.

My previous usual strength training routine for Sundays was to do barbell back squats and overhead presses, and then on Thursdays do barbell bench presses and barbell bent leg deadlifts. Those are my main lifts and although I can also do additional assistance lifts, as far as strength training goes, that’s mostly what you need. Other than that, and I’d do several days of cardio and mobility work.

Yes, I’m cold

So on Sunday at 10 something in the morning, I was faced with what to do. I hadn’t worked out on a regular basis since last December, mainly because Snowmageddon here in Southwest Idaho made it hard to get places early in the morning. After that, I just got lazy and enjoyed that extra hour in a nice, warm bed.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I was laid off in April and shortly afterward, my Dad died suddenly. Then there was the job hunt plus trying to help my Mom settle Dad’s affairs and make sure her bills were taken care of. That required a few “road trips” to where she lives in Southwest Utah.

I finally got a temp job but as I mentioned above, it pays very little, though everyone treats me nice.

I’m sure I’ve gained (fat) weight and my health has “wobbled” a bit, so I figured, it was time to get back to living cleaner and harder.

10 something in the gym Sunday morning. The single squat rack was actually available and for a second I thought about using it, but being so run down and weak, I settled for a combination of machines and dumbbell work, still focusing on those areas that would be covered by squats and the shoulder press.

I was sore for days afterward. Serves me right.

By Thursday, I had enough determination to get to the gym by 5 a.m. and actually do barbell bench presses and deadlifts.

They were pathetic, but I remember laying under the bar as I got ready to bench press and it actually felt pretty good.

I did a couple of cardio sessions that week as well, just to ease back into things.

The next week, I experimented with my usual routine, not having any particular weight or rep goals. I just wanted to get my body back to expecting to lift semi-heavy things a couple of times a week.
That’s what gave me my baseline so I could develop my beginning 5/3/1 routine for the older guy. Granted, I’ve lost almost everything, which I expected. I’m almost literally a shadow of my former self. But on the other hand, doing something is better than doing nothing.

Today was the real meal deal, my first day back at lifting using an actual routine.

Like I said, I feel like crap.

My wife had the garage painted Friday while I was at work. The guys will be coming back Monday or Tuesday to finish the job, but on Friday, they put on an oil-based paint. It stinks to high heaven and invaded every part of the house.

Then on Saturday, I just couldn’t get going. I was tired and lazy and didn’t want to do anything. I thought maybe the work week had wiped me out. I even took a nap which was unfortunately interrupted when my wife thought our oven was leaking gas. Fortunately, it wasn’t, it was the paint smell. The Gas Company guy said when you use the stove, it pulls air in from the outside. We’d been airing out the garage, so it must have been sucking that back into the kitchen when she went to cook on the stove.

This morning, I woke up at around 6:30 a.m. intending on making it to the gym by eight. I felt fine at first, but then with my first sip or two of coffee, I suddenly had to run for the toilet and poop. I did that six times, all loose, watery, and yellow, plus I was feeling a little nauseous and my bowels ached.

What the heck was going on?

Sunday was THE DAY. I couldn’t bail now. I had to get my gut in shape and get to the gym.

My gut did actually seem to settle down for the most part, so I hopped in the car and got going.

The gym was already open when I arrived a minute or two before eight. I still wasn’t feeling my best, but sometimes once you get into your workout, you start feeling better.

I checked. No one in the squat rack and for once it was in pretty good shape. I got rid of my hoodie and got to work.

I still felt like crap but pushed through. Mainly, I had a queasy feeling in my stomach and my lower-right gut kind of hurt, which it usually does if I’ve had a lot of bowel movements in a short span of time.

I did it anyway. Thought about quitting half a dozen times but I pushed through the back squats.

Usual people were there and in fact, those first few times I went back to the gym, a number of them made a point of welcoming me back and asking if I needed anything. You’ve gotta love gym rats.

squatting to a bench
Photo:’s YouTube channel

Back squats. I did my warm up set and then my three working sets. This is 5/5/5+ week, so I knew I was supposed to do at least five and hopefully six reps on the 5+ set. I did and was pretty satisfied. I managed three jokers getting 15 pounds heavier on the last one than my max for last week. That’s actually not a surprise because when you’re first starting out this sort of routine or getting back to it after a long time away, your weights are relatively light and you progress forward fast.

