When it comes to fitness, nothing is more popular then the newest training or nutrition fads. Things come and go in terms of popularity or being the “in thing” both areas, paleo, keto, cross fit, powerlifting, vegan, bodybuilding all ones that go through phases of popularity.
People always want the “best” thing for fat loss, the thing that will make them stronger quicker, the nutrition plan the promises the “best” results. People always feel the need to do something. Stress management however sounds boring and often involves the boring stuff like relaxing, sleeping more and mellowing out. However because this in most cases involves doing nothing, or at least doing less people brush it aside because they feel like if they don’t do something they are wasting their time when they could be doing more to achieve their goal.
Why doesn’t stress management and recovery get promoted more in the industry if its such an important topic? Well because, the industry cant sell you stress management. They can sell you nutrition and training. So unless your source of guidance cares about your genuine health and well-being, stress management probably wont be the topic of conversation too much.
People for the most part are always stressed. They are in fact so stressed that being stressed feels normal. It feels so normal that will actually claim they feel fine. It isn’t until they feel what feeling healthy, fit and de-stressed feels like to realise how stressed they actually were. You have a job, then there is family responsibilities, then you add the finical burdens of bills and outgoings. We then add the fact that people are for the most part inactive, have high blood pressure and a high resting heart rate, they drink alcohol and their nutrition isn’t too great, they don’t sleep enough and require excessive amounts of coffee and caffeine to get through the day. This has then all been the regular thing for so long that you have adapted and this now is “normal”.
On the other side of things, we know that fat loss, body composition goals, sleep quality, mood, motivation, muscle gain, drive to improve, training performance, nutritional control, appetite and many other variables and extremely impacted by stress.. well then that really makes you think, am I right?
Now, maybe this whole “managing stress” thing needs another look…
When people want they get in shape, their initial reaction is to “train more and more”, and then “eat less and less”. Yes training is important for body composition and for health, and yes a calorie deficit is needed for fat loss and body composition management – but there is a line. Training is a stress, a calorie deficit also increases stress. The more you train adds more and more stress, the less and less calories you eat also adds more stress. So you can see why the whole “ I’m going to lift weights and do cardio all the time while eating 1000kcal” mentality will most likely lead to a cascade of physical and psychological issues down the line which we will get in to on another day.
On the other hand when trying to gain muscle and size and increase strength, both are done through recovery. You do not get stronger or bigger in the gym, its when you recover and adapt to the stimulus you provided in the gym you get stronger and gain muscle. Training is a stressor and a stimulus, but without adequate sleep, stress management and calorie intake you will not get stronger or bigger and you will oct likely burn out eventually.
So when deciding your next training and nutrition regime, you need to take your life in to account. Look at family and work responsibilities, look at how much time you have and suss out how many stressors you have. You need to know this before adding in more stressors from training and you need to match your nutritional needs accordingly. The dedication it takes to get visible abs, training 5x times per week, prepping meals in boxes, hitting cardio before work are all things the cannot fit in to most peoples lives. You need to understand what certain goals require in terms of discipline and commitment and you need to look at the stage you are in in terms of lifters and the amount of disposable commitment and time you have. It may be time to reassess the visions or goals of what the word “results look like for you.
Not everyone needs abs, not everyone needs to squat 100kg and not everyone needs to run a marathon. However everyone should make their health a priority. Do ALL you can with what you have it your disposal, learn to mellow out and de-stress. Practice “you time”, positive self talk, have some alone time, down time, relaxation time and all of the other stuff people over look because it doesn’t sound cool. This will pay dividends in the long run.
After all, life should be a never ending quest of health and success.
Time to learn how to”chill out”…