For years no matter how tired, sick, or physically exhausted I was, I would force myself to workout for 2 hours 6-7 days/week. My lower body could be sore to the point where I was almost incapable of lifting and shaving my legs in the shower. Regardless of the pain I continued to drag my lifeless body and hairy legs to the squat rack (TMI?..).
One day I started listening to my body. Rest days were taken when needed, even if it meant 2 or 3 days in a row and I began balancing out my diet and workout routine. On off days I simply ate a little less (my body truly didn’t need or crave as much food). My life became this amazing balancing act and I can honestly say that from working out less and adjusting my diet I am in much better shape mentally and physically.
I can have a glass of wine or a piece of chocolate and take a day off from the gym without feeling guilty. You need to be able to enjoy life and not stress over the fact that you ate an Oreo or missed back day.
Believe it or not, it takes time and effort to become in tune with your body. Shit, it took me years! Here are some tips that I swear by:
1. Listen to Your Body- Know When You Should and Should Not Go to the Gym…
- You wake up with a ton of energy or a super motivated mindset like “YES I’M GOING TO CRUSH IT AT THE GYM TODAY!” Take advantage of this energy and go go go!
- You’re body is up for a workout but you’re feeling tired and lazy for no reason. Dig up some motivation: Scroll through your fitness IG feed, play some uplifting music, or find a good workout and get your butt to the gym.
NOTE: Working out actually boosts energy levels because it causes a healthy increase in cortisol (cortisol spike isn’t always bad!). I opt for a walk with my dog or a quick lift rather than a second cup of coffee.
DON’T GO IF:
- You wake up extremely sore from yesterdays lift sesh and lifting your leg into the tub is a chore.
Your body is clearly hurting and wants to be nurtured not broken down further. You may have not eaten enough post-workout to recover, so keep this in mind next time you gym it up.
- You’ve been running around all day doing chores, work, school, etc. and are physically and/or mentally exhausted
NOTE: some people use the gym as an outlet on these stressful days. For me, it depends on the day I’m having. If I’m sitting in front of my laptop cranking out homework for hours on end, then yes I need a good workout. On the other hand, when I’m constantly moving at my internship then all I want at the end of the day is my essential oil diffuser, Gilmore Girls, and Purely Elizabeth granola.
2. Make it a Balancing Act
- If you’re taking off from the gym then watch your diet. Cut back on the grains and starchy veggies and really listen to your hunger signals. If you had a week of really hard workouts and you feel like you need the carbs on this rest day then eat them! Your body will tell you what it wants, you just need to listen.