By: Matt Breon, Performance Coach and Nutrition Guru
This thing called life is hard sometimes. You have an infant child that was just born, work has been “crazy stressful” lately, your spouse is nagging you about “us” time and asking where the romance has gone. Your fitness and nutrition get pushed to the wayside to accommodate everything else that has been thrown at you. We get it, it happens to each and every human living on this Earth. A pause button sounds pretty awesome during these stressful times.
But what if we applied that thinking to other major aspects of our everyday lives…
As Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition states in his article Why the Pause Button Mentality is Ruining Your Health and Fitness, “You can’t really press pause — and you definitely can’t hit reset — on being a parent. Just like you can’t stop showing up for work and expect not to get fired. Or “take a break” from being married and not wind up divorced.”
Instead of pressing pause, adjust the dial.
There are some things that I read that literally change the way I think about fitness and nutrition, and Berardi’s article is one of them. There is no such thing as putting your fitness or nutrition on pause. Instead, we must turn a dial up or turn it down if need be until we can get back to a more normal style of living.
Seriously, read that if you want to forever change your life.
This is an all-inclusive trait that both Josh and I have encountered over the last few months, as well as probably every single person reading this. It always nice to have that carrot on a stick saying eventually you will get there and be ready to start fresh. But hitting the pause button and stopping completely until you are 100% ready to commit? That’s just going to build the skill of pausing, not adjusting to the whims of reality.
At RF we don’t let you hit the pause button because we see how hard you work while you’re here. Why would you want to let that go to waste? Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you get off the gainz train. It just means the gainz train slows down until you’re ready to ramp up again. So if you don’t show up because you turned your dial off you will quickly learn that we have a particular set of skills that have been developed over a long career. Skills that make us a nightmare for sedentary people. We will find you, and we will make you do burpees.
About 7 months ago, I got hit with a chronic pain condition that I am still battling currently. The worst part about this issue is that the pain is onset with intense exercise. Perfect, that’s essentially what I do for a living. So what do I do about this? I can’t train hard like I preach, so I should just wait and get back to my fitness when I feel better, right? Absolutely, unequivocally, no. Don’t get me wrong, I did take a month off at my doctor’s request. But as soon as I could, I had to make a choice.
I decided it was better to do something than to do nothing. So I trained like a washed out bodybuilder nearing retirement. I wasn’t slamming weights and chugging shakes, but I was doing small 40-minute workout sessions where I wouldn’t break a sweat. I would do these 3 days a week to maintain what physique I had and take the rest of the days to recover as best I could.
I soon found that my body could handle more on some days when I was feeling okay as long as I don’t push it too hard. I usually will refer to Josh that I am either having a good day or bad day in relation to my issue. Good days meant I was able to turn the dial up to a 6 or 7 and handle a group class, but the overwhelming majority of the time I was having a bad day. Bad days mean I turn the dial back down to a 3 or 4 and I had to do one of my sessions on my own (Tuesday noon class: I can’t wait until I can join you guys again!).
Other areas are still entirely under my control too. For instance, nutrition is a large part of fitness (obviously) that is easily under my control no matter how I am feeling with this condition. And, let me tell you, my nutrition has been on point for the majority of these last 7 months.
The most important thing I can say is this though. Over the last 7 months, I have never turned my dial off. I can go up on days I am feeling better, or I can turn it down on those off days but the dial is always set to on.
Josh had a similar occurrence just a couple of months ago. As I am sure many of you are aware, it was during that week we all thought he might die of the plague. He might not want me to tell all of you this, but old age set in and he threw out his back while taking a bath reaching for his rubber ducky – no seriously he was taking a bath, I can’t even make this up!
He came back a week later and even though it was only twice or so a week, he turned the dial up to 2 and started training again. The workouts were nothing spectacular, lots of “Marco Island” workouts. You know, arms, chest, arms, shoulders, arms… but even though the workouts weren’t “hard” they kept his body primed and set to train harder once his back recovered.
Now that he is feeling better, he has turned the dial back up to 6 or 7 and is training with the groups again.
You see, life gets in the way all of the time. Injuries happen, diseases strike, the kids start a new sport, or you get promoted and take on more work. The more you start to hit pause, the better you get at pressing pause and let life get in the way of your health.
Here are a couple lessons for ya:
Doing something, as long as that dial is adjusted to 1, is exponentially better than hitting that pause button.
- Consistency is the key to long-term health as well as hitting goals. It’s not always about having the perfect workout. It’s about what you can do today. I don’t care if it’s just 50 body squats and 2 minutes of planks, do something.
- Be careful not to use “I’m dialing back to a 2 because it’s summer” as an excuse to be lazy. There’s a HUUUUUGE difference. Be honest with yourself. Are you really busy or…? No, binge watching an entire series on Netflix is not a sufficient reason to dial back.
- A perfect example of a 1 on the dial from RF member, Chris Mekota: “One thing I’ve used in my life when I have to dial it back is to use the time right before I shower to get some sort of movement in. Like, as the water warms up do as many perfect pushups as I can or do 100 perfect squats before the water reaches temp.”
These dials put me in my place. At best I’ve ever been at a 7 on the dial. I’ve never even sniffed a 10. Goes to show you that most people, me included, aren’t as hardcore as I may want to believe.
I’m fo’ real fo’ real this time, read THIS right now!