Well, it has officially happened to me. What’s that, you ask? Life. Life has happened and it has shown me the importance of rest for recovery. I will explain in a bit, but first, a little background.
I have been working out consistently, six days a week, for over a year and a half. I have rarely missed a day and because of that, seen some amazing results! However, I’m taking a break this week. I worked out this past Saturday and I will not be working out until this coming Saturday (that is, aside from snow shoveling and maybe going for a walk or two).
Will I fall off the wagon and lose all the results I have worked so hard to gain? Why am I deciding to take this week off? Well, there are several reasons and if you have been or are in the same position as me, let me be the first to say there is no shame in taking a break. In fact, it can be the best thing you can do for your overall, long-term fitness journey.
Physically Speaking – My Body Needs A Break
As I stated, for over a year and a half, I have been working out 5-6 days a week. In order to do that while taking care of family and personal responsibilities, my full-time job responsibilities, and maintaining this website since starting it in November, I have been waking up at 5:30 in the morning.
I work out while listening to worship music, read my Bible, pray, and then it’s off to the races. I start the kids getting ready for the day, get myself ready for work, go to work, get home, do a couple hours of website work, help prepare dinner, play with my kids, spend time with my wife, and try to read a little or prepare for more web work the next day.
Life is busy and when you burn the candle at both ends for long enough, you end up burning out. I’m tired. I’m sore. I can sense my body would do well with a break, and therefore, I am taking it.
To answer the earlier question of “am I afraid of falling off the wagon”, not really. I’m not taking a break because I hate working out. I’m taking a break because I love it and want to be able to give it my best and continue getting the results I have been. I feel that with rejuvenated strength after a week off will do wonders for me.
When I start up again, I’m going to have a week of workouts where I max out to assess where I am and then it will be good to go from there.
My point is, listen to your body. If you are just drained, don’t feel shame if you decide you need a little break. Don’t be afraid that you will lose all your progress. It’s not necessarily the case and, like I stated before, it may just help you.
Mentally Speaking – My Mind Needs A Break
There is a reason that it is good for people to get away and take a vacation. Always grinding away and never taking any time to get away can actually be detrimental to your performance. There is a principle of “sharpening the saw” that I am applying here.
Think about it for a moment. If I am trying to cut down a bunch of trees with the same saw, eventually that saw will get dull. However, if I don’t take some time away from the trees in order to sharpen my saw, then the work will only become more arduous, more tedious, and more frustrating.
It is the same for fitness. I have been grinding away for the aforementioned year and a half. Work has become overly stressful, family life is mentally and physically draining at times, and the go, go, go has hurt my writing. Sometimes you need time away in order to re-focus. Mental breaks are just as important (if not more so) as physical breaks.
For me, if my mind isn’t in it, then it is extremely hard to get my body into it. I have to take care of my mentality above all. It may be the same story for you, and that’s OK!
Combine These Things And You Hit – The Plateau
In the beginning of my workouts, I was progressing at an extremely fast rate, moving up in weight often. However, I’ve found that this has become much more difficult as of late. Now, part of that could be due to the fact that I am getting into heavier weights. However, I think it has to do with reaching a plateau in my journey.
If you have been there before, you know that it can become frustrating when progression screeches to a halt. There are definitely certain things you can do in order to overcome your fitness plateaus, and there is a great article on that topic over at VeryWellFit. However, for the purpose of this article, I want to highlight one of the ideas they touch on: Over-training.
Over-training – The Need For Change
Reading that article has led to my epiphany moment. As I have been writing this, I’ve been putting the pieces of my own case together and I think I am showing some major signs of over-training. It’s actually a wonderful idea to analyze yourself from time to time as it can lead to discovery that can, in turn, lead to change.
Over-training is going too hard for too long. It can leave you stuck in one place. According to the American Council on Exercise (another great read on over-training), there is also the potential for feeling more stress and becoming more agitated.
Let’s see how I’m doing here:
- Too hard for too long? I’ve been working out nearly 6 days a week for a year and a half: Check!
- Plateaus? Workouts have become more difficult and I find it hard to move up in weight: Check!
- Feeling stressed out and agitated? Things with work and family are stressing me out like never before: CHECK!
Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner here.
And So I’m Taking A Break
I’m not sure how this has been for you reading it, but writing this article has been hugely effective for me! I feel like I have discovered the reason for why I am experiencing different feelings, emotions, and physical hindrances in my life at this time.
Therefore, the point I want to hammer home is take a look at yourself and your life the next time you feel you need to take a break. There might just be underlying causes that you never thought of! Then, armed with information and knowledge, take your break! Don’t feel like you can’t step away from something temporarily to assess and re-focus!
I hope that this article, though very personal to me, has been helpful to you as well. Have there been times in your fitness journey (or life in general) that things just caught up with you? Did it take you a while to realize what was going on (hopefully not as long as me!)? Did you find that stepping back and looking at your situation or just taking a break was helpful to you in the long run?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and please feel free to ask any questions you might have!
Rest well, everyone! I know I will!