If you spend any amount of time training and dieting, you will inevitably have periods of time where you struggle with motivation. The reasons for your struggle will be different depending on your situation and, honestly, the reasons really don't matter. We all deal with stress differently. I would argue that there is no right or wrong way, only the way that works best for you in your situation.
Sometimes, the best option is to rely on discipline and simply get the workouts done. More times than not, training can actually help to decrease stress, increase positivity, and distract from the daily stresses that you check at the gym door. This all sounds well and good but there are also those times where life is just kicking you in the dick, and you just can't seem to check your issues at the door. Honestly assessing your situation is an important part of being able to know how to cope with your situation. If in doubt, work to force yourself into the gym and see if you are able to compartmentalize and have a good training session. If not, there is another option -- although not as popular as the previous option.
The unpopular option is to understand that your workouts aren't going to be productive because you just cannot detach from your problems/stress when you are training. I call this the unpopular decision because the typical mentality of someone who trains consistently is that you are being weak if you don't train through your problems. I find this absurd and a bit arrogant to judge others as if we understand the load that the other person is carrying. I can't count how many times I have heard someone judge another for not handling their situation "correctly," while that same person struggled to handle their own shit correctly (by MY standards, of course). Instead of everyone judging each other, we could all do better to mind our own damn business but that just isn't who most of us are, unfortunately.
After training for 37 years, I am of the belief that if your stress levels are invading your training to the point that your training isn't beneficial, that's a complete waste of time while in the gym. More importantly, if you are distracted and stressed, your risk of injury increases significantly. I'm not going to get under big weights if I'm worried about whether my wife is banging the neighbor while I'm at the gym. Of course, this is just an arbitrary example because my wife doesn't bang people while I'm at the gym; she sleeps with them when she goes out on the weekends and I'm watching TV at home. I kid. It's just humor to make my point. And the point is that whatever the distractions, if it is getting in the way of your focus while training and making your training unproductive, I prefer to simply not waste time. The old cliche' of "a bad workout is better than no workout at all" is, in my opinion, pretty fucking stupid. That's just me, so if you feel differently, you do you.
If motivation is low, you also need to question whether you are overtrained. Overtraining can take your excitement for the gym and put it in the toilet very quickly. If you can rule out overtraining, stress is likely the issue. And make no mistake, life is stressful even without the rigors and structure of bodybuilding. I doubt I know anyone with high expectations for themselves that isn't or doesn't struggle with stress and distractions. It just depends to what degree the stress is and, of course, whether you are able to successfully manage it. There are times where I have pushed through and been good for it, and there are other times where I have lessened my stress by simply throwing up my hands and admitting that it is just going to be better to step away.
Nothing can bring back motivation better than not training and not dieting. In my experience with myself and clients over the years, I have found that when you do step away and you see your physique start to slip, the "step-away-from-it" phase doesn't usually last very long. It isn't long before your motivation is climbing to get back in the gym and back on track so that you don't look and feel like crap. If you do step away and you don't get that feeling, it's quite possible that you simply need more time. I stepped away in 2018 for almost 4 months. I ate when and if I wanted to, and I didn't think about bodybuilding, at all. It took a long time for me to want to go back because I was flat burned out. In my 37 years of training, I have never been that unmotivated to train or diet. When I came back, I had a renewed interest and motivation and I felt fresh. The good thing is that if you have been training for a good amount of time, you might lose your progress quickly but you also regain it very quickly, as well.
You are the only person that has to answer to your decisions. Yes, you might be judged but if you aren't being judged for this one thing, trust me, you will be judged for something else. Forget about what anyone else thinks and do what is in YOUR best interest. After all, no one else is helping you with your stresses and obstacles, and no one really gives much of a shit what you are dealing with, anyway. It all comes down to you.
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