A Practice For Getting Back Into Our Practice
One of the inescapable aspects of our journey is the testing of our limits. You can be sure that on your path, circumstances will arise that will ask more of you, take more from you and usually give more to you in unique ways.
But breaking from routine is a disruption, regardless of the good it produces in the world. Returning from the interruption of these tests to our routine is a skill that requires development and forethought.
For me, February 2020 was just such a test of limits.
My routine, as laid out in my Time Budget, has four key pillars:
– Weekly Life Prep: Once a week, usually on Sunday, I clean up my inbox (digital and physical), review my budget, triple check my calendar for the week, and write this newsletter.
– Fitness: Monday through Friday, I work out at least twice a day. Some combination of Jiu-jitsu, HapKiDo, weightlifting, pilates, and running.
– Nutrition: Monday through Friday, I fast for 16-18 hours a day, and try to prep my meals to optimize for athletic activity.
– Rest: I meditate daily, and I do everything possible to get at least 7 hours of sleep a day.
That’s it. If I can keep those four pillars up, I feel supercharged for the day to day work I have to do.
February challenged my routine thoroughly, disrupting every pillar at one point or another.
On Saturday, February 1st, I traveled to Bowling Green, Kentucky, for my first Jiu-Jitsu tournament. It was an excellent day; I won three matches to take gold in the Masters’ white belt light-heavyweight division. But man was I sore afterward. My body needed some downtime from my fitness routine as a result.
Sunday was the Super Bowl, and Rachel and I hosted my parents and their friends at our house.
Then I got sick that Monday from food poisoning and was down for 48 hours.
From Saturday, February 8th through Tuesday, February 11th, I didn’t leave my house to finish the manuscript for Create and Orchestrate to turn into my publisher. My fitness is now at 20% of my goal for a week.
For the next two weekends, Feb 15-16 and 22-23, Rachel and I traveled together. Once to a cabin in North Carolina to hang out with her trail running buddies, and once to the mountains of Colorado to go skiing with my brother-in-law. Both incredible trips, but I lost my weekly life prep with all the travel.
And this past weekend was the first-ever Major League Soccer match for Nashville SC. I hosted 11 friends from out of town and about 70 friends in-town, working all those logistics for the entire week prior. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and I was super grateful for it, but routine wise I got very little sleep and have not eaten well for the last seven days.
I dropped my best friend off at the airport around 7 pm on Sunday. I got home and tried to work on my weekly prep but was pretty much running on fumes. Even though I haven’t had a drink in a year and three months, I still get hangovers when I miss too many hours of sleep. Today, I’m ‘sleep hungover’.
So what now.
I’ve had an unbelievable February, but on March 2nd, I’m pretty much out of sorts. Whether it’s due to a positive run of back-to-back activity or a spell of bad luck, this moment of being off of our game seems inevitable. So how do we work our way back?
Here’s how I’ve approached it:
1) Use Forethought: Two months ago, when I started to see February stacking up the first thing I did was protect March. I started saying no as a rule to anything that was weekend travel-related or would have a significant impact on getting back to the routine. For the last two weeks, when I started feeling pretty rundown and slightly depressed about how far I was from my ideal week, I knew a protected March was around the corner. That knowledge allowed me to fully appreciate the incredible things I was participating in without regret.
2) Draw The Line: Even with a far from ideal routine for the entire month, there were some things that I didn’t budge on. I continued to lift weights, no matter what. When I traveled to North Carolina, I stopped in an Anytime Fitness and paid the $10 day rate to get my reps in. I also remained plant-based and didn’t drink. As sleep drunk as I feel today, deep down, I haven’t betrayed myself. My identity is intact. That makes the distance between where I am and where I want to be shorter and very realistic to close.
3) Prioritize: Until I catch up on sleep, nothing else is going to work. That will take a few days. So I need to make rest the number one priority in routine restoration. I’ve got to get my nutrition back on track if I want my fitness to fly. I ate a bunch of cookies and bagels this weekend. Gotta clean out the gas tank. I can’t do all these things at once. Pick a pillar, make some progress, then move onto the next one.
4) Acceptance: It’s going to take some time for me to get back. Not everything is going to be great on day one. I’m giving myself the entire week to work back to an A grade on my routine. This note to you is a few hours late, no big deal. I might not have the energy to do a fully loaded week of workouts, and that’s fine. Being overly harsh isn’t going to help anything right now.
Sometimes the disruptions that impact our routine are unplanned (and unwanted), and rather than using forethought; we have to adjust future plans after the fact. But otherwise, these principles can help you rebound. Funny enough, I find that I have to rebound 3-4 times a year minimum due to highly intense periods of activity.
Given the frequency with which our protocol is challenged, it stands to reason that a practice for getting back into our practice is something we should all develop.
Have a grateful day.