Sleep, stress, food and movement. The four pillars of health. Normally when something is awry in our lives we can break it back down to these four things and see where the missing piece is. Are we getting enough sleep, preferably no less than 7 hours a night? Are we managing our stress properly? Are we nourishing our bodies with the right nutrients and drinking enough water? And finally, are we moving in some way, shape or form each day?
This week has been rough for me. Last weekend was filled with celebrating and spending so much good and needed time with my family and friends but it was also filled with a lot of sitting and driving and not feeling like I was prepared for the week ahead. I got home late on Sunday night, rushed through a short order food prep and barely made it in bed by 11pm just to get up the next day for an early morning workout. My week was already off to an otherwise "abnormal" start. Monday's workout I wasn't fully present. My mind was everywhere other than focused on the heavy barbell in front of me and trying to hit 85% of my 1 rep max for what should have been an easy 4 singles felt bone crushing and terrible.
Tuesday came and I was hoping for a better bench session but on my way to the gym my left bicep tendon that I've been nursing for a couple weeks was screaming at me. I knew I had to take it easy but once again 85% was crushing and I failed twice before I called it quits. I was compensating for that arm and didn't want to push it further.
On to Wednesday, I was determined to get through deadlifts and get through them feeling satisfied. Truth is, touch-an-go's saved my life otherwise they probably wouldn't have budged. I felt defeated and exhausted and didn't even finish the workout.
My point of all this? I needed to take a step back and look at my four pillars of health. Was I sleeping enough? Barely...I was maybe getting 7 hours but I know that my body needs more than that and I know my body operates better if I go to sleep earlier. Was I managing my stress well? Absolutely not. My week has been filled with looming stressful life decisions that I need to make soon and the thought of them has nearly paralyzed any type of productivity I've had. Am I eating well? Yes, but I am not eating enough. Between not having enough prepped for the week and feeling like I don't have time to eat I have not been recovering from workouts because I haven't had enough fuel to do so. Lastly, have I been moving? Well of course I have, but this is the kicker, OVERTRAINING IS A THING. I have been training hard for months and months without more than two days off during the week, and sometimes that just isn't enough.
Guys this is called life. Life comes with getting home late, not having enough food in the fridge, having to make stressful life decisions, and maybe pushing ourselves a little too hard. So you know the first thing to go to get me back to a balanced life? My training. Thursday I cut out my training for the day. I took the morning off and I slept more. I got enough to eat. I spent just ten minutes clearing my head before the rest of my day and I still moved but I didn't once touch a heavy barbell.
Sometimes we have these days, sometimes they turn into weeks (in my case) and sometimes they even turn into months. The key is to recognize that a change needs to be made otherwise you only continue to spiral out of control until you are a walking zombie devoid of sleep, paralyzed by stress, nutrient deficient from eating crappy food, and living with an achy body from no movement.
Everything can be attributed back to these four things but once you can recognize where the change needs to made it becomes an otherwise pretty quick fix. Being healthy isn't attributed to the way you look or how much you can lift it is attributed to how balanced and well-rounded your life is and how happy and energetic you live that life. So next time something goes awry think about your four pillars and where a change needs to be made.