Stress Sucks

Let me set the scene for you: I wrote (typed?) this after a particularly crappy morning in the gym. After the gym, I went to the grocery store where I proceeded to be ragey and buy chocolate and shove it in my face. It was delicious and I regret nothing. My current mood when writing this amounted to something like: pissed off, frustrated, throwing myself a pity party, etc. – basically wallowing and being annoyed at the wallowing.

20130708-175256.jpg This is beyond delicious & served as some chocolate therapy after my off morning.

Sunday morning I was supposed to PR my clean & jerk – key words “supposed to”. I didn’t, obviously. I woke up feeling kind of crappy, had a stress filled hour or so before the gym and arrived feeling angry and mentally tired. Warm-ups were decent - little impatient on my second pull on the clean & lacking some aggression & need to work on my footwork in the jerk – the usual things I need to work on. I put weight on the bar to go for a PR, pulled it, didn’t get under it. I pulled again, got under it, didn’t rack fast/aggressively enough and fell on my butt. Same thing again. And then I start doing this stupid RDL thing that I do when I rush everything. Basically, it looked like this: yell, set up, pull, impatient second pull, getting under, elbows not up, falling on my ass, slamming the bar, ripping my belt off in frustration - add chalk and repeat for 20 minutes. I finally called it because one, I had other stuff to do; two, I don’t want to practice missing lifts; and three, I was getting too tired to do anything well. I finished my workout, got in my car, and was just SO frustrated. I knew that I should have made that clean & jerk PR and frankly, I was pretty disappointed with myself. I know the difference between the PR not being there (not strong enough, fast enough, whatever) and me not being there – and I just wasn’t there today. True, the PR might not have been there either but I wasn’t even close to a place where I could have found out. I hadn’t really been there all week really. Why? Because I turned into a giant ball of stress.


As I was driving to the store still covered in chalk & sweat (yeah, I’m classy like that), I just grew more and more frustrated. This had NOTHING to do with my clean & jerk – yes, I was disappointed with myself because it was there and I wasn’t, but I know what I need to do, what I need to work on, and saw the progress I made even in my failed attempts. I do what I do because I love it, it’s fun, and I genuinely enjoy it – I don’t stress too much about it because I don’t want to wake up and suddenly hate the barbell. It was a productive morning if for no other reason than I learned what I need to work on – I was over it. What I was really angry about was the fact that my performance was a direct reflection of how stress was running me down – and more accurately, that I LET stress run me down. The past week had just knocked me on my ass – something that quite literally happened multiple times that morning. I was stressed beyond belief with crap and therefore didn’t eating well or nearly enough, didn’t sleep well, and my head was everywhere but where it needed to be. I felt extremely under recovered because my nervous system was overwhelmed from being in a constant state of freaking the eff out. Also, I’m not a terribly emotional/expressive person - it's just not really natural for me. I’m the person who likes to observe and listen - a definite introvert. The only place I’m really vocally emotional/expressive is in the gym (always been that way) so when stuff goes wrong, I get pissed and then realize it usually has nothing to do with what is going on in the gym.


I hadn’t taken the proper steps to mitigate & lessen that stress either because old habits die hard. I’m a stress seeker – I like pressure, I like expectations, I hold myself to ridiculous standards, I like being busy. During college, I never worked less than 2 or 3 jobs while taking 15-19 credits. I finished my bachelor’s in 3 years as a double major and was pissed when I was a few decimal places away from graduating with a 3.9 GPA. It’s not so much that I liked feeling stressed (I don’t), it’s that when I was stressed it usually meant I was busy and being busy meant being productive and basically, I just glorified “busy” until it chewed me up and spit me out.


I need to do more of this - not necessarily drink wine but actually relax. And foam rolling, I need all the foam rolling.

I’ve moved on from that but little bits still linger here and there and they come out when life gets hectic. I think people often forget how big of an impact stress has on them – their mind, body, gym performance, whatever. I know I do. I often forget about it until I’m in this type of situation. We still glorify “busy” as a society and I think we often forget that busy doesn’t necessarily mean productive. This past week has definitely been a not so gentle ass kicking reminder of the fact that we all need to just calm the heck down and take time for ourselves. I'm a firm believer that more isn't more, that rest and recovery are extremely important, and I believe that stress sucks and too much of it kills your progress. I suppose this is the world's way of telling me to take my own damn advice.

I've come to realize that for me, the platform is just a mirror for what is actually going on outside of it. I haven’t built up the skill of being able to just walk through the doors and shift my brain into a different mode – I’m too much of a novice for that. I still struggle with handling stress in a productive way. But I work on it and some days are better than others. But ultimately, the barbell has a way of shining a big, annoyingly bright, and glaring light on whatever is going on inside my head and outside of the gym. And ultimately, I think we all just need to take a deep breath and relax.