T Nation

stress and the rapid decline of one's physique

Im not posting this for a pity party, it is something that I have wondered since I got back to school in january.
Last summer, I went though what some hav said was the worst summer anyone has ever had. It almost resulted in me having a nervous breakdown.

I got the dream internship of my lifetime, at Walt Disney Imagineering, but the hours we’re really wacky. like I would get into work at 9 am and sometimes not leaving until around 3 am. Sometimes I would work two shifts and go for almost 30 hours. It was exciting work, but it took its toll.
There was the experience at Bally’s, which prevented me from working out regularly, and also prevented me from signing up at another gym while there.
My mom, who is severely bipolar, stopped taking her meds. She ran away from home, stole my grandma’s life savings and car and spent almost all of it. Crashed the car, got a DUI.
Admist this working schedule, I had to spend my free time down in Vero Beach, about an hour and a half away searching for her. Calling the cops. Having her 'Baker act’ed (where they institutioanlize her.
I had to go to court and become her legal guardian at 24. She also ran herself into tens of housands of credit card debt and I was trying to straighten everything out with all of her debtors as well as her DUI and probation.
My grandma (who has been like my mother. . .teaching me values and such), stressed from all of this, started asking to die.
My car was under her name, and it was going to (and did get reposessed) and I didnt have the money to buy a new car.
My school wouldnt let me drop my classes for the fall semester (since my internship ran two semesters) due to an academic hold that they wouldnt remove no matter how many times I went through the hoops. they then slapped a $1500 fine on my account and gave me 'E’s for all my classes (the equiv of ‘Fs’).
The people that I was renting a room from for the second semester started getting a divorce while I was there.
Thats all I can remember right now.

I didnt train regularly, but I did go running three-four times a week. My eating wasnt dialed in. Wasnt perfect, but I cleaned up the stuff I took in. Oatmeal instead of cereal. No fast foods (except very occasionally). I wasnt perfect but far from shitty.
So in the past, my previous body weight high, during extended periods of inactivity was 210. That was living a slovenly lifestyle. Eating shit at horrible times, training equalled zero.
In the middle of the summer, while working at Ballys, around August, I was 203 and 14-15 % bfp. But when I came back to school in january, my weight was an unheard of 239, and my BFP was in at around 28%.
I was shocked. It jsut seemed impossible for my body to do this to itself. I always wondered if the stress may have played a part in this.
Any thoughts or experiences with extremely high stress?

Yes stress will do that. I would liken high stress to a weaker version of some of the responses you would see if your body determined it’s life was on the line.

Chemicals start to pump, various non essential processes shut down, calories only converted to energy on an as needed basis, pretty much a mess…

Hang in there, jodgey. The way I look at it is that once you’ve hit rock bottom, there’s no way to go but up.

I’ve been through similar situations with unimaginable amounts of stress, but one of the worst was when I walked in several years ago and found my wife of seven years getting pumped by a mutual “friend”. This guy was screwing my wife! Never saw it coming, not even a clue. In fact, the week before, we had watched our wedding video with the rest of my family and she was blowing me kisses and mouthing “I love you” to me. We had just moved into our custom built house just ten months earlier.

Then, bam! My life crumbled to pieces.

And instead making the best out of a bad situation and using working out as a way to deal with the stress, I went on what was basically a one year drunk.

Racked up thousands on credit cards buying new clothes, buying everyone in the bars drinks, etc. And my health went to shit.

That was 15 years ago and I managed to get my head on straight and do things the right way after that year, but I had to learn the hard way.

My recommendation: keep using some type of physical activity, including the running you’ve been doing as a means to relieve stress and keep your immune system strong. Read some inspirational books, if that works for you. Hang with optimistic, upbeat people who you enjoy being around. Listen to music that motivates you and puts you in a good mood. Stay out of the bars as much as possible.

Just some things I’ve learned over the years. Keep your chin up, because things will only get better.

Note to self: Don’t bitch about a hard day at work anymore.

man, that would suck. finding your friend banging your wife. I have lost several friends for trying to hit on my girlfriend. That just breaks every code of friendship.
My boss (head mechanical engineer at one of my former jobs) found his wife banging some 350 lb fat ass dead beat beat in the back of a pick up truck in the Kmart parking lot. He hated her for years, but stayed with her on principle. She was also handicapped and jobless, but he supported her anyway. He got divorced and now has to support her (and him).
Fortunately, I got everything straightened out, or at least as managable as could be expected. I now have a 52 year old child, who no matter how much prodding, she refuses to accept any responsibility for herself, her actions, and refuses to take care of herself.
but as far as the circumstances, it was wierd. I struggled and struggled with all of this, adn then one week, it was like someone turned the switch and said ‘alright you have had enough’, and almost evrything straightened itself out.
And in the ashes, I had a piece of shit where my body once stood.
Now down to around 16% BFP and up to 227. Feeling a lot healthier.

Man…some of you guys have really been through some stuff! I admire each and everyone of you for not giving up!!!


Give yourself a break here, you have been through a lot. Think of bodybuilding as a lifetime activity, with ebbs and flows. Sometimes life gets in the way of gym-time.

Sometimes I work insane amounts of hours and I try to bring a case of ready-to-drink protein shakes on the jobsite, in those situations. When I get super-busy, bodybuilding is the first thing I have to cut out. I’m a recreational lifter, I figured that out a long time ago. I am in it for the long haul though. Don’t get discouraged if you have to take a hiatus.

Getting back in shape will never be any harder than the first time you did it (“muscle memory”), so get to the gym when you can find time. Obviously training is a big stress reliever.