"You know you're hooked when taking a rest day takes more discipline than working out." I came across this quote on Instagram today and it pretty well sums up what I've been struggling with over the last few weeks.
While I hate for anything to get between me and my goals, and until last week was firmly of the hustle-'til-it-happens mindset, I have come to learn - the hard way - the immense importance of rest and recovery.
I know I'm not the only one who over-commits and tries to do too much, so I thought I'd share this experience to try and prevent some walls from being hit.
I'm a go-getter. I'm ambitious and driven and a little bit obsessive... I have trouble saying no to opportunities and over the last few months I've had a lot on my plate.
I've been attempting to balance a full time work week with a 6 day training program, a uni subject, a couple of days of looking after my sister AND studying my personal training certificates. I was also planning my 21st.
None of these things do I not enjoy or not want to be doing. So no problem, right?
I burnt out, I crashed, I hit the wall - hard.
I went from feeling and looking the best I have (possibly ever) to exhausted, self-destructive and completely unmotivated. Maybe I hadn't been sleeping quite enough, but my training was good? My diet was fine? My workload had definitely been higher?
First I noticed that my training wasn't showing the same results. No one knows your body better than you do, and I felt like I was starting to go backwards - less definition, more aches, less energy. I even lost the desire to train - a completely foreign notion as for the last few months training was probably my highest priority (see the opening quote).
So I didn't want to train, I'd started craving chocolate and carbs, and I wanted to go out and party for the entire weekend. Even when I trained I felt the endorphins and the buzz in my body, but my mind was not on board.
For someone who's go to fix for anything is a work out, I was lost.
I'd had a few concerned colleagues suggest taking some time out, but it took a couple of different situations to show me what is now obvious. The biggest of these was a PT/coaching seminar I attended the other week.
The presenters told us about the importance of managing our clients recovery and about cumulative stress.
In order to progress positively you need to allow recovery from all stresses placed on the body - not just training. This hit home. While I was allowing recovery from my training, I was blatantly ignoring the effect all my other commitments had on my body and stress levels.
When I left the seminar and only made it through half of my squat program I admitted defeat. I needed to step back.
It's not fun to say you're not invincible, that you need time out. It's hard to admit you can't do it all. But I was at the point where I didn't recognise myself and the way I was feeling so I made some changes.
I switched back to a fully Paleo diet for a few days to help my body reset and I promised myself that for the next week I would get an extra hour of sleep per night - at least (compared to the previous week). I also de-loaded my training for the week: I cut out the excess cardio, dropped the weights listened to my body.
The results were incredible, and I think the sleep played the biggest part. After making these changes for just five days I felt myself again: energetic, motivated and ready for anything and everything.
On Saturday I got a new squat PB, on Sunday I worked, trained and played an awesome game of soccer. Yesterday I was sore and didn't have much time to train, but told myself that is okay and spent the evening relaxing with my family.
Today I hit a couple more PBs on deadlifts and hip-thrusters.
I'm still doing everything I need and want to be doing, I've just learnt the importance of listening to what my body needs, and knowing that just because my program says I should be doing x number of reps on a certain day, if my body's not up for that I need to be accepting.
I've learnt that turning my phone off and getting that extra hour makes all the difference, that I can do a workout in an hour if that's all the time I have, that a cheat meal can be used as fuel instead of 'I need to burn that off'.
If I need to do the school pick-up, or finish an assignment I can be angry that I'm going to miss a session or I can be grateful for the rest my muscles will get, and use that as motivation to go hard tomorrow.
I've still got a way to go to work out the perfect balance, but I have more respect for my body than ever. I hope this has helped a few of you in some way, whether to inspire some downtime, or to show that we all have our little challenges and that's completely fine - as long as you can grow from them.
This was a setback but it's one more lesson learned. I've got my fire back and there's goals that need chasing! So watch this space!