T Nation

T-overdose?

Do any of you have trouble relaxing? It seems that I am so driven to excel and achieve that I cannot ever allow myself to slack. If I ever attempt to take a break from training, or cheat on my diet, or take a night off from studying I feel like mediocrity is gaining on me. Don’t misunderstand, I have no anxiety about this, in fact, I am happier than ever. I just thought that if anyone else could relate to the feeling of lifting your head from achieving your goals and wondering what the hell is wrong with everybody it would be on this forum. I know exactly what Tim means in issue 1’s “Killer Instinct” when he says he never fits in anywhere. Just wanted to reaffirm that there are other members of my species who possess fire in their guts and enjoy pushing themselves to the point of pain.

Being constantly surrounded by fat ass, stuff thier pie hole with pizza, settle for C’s, never accomplish anything because it is difficult, TV watching, functionally illiterate, totally uninteresting AVERAGE hedonists begins to grate on you when all you want is to relate to someone, anyone who understands why you torture yourself physically, eat six times per day, and stay in and study most weekends. Whew. What the hell am I doing on the computer anyway? I have a physics final Monday. out

Wow. You must be the life of the party! You need to loosen up a bit and get out more. You’re much too self absorbed. You need some balance in life amigo. You could be headed to the rubber room.

I hear what you’re saying dude. People want to go out, but I end up staying in to work on a project or something. People want to order pizza, so I say “I’m out.” and people don’t understand why I won’t eat the pizza. When I eat in class, other student look at me strangely. They can’t understand why I eat every two hours. When I get a C in one of my five classes, it seems that no one can understand why I’m pissed off. We both might need to loosen up a bit, but I probably won’t. I enojy living this way, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. Peace.

Word up Choad. That was my point, that I love living this way and wondered if anyone else had the same attitude. Whenever I try to “loosen up” I end up thinking that the people surrounding me are headed for vanilla plain mediocre lives and I would rather die than settle for that.

Galt (John?!) – I know where you’re coming from, but be careful of
burnout. It me a long time to accept the concept of periodization in life
as well as training. I may end up doing an article of some type on it,
not sure.

Go to the library and check out the audio tapes called "Mental Toughness Training" by Laehr and Mclaughlin. About half of it is really good; the other half, especially when it comes to diet and training, is really goofy. Still, the part about mental periodization is cool. Basically, time "off" will lead to better performance at school, job, in the gym, etc. You'll actually get more done by getting some chill time. As one Type-A personality to another, check into it. You can go on full force for years but it *will* catch up to you.

This is from someone never settles for second best, and competes with oneself, because they want to compete against the best. And commonly, I have been refered to by family, friends, girlfriends as “intense and driven.”

So I realte to you. And, I only have one simple point. It may work for you, but how is it affecting those around you? Those you love, care about most? How will it affect your relationships in the long-term?

Study the death bed literature. The stuff that counts most, the stuff that you will care about then, when you are humble, is how many others are at your side. What you gave to others, and what you left behind. When you die, how do you want to be remembered?

Hey, who is Galt, anyway? :slight_smile: I’m a Hank Reardon fan myself. Chris’ comments are correct. I am 46, and have all the toys you would expect, a big house, land, horses, own my businesses, yet still work harder than anyone else I know, even though I have already accomplished more than most. Still, I am careful to take time off. For me, it usually means an entire weekend of relaxing, making a point of not doing any work or lifting, and that is enough to re-charge the batteries. As for other people, forget them. Most of our countrymen are sheep, and spend their lives glued to the tube. People similar to you will recognise you for what you are, and you will get the respect that matters from them. those that don’t understand being driven to achieve are not worth worrying about. An amusing effect of achievement is that any sheep you know will be sure that a) you just "have a knack for {insert whatever you can do that they cannot} b)you are just lucky c)you somehow cheat or beat the system in an unsavory way. They would prefer just about anything to looking at you and then into a mirror.

