One of the most difficult things to navigate when it comes to improving our health via getting stronger or getting leaner is understanding how the inherent stress of dieting or training adds (or takes away) from the stress of our lives.
The last two months of my life have been some of the most stressful of recent memory. Between my side of the family and my wife’s, we’ve seen multiple health issues come up which not only have an emotional impact on us but require us to spread our time around to help every family member in need.
In the midst of that is parenting, running a business and trying to keep enough in the tank to focus on the marriage.
Stress is a constant. Sometimes we have more of it, sometimes we have less of it, but it’s just as much a part of our lives as oxygen.
Just last week, I was only able to work two full days at my studio because I needed to be out of town for a family health procedure.
On the days I was able to make it in to work, I knew I needed to focus on getting as much work done as I could, still try and fit in my own training and keep myself well nourished so I didn’t run out of steam.
It’s days like that where I have to remind myself: Don’t push too hard, you don’t have it in the tank.
You probably know the feeling.
For some people, they use stress in their lives as a reason to not focus on themselves. They’re pulled in too many different directions and they forget to prioritize themselves.
I try not to make that mistake.
If I don’t care for myself, everything else suffers: work, training, sleep, family dynamics, etc.
But I do have to keep a constant conversation with myself over what I can realistically handle and where I have to pump the brakes.
It’s not an open invitation to do nothing, it’s an invitation to lay all of my priorities in front of me and determine what needs the most of my energy right then and there.
It’s one of the main reasons why progress is rarely linear.
And we have to figure out:
Where do our goals fit into the picture?
How do our values line up with our decision making?
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel where things invariably slow down so that we have the energy to fill our cups?
Fortunately, things are starting to slow down for us over the next week or so. That may not mean “calm” but it does mean “calmer”.
You have to take those opportunities when they come.
And if you have goals that matter to you, keep up that mental conversation: Is it time to press the gas or do I need to pump the brakes?
(Photo courtesy of Jan Kopriva)