You always here people say “Listen to Your Body” but what does that really mean? When I first started my fitness journey, people would tell me to make sure I listen to my body but I always thought “what am I suppose to look for, what does that even mean?” I think this is a really good concept that everyone should be aware of whether you are involved in fitness/living a healthy life style or not. We all need to take care of our bodies because we only get one!
Fall of 2018 is when I was going through some medical issues and that’s when I gained a full understanding of this concept. It was also when I decided to start training for my first marathon so I changed up my diet because I knew I needed to start consuming more food so I would have energy and to recover properly from training.
At the time, I knew I couldn’t consume dairy but I was still having stomach issues and couldn’t figure out what else was wrong with me. I started to eat more bread, pasta, bagels etc and not to be TMI but it would go right through me to the point where I was in the bathroom after every meal. One would think that it would be time to go see my DR, but I’m terrified of the DRs office so I just ignored it, figuring it would get better. Well it didn’t, and it was showing because my co workers at work would say I look pale and was losing weight, I did lose 6 pounds in one week which is AWFUL for me. Before this all began I could run a mile no problem… but at the time I couldn’t even run a mile and was struggling to get through my workouts, I was fatigued and tired 24/7. I was frustrated and getting all discouraged.
One morning before work I went for a slow and easy jog with a friend and when we got back to the building I started seeing black spots, my legs were so fatigued I couldn’t stand, I had no strength and thought I was going to pass out. At first I said it’ll pass but one of my really good friends said “I don’t care you’re calling the DR and making an appointment.” Eventually after her asking me every 15 minutes I called the DR and they wanted me to come in that day which really scared me. My DR said I was extremely dehydrated and my body was not consuming/processing any of the nutrients I was eating. She told me I needed to try cutting out gluten and will need to run more tests.
The moral of the story is that my body was trying to tell me that it does NOT like this food I’m putting in my body and my body tried giving me warning signs but I didn’t listen to it.
That being said, I wanted to give a little advise of what I have discovered throughout my journey. These are concepts I’ve learned really could apply to anyone.
It’s okay to take a Rest Day or a few!
“Listening to your body is not an excuse for quitting” You’re probably thinking that this statement is a little harsh, but what I mean by it, is if you’re feeling drained, fatigued or fighting a cold… let your body work through it by taking a rest day instead of trying to crush a workout. If you’re feeling a little fatigued at the gym, don’t push yourself because feeling fatigued is your bodies way of saying it’s tired and needs rest or needs more food to fuel yourself. Don’t feel guilty if you get to the gym and you’re done after a 20 minute walk because sometimes it’s better to stop than push yourself. I have done this plenty of times and I’m sure others have too and it’s okay! If you’re body is giving you signs, then take a rest day and crush the next workout.
One of my biggest inspirations has always been my dad, he has done body building, ran iron mans, played sports, basically you name it and he has done it. He taught me a concept a while ago to take a week off from everything. At first I thought, is he crazy!? I’m going to lose all my progress and maybe gain weight too, but he was right because talking a week off refuels your body and gives it rest that it may need that you didn’t even know about.
Listening to the signals your body sends out can be very difficult sometimes because we have all had those days where we are feeling lazy and sluggish and don’t feel like going for that walk or getting our workout in. You have to determine if your body is actually physically tired or your body is just trying to be lazy. One method to determine which one it is, is taking your resting heart rate, if it’s hire than normal you’ve probably overtrained your body and it’s trying to keep up to recover.
Be aware of what you are putting in your body, because everything that you consume is going to have an effect on your body. When I was trying to figure out what foods were effecting my IBS, my DR had me make a food log and have me note how each of the foods make me feel. Even if you don’t have stomach problems, it’s a great tool to use to see if certain foods give you energy or will maybe make you feel sluggish or even make you break out. It’s amazing how different types of food will effect your body, but once you figure it out there’s no turning back and you’re going to feel better day by day.
Another concept I’ve learned is try not to eat snacks in front of the TV. I know this one can be really hard sometimes but you’re body will tell you when it’s starting to get full and I know for me if I am so in tuned with a show, I forget how much I’ve ate or will realize I am sooooooo full after eating a whole bag of food. One thing I have done is instead of bringing a whole bag of popcorn for a snack, I will just bring a small bowl and refill as needed.
If it hurts, STOP.
I remember having conversations with my dad when I was little, I would go up to him and say “UGH why does it hurt when I do this.” My dad’s response would always be “Well then don’t do it” It always irritated me when he said this but it’s so true. If it hurts, stop! This is your bodies way of saying stop doing something before it gets worse. Whether you’re at the gym or just doing every day activities, listen to your body when it’s giving pain or discomfort signals. If you’re running or walking and feel a small pain in your foot or hip, stop before it gets worse. Or maybe you’re at the gym doing an exercise and it’s giving you a little pain, stop and ask someone to check your form. Don’t ignore the signs.
That being said, everyday just take a second and really listen to what your body is trying to tell you because in the end it’ll be so worth it!
Please note, that this is from my own experience. I am not a certified personal trainer or nutritionist. Hoping to be one day though!