Galt, Choad, you definitely aren’t the only ones…I go through the same stuff with people at my college, my friends, my girlfriend, even my family…I think a lot of times people view me as, to quote one of my friends, “obsessed with things sometimes”, but I think that is bullshit. I can ACCEPT it when I get a C, cheat for a meal, or don’t hit my goal in the weightroom, but I just don’t feel good about it. I look at myself as determined; I set goals, and if I don’t achieve them, I am not satisfied. Nothing really pisses me off more than when someone belittles this hard work and perseverance by making it sound like it is a product of insanity or something…

Who is John Galt? Thanks for the advice Chris. Life periodization is an interesting concept. I plan in pursuing the idea further, especially if I feel burnout coming on. You stated that it took you a while to accept this concept, so how do you employ it? Do you not start freaking out during this off or down time even though you know it may be helping you in the long run? Just curious.

Galt, I’m glad you started this thread. It’s really interesting. I have to disagree with my man Shugart on this one, though - I’m almost forty, have exactly the “symptoms” you describe, and I still feel fine. I feel even finer when I see how many of my peers are leading lives that they can’t escape from and I’m doing what I want and having fun and making a nice living along the way. How many of them are fat. How many of them married someone because they didn’t feel like they could do any better, or because they felt pressured by society to be hitched at a certain age. How many of them have accomplished exactly NONE of the goals that they used to talk about when we were all young, dumb and full of cum. Nah, I wouldn’t worry too much about planning time off. When you’re burnt, you’ll know, and if you’re at all smart you’ll apply the lessons you’ve learned in the gym to the other areas of your life and hopefully be able to recognize the need for a little time off and relaxation before they become clinically necessary. And if you’re not the life of the party, so what? Most of the guys who were the life of the party back in high school and college are derelicts now. They may dance better than you . . . but you’ll dance on their graves.

Keep up the good work. Maybe take a little more time out to get laid more often, though. it can do wonders for your overall perspective…hehe.

Keep in mind I’m not suggesting you become one of “them”. I’m saying that periodization in life can help separate you even further from the flock, or “them”. And that’s a good thing. (Read my Gut Check article in the current paper issue and you’ll see that we share many of the same feelings. That one is called “Settle for Nothing.”)

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about here. When I first began writing and editing for T-mag, I was a high school teacher, new father and avid weight trainer of course. I was always looking for more though. Long story short, I got an article published here at T-mag and started writing three columns for Mind and Muscle Power magazine. (T-mag gave them articles in exchange for ad space at one time.) I knew I had found what I’d been looking for. Most of this started during the summer when I wasn’t teaching, although I did have a summer job. (If you rest you rust, after all.) School started back and I had to decide whether to write full time or teach. Since I had a new baby in the house with some medical problems (she’s fine now), I didn’t want to take too much of a risk, so I said screw it and did both- taught school full time, and took a “part time” job with T-mag. I was burning the candle at both ends and maybe even in the middle. I had no time for anything. I had to schedule when to take a piss. I felt like a loser if I watched a TV show. The school year ended and I quit to become official assistant editor and writer for T-mag.

I wanted to do well so I worked constantly, from the time I woke up to the time I went to sleep. I thought, “If I stay home this weekend and work more I’ll get even more articles done.” So I stayed home and didn’t spend much time with my family. What I soon learned was that being mentally “on” 24/7/365 was taking its toll. Sure, I would work all the time, but not actually produce much. I was stressing myself out. I thrived off of it, but I suffered from it as well.

After several realizations, I learned that I could perform even better, write even more, better articles, if I took Saturday off and didn’t type a word. I didn’t turn into a sloth or one of “them”, instead I spent time with my family, read, saw a movie etc. Soon I started doing the same on Sunday. Funny thing was, I’d get more work done during the week. I came back refreshed and charged up- the ideas flowed, self-imposed stress was lower. It’s like when you take a little time off from training (a few days up to a week), you come back energized. You make better long term progress if you train 4-5 days a week instead of 7. Same with life, school, career, etc.

I’m still a workaholic, but don’t feel guilty for relaxing anymore. I don’t feel guilty because I know I’m not bumming, I’m “sharpening the saw” as Berardi and I say, so I can work harder and more efficiently when it’s time.

