"No pain, no gain" was THE mantra of my 30's. After all, it was the mindset that allowed me to lose 84 pounds in one year, when I was 29 years old. It was the resounding battle cry that kept me at maintenance weight throughout my thirties. I thrived on challenging myself. Once I achieved certain physical goals, I created new ones so that the summit of those goals kept getting higher and higher. And I loved every time I raised that bar. I was my own biggest competitor. Now in my mid forties, as I sat before the physical therapist to relate to him what led me into his office, a lightbulb lit up for me. Instead of thinking, "Could I?", I must start thinking, "Should I?" Could I lift those crazy, heavy dumbbells above my shoulder line? I suppose I could, but SHOULD I? After all, I'd torn my rotator cuff and it was the reason I was in the physical therapists's office in the first place. Could I leg press more than my own body weight? I suppose I could, but SHOULD I? After all, I have a small piece of chipped bone lodged somewhere in my patella as a permanent reminder of an old running injury. It's very humbling but I believe this shift in thinking will keep me safe and vital in the long run. Because what good is being able to lift unreasonably heavy weights if it forces me into months of physical therapy, possibly even surgery, and to teach my classes with an arm brace? What good is immersing myself in endless bouts of high impact cardio if I am not able to enjoy a good quality of life... to sleep fully, to do my daily chores without much pain or effort, and to relax? I realize now that satisfying my ego has consequences and I've learned to weigh what those consequences will cost me, my family, my extended network of wonderful people. So now, I have a new battle cry: I will work out to my heart's content and delight but will do so within the limits of what is smart and sustainable. I will keep in mind that holding back, a little sometimes, will keep us going for the long term. And isn't that why we work out anyway?