#2: I FELL IN LOVE WITH HAVING ENERGY AGAIN
As I sat down to write this blog, I started by picking which photo/quote would go with it. And holy cow. I found one of our major problems. One of my major frustrations with the fitness industry. I typed in “overtraining” and meme after meme came up, quote after quote I read, and almost all of them praised overtraining or at the very least, mocked rest. And so here I am today, fighting the battle to get people to break this mentality. This mentality that yells, “more!” That whispers, “If you don’t workout today you’ll be fatter tomorrow,”
“If you have the time you should workout,”
“No pain no gain,” and
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
This is what’s wrong with the fitness industry. This is no wonder why we struggle to take adequate rest or why we judge ourselves when we do. It’s freakin’ frowned upon!
No more. This is the second major change I had to make to end my obsession with food, fitness and my body. I had to fall in love with energy again. I had to stop feeling dead! Why would anyone WANT to feel dead tired? Well, I didn’t want to. But I thought I had to. I thought it meant I was working hard enough because if I still have energy after a workout, I must not have worked out hard enough!? Couple that with watching, controlling and restricting my food, I was exhausted. Overtrained and underfed. Yet I was starving because all the working out I did made me want to eat more. So then I had to white knuckle through the day, trying not to eat what my body clearly needed. And if I had more time available, why not do more cardio? And if a client cancelled, why not hop on the treadmill?
Until finally, I became tired of being tired. I didn’t know if what I was doing was killing me or making me stronger, but it was making me skinnier, so I kept doing it, until I couldn’t anymore. But realizing this once wasn’t enough for me. I repeated this cycle like the seasons for years. Because I never changed my belief. I was still in the camp of I should do as much as possible, as much as I have energy for and then some. Because if 40 minutes of cardio is good, 60 must be better. And if I did 60 minutes yesterday, only doing 30 minutes today isn’t good enough. And a rest day? A day off? A day of nothing? Nah that’s lazy. That’s delaying progress. So after a couple months I would go at it again. Gradually adding more in until it became extreme and I couldn’t maintain it.
So a couple things changed.
1. I got tired. I needed a new way. So I opened my mind to a new way and a new belief. A belief that I am worthy of rest. That rest is beneficial. That rest is a necessary form of self care and not reserved for the lazy.
2. I decided to practice what I preach. I train many clients with half hour workouts, several times per week, and they are fit, strong and confident. So, why shouldn’t I do the same? Why couldn’t I?
3. I paid attention to the fact that exercise is in fact, stress on your body. And constant stress isn’t good for anyone. It reaches a point where exercise does more harm than good, damaging your body, increasing your cortisol, running down your immune system and damaging your adrenals. Not to mention making you more prone to injuries because your immune system is constantly working and eventually can’t catch up.
There’s enough stress in life and I was adding physical stress in the form of too much exercise along with the mental stress of feeling like I HAD to do it.
In my opinion, the mental fatigue that builds because you don’t allow yourself rest can be even more detrimental than the physical rest.
A day off will not lose progress! It’s essential. What will ruin process is an injury, a sickness, or bingeing because you aren’t fueling yourself enough for your workouts.
4. I desperately needed sleep. Too much exercises puts us in a constant state of restlessness or high alert. Your sleep may even suffer. But sleep is where you repair muscles, rejuvenate your body and where your hormones reset. Craving crap? Blame that on your hormones out of whack from lack of sleep. Mood? Lack of sleep. Poor memory? Lack of sleep. Increased blood pressure? Lack of sleep.
5. Adopted a new mantra for working out, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” When I take a day off, I actually WANT to workout again. It’s a want instead of a should or have to.
So make the mental adjustment before it’s too late. Take a rest. Know that YOU CAN AND YOU SHOULD.
And remember why you workout. If you are working out solely to control your body, you very well may push it too far. You most definitely will struggle with rest days. When you do it for other reasons like energy, fun, confidence, time alone, time with a friend or loved one… you are more likely to approach it as a form of self care and something you want to do, not have to do. And when you realize you don’t HAVE to do it, you’ll allow yourself rest.
Imagine what would happen to your workouts if you rested every 5-10 days or so? There’s a fine line between working out too much and being exhausted and working out in a way that actually increases your energy.
So for me, I fell in love with having energy again. Energy to live and enjoy my life outside the gym, beyond a workout. I drew the line. I changed my mind. And I ended my obsession.
Looking for support around this topic?? I understand the fear that can come with “cutting back” on workouts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk more. This wasn’t a happy place for me and I’d hate to see you struggle too.