For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, that are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again. – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
We never take breaks.
It’s hard to say if that bothers me. I don’t think it does, or at least it never used to. I like the constant moving – I like feeling like I’m getting things accomplished, however, as my goals become more complex the completion timelines become longer and I don’t necessarily see a reason to push every day for steps forward.
A step forward could take a week or more and because of this I find myself wanting more time off to relax.
I guess I also need to define what relaxing is though.
Before, a relaxing day revolved around the gym, errands and coming home to meal prep or plan for the next few days – relaxing days typically came over weekends. I know that doesn’t sound relaxing to some, but it was for me.
The gym still provides me with a sense of calm, but it’s a different environment.
The purpose of the movement is different. It’s for stress relief like it’s always been, but it’s pure enjoyment and revelation of what I’m capable of without deadlines, without hard goals. Still putting in effort, but not striving towards something specific.
The fluidity of doing what “feels” good is different than what’s going to make the most progress (fat loss, recomposition, etc.). What “feels” good is still progress too – it’s just a different kind of progress.
It’s less about the visibly physical and more about the internally physically. That made a lot more sense in my head, but what I’m trying to say is that it’s more about how strong I’m getting, how good I feel executing certain movements, not about if these movements will burn the most calories and lead to a specific aesthetic look.
I think that’s where my desire for more time doing literally nothing or minimal interaction is coming from.
Coming to the lake, even just for the day, made me nervous. I feel like I should always be working and seriously, thinking back to my first job as a teenager – there hasn’t been a time when I didn’t have a job or wasn’t in school or both. That was the downfall to having four weeks of vacation while working in higher education – I didn’t know what to do with it other laundry and going to the gym.
I had minimal service at the lake so I had my phone on airplane mode most of the time so I wouldn’t kill the battery. I minimally talked to people who weren’t there with me. I minimally connected to my web site and to Facebook. My hand, however, was glued to JP’s Canon and I got some really good photos.
I did bring my computer, but just so I could write because I knew there wasn’t a connection, but that I could be authentic and less distracted.
We were there for 24 hours exactly and it seemed longer. For once, neither of us were on phones and JP said on the car ride home that he barely had half a pack of gum. Trust me, this was quite impressive because chewing gum to him is like what the gym is for me. Something to do when he’s bored, something to do when he’s anxious, something to do to get through rough times, something to do when he doesn’t know what else to do.
In eight months, I completed my education and started a new career. I’ve written a book and sent it for design and layout. I’ve explored the next step in certification and education to build my coaching business. I’ve also started exploring opportunities of consulting in fundraising and public health. That’s just the professional me. These are hard goals and deadlines.
Personal me has redesigned the routine to allow for an appropriate shift in goals professionally, which is a shift away from the personal goals I had when I was competing. My health is still a priority, and honestly, I would say it’s more of a priority than it’s ever been before. But before, I had tunnel vision and allowed the gym and meal planning to conquer all aspects of my life.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that – it was necessary at the time. When I started this journey, this change, whatever this is – I was 22 years old and focusing on me was new. The tunnel helped.
But now, at 29 it’s a different life.
I’m no longer competing, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see others say the same. It’s not that there’s hate in our hearts for the sport – just the opposite. It did for us what we needed it to at the time and now, we’re ready to move on and explore. For me, that’s exploring health in a clinical context and a policy context with my career as well as an integrative context with coaching.
I’m continuously reminding myself how I got here because it’s still surprising that this is real life. I think JP and I are both in disbelief of our age and what normal is for us…which comes back to not feeling our age quiet yet.
Normal is working out because it feels good when I do it.
Normal is sleeping in and making breakfast together because our schedules are flexible.
Normal is spontaneous date night without looking at the menu ahead of time, but still discussing if we want an appetizer or dessert and compromising.
Normal is the working on disconnecting and finding other methods to feel connected to my physical environment.
So, back to this idea of relaxing or taking a break.
I’ve always been bad at taking breaks, but if I’m going to truly practice what I preach about going with the flow, it needs to be more than just what we’ve been traditionally talking about here – food and exercise, with a sprinkling of mental health.
As the summer concludes and I feel like things have calmed since starting my job two months, I finally feel that while we may not get a true vacation, there is going to be time to redefine relaxation and practice it without feeling guilty that I should be doing something. I feel ready as we’re heading towards fall.
Here are some questions I’ve been contemplating all year because creating a healthy lifestyle is about how to blend healthy actions that are in my control with the rest of my life.
What is the goal or priority now and why?
What is the timeline needed for this to be successful?
What kind of routine or check points would integrate this into the rest of your life?
What’s in my control?
What’s out of my control?
When will you be satisfied?
With every goal or priority, I believe we may need to consider going back to the drawing board and talk out our priorities. As silly as it may sound, but I know if we don’t plan to relax then we will overbook ourselves, so to add relax more to the list of goals, I may need to talk it out with JP and see if we can preemptively plan to willingly take breaks. Maybe if they’re loosely planned, they’ll become habit and we won’t need to think about it so much.
I’m happy that work has calmed down and I’ve gotten into a groove. I’m looking forward to the mindfulness class this fall, and I think it’ll be really helpful as a few exciting adult adventures have popped. I’m also excited to “off-load” or wrap up a few projects I’ve been working like my workbook so that I can take on new endeavors as they make sense.
I do think that this is a place that I can continue to grow and be happy in, but I also need to give myself a chance to breathe.