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.