My life is kind of stressful.
I own a thriving business. I am a husband, a father of two boys, and a son. I provide the primary income that my family lives on. I host a podcast, write this blog, release content to social media at a mind-spinning rate, I am a voracious reader, I play guitar, I have plates spinning in so many directions sometimes I forget which one needs attention before it falls.
And I love it all.
You see, most of my life’s stress is what I would call “positive stress.” It keeps me focused, it keeps me accountable to myself, it keeps me polishing skills that I want to keep sharp.
One could argue that I have too much happening but I love doing it all and, with my primary goal of just wanting to improve the lives of others, I’d say it all counts.
Sometimes, not often, this stress keeps me from sleeping well. My mind can get so amped up on the next thing I need/want to do that I have trouble staying asleep at night. And, with my schedule as it is at work, a night of poor sleep can make for a very rough next day training clients.
And one thing I do have working in my favor is that my body, by and large, is at an ideal place for me.
That is not necessarily the case for over 70% of my clients.
There is a question I ask when I consult with a potential client and the question goes something like this:
On a scale of zero to ten, zero being not noticeable and ten being intolerable, whereabouts is stress in your life?
And the answer I get with most frequency is something well above the midway point.
So, I ask further: Is that a normal level of stress for you?
To which these individuals will say something along the lines of: Yes, my life/work/relationship are stressful but I’m used to it.
And since the bulk of my clientele is with me for weight loss, most of the clients I have who answer this question in this way are overweight to some degree.
Which means we have a starting point with a person who is overweight (which is emotionally and physically stressful for those going through it) and living a fairly high stress lifestyle due to work obligations, relationship stress, etc.
Then to get them to improve that situation, I ask them to eat at a deficit (which is stressful) and to add some degree of strength training and endurance work into their week (yes, also stressful.)
And my clients, hellbent on reaching their goals try to overhaul their lives to meet the demands of these new requirements: get sleep, eat right, train right, macro this, meal prep that, oh wait…what about my anxiety medications?
I don’t know about you but it’s starting to stress me out just writing this.
And this is why it pains me that so few people in the health and wellness community are talking about stress.
Stress for me, can keep me awake at night. Historically, stress has made me physically ill.
It’s a REALLY big issue.
I’m not the type of trainer who wants to insert a boogeyman into the weight loss journey but if you have been spinning your wheels trying to make progress, I would say the stress boogeyman might be worth paying attention to.
Dieting is a stressor.
Intense exercise is a stressor.
Being medicated for a clinical neurological condition is a stressor (especially if you have not found the right medication or dosage of your medication.)
I haven’t even mentioned the stress of menopause have I?
And I hope you can see where this is leading.
When I talk about my “stressful” life it’s not with a badge of honor. Many of the things I do, I do them because they provide something of an outlet for me. I write to calm my mind down. I do the podcast to learn and educate. I read to be a better writer and trainer. I play guitar and sing to inspire, entertain and keep a hobby. These are all good, admirable things that help me minimize stress in my life.
For you, realize that stress cannot be completely eliminated. We need some of the good and we need some of the not-so-good.
It’s for these very stressed people that I offer some words of encouragement.
You are not the ideal person (right now) for white-knuckling your way to success. Your life, at this moment, is stressful enough.
Aggressive dieting, extreme training, and sleep deprivation are not keys to success.
They will stand in your way. They will keep the scale in a constant cycle of betrayal.
Because your body will find one way or another to tell you “I’m not going to let you win today.”
Step back for a moment.
Take a deep breath.
And look at where and how you can pull back stress in your life.
Not eliminate, but reduce.
Eat better foods, foods that make you feel nourished, not shameful.
Drink more water, so you’re less sluggish and lethargic throughout your day.
Temporarily remove trigger foods from your home and place of work. Temptation is not something you need to toy with right now.
Sleep restfully to recover from your training and not derail with cravings throughout the next day.
Have an outlet for your stress: write, sing, dance, have sex (preferably good sex), go for a walk, pet your dog, read a book, turn off the television (Netflix isn’t going anywhere.)
The clients of mine who are struggling the most to lose weight seem to have the most stress right now. That stress manifests into poor eating choices and poor sleep habits.
Those poor food choices and poor sleep habits keep you from reaching your goal.
And not reaching your goal…well, you probably guessed it, that’s f*cking stressful.
What stress will you reduce in your life?
“We Make Great People Greater”