Why NOT Going to the Gym Can Be a Great Idea

“Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.”
—Ralph Marston

Because I’ve been so busy trying to get my new website up and running (more on that in a future post), I’ve been working a lot of hours. Consequently, prior to this evening, I hadn’t been to the gym in three days — a rarity for me.

But after my workout tonight, I was left wondering if longer breaks might, in fact, be a good thing. Not for the first time, I was amazed by how good I felt. My typical aches and pains were gone and I was tossing the weights around like fish at the Pike Place Market.

Even complete strangers noticed.

After one of my sets on the bench press, a guy nodded at me. “What was that,” he asked, “30 reps?”

“35,” I responded. (He later told me he’d just been released from prison, making me question the wisdom of correcting his math — but, damn it, don’t short me reps!)

According to bodybuilder Chris Zaino, rest is a key to making constant progress and, perhaps more importantly, avoiding injuries. Zaino suggests taking a week off after every 2-2 ½ months of steady training.

“After 8-10 weeks of continued training, you should give yourself a whole week off to fully recuperate. Physically, this will help the body heal any minor strains, sprains, tears, and joint pain you may have or are on the road to having,” wrote Zaino on the bodybuilding.com website. “It is not always that easy for a compulsive fitness warrior, such as many of you readers’ out there, to allow yourselves to take the time off. Some people may fear they will ‘de-condition’ if they take a week off.

“Trust me you will not. It takes around 3-4 weeks of total inactivity for your muscles to start atrophying, or breaking down muscle tissue. In fact, I guarantee that you will come back stronger and more refreshed than ever,” Zaino said.

Tanner Baze, a writer at brobible.com (with a website name like that, you know you can trust the guy), was even more adamant. After training two hours a day non-stop for an extended period of time, Baze discussed a beach vacation he took.

He noted that he “drank a ton of beer, ate enough Whataburger to clog up 5 toilets, and didn’t do a damn thing but sit in a lawn chair on the beach.”

“I didn’t do anything that amounted to physical activity other than carry a cooler,” Baze wrote. “I came back into the gym the next week and had pretty much accepted that I’d lost all my gains thanks to that beach trip.

“What I noticed was that I was actually stronger than I was before I left. Not only was I stronger, but my nagging little injuries were nonexistent,” Baze concluded.

Minus the Whataburger issues, I can totally relate to what Baze said. That is exactly what I experienced tonight.

So, the next time I skip going to the gym, I won’t feel guilty. I’ll just tell myself I’m taking a much-needed rest.

Now, if I could only find a legitimate reason to eat pie…

Featured photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash.

Excuses and the Road Less Traveled By

“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.”
―Edward R. Murrow

It’s been a very eventful past couple of days. And, during those 48 hours, I was reminded why so many self-help books miss the mark. We’re always told that there are “no excuses” for not getting fit, finding love or making oodles of money… yet, there are.

A friend of mine, who is studying to be a doctor, recently told me that he’s had trouble making it to the gym on a regular basis, and it bothered him. Well, yeah, that’s the reality of going to medical school — time is limited.

Even “fit mom” Maria Kang, who drew the ire of many for her “What’s Your Excuse” mantra after giving birth to her third child in 2013, subsequently realized that the playing field is not always even — sometimes there are valid reasons why people fall short of their goals.

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After separating from her husband (not sure where that stands now guys, so, by all means, barrage her with e-mails and pictures of you shirtless in the gym) and dealing with depression, Kang took to Instagram to express her remorse.

… I am 10lbs [sic] up since I shot that ‘What’s Your Excuse’ photo! So here I am,” she wrote, in part. “This is a raw photo with absolutely no retouching, no preparation and no shame. I’m finding my beauty again, I’m discovering my strength again and I’m relearning what it means to be brave, bold and unapologetic about where I am in my life’s journey.

Suffice it to say, the photo, which has since been deleted, was hardly the stuff of nightmares, but folks seemed to appreciate Kang’s softened tone.

In my own case, I know my career has been hurt by the fact that I can’t easily relocate from my home in Colorado. If it was just me I could live in my car — which is one of those tiny Smart cars, built for Hobbits — down by the river, but I have a family to think of. As a result, I’ve had to turn down a lot of potential opportunities. Some days, the “what ifs” haunt me like Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart”.

Today is one of those days.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that one should throw in the towel or use excuses — even legitimate ones — to justify failure. Ultimately, I believe, as Michael Jordan does, that “obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

I will do just that. But, today, I will ponder why I took the road less traveled by and how different my life might be if I’d taken a surer path.

Featured photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash.