I finally got my butt back into the gym last week, after a two-month hiatus.
You heard me: two whole months.
It felt fantastic, of course.
And by it, I mean both the two months off, and the first day back.
Rest and recovery, along with boundaries, have a phenomenal effect on growth – physical, mental, and emotional. Ignoring that is a terrible mistake. Allowing it, encouraging it, is savvy.
I’ve taken breaks before. I’ve taken breaks a week or two at a time, maybe up to a month. And usually, during those breaks, I get pretty antsy to get back to the gym and start working out again. Sometimes for myself, sometimes because I feel like I should.
This break was different though. I didn’t feel any pressure, internally or externally. I let it ride until it felt natural to revisit my workouts. Letting it ride is not exactly my natural state, as you might be able to guess.
But, it turns out, somewhere by the middle of that break, it did start to feel a little more natural, in the best ways. I felt more relaxed in everything I did. My pace wasn’t so frenetic. I didn’t feel regimented or required to do anything other than what felt good, and the bare minimum of what needed to be done.
Physically, I walked a lot. I foam-rolled more than I have in the last two years. I hit a few short circuit workouts in my basement. Other than that, I rested. (And ate a lot of snacks.) I let myself feel a little lazy, and then I let that go too. Because lazy isn’t always unhealthy. Sometimes, it’s a manifestation of pent-up stress with nowhere to go and you have to let it be.
Mentally, I honestly kind of let myself check out a bit. I dialed back my speed, and yes, even my effort. I probably struggled with this the most, frantically texting Marty at least three times a week that I didn’t want to work and felt guilty about it. I let myself feel guilty, and then I let that go too. Because guilty is almost always unproductive. Oddly enough, letting that go gave me a whole lot more clarity on what really needed to be prioritized. And let’s not forget that self-reproach pretty much kills creativity and motivation.
Emotionally, I rode the waves. And powerful waves they were! High highs, low lows, everywhere in between. I think I’ve cried more in the last two months than I did in all of 2018. But I felt everything, and then I let those feelings go too. Because observing your own emotions is always a learning experience. I feel equally stronger and more vulnerable now, but most of all – resilient as hell.
Ultimately, I allowed myself to process for two whole months. I allowed myself to rest, which led to a ton of new growth. I allowed myself to just live.
As I get back into the gym, I’m physically rock solid, I feel great. I’ve been so consistent for years, there was essentially no change in my physique or routine or strength. My muscles didn’t go anywhere. My strength didn’t disappear either. In fact, both probably came back bigger and better because of the break. If I hadn’t taken it, I’d probably be struggling through little nagging aches and pains and having to push harder than I really want to for additional growth.
Mentally, I feel great too – in the gym and outside of it. Prepared. In a groove. Happy. Focused on what’s important, and what I love. In fact, I’ve gotten even clearer on that. I’m not worried about what’s changed in my body over the last two months either. It’s bigger, and no, it’s not all muscle. But I don’t really feel one way or the other about that. I’ve got other things to think about. It sure is nice to have that extra time and energy to spend elsewhere.
And emotionally, I feel equipped. There will always be changes and highs and lows, but having a more intimate understanding of myself and my capacity is making me feel like I can take on anything. Which, I totally can.
In the end, a lot of folks think of me as a gym rat and a workout machine. I usually look fit, so I get it. And I do love bodybuilding and sweating it out and moving my body and eating healthfully and staying healthy. But it’s not all that I am, and even I had to take some time to piece that out. (Living in the world as a “personal brand” is a funny, funny thing.)
The point here is, I know you might not necessarily think taking two months off from working out would be in line with my Big Arms, Big Life® philosophy, but I assure you – it exemplifies it perfectly.
It’s all a continual cycle of effort, rest, trust, and enjoyment.
You can’t skip any of the pieces.
Big arms (or whatever your body part or movement method or performance priority of choice may be) don’t just come from 200 bicep curls a week. They come from thoughtful intent in both work and recovery, with a healthy, healthy dose of fun.
Big life doesn’t just come from pushing and hustling for more of what you think you should have. It comes from having a deep grasp of what you need and want, and then making the choices that reflect that appropriately every single day.
And sometimes, you have to take a break – maybe an extended one – to get clear on all of that. We so often focus on the effort part of the cycle, but we have to pay equal mind to the rest, trust, and enjoyment too.
There’s a month-ish left of summer for most of us here in the northern hemisphere. What would happen if you let it ride for that month? What would happen if you allowed yourself to just live? I have a feeling you might find yourself growing so much you’re bursting at the seams – literally and figuratively.
Just think about it.
Hey, let me know if you’re ready for the effort and enjoyment piece of your cycle. (I mean honestly, trust and rest will still be part of it!) Email me anytime, or schedule a call below to chat about training or coaching or the perfect, personalized combination of both.