Week 6 – Take a Chill Pill

Lets just get this joke out of the way

I’m not a great scholar of the Book.  I don’t know the Jewish traditions very well, or how they got turned into metaphors by Christ.  But I’ve heard of the Jubilee. Every fifty years, everyone would take a year off of some types of work, some celebrations were held, and debts are forgiven.  I’m sure there’s a lot I’m getting wrong and glossing over, but the idea of regular debt repayment is a popular one that’s survived through the ages. Everyone has probably felt like, if they could just take a break from their bills and their stress, they could really get ahead in life.  

The Jubilee is a mesocycle of rest and repayment, with a weekly day of rest acting like a microcycle.

What does that have to do with getting fit?  Lots, actually. Rest, recovery, mesocycles and microcycles.  Mastering them is actually really important for making changes to your body.

Part 1: The Microcycle, or Go The Fuck To Bed

I kept running into three pieces of advice for people trying to get fit.  1) Try hard. 2) Eat right. and 3) Sleep. Numbers 1) and 2) I get. Arnold, Hulk Hogan, and Mr. T have been telling us since I was watching them on Saturday morning.  But sleep?

Yeah, sleep.  It’s a thing. If you want to lose weight, try sleeping more.  If you want to get big, try sleeping more (after a protein shake.)  If you want to perform better athletically, try sleeping more.

Give it a try.  What’s the worst that could happen?  You fuck up and get eight hours of sleep?  Oh noes.

Part 2: The Mesocycle, or Taking a Break While You Look Up What Mesocycle Means OK I’ll Save You a Click It Means Big Cycle

The Bear Minimum was his nickname in high school.

So we got our microcycle down, but what is this about mesocycle?  Well, our bodies are super complex. And lazy as fuck. They will adapt to a new stimulus, but only the bare minimum needed.  In order to keep pushing it, you gotta change things up.

For exercise, well, that’s been studied so much I can farm out the description to someone else.  Go read this.

For diet, not so much with the researching.  In fact, there are a lot of otherwise-well-informed people that think the human metabolism can stand up to a constant calorie deficit and not adapt.  They are wrong.  It happened to me, and let me tell you first hand, it sucks.  The solution? Cycling on and off a diet. There’s only been one published study of this approach that I know if, but it’s got a punny acronym for a name so you know it has to be good. 

In broad strokes, they found that for a bunch of obese people, two weeks of diet followed by two weeks of eating to maintain weight led to more weight loss than a steady diet.  Eventually. It took twice as long, you know, for taking half time off. But the two groups ate the same deficit overall.

So what the lesson here?  The lesson is it’s week 6. If you have been kicking ass for five weeks, take a rest week if you think it might help.  Rest. Recover. Come back next week.

Weekly Challenge

None!  Didn’t you just read this article about taking a break?