I’m going to be honest with you, I’m writing this blog for myself. If I have learned anything over the past 7 years of coaching clients, if I need to hear something, someone else needs it as well. Today, I’m going to give advice that isn’t for everyone, but for those who need it, it’s powerful. Today, I’m writing about letting go and disconnecting.
This past weekend, I was in Arizona for the Phoenix Open for my best friend’s bachelor party. To say my friends don’t share the same ideals about lifestyle as I do would be an understatement. From touching down on Friday until leaving Monday morning, there was nothing “healthy” about this trip. It was all about drinking and eating and that’s not necessarily my “comfort place”. Despite this, it was an amazing time.
I often talk about having a plan for eating and drinking in situations like this. I suggest creating rules within your travel to make sure you are eating your vegetables and drinking water and getting movement into your daily routine. While a game plan is often the best course of action, sometimes the healthiest thing you can do is just let go. The healthiest option is to not go to the grocery store and buy your own food that aligns with the rituals and tendencies you have for yourself, while all your friends share meals with each other. I’m not talking about your physical health, but rather your mental health.
Sometimes the best thing to do is eat terribly for 2-3 days with your best friends, laughing and missing your training sessions. Allowing yourself to disconnect and go overboard will likely help you in the long run anyway. It will help you avoid burnout, which happens, from eating healthy and working out all the time.
I was once told that a great athlete uses life to relate to his or her sport and that a master athlete uses his or her sport to relate to life. Well, over the years I believe I have mastered the art of being an athlete. I typically like to relate my life to a training template. Over the course of the year you have your training plan. There is pre-season, in-season and off-season. In all of those seasons, there are hard weeks and light weeks, sometimes there are even complete weeks off to allow an athlete to rest and recover for their next training cycle.
In life, the same thing exists. There are times to push and there are times to pull back. Sometimes giving yourself a week break will allow you to recover from the stresses that come with being compliant with your nutrition and training. Sometimes a week off will sling shot you forward in the long run.
Rules, rituals and routines are great, but too many routines can dull your life. Don’t be afraid to break the rules you’ve set for yourself, go out and have fun. Variety is the spice of life.
The other piece of this is to understand your priorities. I have coached enough people now to understand that the priorities of most people who care deeply about health and fitness boil down to:
- Family + Friends
…and while this isn’t the case for everyone (i.e. elite athletes) it’s true for the majority for people looking for well-rounded health and fitness. If this is the case for you, you shouldn’t be 100% with your nutrition and your training all the time. It means that your family and friends and occupation are actually more important than your training. Having your friends and family as your first priority means that when you are with them, you are completely connected and engaged, most of the time. And the easiest way to connect is to “break bread” with someone, share a meal.
I don’t think most fitness coaches in the industry would agree with me on this and I think it’s because they aren’t looking for alignment and integration. They don’t see training as a piece of life; they see it as the whole picture. At the end of the day, it’s not. Your training and nutrition are to make your life better, not be the only thing in it. If you want a rich and full life, put your rules and routines down occasionally and be deeply connected with your friends. Stay up late, wake up early, drink a couple alcoholic beverages and eat food that hurts your stomach. Life is for laughing and having fun. There is no prize at the end of life if you didn’t enjoy it. The path is the prize, not the destination. Don’t die wondering…
…if this resonated with you, remember that I’ve been coaching clients for years and I still need to hear this. The biggest secret I have for being healthy is to make sure you laugh and smile every day. This secret is most likely more important than having the perfect diet, training plan, and sleep schedule.