The Hungry Snake Pose: How Not to Burn Out on Anything

Apologies–this is not actually a post in which I detail a weird faux-yoga position. I just can’t do yoga or anything like it, period, mostly because I’m bad at things that force me to slow down and take my time and RELAX. I don’t do well with that stuff. I just run on my own special fuel of anxiety spiked with randomized peaks of energy and frantic worrying. It’s an exhausting existence sometimes, and at the age of 27 I’ve come up with a sort of “rules list” of how to deal with it. I’ve also managed to weed out most of the people and circumstances in my life that would/have lead to critical mass levels of perfectionism. This post contains my approach to being dedicated to an activity but not crossing the line from “passionate pursuit of excellence in my sport” to “toxic overdose on lifting EXPOSURE AT CRITICAL LEVELS

The W is cut off on the "winning" part. Hmm. What does it MEAN?
The W is cut off on the “winning” part. Hmm. What does it MEAN?

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Everyone has to come to terms with his or her own mental management of activities–balancing being crucial to this process. One thing I find very important to avoid feeling like training becomes a chore or yet another responsibility is to try to make as much of what I do feel “fun” as possible. I’m too damned serious about EVERYTHING and this is essential to keep me from imploding from the pressure I put on myself over lifting. I also have to just completely separate my focus from lifting sometimes and switch it over entirely to whatever I am engaged in at a certain point in the day. In other words, it can be best to give yourself a mental break from training and lifting to make your dedication to it sustainable, at least for some people. If I let myself I will ENDLESSLY fixate on something. Right now, it’s figuring out how the hell to keep a ball python as a pet. I have to actually set mental limits on how much I will agonize over the smallest of details regarding a given process.

Not everyone, thankfully, is like my crazyass self. But a lot of people describe feeling “burned out” or “unmotivated” periodically with their training and this can be alleviated using the approach I describe above. Let’s use an analogy: ball pythons are freaking finicky eaters and sometimes you just have to withhold food for a bit until they’re pretty damn hungry before they’ll decide to feed. If you keep trying to feed them when they’re semi-hungry but lazy as fuck, they’ll just leave the rat carcass in their enclosure and either get stressed by it or become apathetic to it.

Your head is the ball python. Stop giving it constant exposure to lifting/”the rat” if you feel burned out or unmotivated. If you’re struggling with some aspect of your lifting mentally and the fact that you SUCK at something/your strength is stalling on a lift/etc. is just running on a loop over and over, take that shit away from yourself. A forced complete mental break will clear your head and make you “hungry” to come back and deal with the situation with a more powerful appetite and desire.

How long should the break be? That’s situational. Sometimes, for me, it’s a chunk of the day. Sometimes I don’t allow myself to “obsess” over lifting until I literally get to the gym. Keeping lifting separate and “contained” in your life can help you stay grounded and better able to make judgments about training method, injury maintenance or prevention, and competition goals.

Also, I thought I’d throw a recent deadlift video here that marks a pretty solid PR for me: I deadlifted 300 lb for a triple last week. Yay!