On Monday, May 8, I posted the following on My Fit By Raphael Facebook page
The reality is, there will be times when you struggle with your food and your workouts. During these times, make some changes to your foods by adding more variety. As far as workouts, change something there as well. Maybe you need a few weeks of lighter/shorter workouts. Listen to your body and mind and make small changes, but don’t quit. Quitting is never the right solution.
The message was actually for me.
I posted the tip because I’ve been feeling “off” in the gym and a little frustrated. Even after 40-years of training and 16 years of bodybuilding competitions (or maybe even because of), it just happens now and then. It happens once a year for a stretch of about 30 days.
It sort of went like this: I started losing motivation and something just felt “off” in the gym. Something just wasn’t connecting with me. I kept going in for a while thinking that I’d just push through it. After all, I’m the fitness guy so I have to live the example, and training is my daily mood elevator. But then the downward mental spiral increased and I began to get frustrated. Even the foods I enjoy eating felt like drudgery.
In order to pull out of it or at least see the situation clearly, I talked to someone who knows me and has an appreciation for working out. Someone, who pays attention to the nuances beyond the words.
I spoke to a close friend who told me that I sounded like I just needed a change. Maybe.. gulp…try CrossFit, maybe try a new activity that I’ve never done before, or maybe do some powerlifting. So after taking a much needed week off (needed from a mental and physical standpoint), I decided I would just go to the gym and do whatever workouts I felt like doing that day. No plan, no structure – just listen to my mind and body. I did that a few years ago and it pulled me right out of a funk.
But that wasn’t feeling quite right either.
I decided to find a training plan that combined hypertrophy and powerlifting. I’ve been giving it a try, with the caveat that I can change or modify it on the spot if I just want to do something else.
As far as foods, I added more variety to my nutrition and allowed myself some “take Raphael out to lunch” days if I wanted to. Healthy food, but just not my usual stuff. This was a suggestion from my wife Pam, who knows me better than anyone on the planet.
So far so good. Today, am I back to my usual full-fledged Mr. Bodybuilder motivation levels? Nope. Not yet, and that’s OK. I know it will come.
The truth is that no one can be motivated one hundred percent of the time, and the daily ins and outs of working out and eating well can begin to feel frustrating and cumbersome. Sometimes it’s hard to discern what’s causing it – is it added stress in my life? Am I just being lazy? Am I in a rut? Clarity is an amazing thing.
I’ve found a lot of people stumble here and they just give up and stop doing what they need to do because they don’t do the work of assessing the real cause and then taking some kind of action. A small tweak can make a huge difference, and that’s part of where the value of a trainer, coach, or even trusted friend can come into play.
Quitting is never the right solution.