Have you ever had one of those times in your health journey when you just feel stuck?
Like you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do, or going through the motions…but not getting anywhere—or not getting anywhere fast enough?
- You’re following “the plan”
- You’re sticking to a routine
- You’re going to your doctors appointments, or your personal training sessions
- You’re seeking out accountability and encouragement
- You’re thinking about your goal every single day
But still…that thriving “you” that you visualized in the beginning seems so far away.
Ruts happen to all of us—ESPECIALLY in the realm of health and fitness.
Those times when you get tired or discouraged in your efforts to…
- Continue the weight gain process in your eating disorder recovery (the “goal” seems so far away);
- Keep trying to avoid social outings with chips and queso and margaritas present—detours from your diet;
- Meal prepping your food for three hours every Sunday (nap time anyone?);
- Add one more rep or 5 more lbs. to the bar at the gym—but keep missing out on your goal PR;
…And sometimes you just want to throw in the towel.
You’re tired of trying so hard.
So what to do about it?
Yup. You heard me right.
You have permission to stop trying so hard.
Take a break.
Sometimes we just need a break—whatever the goal may be to well, just be.
This applies to any human on planet earth–those trying to lose weight, gain weight, eat healthier, get fitter, be more successful…
It’s like that saying that goes, “Love finds you when you least expect it…”
Sometimes, your goal or the thing you are thinking and trying so hard to achieve will find you when…you just be.
Pushing Walls Down
Imagine this: You are standing next to a wall. Your friend challenges you: “I’ll give you $100 if you can push it down.”
You’re always up for a challenge and believe 100% in yourself, so why not try?
So you begin pushing.
Pushing. Pushing. Pushing.
Your deltoid shoulder muscles tense up. Your core tightens. You stop breathing as you grunt, and “umph” and sweat. Sweat droplets run down your cheeks from the crown of your head.
But, try as you might…with all that effort and gusto…nothing happens.
The wall goes nowhere.
With some extra elbow action, you actually do make a dent in the wall—but the wall as a whole moves nowhere.
Five minutes later, after all that work, you’re lying on your back on the floor. Trying to recover and get your breath back.
What just happened?! After all, you wanted it. You believed in yourself. You put all you had into it.
But nothing budged. And the only thing you got out of it was a shoulder workout and a bucket of sweat.
What happens when you try to push down a wall with your weight, or body composition, or strict plans?
Often times: the same exact thing.
You make a dent. You make some headway. You start off strong.
But shortly after, with all that trying so hard…nothing budges—or budges fast enough.
Let’s go back to that same scenario.
So you were on the floor, utterly exhausted from all that trying. And you take some deep breaths. You decide the rest of the day to take it easy…to think through things…to think of another way to get that wall to move. You have the space and room to recalibrate, breathe and strategize.
Your friend never said how to push down the wall—she just proposed to push it down.
Why not come back “stronger” with some ammunition—a bulldozer?
The next day, you pull up to the wall, with your handy-dandy bulldozer in tow, and huff and puff that wall down.
Boom. $100 bucks please.
Ok, ok. I know this may seem like it’s far out there, but often times, hacking your health can be the same way.
Taking some time and space to recalibrate, think, re-gain your strength, and just breathe, you may be able to come back stronger and with more gusto to, then, gain more speed towards reaching your goals.
You’ve heard all about how rest and recovery is necessary when you’re training in the gym.
And you know how necessary rest and recovery is on the weekends, in order to attack your Mondays.
Too much work—and we stress our bodies and souls out, which ends up leading to…overwork (or overtraining)…which leads to things like injuries, adrenal fatigue, lack of sleep, lack of social connection, discontent, disconnect from people we love, etc.
In the same way, rest and recovery is necessary in your goal-driven process (whatever your goal may be). Allowing yourself permission to take a break from trying so hard can actually make you stronger and healthier.
In the reverse, stressing and thinking about your goals (and the necessity of “getting there”) all day, every day, can actually lead to physical stress that detracts you further from your goals.
In a study on the physical effects of stress on metabolism, researchers found that yoga practitioners have more rapid post-stress recovery and “faster” metabolisms than non-yoga practitioners, measured by their oxygen consumption and breathing rates. This may seem obvious, but goes to show that mental health and mental stress (or non-stress) can greatly impact our physical bodies.
Another study found that inflammation in the body goes up in direct relation to mental stress. Hints why: Sluggish metabolism, poor digestion, “stubborn weight loss” or slowed “gains” in the gym may happen when you’re constantly thinking so hard about your goals.