The Art of Relaxating

(title stolen from the hilarious YouTube video of the same name)

Last week, my instructor told me I’m fighting on April 24th. Training begins tomorrow. For some reason, the fact that I’m going back on a diet weighs more heavily on my mind than any other part of the training. I’ve spent the weekend hanging loose and not worrying about what I eat.

I really should say more about the in-the-gym training that I’m doing – this is not meant to be a dieting blog – but while I’ve come a long way with my training, I’ve made the most drastic self-improvement¬† through my dieting. This has been where I’ve most needed to apply thoughtful planning and self-control to achieve my goals.

Stressing the diet

Perversely, it takes less willpower to stick to a really strict weight-loss diet than it does to eat well when you’re not following a program. When you’re free to eat what you like, you’re constantly negotiating with yourself.

“Hey you wanna come out and eat with us?” For you, the answer is difficult. Have you been eating out too much lately? Do you deserve a break? That’s a lot of messy math.

For me it’s easy. The answer is always “no.” Of course, that’s not strictly true, because a major feature of the diet I worked out during the last cycle is the cheat meal.

Cheater

Once a week, I’ll eat whatever I want for one meal. Usually I do this on the weekend, when I don’t have the training to distract me and my friends are all going out. One of my cheat meals during the last cycle was two rolls of sushi and two glasses of beer (gasp) at a local Japanese restaurant. Knowing I’ll be able to relax once a week makes it so much easier to follow that the balance of my energy intake, even including the cheat day, is much less than if I tried to stick to the same rules every day. I adapted this idea from the Thrive Diet, which some people at my gym have gotten good results from.

I see the cheat day as another way to allow myself to recover when I’m stressing myself. Weight-loss diets stress your body and your psyche, and like every form of training stress, you need to allow recovery time to get any benefit.

Finally learning to relax

I’ve been thinking a lot about stress and recovery since reading The New Toughness Training for Sports (I know I keep bringing this book up. I intend to review it properly within the next couple of weeks). One of the things I’ve picked up through all of this is learning how to relax. As long as I can remember, I’ve never understood the idea of laying out in the sun, or in a hammock, or whatever. Even as an adult, I’d always get bored with laying around, and I’d feel like I was wasting my time. I’ve always been a restless person, and a person of excesses. I wanted to get the most value from my time. For the same reason, I’d order the largest drinks, the largest sandwiches. This weekend, I broke down on my no-coffee kick and got a latte at Starbucks on the way to the gym. I got the smallest size and was totally satisfied with it. Sitting there in my car, totally satisfied with the tiny cup in my hand, I realized I may have finally learned some moderation.

music: Dead Celebrity Status – We Fall, We Fall

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