Motivation Monday (on Tuesday): A Week Off

Most of my motivation posts this year have been about the workout goal I set myself for the year, and for good reason.  It has kept me on track, motivating me if no one else.  After six months in the gym, I am certainly happy with how I’ve done, but for some reason I expected it to get easier with time.  If anything, it’s become more difficult, and so I did something a stubborn perfectionist like myself really hates: I took a week off.

My week off meant no gym time, no careful measuring of eating habits, and a later wake up time.  And let me tell you, to a guy who gets up at 5am, a 6:30am wake up is bliss.  Why did I do it?

I was tired.  I had been working out for 29 weeks with few missed days, and even though I was stronger, and my workouts were still great, I felt a lot of apathy toward working out, and found myself taking more days at home going for a walk instead of hitting the iron.  It makes sense to a point.  The summertime warmth and freshness is something a Canadian needs to take advantage of.  the problem was that I was using it as an excuse for an easier morning.  My eating habits had deteriorated as well.  I found myself allowing a few extras here and there, which is not good for a person that needs strict dedication to maintain an eating plan.  Put these two factors together and I was seeing the results of my corner cutting.  I wasn’t growing stronger, cutting fat, or building muscle.  Everything seemed to hit a wall.

So why a week off? Isn’t that making things worse?  What if I never go back to the good habits that have improved my health this past six months?  These were the questions I kept asking myself, but then one question stood out: If my motivation is half-assed to begin with, what’s the point of doing it at all? If I want to see results, I have to give it my all, and if it meant taking a week to reflect and refresh, then it would be worth it.  So in the spirit of experimentation, I went against my perfectionist nature, and took a week.

I didn’t go crazy.  I still ate well, but made sure I got more nutritious food, as opposed to having a calorie deficit.  I did my best to sleep more, and give my body the rest it needed.  Most importantly, I didn’t work out, giving my muscles time to fully recover from lifting.  I still exercised, played ultimate Frisbee, went swimming, walking, and even ran.  But it was relaxed, not tracked, and it was natural as opposed to forced.

And now you want to know what the results were.  Well they are still coming in, but this morning was my first gym visit in over a week, and it felt good.  I felt like I wanted to be there, like I wanted to have a perfect eating and workout plan again.  I feel like I want to be in the routine again, and I want to be dedicated to my plan to see new results.  I’ll know over the next few weeks if it sticks or not, but I do feel a renewed sense of vigor and desire to reach my goals.

The most important part of it all is that I let go of my ideas of being perfect.  I had to let myself ‘fail’ per se, to release the pressure to keep pushing harder.  It let me step back and remember that goals are marathons, not sprints.  I’ve come a long way in 6 months, and I’m going to keep at it because I know the things I’m doing are working.  I’m excited to see where the next six months take me, and maybe I won’t be 100% dedicated, but I’m certainly willing to give it my best shot.

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