Published Monday, 12 August 2013
This can be more important than you think when it comes to your training and nutrition.
Recently I have taken a rest from training and my nutritional plan. My healthy lifestyle has definitely seen better days. I have not done any exercise. I have eaten take-aways (of every kind possible!). I have munched on junk food. I have drunk alcohol - a lot of alcohol. I have been sleep deprived. And I have loved it. You may be surprised to hear that I don't feel 'bad' or guilty for it either.
When you're training hard, being very disciplined with your nutrition and making sacrifice after sacrifice to achieve your fitness goals, it can all start to take its toll. Carrying on and 'pushing through' in this situation, isn't always the most productive thing to do. Sure, it shows phenomenal mental strength, physical determination and commitment, but your body may not be responding as well as it could be to all your hard efforts. Instead of reaching your goals faster, this continued dedication may actually lead to injury, frustration, physical burn out, mental exhaustion, and even depression.
So before your body starts to give up on you, and you actually move further away from your goals instead of closer to them... Keep Calm and Don't Carry On.
Your body is a machine. A very complicated machine. And like all machines, it needs some time now and again to rest, refuel, repair and recharge to work efficiently. The thought of taking a break may fill you with dread as you imagine all your months of hard work being wiped out within a week. Don't panic. This isn't the case. You may feel unfit and lethargic to start with (perhaps with a little bit of guilt thrown in if you're the dedicated type), and your muscles may appear softer with a little bit of gained body fat thrown in for good measure too, but you won't lose all the base fitness you have acquired.
Having a break will let your body systems recharge, and will result in the ability to perform at a higher intensity level when you decide to chase those exercise endorphins again.
It's not just your muscles and body systems that need a break. The benefits of having a mental break are arguably more important. There can be great satisfaction of 'letting go'. The joy that accompanies not having to avoid social events or restrict lifestyle options, can be quite overwhelming if you have been focused on your training and nutrition for some time.
The freedom of breaking those mental chains is not to be underestimated, as ultimately it is the mind that drives the passion, the goals, the plans and the physical effort and continued determination.
It is also vital to use this time to revisit your goals and your training strategies. It can be easy to get swept away with the monotony of repetitive habits, however it is crucial you ascertain that your efforts are ultimately working towards your established goals - or you may ask yourself what's the point? So take the time to assess if your choices, training schedule, nutrition and mind-set will be worth it in the end.
Don't feel guilty about taking a break now and again. Embrace it.
Your body and your mind need it. It is part of your overall training plan. So when you feel the progress slowing, or you feel you're starting to struggle mentally, or if you're just not sure why you're doing all this - then it's time to re-evaluate, so Keep Calm and Don't Carry On....just for a while.
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