It’s when you get more into it that progress is a hard fought battle.

I almost quit after I finished my squats, though. I continued to feel “off” though I tolerated drinking water well. I did my warm up set for the overhead press and thought maybe that should be it.

Nah. I pushed through. Figured I’d do the best I could and let the chips fall where they may.

Went through the three working sets doing six reps on the 5+ set. I did three jokers, although after each one, I wanted to quit. For the last joker, I did the same weight as my max last week but two reps instead of one.

Okay, but for sure, that was it. I still felt pretty bad and instead of doing assistance lifts like I’d planned (we don’t have the grandkids this weekend so technically I had all the time in the world), I just did the usual stretches and called it good. Maybe a total of 40 minutes at the gym. Pretty disappointing.

Getting home, I recorded my numbers and had a protein shake. My gut didn’t like the latter one damn bit and once again I ended up sitting on the toilet two or three more times.

I did a little Googling and drinking water is good. So are bananas and anything with a lot of fiber. Coffee is a no-no as is anything greasy. I did take my supplements with a bit of apple cider vinegar in some water, which sent me to the bathroom again, but apple cider vinegar is one of the things that’s supposed to be good for this.

The first half of the banana sent me back to the bathroom, but I’ve since had a carrot and that worked out okay.

I’m going to try to eat sensibly and rest today and hope that by tomorrow, this miserable condition will go away.

My wife said she’s had fatigue and gut problems for the past week, so it’s either some environmental condition we are both being exposed to or she brought home some sort of bug and it decided to nail me yesterday and today.

overhead press
Photo credit:

My son and his kids will be coming over for dinner tonight, and I hope I feel better by then. Yikes, just when my motivation goes up, my body takes a nose dive.

So much for getting back on the horse again after being thrown.

I haven’t posted a blog before this because every time this year, when I have, thinking I was ready to work again, I crashed and burned. So this time, I thought I’d build up a wee track record before announcing myself online.

Wish me luck. I just might need it.

Oh, WordPress has been misbehaving lately and for some reason won’t let me resize images and it puts them in funny locations when I add them. I can reposition them but sorry they’re so small.

When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.

Eric Thomas


11 thoughts on “Back In The Saddle Again – Sort Of

  1. Good job, Jim. My Jim and I joined a gym last spring, and so far all we’ve used it for has been the sauna, the hot tub, the steam room and the hydro-massage chairs. Pathetic, huh? It’s only $20 a month but still! And then when our son and DiL moved out of the basement, I rejoiced that I could start using the treadmill again.

    Nyuk nyuk.

    Wishing you luck – and blessings. Hope your mom is doing okay, under the circumstances. Did she stay in their home in St. George?



    1. Thanks. My membership is less than $10 a month but it’s pretty much a minimalist gym. Fine by me since I just want to use the weights and cardio machines.

      Yeah, Mom is still in the house which is in an “over 55” community, but with her dementia, she’ll eventually have to live in a more appropriate facility.


  2. Glad to see you back in the saddle. Don’t get hung up on what you WERE doing before your layoff. Just accept where you are and begin working from there. Remember, you didn’t start at the weights you were doing before the layoff. Let TIME be your friend. Respect your body and do the work. Patience and diligence.

    I’m glad you’re okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad to hear your coming back,sorry to hear about all the problems. I am soon to be 68 and still have quite a few aunts and uncles alive,although I just went to a wake for aunt tonite. It was tough to see people you love grow so old and feeble. Even though I have a few aches and pains I try to be consistent with my training. I made a big mistake a few years ago when my wife was ill and let my lifting fall by the wayside.Good luck with your comeback.


  4. What A great Blog. Recently had to retire got a neck glandular problem affecting balance and had a couple of Pope John moments (Sparking out head first kissing the pavement) The old hooter took a real pounding.. Read your blog. After twenty odd years I have started back at the local gym and touch wood my balance and health are slowly improving.. Thank you
    Greg Macclesfield. UK

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Think I’ve found what I’ve been looking for. Guys and gals my age dealing with all that comes with it. Yet still working out and refusing to let the old man in . I’ll be back. Now where have I heard that before.


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