One short year ago, I was on a mission to lose weight. My ultimate goal was to get down to a normal BMI, and the only way I knew how to do that was through hard work, discipline, and giving 125% every single day to my efforts in the gym. My 125% plan included a 6 day a week training program that consisted of weight lifting and cardio every single day for at least 2 hours, usually spilling over onto the three hour mark. I would leave the gym every day practically dragging myself to my car, feeling completely spent without an ounce of energy left in me and my version of “recovery” meals looked more like a light snack. Even with the small amount of calories I was consuming to help my body recover from my training, I was constantly worried about any calories over 100 that I was eating.
This pattern helped me lose just over 40 pounds in 8 months – and then I hit a wall.My rapid progress quickly turned to an agonizing crawl where I measured every quarter pound I lost and punished myself for every tenth of a pound I gained. This daily self-harassment seemed normal to me – I was just following my goals. I was doing whatever it took to get down to my goal weight – and from where I was standing, there was nothing wrong with my methods. After all, every health forum pounded the same rhetoric into my head day in and day out, “Eat Less, Work More!”, “Go Big or Go Home!”, “Give it all you’ve got!” and the list goes on. But the grim reality I eventually faced was that in giving my all, I was working against myself and my progress.
What I faced was a common problem most folks face when they’re trying to get fit. We give everything we have to workouts. We pour heart, soul, sweat, and tears into lifting, running, swimming, biking, whatever our drug of choice is. But at the end of the day, we give so much of our efforts to breaking down muscles and speeding up heart rates, that we don’t have any energy left to pour into taking care of ourselves and rebuilding to our bodies.
Giving 125% every single day to your goals is essential to making your dreams a reality. But what’s more important than giving that 125% is where you’re putting all of that effort and drive. If you’re facing the issue I faced, giving 125% of your vision to the gym isn’t going to do you any favors. It is so tempting to workout until you feel like you can barely stand, just to feel accomplished and like you did something. But so many people forget that the end of your workout is when the real work starts. They say the real work on your fitness goals starts in the kitchen – and they’re absolutely right! Once you’ve given your sweat session it’s time, your focus needs to move towards rest and recovery – because your body will not progress unless you give it the tools to do so.
Take a look at your fitness routine: are you working out until you can’t stand? And going home to count every single calorie that goes in your mouth? If you feel like you’re giving everything you have to the gym and not seeing any progress, it’s time to think about giving your all by refocusing your efforts and toning it down. Toning it down can sound scary, especially when you’ve been giving the gym everything you’ve got and don’t want to see your progress falter. But toning it down doesn’t mean you need to stop working out! It only means easing up on the intensity and going hard on the rest days and recovery meals. It means giving yourself the grace to still be standing after you’ve lifted for the day, or ran a shorter distance than usual, or even swam a few minutes less than normal. But it also means taking that extra energy left over and putting it into your recovery. It means giving your body the food and fuel it needs to repair everything and make you stronger and keep you going. It means adding in a rest day because your body could use a day without the stress!
Easing up on workouts may be difficult to come to terms with – but ultimately, it could be the best way to boost your progress and keep yourself healthy!