I find that I go through a bit of “slump” every now and then and there seems to be no real reason for it. I used to find that I’d give it some time and eventually I’d snap out of it and crack on doing what I’m doing. Without the English weather and winter blues to blame, this time my slump felt different.
New Fitness Goal
Since running a marathon in January I’ve tried a fitness goal that I’ve never tried before. I have been trying to put weight on and “bulk” like you see those gym people do on Instagram. I know most people get annoyed at this but I have always found it easy to keep weight off and rarely go much over 12 stone (76kg). However, weighing around 73kg running the marathon, I had never felt so light and to be honest pretty fit. I had noticed that I was able to run like I used to in football when I was around 16. I could run all game and still use my brain properly and my feet were able to do what I wanted them to do.
Despite this, I wanted to give this a proper go as I have never set a goal like this and I was just curious to see if my body could change. I read a book called the 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris. It has loads of ‘efficient’ ways of achieving the results you want in it from running an ultra marathon (50km), or running faster, to losing weight, to getting stronger or what I wanted to do, gaining muscle/ weight. So I followed a plan to put on 4.5 kg of fat-free mass in a month. After the first test session in the gym to gauge what weights I should lift, it only required about 10 minutes work in the gym twice a week (no surprise it’s about eating more and exercising less).
The change and how I tracked it
So after a month, amazingly enough, I had gone from 74kg to 79kg. After 2 months I was 82kg (as the pictures suggest it maybe wasn’t all muscle, but I was pretty impressed either way!) The book also talks about how weight and BMI is not the only way (or even necessarily always a good way) to measure the changes in your body. It talks about ways you can measure body fat and muscle (I think one was in a water bath, one was like a body scan and another couple of ways). I just went for the simpler, but maybe slightly better than “scales only” approach of measuring my body with a tape measure. So I set new goals based on the slight changes I had seen here:
Why the slump?
Up until recently, I was achieving success and hitting these mini goals. However, like I mentioned at the start, I was now in my “slump”. Before this new routine of going to the gym for only 20 minutes a week and trying to force feed myself (getting the excess calories from primarily a whole food plant-based diet makes it hard!), I was in some good habits leading up to the marathon. I did yoga every day, I did a HIIT workout twice a week, I ran every other day, I had what felt like endless energy (I only realise this looking back on it now obviously!), I found myself doing something productive during evenings.
I can now see that going from this to my more sedentary lifestyle has changed my energy levels, which I personally find is very closely linked to my happiness levels. This, in turn, has meant I am struggling to hit my fitness goals, meaning it affects my success. The success didn’t make me happy. But when I was “happy” it was easier to be successful.
I say happy with quotation marks as when I talk about being “happy” it could mean a number of things as it is subjective. Being in a good mood, being positive or energetic are all interchangeable with the word “happy” to me.
Just by writing this down it has made me realise even more how interchangeable and connected my health, success and happiness are.