From Bookworm to Bikini: Week Seven

By Caroline Gick

Last week was all about shit. I felt like shit, I looked like shit, and I didn’t want to do shit—unless we’re talking about beating the shit out of anyone who tried to motivate me with any positive, “can do” type of shit. I couldn’t even muster the energy to do that, though, so I wallowed in my own shit instead.

You may already know this, but if you’re new to training or competing, I’m just going to put the truth out there:

I don’t care who you are, or how awesome you feel most of the time. I don’t care how great your training and diet plans are, and I don’t care how much positive energy you have inside. There are going to be weeks when you’re just off. You’ll feel exhausted, down, and unmotivated—and you’ll keep focusing on how far you have to go in order to meet your goals, instead of seeing all the progress you’ve made. You’ll feel like things will never be positive again, and you’ll take some perverse degree of pleasure in festering in your own negativity.

I didn’t realize I was in the throes of this until it knocked me on my ass—or into my bed, in this case. I was super-low energy all weekend, but I pushed myself. I made it to the gym to deadlift on Monday—by far the most taxing of my training days—and I made it through my session, albeit with long, extended rest periods between sets.

After my workout, I decided to lie down on the couch “for just a minute” before work, at which point I realized I could no longer move. I called in sick—even though this was a really bad week to do so—and slept. This wasn’t just a nap, either. I slept for hours. I woke up, ate, and slept for a few more hours. This went on until the next day, and I called in sick again.

I had no control over things at this point. My body wasn’t going to let me do anything but rest. After a while, I regained my physical presence and was able to move again, but I wasn’t happy about it. I could move, I could train, and I could go to work, but I really just didn’t want to. This was the hardest part of the whole thing.

If you’re training for a competition, the best thing you can do is accept this as part of your contest preparation and think ahead about how you’ll deal with it when it happens. The same strategies won’t work for everyone, but you need to know this sort of stuff is coming, and you need to have a few ideas at the ready to help combat it. I’ve done my research on this, so here are a few things you can try in order to make the best of an “off” week:

Find the right training program. One of the benefits of the Shockwave Protocol is its adaptability. If you’re having real physical issues—exhaustion or depletion, for example—but you’re not completely down and out, you can still get some training done. Read more about this here.

The mind-body connection. You can’t force this to happen, no matter how much you’d like to, and no matter how much it will help. You also can’t let your head and heart convince you that it’s okay to not train, or not follow your diet. When you’re preparing for a contest and you’re physically capable of doing both, you have to. Sometimes you just have to do whatever you can to keep them separate.

logDon’t think. Just do. Try to move through your training without thinking about it. Have your training written out before you walk into the gym. Go through the list, even if you’re just going through the motions. Wear a watch and time your rest periods between sets and exercises. Don’t think about what you’re doing or what you have to do next. Just do.

Use your music. Turn up your music to turn off your brain. Choose music that makes you angry or forces an energy of some sort, whether this is real or manufactured. You just have to make sure your playlist is fresh, otherwise it’ll hinder you more than it’ll help. You don’t want to be standing in the squat rack shuffling through the same songs over and over again, looking for something that works.

Train with a partner. If you have someone to go with, especially someone who either motivates you or is stronger than you, train with her. If you don’t have anyone, think of someone you admire—this can be someone at your gym—and let that person push you to give more than you think you have in you.

Plan and pack every meal. Leave nothing to chance. Nothing is more comforting to me than a warm sandwich and French fries when I’m feeling down. If, during an off week, I find myself eating out, it’s all too easy to rationalize ordering a super-indulgent meal. Try not to give in. Plan and prepare.

Don’t carry money. This may not be the most realistic tip, but if it’s possible, leave your wallet at home. Money can lead to impromptu snacks and drinks that aren’t part of your plan. I hadn’t had a Diet Coke in weeks, so I decided to “treat” myself. First of all, this obviously wasn’t much of a treat. Even worse, my stomach wasn’t happy about it. This happened because I had the means to purchase something I shouldn’t have.

Flipping the Script

So, this wasn’t a good week for me. It wasn’t horrible, though. I pushed through all my training sessions using a variety of the tactics I just listed. I didn’t falter too much on my diet, and I made some relatively “wise” cheating choices—a protein bar instead of French fries, a Diet Coke instead of a Frappuccino, and a protein shake for dessert instead of ice cream.

I think this was all for the best, honestly—a forced shutdown, leading to a low point from which to bounce higher. I look at it this way because I’m always trying to see the positive within the negative. The optimist in me will always come out, but I try not to be overbearing in this regard when other people are having a week like I just had. It’s obnoxious, and I hate when people do that to me.

happycarolineHowever bad things are, they’ll always come to an end, whether you believe it in the moment or not. Eventually, you’ll once again be that kick-ass ball of energy in the gym. You just have to be patient and understand that these weeks happen. Thankfully, despite all my negativity last week, my coach saw this progress and pointed it out to me.

All my stats are the same, but my glutes are starting to come in now, and my proportions are good. With this in mind—my glutes are among my biggest concerns—taking coaching and guidance with regard to where my focus needs to be was a positive thing, as opposed to yet another source of frustration.

Now, I’m going to concentrate on my legs. First, I have to bring up my outer quads. Next, the idea is to lean out my lower half while not getting too lean on top. This is probably my biggest challenge. Trusting that I’m going to get where I need to be on time is going to be a huge mental challenge for me, but I’m trying to keep myself in the right mindset. Next week, I’ll talk about more training and diet specifics, including the changes I’m implementing at this stage of the process.

What works for you when you’re having an “off” week like the one I just had? What motivates you to get off your ass and push through? I’d love to hear some feedback on this.

Have an awesome week, everyone. Unless, of course, you’re feeling like shit. If you are, just keep moving—and I’ll see you on the other side.