Feeling so empty, nothing left to give

Kaywin McCall

There is a powerful quote in the workout and school world that states: “Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body ever will”? While that is true for some people, what happens when you’re so motivated that your body gives up first, yet your mind tells you to keep going, to keep pushing – even when that’s not the best option? How do you combat that? How do you listen to your body? How do you give yourself a day off when you’re in constant fight mode to become better and outwork everyone?

Somebody once told me, “being burnt out is not a badge of honor” and they’re right. It’s not. Being busy is good. Getting things done during the day is good. As high schoolers going into college and the real world, it is important to start to find balance between work and rest. It’s difficult to find the right balance between too much and just enough.

Arnold Schwarzenegger sleeps six hours a night, and has told people to “sleep faster” if they needed more sleep than that. That’s been my motto for the past three years. You have 86,400 seconds in a day, and it’s your choice if you want to be in bed for that or if you want to be out getting what needs to be done, done.

My average week day used to be up and out of the house by 4:45 am to either go to the gym or to work the morning lifeguard shift at the pool, go to school, go back to the gym, then back to work for an evening shift, then be home by 8:30 pm. Then I’d, take a shower, eat dinner, watch the news, be in bed by 11:30, and then wake up and do it all over again, and again. I drank about 4-5 cups of black coffee a day because that’s what I had to do.

I received a massive wakeup call on the night of Friday, September 22, 2017. I was in the process of training for a half marathon, along with working, powerlifting and Crossfit workouts, and cutting calories to lose 11 pounds to get back into my weight class for powerlifting. I set out that evening to run a nice 3 mile recovery run, and it turned into a 9.5 mile run up to go to Bryan High to watch the football game. I got to the game and passed out from dehydration and exhaustion. I ended up going to the ER, and that’s when I knew something had to give.

Since then, my goal has been to get at least six hours of sleep, take at least two recovery days and to balance out my diet. It has already made a huge difference in my overall health, my workouts are better, and I feel so much healthier.

While my situation is fairly rare and extreme, I know many people struggle to find a healthy balance between work and rest. Here are a couple tips you can easily implement into your life to help you find balance in your schedule:

1. You can not accomplish what you need to get done if you are unhealthy. Eat nutrient rich food instead of junk food, get regular exercise, and take time for yourself daily. Simple changes that will make things more effective in the long run.

2. Set your priorities straight. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do everything at once – time will come for what you want to do, so don’t rush into anything and throw yourself to the wind. Focus on what is in front of you and what’s most important to you now, one day at a time.

3. Plan ahead. Stay ahead of what needs to be done, so you won’t fall behind. Planning out your week at the beginning will help you realize how much you are doing and to stay on task.

4. Expect the unexpected and roll with the punches. Be able to adjust your game plan when things change.

5. Start your day off with a positive note. It’s all about perspective – if you wake up and tell yourself that today will be a good day, it probably will!

You also have to put yourself first every once in awhile. I found myself being so empty that I had nothing left to give anyone. Implementing these five things into my life has helped me find more balance. It’s weird telling someone, “no, sorry I can’t do this for you” because it would compromise my balance in life, but it gets easier once you start seeing that it’s beneficial to you. I’m not saying don’t help someone, because you should, but just make sure to save time for yourself too. Don’t wear yourself out for others to the point of you having nothing left for yourself. Make yourself a priority!

Doing too much won’t seem like it’s a big deal in the moment, but gradually as time goes on – it’ll pile up. I know I overworked myself, didn’t get enough sleep, and never took time for myself, and that’s what led my body to give out. When you’re so motivated to achieve success, it’s hard to take a step back and look at the lifestyle you’re living and say, “I’m doing too much”, but reflecting on what you’re doing is a lot better way to figure that out than your body telling you by passing out!