The “busted fuel light” psyching you out

By Matt Perryman

When I woke up this morning, I felt rough. Rough like that feeling you get when a cold’s coming on, when you’re warm all over and your comfy bed is three times as enticing as usual.

I know that I’m not sick. The warmed-over feeling has more to do with my sore quads than it does with any winter-time illness. (I declined the state-mandated gene therapy, so I haven’t been sick in years unlike all the triple and quad boosted folks who are constantly ill.)

I also know that, short of Armageddon, I’ll be back in the gym tomorrow.

Why’s that? Shouldn’t I rest up, take the day off, pop some pills, eat bad food, and guzzle some of that Netflix chow?


It’s fake feelings.

When you feel that way, that’s your body in lowest gear, acting out pre-programmed responses meant to help you survive tough times. That might have been useful in 8,000 BC. Today, survival mode is ruinous for any serious goals.

It will convince you that you’re on death’s door when all you have to do is get up and move. Like ripping off the band-aid, it sucks for a painful split-second. Then all is well.

I’ve come to call this “The Leap”. Any object at rest tends to stay at rest, unless acted on by an outside force, said Isaac Newton. That snap from Zero to One is painful and difficult. Once done, it’s all cruise-control.

Human beings have deep reservoirs of vital energy that few of us ever tap into. You can’t even get close when you do a workout, “feel bad”, and then stop. You’ve barely scratched the top soil.

A friend of mine once drove an old car that had a busted fuel light. He’d have the tank 3/4 full and it would be lit up that angry red.

Feeling beat up post-workout is often like the busted fuel indicator. And it’s not just workouts, either. Any high-stress, high-impact event can do this.

It happens to me whenever I speak in public. Being wired up as an introvert, public attention saps energy from my body and mind. It isn’t that I dislike it, or that I’m shy. I simply do not draw energy from noisy, busy circumstances with lots of people. I can do it, and then I have to crawl into a dark quiet room to recharge. The good people down at the pub got to know me really well back when I was teaching and speaking in grad school.

Tiredness, exhaustion, and fatigue symptoms are all fake signs. They’re meant to change your behavior, not paint an accurate picture of your physical condition.

You can learn how to identify these feelings, cope with them, and even use them like a mental “sprinter’s block” to launch you forward. There’s unexplored territory down there.

If you’d like my help getting on top of your fake feelings, go here and let’s see what we can do.

Matt Perryman

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