One November, when I was 16 years old, I got my drivers license. My dad bought me a car from his buddy and I started to drive myself to school every day, begrudgingly. 11 days after I got the car, I was driving to school on a cold morning. I merged on to the freeway and decided to move over a lane, which is something I never did, because the right lane was moving too slowly. Less than a mile from my house all of the cars hit there breaks. As it was rush hour, we were all bumper to bumper. Going 10 miles an hour, I hit my breaks, but my car started to speed up. I hit my breaks harder as I slid on black ice. Finally I felt myself slowing down just before I ran into the car in front of me. My hood crumpled up and my car was totaled even though I hadn’t been going very fast. From that day forwards I have always been nervous to break in fear of hitting black ice or being unable to stop.
I feel this way too about my health and fitness. When I was a child, I was a very active kid. I was in every sport and activity offered, constantly on the go. Somewhere along the way the amount of activities I did decreased, the amount of junk food I ate increased and my weight started to rise. By my senior year of high school I was at my heaviest weight, not playing any sports, and eating like crap. I had fully slammed on the breaks.
My freshman year of college, I got so sick of hating my body and myself that I started on a health and fitness journey. I started to eat better and lose some weight. Then I started to workout and truly feel good and proud in my body. But, then I slowly stopped eating as good, stopped working out and started to gain weight. I hit the breaks without even realizing it.
I yo-yoed like this over the next several years. Eating well for awhile, working out, getting results and then letting life get in the way and losing my focus and progress. Instead of being afraid of being unable to stop when I hit the breaks, I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to start again.
This year I finally feel like I’m getting my momentum back. I’m in a great workout routine where I am truly loving my workouts, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and eating delicious and healthy meals at home, and feeling like I’m seeing good progress. But, then I got a cold and found myself struggling with what to do. I was nervous about putting on the breaks and taking some time off. If I stopped for a few days would I be able to start again? I had issues getting motivated to begin again in the past when I took too many days off. Should I push through instead and hope to sweat out my cold? what if I got sicker instead of better and then was forced to take even more days off?
So, I decided to work on listening to my body. Everyday before I worked out I assessed how I felt, how much energy did I have, how sore my body was, how sick I felt, and choose weather or not I was going to workout based on what my body was telling me. I did a hard workout one day, a super low impact Pilates workout the next, took a day off, did another low impact toning workout and took another day off. This is what felt right for my body this time and my cold went away in less than a week. But, every illness and situation is different. Listening to our bodies and taking queues from it, knowing when to rest and when to work is important and not just when you’re sick, but always.
Putting on the breaks can be a really scary thing, you can’t always control what’s going to happen, but when it comes to your health and fitness having very clear maintainable goals, listening to your body, and having a schedule and plan can really cut back on those fears. Don’t be afraid to occasionally break when your body and mind need it. You’ll only make things worse for yourself in the long run by burning yourself out, making yourself sicker, or hurting yourself, sometimes breaking is essential.