“I don’t think I’m going today.” That’s what I whispered to myself when I woke up on Thursday Nov 5. Mr. Fitness and Mr. Bodybuilding just did not feel like working out.
I got up though, and went through my usual morning routine: fed Felix (our cat), made my breakfast and had my coffee. As I started making breakfast, I almost texted my training partner to say I wouldn’t be at the gym today– but I didn’t.
As I was half way through my breakfast I almost texted him again, but again, no-go on sending the text.
When breakfast was over, my stomach filled with food and fresh caffeine running though my veins, I kept thinking of an article I had read earlier in the week, and how it had inspired me.
The article, Want to Lead a Truly Exceptional Life? A Navy SEAL Says Always Do These Things was about someone who hired a former Navy Seal to live with him for 30 days to get ready for a competitive event. He wanted the Seal to train him in the highest levels of discipline.
There were a lot of great points and quotes in the article but the one that moved me the most was this, ‘If your brain says you’re done, you’re only 40 percent done.”
Here I was at home considering ditching my workout for whatever reason, and I wasn’t even in a position to test the 40 percent rule.
So I went.
During the workout I kept repeating the quote when an exercise felt hard. We were working legs today and anyone who knows what a tough leg workout feels like can tell you that you have to live that 40 percent rule on the reps when you just want to quit.
I didn’t quit.
I had an exceptional workout and I left the gym feeling proud of myself for doing the hard thing and for not giving in to laziness.
I get those days when I don’t want to workout…maybe not as often as the person who views exercise as a chore, but I get them. And I get them sometimes with food too, when I just don’t want to eat “healthy.” But I know that when I dig deep within myself, when I don’t quit, I feel empowered and in a sense, joyful.
That day I could say the excuses didn’t win…. but wait a minute….
Something went wrong.
The day after that incredible workout, I woke up feeling more than just a little off. I had been feeling some fatigue the past three weeks but had just shrugged it off. Not smart.
As the day went on I felt horribly fatigued and by Friday evening I thought the flu was coming on big time.
Saturday night I felt the flu-like symptoms returning, but it never hit like what you’d think of when you think flu. But I did experience extreme levels of fatigue, a cold, and that exhausted flu-like feeling. I felt so badly that I knew I had to take time off from work and I ended up having to ditch the gym all of last week. Just had to.
This should have not come as a surprise. I started this post the day I could claim “no excuses,” with what was to be a hey, look how disciplined I am kind of tone, and it ended up being a hey, try listening to your body and respecting what it needs kind of lesson.
Three weeks of some consistent fatigue prior to this, and I didn’t listen. I didn’t pay attention.
The truth is, it’s hard to listen to the signals, especially when the gym and training has been my go-to stress reliever for the last 11 months…not to mention all of my life! My mind is thinking, this is my thing, this is what I do, this helps me, of course I’ll feel better if I go…even when my body is yelling at me it’s time to rest.
That’s my lesson.
With all the rah-rah quotes on social media about not missing workouts, always being disciplined, and not making excuses, it’s important to remember that your body, my body, is not a machine. Sometimes it just needs a little rest. The key is to listen and trust the signals.
I’m not sure this lesson ever gets fully learned, I have a feeling it’s one that comes back around every few years and humbles you in a way, as it not-so-gently reminds you that you can’t give one hundred percent one hundred percent of the time, especially when you’re one hundred percent in 10 different places (work, home, gym, etc).