When it comes to working out, I used to have the mentality that more is always better. I thought this way for a couple different reasons. I enjoy working out, I like the feeling of a good sweat. I viewed working out as a way to measure my self-worth. The more I did, the more workouts I accomplished, the better I must be. I worked out to look a certain way, to fit a mold of how I thought my body should look. I worked out to have control. I also have a career in fitness so workouts are part of who I am.
Ever since I found out my body was begging me to slow down, that my adrenal glands were exhausted from the stress, I have a different approach to my workouts. I now only workout to make my body feel good. My workouts aren’t a punishment or a measurement of self-worth. My workouts are an expression of self-care. This new approach looks different every week, sometimes every day. Instead of forcing myself to get through workouts that I am too tired or sore for, I do what my body is asking for. I like to say that I now workout intuitively.
Before learning about adrenal fatigue, I would push myself super hard and do as much as I could. Sometimes this would mean 2-3 workouts a day. There was a time when I would go for a run, take pilates and then do a yoga sculpt class. I was convinced that the more I did the better I would feel and the better I would look. This was the opposite of how I actually felt. I was so tired all the time, my body ached and I was way more inflamed. Even mornings I woke up completely dead, I would still force myself to do too much because that is how I felt good about myself. I thought that by doing less or taking breaks I was being weak. In reality, I was damaging my body.
Now that I know there is a such thing as over exercising and I saw the lab work of what was going on internally, I am much more comfortable pulling myself back, taking rest days when I need. There are some mornings I had the intention of going for a run but I wake up tired or feeling a little off and I will choose to take a walk instead. Sometimes on a Sunday morning I was planning to go to yoga but lying in bed with my husband sounds way better when I wake up. Things are different now because I listen to my body, I take in how I feel and I let that dictate what I do. I have traded most of my high intensity workouts for slower, deeper workouts. Another big change is I absolutely do not work out 3 times a day anymore.
Since I started actually listening to my body, I feel completely different. I have way more energy than I did before, more energy for other things I enjoy like hanging out with friends, cooking, reading and writing. My body looks better now than it did when I was doing too much. Once I slowed down and let my body have time to rest and recover, the results were what I was looking for all along. Now when I am sore from a workout it is in a good way, a way that I know I worked hard, not in a way that my body just wants to give up.
While healing my adrenal fatigue, my workouts look like this.
· Way less running and way more walking
· Vinyasa yoga classes, not sculpt yoga classes
· Pilates only once or twice a week
· A short HIIT workout instead of an hour at the Santa Monica stairs
· Most importantly, way more time on the couch resting
It is hard to change from a go go go mentality to one that allows you to slow down. I still find my mind racing and telling me to get up and move, do more, work harder. As each day goes by and I can feel the benefits of slowing down, it gets easier to quiet that voice inside my head. I don’t think it will ever go away, I am wired to be an over achiever but I no longer feel the guilt and shame for listening to my body. My new approach is to workout smarter, not harder. Who knows, maybe one day I will be able to take a whole week off from working out just because I feel like it.