Professional athletes do the same, BTW. You’d think they were lazy bums if you saw them off the field. They’re not; instead they choose where to release that energy for optimal performance. (That’s straight out of Mental Toughness Training, written by sports psychologists)

So I’m right here with you guys. I have disdain for most other people because they seem so content and satisfied with mediocrity. I’ve written several articles on that topic. But if I really want to separate myself from them, I know I have to relax sometimes.

Personally, I do this my taking it easy on the weekends. Sure, I keep my eye on the forum, I train a little on Sundays, I do some research for future articles, but I don’t put any pressure or deadlines on myself. I take a nap on Sunday afternoon, I rent a really bad horror movie, I read books that have nothing to do with training, diet, steroids, or supplements. I love to travel and go to concerts to really let go. I have a beer with a friend and talk about nothing in particular. And because of all of this, I’m even more productive when it’s time to go to work.

If none of that is convincing, then remember that stress, even self-imposed and positive stress, can slow your gains in the gym. Type A personalities also suffer from a lot of problems later in life, usually heart problems. Training can balance this out, but it still pays to “turn off” every once in a while and charge your batteries. You’ll be an even better person because of it. As a side effect, you’ll also improve relationships. I know I’m a better father now than I was a year ago.

So, something to think about. Good discussion.

Great post Chris. I am starting to get the idea. The responses from all of you guys are very encouraging. In particular response to 1, I do consider “death bed stuff”. When I am on this proverbial death bed I want nothing more than the knowledge that I busted my ass to reach my goals. How do I want to be remembered? I could care less what people for whom I posses no admiration at all think of me when I am alive, much less when I am food for worms. I agree with Huck, people like us recognize and admire each other inherently. (Rearden was the definitive T-man, but the fictional persona of Howard Roark literally changed my entire outlook). I find it no small coincidence that many of us on this thread have obviously read Ayn Rand, but do not posses the penchant to spout the dogma that her work can sometimes inspire. Excellent thread gentlemen, thanks for your replies.

Not much that I can add to this. I too feel out of place unless I’m around more driven people than most of the sheeple out there. This mag and forum are great, I don’t think I could have taken it without finding this. Not just the lifting info but the whole attitude attached with it.
I’ve been giving thought to this ‘driven’ state of mind and make sure that you don’t take family and friends for granted while self-improving yourself and attaining your goals. I usually find myself alienated while in a group because of the way I think, compared to the sheeple thinking. I’m not going to become a hermit because of it though, stick with your family and friends and try to lead by example, make a difference in their lives as well as your life. And to shugart, loved that article man, great stuff. Also, galts the man [in atlas shrugged at least ;-)]

I can definately relate to this. I frequently feel anxious because of my drive to get ahead. I’m 28 with a type A personality, and I have high blood pressure. I know this is due to my inablity to relax (especially at work). It can’t be due to my diet or current weight (because I am slim), so what else is there?
I work within an Operations Dept. in a brokerage firm in Toronto. 95% of my colleagues, are happy just doing the same job they are now for the rest of their lives (low-mid level administrative and paper pushing type jobs). I just don’t get how people can be satisfied in that type of a role. I’m in a management training program at work, rotating around the company and will be starting a position as a supervisor of a department in January. I am constantly pushing myself to try and get ahead. I would guess that most of the people who read T-mag are highly motivated. We have to be to make progress in the gym and it has a spillover effect in the other areas of our lives.


I can identify with Chris when he talks about taking weekends off. I’m lucky that at my firm, it isn’t expected to come in on the weekends. My time on the weekend is kind of sacred to me. I really need the mental break from the BS at work. I come back on Monday, much better off for it. Trying to get my wife (who is very similiar to me), to do the same thing. The culture at her firm is a little different though.
When it comes to diet and training, I don’t fret to much if I miss a day. That’s life isn’t it - shit happens. I just try and work a little harder at it the next day. It’s both amusing to me, as well as a little alienating to watch the people at work fat loading on doughnuts, cookies, burgers and fries EVERY FUCKING DAY. They make execuses for there appearance blaming it on something other than what they are putting down there chokehole. Then they put you in an uncomfortable position for not joining them. At least I can use the fact that I am allergic to wheat as an excuse for not joining in the feeding frenzy (it’s easier than explaining why I eat the way I do).
Cheers T-man.

