In the last post, we talked about how many of us may not be pushing ourselves hard enough in our workouts. We may be sabotaging our own results because we’ve become comfortable with being comfortable.
Now I want flip the switch: for every 10 people that are taking it easy, there is one person that is really pushing themselves. Really following the game plan to the T. (Don’t quote me on that statistic).
So today I want to speak to that person who is sitting in the minority.
What’s with the title?
For those of us that have been living under a rock, LOL means “laugh out loud.” It’s been beyond overused that we’ve forgotten the meaning of it. LOL is often used as a response to a text message that we really don’t know how to respond to or if you’re looking to avoid the conversation.
For example, sometimes when my girlfriend asks me to do something I don’t really want to do, I’ll respond, “Ok, LOL.” And if she points something out that I did wrong, “Ok, LOL.”
Just LOL it out.
That’s what I want you to do. Laugh out loud. Don’t take your training and diet so seriously that it stresses you out. Take a day off. You deserve it.
But what if I fall off the wagon?
Because you’ve been on task, know what the game plan is, and understand your goals, your body and mind simply won’t allow you to get off the wagon. Seriously.
I dare you to eat something that you normally wouldn’t. Go ahead try it. You won’t do it. It’s going to be hard for you to cheat on your diet.
This happened to me recently: if I’m training on the weekends, I will go to a diner after my workout to grab an omelette, since my parents don’t like me when I cook eggs in the house (seriously, who else has this problem?). Normally when they ask me what kind of toast I want, I tell them not to give me any bread.
This time I told them I wanted whole wheat toast. Just to cheat on my diet a bit. Well, the omelette came. The toast came. I ate the omelette, but I didn’t touch the toast. Nope. Just couldn’t do it. I just didn’t need bread. My body wasn’t craving it. Isn’t that awesome!
Here we are listening to our friends talk about all the cravings that they have, and how they can’t control themselves, while we’re sitting on the opposite side of the fence wondering “dude, it’s so easy not to eat the pizza. Don’t you have any goals?”
Why you should relax
I wouldn’t recommend something unless it’s either backed by science or broscience (lol). So when we’re working really hard at our goals, sometimes too hard, our metabolism changes rather dramatically.
What happens is something known as metabolic adaptation. What this describes is a drastic slowing of the metabolism due to extreme stress in the form of dieting and exercise.
But I thought dieting and exercise was good!
It’s good, but what we’re talking about excessive and prolonged periods of clean eating and intense exercise.
How do you resolve this? Well, have you ever gone on vacation, pretty much eaten anything you wanted, and come back only to find out that you either maintained your weight or actually lost weight? This is because you just did something you normally don’t do: you relaxed.
One guy that’s great at relaxing is Mr. Dwayne Johnson, A.K.A The Rock. After putting in a lot of hard work, he’ll take a day off to just cheat on his diet and relax:
Now, the truth is that you probably shouldn’t be having pizza, pancakes, and other high-carb, sugary meals on your cheat day, but note what the image says: The Rock went 150 days – that’s 5 straight months of clean eating.
The reason I bring Dwayne Johnson up as an example is because he’s the type of person I’m speaking to. After you’ve put in the hard work, you’ve pushed all you can, and you’ve done what you had to do – it’s time to relax and take a day off. Just one day. That’s all I’m asking.
Even God orders a day off!
The Cortisol Factor
Along with the metabolism issue, there is also a psychological connection between stress and weight gain. When we’re super stressed out (and that’s what we do when we O.D. our bodies on a strict diet and workout schedule), our cortisol levels rise. Cortisol is also known as the “storage hormone.”
So the one thing that we were trying to do (lose fat) is now being hijacked because we are stressing ourselves out. End the hijack by backing off and taking a break.
Overtraining is another one of those overused words. People are paranoid of overtraining. The majority people just need to train hard first before they worry about overtraining.
The ones that don’t worry about overtraining are the ones that should be. Why? Because not only overtraining put a halt in your progress, but will also change your personality. No joke.
If you’re normally a cool cat, but have been feeling irritable, depressed, or angry lately – it could be that you’re training too much. Of course, there are other factors that could be causing these changes in mood. Either way, you should probably slow down in life, and get an understanding of what’s wrong.
And get back into it once you’ve been able to manage your stress. Note the key word here: manage.
The goal is not the eradication of stress, but instead the management of stress. Stress is good for you. Stress is the change agent. But TOO much stress causes all sorts of bad news.
Your RELAXING Game Plan
Yes, people like us need an actual PLAN to relax. The relaxation needs to be strategic so that we don’t end up relaxing too much.
Step #1 – Go Chill
Because we’re such control freaks and party poopers, we need to hang out with someone who knows how to have fun (but doesn’t go overboard). For me, that would be my girlfriend. We’re complete opposites in personality. I’m an introvert, she’s an uber extrovert. So when it comes time to wind down, I wind down with her. Even if we’re doing the most boring thing in the world (you name it), somehow she makes it fun.
Step #2 – Cut your Training in HALF
I would tell you to take a week off from training, but I know you’re not going to do that (because even I wouldn’t do that). However, you can cut your training in half. For example if you’re doing 3 days of weights and 3 days of intervals, you can instead do 2 days of weights and 1 day of intervals. You’ll have 3 extra off days. Do that for a week (or two), and then go back to your regular schedule.
Step #3 – Sleep In
I wake up at 5:30 am on the weekdays and 7 am on the weekends without fail (yes, I’m that guy). On top of that, I’m a workaholic. So, if I start something let’s say at 10pm, I can’t go to bed until I finish it. This type of personality isn’t very good for getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
After a few weeks of this, I have to literally force myself to sleep in on the weekends (or at least take an afternoon nap). I’ve been experimenting on a few techniques to help me sleep earlier, which I would love to share at a future time if there is interest.
Step #4 – Strategic Cheat Day
Note the key word: STRATEGIC.
This doesn’t mean you can eat anything you want.
What it means that you eat something that you have a craving for, but you don’t overdo it. For example, if you’ve been craving pizza, then go ahead, have a few slices, but don’t eat the entire pie! (And stay away from the soda, there is no reason you should be drinking sugar, not even on a cheat day).
Step #5 – New Stimulus
Do something you normally don’t do with regards to physical training. If you’ve been spending all your time lifting weights in the gym, then get out and go for a swim, or climb some rocks.
This could actually be part of step #1, where you do some physical activity with your friends such as hiking, rock climbing, or some group challenge. The idea is to get your mind off the gym and to just have fun.
I hope this gives you a new perspective on why it’s important to relax and take a day (or two) off from training and eating strictly. It should give you something to think about in terms of your overall goals and approach.