Categories
Wellness

Why I Stopped Being A Gym Rat For Good

I used to be a very active gym rat. But my life-style changed in 2012 to the point where I simply couldn’t sustain the training anymore. I’d put up with these long hours at the gym, but the physical discomfort, the stress and the emotional exhaustion all caught up with me. My physical health didn’t even stand a chance. I had trouble sleeping, I couldn’t manage my diet, I had to go out and do things I’d never do before. It took me 3 years to get off the treadmill and back to real life.

When I began training my first book was a book about eating. I was not only trying to write it, but to share my new understanding of the topic. When I was working on that I found that I had a very particular set of problems. I had a hard time with the most common training problem, I couldn’t keep my weight up. The next most common problem was eating too little. Then I had trouble with recovery, how to make sure I stayed in what I’d call a good “cycling” pattern. Then I also had trouble controlling my mental focus. And the fourth problem was that I was getting tired all the time. I couldn’t get used to just sitting down and doing something (like lifting a few pounds on the bar). That fatigue was ruining me and my whole approach to workouts. With all of this to cope with while in physical form, it seems like a no-brainer to just do a little less. But there is something deeper happening. When I tried to change I found that I could not make myself do it. The problem wasn’t the lack of motivation, but the inability to accept myself. To accept that I can do it; that I am an athlete, that I have been given that gift. I was so used to doing things because those were the things I’d always done. And because you do what you’ve always done, it feels pretty good at times. You try, you try, you try…

It took me some time to realize my own power and find the right way to harness it, but it wasn’t hard. I realized that the reason my fitness is in decline, what I’m unable to cope with, is because of self-acceptance. I needed to do a lot more work when I was already training for my health. I began training for my confidence.

Now, when I say training for my fitness I’m not just talking about the weight room. I’m talking about training for my self-respect (or lack thereof), what I’m able to handle, how I am able to handle it, why I keep doing it despite myself, what I take from it, what I don’t need. It is not a matter of how many calories I can eat to keep from starving, but how I am able to enjoy and enjoy myself when I am training. I am interested in how to be less stressed out, more rested, more relaxed, less exhausted. I am interested in finding my comfort zone (or the “comfort zone” as I like to call it). I’m interested in finding out what my limits are and the limits of my tolerance of pain. So how would someone who’s training for his fitness use these techniques? I know I need to change some aspects of what I’m doing to accept myself. I need to focus even more on doing things that I enjoy and that I am capable of doing. I need to learn how to relax and control what happens to my body. I know I have what it takes to be a good physical therapist. I must learn to do more with my mental focus. I know I am capable of so much more than just the weight room, and I must work from a place that is comfortable. But not just physically comfortable, but emotionally and mentally comfortable, if I want to continue to take this approach and change as I want. I need to understand that no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, there are limits. I have to be open to them, to be ready for them, and to adapt my approach until I am.

I think this is pretty straight forward. To get started with the new self-acceptance training we will want to do the following. Start by looking around and seeing if that “comfort zone” exists for you. Have you found some areas of comfort? Have you found others? Ask yourself if those comfort zones are areas in which you have difficulty? If so take a step back and see what we are talking about. The first thing to do is decide what we are trying to do when we “comfort people” or “comfort the weak”.