Rest to Progress

I was still in high school and I decided to make some improvements to my car. For a second let’s gloss over the fact that it was almost 25 years old and the odometer had turned over more times than I could know for sure. For those who have never been in a older car, odometers did not used to be digital and some of them would turn back to zero after they passed 99,999.

Anyway I decided to spruce the old thing up starting with the windows cause what high school kid wants you to be able to see in their car. Once I tinted the windows I thought it would be a shame if I didn’t put rims on it. And after I put the rims on it how could I not paint it. So here I am putting rims and paint on a car that I couldn't rely on to take me more than an hour drive.

One day I was driving my old car with the new paint and rims listening to some song that I probably couldn’t stand to listen to today (not that it was terrible, but songs have expiration dates). I stopped at a red light and I was bumping my music but when the light turned green the car wouldn't go. The engine was blown.

Don't lose track of priorities and get stuck at the light.
Don't lose track of priorities and get stuck at the light.

What I should have done was maintenance the engine and stuff stuff like that and gave it a weekly wash. What I did do was ignore that and focus on the things that I thought would make it look better. In the end it did look better…all the way to the junk yard.  I fell victim to thinking more was more and I lost track of my priorities.

Enough about me let’s talk about you. You just started a workout program and you want to get results as fast as possible. The program says to lift weights 3 days a week and do some sort of cardio 5 days a week (nothing major just 15-30 minutes each time).

So what do you do? You think to yourself that if you were told to lift 3 days a week that lifting 4 or 5 days would be better and that if you were supposed to do 5 days of cardio why not go every day? And 15-30 minutes? That’s for slow progress so you’re gonna do an hour.

You were told to eat 1200 calories a day so that you could lose 2 pounds a week. You think 2 pounds a week is nice and all but 3 or 4 pounds a week would be better so you decide to eat less than 1200 calories a day.

The problem is that your priorities are all wrong. While you should be focusing on making habits that you can keep and taking the time your body needs to recover, you're putting the pedal to the metal and trying to get it all done in a day. But you know the saying about Rome.

Don't do too much and get burnt out.
Don't do too much and get burnt out.

What your impatience and motivation has done is blind you to the fact that your body needs rest. As you workout, especially when you lift weights, you make microscopic tears to your muscles. The way you get stronger and make progress is when those tears in your muscles repair themselves and grow back bigger and stronger. That doesn’t happen without rest.

So when you decide to do more than what is recommended you aren’t helping yourself, you’re taking away the time your body needs to repair and improve itself. Your body needs about 48 hours between working a particular muscle. Adding extra workouts takes that time away.

Without taking the time you need to recover you just keep breaking your body down and taking away its ability to repair itself. Not only that you aren’t eating enough since you decided to try to lose more than the recommended pounds per week.

Your body uses food as an energy source as well as the building blocks to repair tissues, one of them being muscles. If you eat too much you add tissue that you don’t want, aka fat. If you eat just enough your body maintains itself. If you eat less than maintenance you will lose fat, but if you eat too much less your body decides to slow down on the burning and hold on to that fat just in case you aren’t gonna feed it.

When you start a workout program make sure that you work hard AND get enough rest. Also make sure you that you’re eating below your maintenance calories but not too far below. You want to develop habits that you can keep for the long haul. Don’t try to do it all at once and lose track of priorities. You’ll get to doing things that you could never keep up.

You’ll probably lose a bunch of weight fast but won’t be able to keep up with the ridiculous time and energy commitment you brought upon yourself. When that happens you’ll gain the weight back and then some. Build good habits that you can keep. Rest to progress or you’ll get stuck at the light.