How Do You Know It’s Time To Take A Break? – Tucson Personal Trainer Blog

By: Jerry Trubman, Owner and Founder

I’m writing this in June of 2022. After almost two and a half years of successful avoidance, the double red lines finally got me. What’s worse is that it happened on a vacation. My wife had the Alpha in April of 2020 and I managed to not get it (despite making no efforts to stay away from her). We were all locked down at the time, and I figured we were all going to get it at some point, so I might as well just get it over with. An anti-body test later confirmed: COVID for Marie, none for Jerry.

This summer it all changed. Between the actual vacation itself, the forced vacation after I got home, and the other pre-planned trips shortly after, I was away from work for almost the entire month of June. During this time, I realized this was the longest I’ve not worked (that I can remember) in my entire adult life. If your job has a more liberal vacation policy, or you had a long break during COVID lockdown, this may seem weird. For those not so fortunate, this seems normal.

In either case, there are times in life when we need a break. Unfortunately, we are often the ones who are last to realize when this break is necessary. For me, this time was very needed. I didn’t realize how burned out I was until I was actually able to get away for a bit.

Taking a break can also apply to other things besides work. Training is a great example. It’s been my observation over the years that people who are ‘always grinding’ in the gym often experience burn-out. This constant day-in and day-out grind simply does not stand the long-term test of time.

Although I feel like I manage this well in my own training, I did have nagging hip pain that wouldn’t seem to go away the last month or so. During my time off the pain completely went away.

So, how do you know when it’s time to back off? There are several ways, and that’s what today’s post is all about…

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No Light At The End Of The Tunnel

In his book, The Gnoll Credo, author J. Stanton talks about how our hunter ancestors would operate…

    • Plan the hunt
    • Hunt
    • Discuss the hunt

In other words, our ancestor’s ways had logical beginnings, middles, and ends to the work they did. Many of us work in jobs that do no such thing. Some jobs are like laundry: You go in and do the laundry… then there’s more laundry. You keep doing this until, one day, you retire or die.

This is how we design our programs… to see things have a beginning, middle, and end. We start with a skill… say the deadlift. In the beginning we just enjoy the practice of the skill. Then we get better and add more weight to the bar. At the end of a program we peak… celebrate like mad… then reset and start over with other skills.

We enjoy these types of programs because there is always a light at the end of the tunnel; something to look forward to. After it is finished, we take a rest from that particular thing and focus on something else.

If there is no cycling in your training program, or life program, and you’re feeling like a hamster in a wheel, it might be time for a break/reset.

Feeling The Burn

Many of us spent 2020 in survival mode. Some jobs get us caught up in a big project that keeps us running with our head down for extended periods of time. Managerial positions can have people hopping from one crisis to another. Hard-training gym goers hit points in their training where results stagnate. All of these situations are a good indicator that it’s time for a break.

Burnout is real. Not addressing it puts us into a situation where we end up with a lack of desire to keep trekking forward. Stepping away from a situation can provide the space needed to analyze and look for inefficiencies. Some of the best new business ideas/strategies I’ve ever come up with were conceived in the middle of nowhere in the mountains on a summer getaway.

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Tell Me Your Ways…

One of my colleagues recently posted “You people who take vacations… tell me your ways.” His post made me realize that for the past couple years, I’ve been afraid to leave my post because of how unstable everything felt around me. Even with having the ability to get away again, I noticed myself still feeling anxiety about taking time off. When operating in ‘survival mode’ for so long, it’s hard to re-shift the mind into realizing things will be ok. Turns out… I came home after my trip to notice, low-and-behold, things were pretty much the way they were before I left… if not better!

Reminds me of a funny thing I saw online…

European guy’s voice message when on vacation: “Hello, I am on holiday for the next three months backpacking in the Swiss Alps. Will check messages when I return.”

American guy’s voice message: “I will be out of the office today from noon to 3 having kidney surgery, but will still be available by text.”

It’s funny because it’s true.

Many Americans are notoriously overworked and unhealthy. Much of that unhealthiness is a direct by-product of being overworked.

Get Help

Earlier this year, I realized that the gym needed help. Luckily, we have some incredibly skilled people that were willing to step up to the challenge. Help can come in many forms; it’s wise to seek it out.

Can we all stand to clean up our eating? Sure. Can we exercise more? Sure. But if we don’t manage the rest and recovery side of things, the health and wellness puzzle will never be completed.

Until next time,

Jerry Trubman is a coach, clinician, author, blogger, and powerlifting state champion. With over two decades of lifting experience, he has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, and distilling them into practical programs that produce great results. Jerry has coached “Team Protocol” to 4 National Powerlifting Championships in the 100% Raw federation. He writes the internationally-read blog, “The Healthy Addiction” and lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife, Marie, and dog, Asher.

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