Overtraining

When I gave up smoking and fast food and started working out, I like to say I traded one addiction for another.

That’s true, in some ways. I love working out, and rarely have days when I “don’t feel like it.” Most days I wish I could work out longer, spend more hours at the gym. It has become my passion in so many ways.

For the most part, this is a good thing. I’ve never had an overuse injury (or even an acute one), I hardly ever get sick, and my overall mood is better than it ever was when I was sedentary.

When you work out a lot you have to be on alert for signs that you are over doing it. Not being able to shake an illness for example, irritability, trouble sleeping, and a feeling of fatigue would all be signs of possible overtraining.

While I’ve never suffered from overtraining, it was a bit of a wake up call for me this week when I started to feel like I might if I didn’t slow down.

After adding 30 minutes of morning cardio each day without upping my daily calorie intake, my body started to go “woah- this is new.” By Friday, I was feeling pretty depleted. My energy was low, I couldn’t focus, and I didn’t have that drive to kill it at the gym like I usually do.

I talked it over with a trainer I know, and he asked me when was the last time I took a week off of working out. Um…. I don’t do that. Except for when I had bronchitis (and even that was only after I made the mistake of teaching Turbo with bronchitis and learned my lesson.)

He expressed the need for the body to fully rest about seven days every 8 to 12 weeks to recover from the kind of intense training that I do. This rest can be beneficial because it gives you a chance to replenish, mentally and physically, and then you can tackle your workouts with even more energy and focus when you return.

Now, let’s be real. I am doing my first fitness competition in about three months. I am not taking seven days off of working out. But, I am concerned about pushing myself too hard too soon and burning out before the competition even gets here. I also don’t want to lose my love of exercise- I don’t want workouts to feel tedious and tiring instead of awesome and energizing.

So, I am going to give myself a little bit of a break. This weekend I let my diet go a little bit (which basically involved eating more calories and carbs than usual and stuffing myself full of acorn squash and then feeling terribly guilty.)

Thanksgiving is this week and we are going home to Toledo for the long weekend. I’ve decided not to workout for those four days. Normally I would definitely get a workout in Thursday before we left and try to sneak a trip to the gym Friday and Saturday as well. But this will be a good opportunity to just enjoy time with friends and family and take a break from the gym.

I’m also going to try to relax and enjoy myself without worrying too much about what I’m eating. I still plan to bring my healthy foods with me so I can have meals on hand when I need them, but I want to try to eat a little out of my comfort zone and have a few glasses of wine without driving myself (and everyone else) crazy about how many calories I’m consuming.

If you stick to your good habits 90% of the time, a little indulgence 10% of the time won’t take you too far off track.

Healthy living is a choice that I embrace. It makes me happy and fulfilled. Taken too far, it can become a burden, and I would never want to feel as if my quest for fitness and health was hurting me mentally or physically.

Listen to your body. If something is wrong, or if you need to slow down- it will tell you.

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