Balancing The Unbalanced
When you look at the people who make it to "elite status" in their sport, job, or anything else competitive, it rarely happens at a young age. Powerlifters are typically their best in their 30's and early 40's and the same goes for bodybuilders. Would you prefer a 24 year old managing your 401k or a 40 year old? While there are always outliers to every equation, it makes logical sense that, time within what you're striving to be the best at, will make you better.
Not everyone has their eyes set on specific goals like a 2000lb total or a pro bodybuilder status. Some people have life goals and their fitness aspirations are simply side goals in the grand scheme of things. That's normal. While social media may tell you that you're weak, an all or nothing attitude typically doesn't accomplish much. Being 100% in for a few years doesn't yield the same results as 80% in for a decade (or two). Part of the reason time with intensity yields the best results is the resiliency you develop along the way. You learn how to eat healthy when it's the hardest and how to get to the gym when you have no time. You develop good habits, bad habits, and may even walk away completely at times. There is a big difference, however, in walking away temporarily and walking away for a break.
We see people continuously struggle with this mindset as we enter the holiday season and schedules get tighter. When you're busy it becomes increasingly difficult to meal prep, hit the gym, follow your program, etc. There's two different types of people in this situation, those that are at the top of their game and find ways (through trial and error) to manage the business that life can throw at them. Then there are those that fitness is a secondary priority in life. Fitness takes a back seat to being a parent, being successful in their careers, or maybe they just enjoy other things slightly more than they desire strength or physique goals. So why the stress?
While moderation will be the key ingredient to success for the latter group, it raises a question. Why do people find the need to stress gym attendance, meal prep, programs, and rotations so much? We've become a society of "my way or the highway" and everyone leans towards the extreme. It's okay to eat some pie during the holidays if you're making it to the gym. It's okay to eat out frequently if you know how to select the proper foods. It's definitely okay to skip the gym for a period of time if you're able to maintain your diet.
Often times people think that if they miss a couple sessions at the gym they look worse. They don't. If you are consistently training and eat some junk food, you'll live. The point is to not use these internal conflicts as reasons to completely derail yourself from the goals you've set and to take a step back and look at things through the big picture.
If you enjoy powerlifting, but take some time away from the gym or aren't training as frequently, you haven't destroyed your progress. While you may not be as strong as you were when your frequency and intensity were higher, it's actually good long term to go in waves. If you're a bodybuilder and eat some junk food but are still training consistently, your body will absorb the food and you'll move on. For some reason though, when you're overweight or underweight and you miss the gym or come off a strict protocol for diet (even macro counting is tedious and at times stressful) we tend to condemn ourselves and fall off even worse.
During this upcoming holiday season, remember that your "fall offs" aren't fall offs and 80% of your meals/training is a lot better than 0%. Showing up will always prevail over giving up.