Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sometimes you just need a break...

Last week, Sebastien went on vacation. A while back, when we had missed a session, I realized that when I miss a training session, I tend to have a pretty crappy week. So, anticipating this week away, Seb arranged for me to train with another trainer at the gym -- John. Last Wednesday, John put me through my regular leg routine, and helped me to fine-tune my technique on a few resistance exercises that resulted in me having the most extreme leg workout I've had in a long time. For the two days that followed, my quads and my glutes were very tight, and I walked around like some old geezer who had just soiled himself. Needless to say, I didn't stretch as much as I should have following my session with John, and I paid for it. So, for those two days, I decided to not go to the gym. I take Thursdays off already, and I am scheduled to do a full body resistance session plus some cardio on a Friday -- and Friday was the worst day for muscle pain. So I decided to take a break.

And it seems like a break is exactly what I need.

This past week officially marks one year since I started training regularly with Sebastien. Yes, I've accomplished a tremendous amount, but that has not happened without sacrifice, and an incredible amount of focus. But after going full throttle for so long, it's really easy to get burnt out. And I think that's exactly how I've been feeling for the past week or so. Those two days when I didn't train because my legs were too tight and I needed to let my muscles rest helped me to realize that it's not just my muscles that need a break.

All of me does.

So, I've spent the past few days relaxing and enjoying the weekend. I've been out for dinner with friends, and I haven't been a regimented as I normally am when it comes to what I've eaten. People who follow me on Twitter or Facebook will note that I've not posted my status in the last few days with specific references to my workouts and calorie burns. It's because I've taken the time to sit on a patio and enjoy a great burger and sip a refreshing beer; dine on some veal parmagiana, and celebrate with a slice of coconut cream pie that made me tremble with delight. Sure, I've had a number of other balanced meals, have gone for long strolls with the dog (not walks, leisurely strolls) and sat on patios drinking coffee and chatting with friends. I went to the movies and munched on a bag of peanut M&Ms. I washed my car. I cleaned out my trunk. I'm going to help a friend landscape his front yard this afternoon. Hell, I read the newspaper for the first time in ages.

And I slept. My body needed rest and some time to heal. And so does my brain.

Doing this much work on myself in the past year has not only take physical endurance to crank out the series of workouts Sebastien has given me, but it has also taken an intense level of focus and in some ways, emotional fortitude to keep myself in line. Battling the bulge and the demons that come along with it is no easy task. I've written a lot about that in this blog over the past year. And sometimes all that work takes its toll. For me, it's taken its toll and I'm pooped.

So, this is the first weekend in a year when I haven't spent any time in the gym. In fact, today marks the fourth day in a row when I haven't cranked out a 1200-2000 calorie workout. And how do I feel about it? Not bad at all. I can't say that I'm totally thrilled with the fact that I've skipped four days of my workout. But what I can say is that the time away from it all has been good. I'm not completely rested and totally refreshed yet, and yes, I'll be back at the gym tomorrow evening after work. But these few days away from my regimen to live life without worrying about how many calories I'm burning, or how many calories I'm consuming has been a welcome change of pace, if only for a few days. I have no worries about getting back on the wagon -- in fact, I'm really looking forward to my workout tomorrow night, my kickboxing class on Tuesday night, and my training session with Seb on Wednesday night when I can show him my progress on my squats and my power cleans. I'm also looking forward to being totally okay with the fact that I haven't dropped any weight in the past week. In fact, I won't be totally surprised if, on Wednesday when I weigh in, that I've gained a few pounds. That's life. That's living. I made a conscious choice to indulge on beer, M&Ms, and coconut cream pie. And I enjoyed every last bit of it. I also made a conscious choice to accept the outcomes of a number of days of inactivity and indulgence. What made the choice easy is that I know I have the tools... hell, it's more like ammunition... in my pocket to get back in gear and keep on truckin.

But the break has been nice. Really really nice.

So when all is said and done, I've learned to not be afraid to fall off the wagon. Hell, I've learned how to stop the wagon, put it in park, and simply enjoy some things that I was missing. I learned that I was really missing spending time with friends drinking rich coffee (with cream and sugar) and catching up over a piece of coconut cream pie. Yes, I spend time with my friends doing other things, and my friendships are less defined by the context of dining out, and more by finding ways to spend meaningful time with one another. But every once in a while, I know I will indulge a little more than I normally do. I'll have a few more drinks. I'll eat a bit more than usual. I'll make choices that I used to consider 'bad' but now I consider necessary to maintain a level of healthy balance and perspective on all of this.

And nothing helps with perpsective quite like a piece of coconut cream pie from Teddy's Diner in Oshawa. It's worth it.

Kia kaha.
Stay strong.


  1. Chris, your stories are truly inspiring so thanks! I find myself in your position sometimes with my workouts. It's really important to listen to you body when it's talking to you. Sometimes I go the gym and my body is just refusing to go full throttle. But there are also times when I'm just not in it mentally for whatever reason. I find that when my mind isn't there, that directly correlates to me having a useless workout physically. I find in my experience that working out is almost like a 70-30 ratio in terms of mental to physical will. I guess that highlights the importance of determination at the gym and with living a healthy lifestyle. But again, thanks for your stories as they're great to read. I'm gonna try and make that recipe you posted a little while back. Of course tonight I'm indulging with some braised short ribs and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. You do need calories every day!


  2. Sounds great! Of course, I'd probably just buy a pie and eat it, so this approach is already pretty good.