Tuesday, October 8, 2013

R & R

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I'm taking some time off from the gym. This isn't a new thing, as if you recall, I took some time off last year too. It seems like about this time of year, I just need a break. I usually compete in the Spring and early Summer, which means I start my diet near the beginning of the year. By October, I'm usually burned out and ready for some down time.

It's not that my metabolism is completely dead or I have zero energy; I simply need some time to kick start my metabolism and recharge my tired body. After my last show every year, I have grand intentions to reverse diet out of prep instead of taking the bumpy path back down the mountain that was prep. I'll be the first to admit that I've never been successful at it. Giving my body a break is a good approach to resetting and regrouping.

Training as a Job
I've been out of the gym for a couple weeks now. This may come as a surprise to some of you, but ... I don't miss it. It's not that I don't enjoy working out - I do. It's just that sometimes training gets to feel more like a J-O-B than F-U-N. It becomes something I have to do instead of something I want to do, especially when my training needs to be very specific in order to help me continue to climb the ranks of the NPC.

For the past 2 years, my training has been very specialized - focused on correcting muscle imbalances, improving symmetry, and maintaining a specific size. This means I train some muscle groups twice a week and other groups not at all, and I do plyos for half of my workout instead of straight weight training. Sometimes, I want to summon my inner toddler and scream, "But I don't wanna!" Yet, I know the reward is always totally worth it to me.

Some time away from the gym allows me to rediscover my focus, drive, and passion for training. It gives my body a much-needed break, and it makes my spirit happy.

So while I don't miss being away from the gym, I did discover that I missed just being plain old ACTIVE. I've been going for walks around my neighborhood, enjoying the scenery and the beautiful Fall weather. I didn't follow a structured schedule; mostly, I just went when I felt like it. Some days I felt like it, some days I didn't. And I was ok with that.

What is THAT on My Legs?!
What I wasn't ok with was the change in my body composition. We knew it would happen and I was prepared for it. But it's still kind of a shock to look in the mirror and see some cellulite on my legs, or to realize my arms are now jiggly. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's not how I prefer to look or feel.

Easing Back In
J and I decided that it's now time for me to begin following a more structured routine. Yesterday, I started a clean meal program and some light cardio. My meal plan is moderate carbs and decently high calories for now. My body usually responds slowly when I have carbs in my diet, but by substituting the complex carbs for the sugary carbs (mmmm ... cookies and M&M's) I was eating before, my weight should slowly start to drop.

Cardio is just a walk in the mornings - no intervals or anything intense. I enjoy the comfort of indoor cardio, but I also enjoy doing cardio outdoors, so the past 2 mornings, I've bundled up and walked outside instead of indoors on our (slowly dying) treadmill. It's a wonderfully refreshing way to start the day!

Less Stress
This break came at a good time, as August and September were super busy for work. I was able to keep up with my projects at work and not stress about getting to the gym or waking up early to do cardio. I've also been able to catch up on a lot of sleep!

I'm glad I'm able to take some time off. I'm looking forward to getting back into the gym soon and making some good progress for next year!

Do you take time off? Do you enjoy it or do you feel restless? How long of a break do you usually take?


  1. Glad to know there is someone in this world of physique prep that takes some down time.... I have been thinking of taking several weeks off to regain some "fire" for the gym...it's become a drag. Yes, I want to be lean all the time, but in reality my body is just not like that. I worry about losing muscle if I take time off...do you ever feel like not lifting negatively affects that?

    1. I don't worry about losing muscle, because it comes right back. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing!

  2. Glad you take time off to chill. I've been meaning to ask you forever now, do you speed walk or just walk on an incline or something? I remember you mentioned you don't run and it blew my mind. Also...seeing your response above...how long of a memory does muscle have? I sure hope my muscles are like an elephant cuz it's been a while since I did any lifting!

    1. I walk on an incline at various speeds. Nothing faster than 3.5, though. I have short legs so that's fast for me. :) As far as I know, muscle memory lasts quite awhile. Once you go back to the gym and start training like you used to, you should see results fairly quickly.

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