Reader Question: Yes, It's Okay to Take a Break

G&G, I’ve got a new job and and a 6 week old at home and I’m trying to maintain motivation to get to the gym. I was lifting for an hour 6 days a week and doing cardio 3 times a week in the morning but now I find I’m skipping some days. My wife complains that I’m not helping out and I feel like I’m under-performing at my new job. I don’t want to back off on working out because I’m afraid I’ll lose what if worked so hard to build. What do I do?

I’ve talked in the past about staying healthy and fit as a new dad, but this question presents me with something else entirely. You’ve got a 6 week old and a new job and you’re main concern is not losing your gains?
Let’s get real, the reality is that you, like most lifters, will never make a living income solely from lifting heavy stuff and getting big. To treat a hobby, yes it’s a hobby, in a way that controls your life and puts into jeopardy personal relationships and your career is just about the worst thing you can do for your livelihood.

The memes and inspirational mumbo jumbo don’t apply to you anymore. When you live on your own with no obligations and the only thing keeping your from a workout is Netflix and a bag of chips, by all means, get your ass in the gym. When you’re deciding between getting your fifth workout of the week in and spending time with your newborn or doing the dishes to help out around the house the equation isn’t so simple.
Take a rest day. Take a week off, or a month. Hell, take six months off. That gets you to baby sleeps through the night and is starting solid food days. Then you can start ramping back up with the exercise. While you might lose marginal gains in the meantime, muscle memory has your back and getting back into lifting will be a breeze.
If you absolutely have to workout, slash out the fat. Unless you’re a fitness model or are holding a pro card, there’s no reason you need to be working out 9 times a week. You can quite easily maintain strength and physique with only two workouts a week.
Have some fun and enjoy life for once. My daughter is coming up on a year old and I’d be kicking myself if I’d missed that kind of time with her over the past 12 months. And my wife would probably be planning my funeral. You don’t have to go hard in the gym every day, month over month, year after year. Do you want to be the miserable dude at the gym with no friends, no family and a crappy job who gave it all for some $10 trophies? Neglecting your kid, wife and losing your job is not worth it.
I’m not saying let yourself go, I think it’s very important to stay fit and healthy. During the first weeks of having a newborn at home, it’s hard to find time to workout at all, but you can certainly focus on eating healthy. It’s also a great way to help your wife out while she recovers from having her body torn open. As your schedule eases up, find ways to incorporate lifting and cardio back into your life. Take baby for a run or bike ride. Build a home gym and bring baby along or workout during nap time.
Finally, taking time off can really help rekindle the fire that got you into this in the first place. Lifting will be there when home-life and your career allows for it. Until then don’t stress out over it. You may never get to workout 9 times a week again either, don’t let that stress you out or become an excuse to give it all up. Working out twice a week is infinitely better than not working out at all and gains beyond that are marginal at best.
Enjoy your kid, support your wife and show your new boss that they didn’t make a mistake in bringing you on-board.
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