Learn to Listen & Respond to Your Body!
Is this a foreign concept? You’ve heard of a gut instinct and that’s a great start but today we are talking about the signs your body gives when you need to rest or change something. I am sure you know what I am talking about but the key is, have you ever responded to your body?
I address the feelings of frustration when a workout doesn’t go well in my previous post: When A Workout Sucks. I also mention understanding the difference between needing perseverance and changing your routine to avoid burnout.
This post will elaborate on that delicate balance that will help decrease instances of burnout, plateaus and sedentary lifestyles.
How Do You Do That?
Listening to your body and responding to it, is essential because it helps us avoid stress-fractures and overuse injuries. But do we do this before we learn the hard way? No!
Myself included. It’s been about 2 years since I broke my foot running and now, not only am I listening, I am responding to what my body says.
Here is today’s scenario:
I had a stressful day at work, going through some personal transitions in my life and felt exhausted. I drove to the gym to make good on my long-standing promise to myself that; when I get in the gym, if after 20 minutes on the bike, I don’t feel better, I can go home.
I like to read and bike at the same time so 20 minutes on the bike is a great compromise for me on the days that I am tired but still need exercise.
Today something was different, my body was exhausted, I wasn’t looking forward to the stress releif riding the bike and then going to my favorite yoga class would provide me. Staying in my warm, running car sounded so much better. Actually going home, taking a shower, and crawling into bed was all I could think about.
I sat in my car for about 5 minutes debating about getting a workout in today because tomorrow is often my busy day and I have less of a chance to fit in a workout. I was about to get out of my car and FORCE myself through the gym doors when I shook my head, put the car in reverse and drove home.
I listened just long enough to know my body is healing something. I am not just tired from stress, my body is telling me my immune system needs all of my strength, that a workout would not be beneficial to me in anyway. It would only tax me further.
What It Means
While that example likely didn’t keep me from risking a stress fracture or overuse injury it is an example of listening and responding in a way that honors your health. Sometimes that means rest.
In other situations, it means listening to your heavy breathing after walking two flights of stairs and acknowledging that being more active on a daily basis is necessary.
Our bodies don’t just tell us when something is hurting because we are exercising too much, our bodies tell us when we aren’t doing enough. It takes time to learn the nuanced language of your body, but luckily, you’ve been around long enough that you know how your body responds to say greasy food late at night and how you respond with little sleep – start there and pay attention to the other correspondence your body provides. Feeling listless, have low-energy, thirsty, hungry, or out-of-breathe? Yea, that’s the language I am talking about.
Now that you are aware, respond! What do you need to do, to make your body tell you that it feels good? That it feels strong, healthy, and empowered? Maybe that’s rest. Maybe it’s more sleep, a healthier diet, more activity. Whatever it is, do yourself a favor and respond quickly and compassionately. After all, this is the body you’ve been given, it’s time to 100% respect it!