For the past 11 years I have been a self proclaimed gym rat. I diligently marched myself into the gym on average 3 or 4 times a week. I’d follow some sort of split, or total body routine that I would write up for myself. I’d sprint, deadlift, slam medicine balls, hold planks, push weights, and pretty well exhaust myself with almost every workout. I loved the sweat, and the burn with every rep. I craved the feeling of sore muscles the next day.
But something’s shifted in the last several weeks. My strict workout regime has started to dwindle. I’ve found myself making excuses to not workout, and slowly decreasing my time spent at the gym to, maybe, twice a week on a ‘good’ week. I found myself feeling quite introspective these days. Why is it that I do the things I do? Why am I so obsessed with maintaining this constant level of intensity? After 11 years of pushing my body and still never being 100% happy with results, I’m realizing it’s time for me to shift my focus.
I’m exhausted. I’m so fucking tired of constantly having to battle my internal monologue. Years ago my biggest struggle was just getting to the gym. Once I was there, everything would change. I’d go into my scrawny little version of beast mode, and I’d hit the weights hard, imagining my muscles growing with every rep, visualizing an image of my body that I now realize is damn near impossible for me to attain. Nasty thoughts of jealous would flood my brain every time I’d see a chick pass me with big, defined thighs, a genetic predisposition that I was not blessed with. I could deadlift more than my own weight and probably carry out all of my daily activities lunging instead of walking, and to no avail: my stems were still just little stems, and not thick, powerful tree trunks.
I did eventually learn to focus on how lifting made me feel in the moment versus the aesthetic returns that I wasn’t receiving. And although Envy would poke her nasty little head into my thoughts every so often, I had learned to instead acknowledge the woman’s body that would harbour these thoughts, and then immediately think about a part of my body that I was proud of. And it worked for me.
But here I am again at a crossroad: Do I power through this funk and continue keeping up with my gym workouts? Or do I try something so completely foreign to me like taking a full on break from the gym? Seeing how this is my year of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I’m opting for the latter! Now, while one part of my brain is rejoicing to this surrender, the other part is fighting it fiercely. Thoughts of inadequacy as a trainer are creeping in. “What kind of a trainer are you if you can’t practice what you preach?” “How is anyone supposed to take you seriously?” “You are a role model, what are you even thinking?” Even just writing these words down, I have to take a moment, close my eyes and take a breath.
I have to remind myself that I’m not going into full sloth mode here, I am still using my muscles on the daily: I’m running, I’m practicing yoga, I’m walking briskly every day, I’m out in the mountains as often as I can be, I’m planning on learning how to swim properly (and not like 5 year old like I do now). I’m not pushing weights around, but I’m pushing my own body weight around. I’m feeding my body a diet that is very high in nutrients. I’m respecting my need for rest and change.
It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to try a completely different approach to health and wellness if the one you’ve been practicing isn’t bringing you happiness anymore. I’m not sure when I’ll be back in the gym for a strict strength workout. Maybe it’ll be next week? Maybe it’ll be in a month? All I know is that it’ll be when my soul is craving it, and not when my brain is guilting me into it. And I know that it’ll be spectacular when it happens for that reason alone!