Like every other person in the country, I’ve started out the new year recommitted to my exercise regimen. I will lift! And kick! And jog! And it will be great and my pants will fit again!

You know how when you work out hard, you get sore muscles? It’s a good sore, that satisfying feeling of “yeah, my quads ache a little, but that means it’s working!” Sometimes I will even casually drop it into conversation, saying smugly, “yeah, my arms are so sore! I’ve been working out!”

You know what’s good for achieving that effective smug sore muscles feeling?  That  30 day shred everyone talks about. I have it. I love it.

Except. Recently I’ve noticed that when I do vigorous shredding, it hurts my back. I have had over a year of back and neck problems, which required several months of physical therapy, and so am very sensitive to things that hurt my back or neck, and avoid these things at all costs. (Or regret them immediately afterward. I’m looking at you, California Screamin’.)

excellent for people with neck pain.

Fast and upside-down roller coaster: excellent for people with neck pain.

So I’ve been having an internal struggle about whether to stop doing the Shred.

I’ve been making a list of pros and cons.

only 20 minutes

back pain

arms are looking AWESOME

back pain

Pants fitting better

Involves doing a bunch of maneuvers, like push ups, that force me to confront the reality that our rug is kind of gross and could really use vacuuming.

“Feeling like a badass” level has increased one million percent.

back pain.

It’s been going on like this for a few weeks now, this pro-ing and con-ing.

Yesterday, after doing level 2 (I’ve downgraded to doing mostly levels 1 and 2 because of the back pain) I filled John in on this debate.

“So what do you think?” I said.  “Should I stop doing the shred?”

“Um,” he said.

“What?” I said.

“Seriously?” he said.

“WHAT?” I said.

“Where does your back hurt?” he said.

I indicated generally throughout the back region, especially in the mid back.

“Dude, those are your lats,” he said.  “Those hurt because you are SORE.  From LIFTING.”

“Erm…” I said.

“Do you have any spasms?” he asked.


“Pain in your lower back?”


“Pain in your actual neck, where it was hurt last time?”


“Were you not aware that you also have muscles in your back? And that probably half of the exercises you just did are designed to work those muscles?  That, in fact, strengthening those muscles makes it LESS likely that you’ll hurt your back or neck again?”


“What was it you were saying to me smugly the other day about your muscles being so sore but it being the GOOD kind of sore, because it meant you were a workout badass?”


Ahem. So! Excuse to bail on new year’s resolution: foiled! Back to shredding!