Everyone should heed the wisdom Chris Shugart
wrote in his second post. Far too many people
(myself included) had to learn this lesson
the hard way. If you don’t take time off, you
burn yourself out, and then your productivity
sucks. I did this with sleep when I was
starting up my business. I figured, well if
I only sleep six hours a night, I can get
more work done! But it doesn’t work that way.
I ended get less work done in 16 hour work
days than in 12 hour work days cause my brain
was fried.

Galt – You miss my point. I know there were a couple of typos in my last posting, but I think it was still clear what I was saying. And even though I didn’t have the time to type it, I still did, even though I don’t know you, because I wanted to help. I have been there, and struggle with it everyday, and did not want someone needlessly to rehash what I have.


My point again: It may work for you, but how is it affecting those around you? Those you love, care about most? How will it affect your relationships in the long-term?
Study the death-bed literature. What counts most, the stuff that you will care about then (when you are humble), is how many others are at your side. What you gave to others, and what you left behind. When you die, how do you want to be remembered?
I never referred to “people for whom I posses no admiration at all think of me…”
I was talking about people that you love and care about. Start with them, and then you might be able to look beyond them and the needs of this world. Are there any people like that in your life, people you love and care about? You may be “happier than ever” as you say, but on whose tears did you step on to feel that way?
Here’s a suggestion: Why don’t you ask those closet to you, for whom you have “admiration” (love and care for possibly) what they think. Ask them what it is like to be in a relationship with you.


But don’t just take it from me, look at what Chris has said (and I appreciate his openness and honesty):

So I stayed home and didn't spend much time with my family. What I soon learned was that being mentally "on" 24/7/365 was taking its toll. Sure, I would work all the time, but not actually produce much. I was stressing myself out. I thrived off of it, but I suffered from it as well.”

“I’m “sharpening the saw” (Stephen Covey created this concept) as Berardi and I say, so I can work harder and more efficiently when it’s time.”

“You’ll be an even better person because of it. As a side effect, you’ll also improve relationships. I know I’m a better father now than I was a year ago.”

So Galt, when you say, “I am starting to get the idea.” I disagree. I think you do. I suggested studying the death-bed literature (as Stephen Covey does), not “consider” it. Do you even know what that literature is? If you did, I think you would also find that many of things that Chris is saying is totally in line with it.

Perhaps Chris would like to respond to this, but I do not think he would disagree with what I am saying, only the way that I am going about it. I have a bias, I can tell your young, and I don’t you will get it at least not for a few years (if you accept Erickson’s conception of the life cycle). Do you still think you can find true happiness through your ego? I hoped by sharing it with you early it might save you some pain and grief. I could be wrong.

“You say, I could care less what people for whom I posses no admiration at all think of me when I am alive, much less when I am food for worms.”

Yet you also ask people who you don’t know, never met, “Do any of you have trouble relaxing? It seems that I am so driven to excel and achieve that I cannot ever allow myself to slack. I just thought that if anyone else could relate to the feeling of lifting your head from achieving your goals and wondering what the hell is wrong with everybody it would be on this forum.”

Why did you post this in the first place? Are you wondering if there is something wrong with you? You must or you wouldn’t be asking us. People in a virtual world who you don’t know from Adam. Why are you asking others what they think? Because you care what others think. You have a need for relationship and connection. It’s that simple. Now, how are your relationships in real life?

I think Chris was referring to me, but I don’t know why he thinks I’m Galt.

I think I speak for everybody when I say that you actually sound VERY anxious. I find it hard to believe that you feel at your best with those kinds of beliefs. This is kind of corny, but buy a book called “The Feeling Good Handbook” by David M. Burns, MD. If you don’t read the book, please at least remember that your beliefs above are incredibly isolating. You’ll just get more uptight, more shut in, and more lonely (if you are not a lonely person, I am surprised).

Galt - P.S. Let me share with you a final note from my life philosophy, so that you will know that I do relate to you. I believe if you want to be like others, then do what they do. But if you want to be different, special, unique, then you can not do as they do.

However, unless you truly understand what I have shared with you in my last posting, then you will never really understand what I have just said.