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Off the Mat: Mental and physical stress

Stress – you need it, but you also need to be away from it.

We don’t always realize this, but stress is the impetus that helps us grow. In terms of physical fitness, the stress that we put on our bodies is the same stress that causes our body to get stronger. (Granted, this stress is methodical. You can’t expect to get stronger by standing in front of the home plate at a batting cage.) In the non-physical terms, it is the challenges we confront that help us become smarter or more capable.

Here’s the thing: in order to get stronger, your body has to recover from that stress. It needs a break. And just like your body, your MIND needs a break in order to be able to overcome new challenges and address new opportunities.

This week I’ve had two separate but very similar situations in which stress got to the point where it was too much. On Wednesday, I spent a few more hours doing more in-person training than I’m used to, in addition to a tough body weight / weight training workout earlier that morning.

By the time 4:00 PM came around, I had already succumbed to a 1-hour nap (which I’m not ashamed of at all, by the way – I think we should all be taking more naps) and was looking forward to an epsom salt bath later that evening. My body was too fatigued. I hadn’t quite reached the point of overtraining, but this was a good example of when another workout would have been more harm than good.

Moral of the story here? You don’t always need another workout. Sometimes you need to give your body a break.

Last weekend, I hosted the Optimal Performance Retreat. It was pretty much non-stop instruction or preparation from arrival on Friday until departure on Sunday. When I got back on Monday, it was straight into double daily 90-minute lessons with a guy that flew in from Florida to train with me for the week. I didn’t get my usual day off [Sunday].

So on Tuesday, I did the craziest thing. After I finished grocery shopping, I went to Starbucks, ordered a cup of coffee, and sat down in a chair outside for 15 minutes – doing nothing. Yup, like a psycho, I sat at Starbucks while slowly drinking black coffee, not reading a book, not going on my phone; simply sitting there and getting my caffeine buzz on.

I didn’t think about work. I didn’t think about bills. I just sat there and watched cars come in and out of the parking lot. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure if I sat with proper posture.

Was that enough to completely reset? I’d probably need a good 30 more minutes of silent pondering, but that 15 minutes was enough to help give my mind a break and get on with the tasks of the day feeling like I was in the driver’s seat, instead of feeling like my tasks were driving me.

The point of these two stories? Your body and your mind need a break in order to function. Busyness isn’t always a virtue; sometimes it’s just working for the sake of working. Taking the time to stop and give your mind a break allows you to approach your life with a road rap, instead of blindly running forward.

Message of the week: Technique over depth.
It’s so much more important to strive for proper technique, rather than striving for depth in a posture. This also applies to weight training, in the “technique over weight” argument.

Book I’m reading right now: Me Before you
Yup. I read it. It was good fictional insight into the right to die. What would you do in that situation?

Mantra for the week: Finish existing tasks.
With the retreat done and no future teaching events planned, I have an opportunity to finish all (most) of the various projects I’ve undertaken but haven’t been able to complete yet.

Fitness focus: Core & Spine
I’ve started experimenting with “jefferson curls”. Does anybody know the proper progressions involved with this exercise? Reps? Weight? Let me know.

Food of the week: Vegetables
Eating a lot more vegetables. Noticing more energy, but not feeling as full.

Finding inspiration from: Community
The Man Flow Yoga Community and the What, Why, & How 21-Day Challenge community are interacting and sharing much more than I expected. It’s awesome to see – and inspiring!

Talk soon,

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