This is for all the women out there who feel victorious for being hungry all day. I get it. I was there too. Things have changed. And today, I’m sharing my story. Maybe you’ll recognize some similarities with your own. My hope is that it gets your wheels turning.
Let’s start with a comparison. BEFORE & NOW: My views on feeling hungry…
“I’m starving, but if I make it until 7pm I “win”. Gotta get this weight off. I’m in charge of this body, not the other way around. Don’t eat, don’t eat: as long as you’re under 1000 calories for the day, you’re cool. Have some more coffee. (reality: after 7pm, eat everything in sight and feel like an awful person)
“If you need me, I’ll be eating the food. I might be able to lose a few pounds, but it’s not a priority. Feeding the bod is. Feeling awesome, but excuse me…nom nom nom.”
It’s been YEARS since I was hungry on purpose, and the thought of spending the day feeling victorious for not eating seems foreign to me. I was an under-the-radar yo-yo dieter and my behaviors were linked entirely to my weight. Up, don’t eat. Down, eat everything. If I’d gained weight, the punishment was not eating or eating very little. The triumph was overcoming my body’s physiological needs and ‘winning’ at not eating for a day. It was pretty addictive.
AND… I didn’t know it was messed up. Really, no idea. Every woman I met was on some kind of diet, saying very similar things and feeling very hungry too. Seemed normal. It had no basis in health: I hadn’t learned that veggies were awesome, to eat to fuel my body or to reduce my sugar. I was drinking 3-5 diet cokes a day and thought they were bad ass because they were zero calories. The perfect “victory” food.
Thank fuck that’s over, lol. High five lady. I love the food.
I like to think of it as making bread. You can knead the dough as much as you like, but unless you STOP and let it rise, your bread is gonna SUCK. …
The kneading is important, but the “rising” is what makes the bread awesome. In fitness, active recovery and rest is your ‘rising’ time.
PSA FOR ALL FIT FREAKS! Are you taking enough time OFF?
Recovery is just as important as what you do IN the gym. But no matter how much we ‘know’ this, many people consistently spend hours and hours in the gym because it “feels” right. It’s psychological. A dependence. Fitness CAN be addictive, but it’s important that we learn how to overcome these psychological barriers to live happier, healthier and injury free lives. Outside of the gym.
Recovery is THE reason we get fitter and stronger. It’s during this time that your muscles rebuild stronger, where your body puts your workout to use and where you’ll reap the benefits.
I like to think of it as making bread. You can knead the dough as much as you like, but unless you STOP and let it rise, your bread is gonna SUCK. The kneading is important, but the “rising” on it’s own is what makes the bread awesome. Rest is your ‘rising’ time.
SIGNS OF OVERTRAINING (and/or fitness addiction).
1. A decrease in performance. If you’re training hard and you notice that you just aren’t able to do what you know you CAN DO (having to reduce your weights, not being able to finish a set, needing to take more breaks etc), it might be a sign that your muscles have not gotten enough recovery time.
2. Problems sleeping, decrease in overall energy, mood swings etc. Workouts generally should BOOST your energy and mood. If the days seem ‘harder’ it might be a sign you need to take a step back. Depression can be a symptom of overtraining as well.
3. Feeling that unless your workout is 2 hours long, it doesn’t count. The truth is, there is ONLY so much you can push your body. After a certain amount of time, it releases chemicals and begins processes to minimize damage… NOT to help you get stronger, fitter or better. 2 hours a day in the gym is too much. Psychologically, this is a barrier a lot of people get stuck behind. Often, beginners are encouraged to workout for long periods of time, but at a VERY LOW intensity. The higher the intensity, the shorter your workout can be. Work to limit your workouts to an hour or less, take less breaks, and boost your intensity instead.
Do you have trouble taking a rest day? Me too.
I’ve always had a hard time with rest days: it’s not easy for me to ‘relax’ and I get antsy. Crawling up the walls, jumping from ‘A’ to ‘B’, sometimes emotional ‘antsy’. While most people have trouble working up the motivation TO workout, I struggle with having the discipline to hold myself back. It wasn’t until I ended up with a double stress fracture in my hip last year that I seriously started focusing on ‘recovery’ days as part of the “routine”.
I’m a self-proclaimed fitness addict and the ‘high’ I get from my workouts is something I crave almost daily. Holding myself back & taking time to recover is something I have to actively work on & involves listening to my body closely. There are days when it needs me to go easy, even if I don’t feel like it. That’s okay since we need to be making decisions based on ITS needs and not our ego’s. It’s hard sometimes, but I do it. I love this bod of mine and I express it by treating it with care.
The amazing thing is that once I started focusing on getting enough rest, my body started to repay the favor. I had more energy. I was less sore. I dropped a little body fat that just wasn’t budging before. My performance went UP. Even today, I continually see better results by making sure at least 1-2 days a week don’t include a ‘workout’.
I don’t schedule my rest days (it gives me the flexibility to decide if my body needs one on the fly). Some weeks I take more than others & I usually rest on Sundays. Some people prefer to have set rest days, but you should listen to your body FIRST and stay flexible: it’s not advisable to push through a workout ‘day’ when your body is telling you otherwise.
When to take a rest day…
- If you haven’t had one in awhile (you should have at least one a week and more if you’re training harder than usual).
- If you’re unusually sore or suspect a possible injury (twinges count).
- When you’re sacrificing sleep or other priorities in order to workout (sometimes, we just have surprisingly busy days. And sometimes we may be falling into dangerous fitness ‘addiction’ territory. Make sure your sleep, life, and obligations still come first. How to spot signs of fitness addiction.).
- If you are experiencing symptoms of overtraining.
If you have trouble taking rest days (guilt, fear of losing momentum etc.) try an active recovery day instead. Walks, light yoga (not all yoga is ‘light’) & serious stretching can help you feel as though you’ve gotten a workout while letting your muscles recover & rebuild. My ‘rest’ days are usually full of distractions: making plans to keep your mind off “missing” your workout is a big help. Keep things light though: people like me can easily turn that walk into a ‘power’ walk. Conventional wisdom says you should take a rest day on your ‘lazy’ day. It’s up to you, but I’ve found better success taking it on a day when I’ve made other plans & commitments. If you’re a fit freak, experimenting with when you take your rest day can help you through it.
Remember: workouts are body DAMAGE. Results come from making enough time for our bodies to rebuild stronger than before. The more intense your workouts, the more rest days you need: take them. :)
Rest days: they’re part of the program TOO.
Stretch Out Sundays: Try this 20 minute yoga/stretch routine on your rest day. It’s a great way to “recover” while still feeling as though you’re moving.
Desperately needed a good foam rolling before bed! Tough training weeks mean oh-so sore muscles. Just finished rolling out to ‘Roll Out’ by Ludacris: my new favorite thing to do. :)
This video from Tone It Up has great ideas if you’re new to foam rolling. If you’re really sore, it can be painful, but the good kind of painful. You’ll feel great afterwards, I promise.
I had a cheap roller at first, and it worked well. As my workouts got more intense, I needed something with a little ‘oomph’ to really dig into my muscles. Beginners can expect to spend $20-$40 bucks on a simple roller. If you want more of a ‘grip’, you can try the model below (I have the long & short models at home, and my neck/back/IT band loves me for it). It can run you about $45-$75 or so.