Hello and Happy Wednesday to my fellow feasters.
I am sitting on the porch writing this. The sound of the lawnmowers and birds surrounding me. It’s gorgeous out, still early enough that the heat hasn’t reached it’s peak and it’s comfortable. Honestly, I don’t often get to enjoy this time of day outside, or at least not like this. Not sitting, slowly breathing in the warmish air, heart rate lowered and mind at ease as I settle into relaxation, gently noticing the life moving around me with the leaves calmly dancing to the summer breeze and the toddler next door, softly singing her favorite melody. It is nice. It is peaceful. It is not what I am used to.
You see, previous to about a week and half ago, this was always when I got my training in. For the last three or so months, I had drastically increased my already heavy workout load to running five to six days a week, weight training an hour, three times a week, plus some other activity mixed in whether it be a boot-camp class or kick boxing, or zumba (or sometimes all three). I was spending a minimum of two hours in the gym every day, banging my body around in hopes that it would respond with bigger muscles, and a smaller waste. I enjoy working out. The feeling of getting a good sweat, with your heart rate up and adrenaline pumping is hard to replicate. For me, working out is just apart of who I am. The problem? Those results, well they weren’t really happening. Yes I was making some progress, especially at the beginning, but as I continued, that progress slowed and in some areas, I began to go backwards. This only frustrated me, feeling like I needed to push harder, do more. My thought was that I must not have been doing enough. It didn’t occur to me, until recently, that possibly it was that I was doing too much.
I was sore basically all the time and my legs just couldn’t keep the pace they used to. I attributed this originally to process of becoming fat adapted, and that may be a small portion, but now, two months in, the pace should have been coming back…and it wasn’t. Not only that, I was sore most of the time. I was pushing my body, weight training without regard to my run schedule. I wanted to lift more, jump more, push harder, run faster, all the time. My personality is of this. Many people that know me will know this about me. I am a doer. ALWAYS. What does that mean? If there is a problem, I do. I decide on something, I make a plan, I do it. I don’t stop to think about or reflect, I jump into action. This can be frustrating for friends when they have issues to discuss and all I do is come up with solutions, instead of listening. This was what I was doing with my body, coming up with “solutions,” instead of taking time to listen.
I posted a quote the other day and I think it really hits this on the nose, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” -Dalai Lama.
This was me a week and a half ago:
My Problem “I want to run faster, jump higher, do more more more.”
My solution, “I do more jumping, more lifting, more running, more burning, whatever it takes. The more I do, the more I can do.”
My body on the other hand was singing a different song, or rather screaming. It was tired, stressed, and pushed to beyond what I was capable of. More then that, because I was spending so much time working out, I couldn’t do the necessary things to recover. Yes I foam roll on occasion and do some yoga, but it’s more then that. It’s not running when your body is hurting, or running less then scheduled and spending the remaining time stretching and in an ice bath. It’s eating enough and paying attention to the foods you are eating afterwards and before, and more then anything, it’s taking time to rest. Sleep is so important. We hear it over and over again but we often don’t listen enough to make any changes. Let your body recover, because if it can’t recover, it can’t grow and those earlier goals of running faster, jumping higher, doing more, won’t be able to happen.
For me though, it’s not just the actual exercise. The schedule can cause a kind of stress. I believe in a workout schedule. It makes sure I don’t have to think everyday and I just get out there and get active, because activity is good and necessary for a healthy and happy life. The problem for me, and maybe I am alone in this, but when it’s on the schedule, it’s hard for me not to do it. There is a stress created to making sure I get to EVERY SINGLE WORKOUT in no matter what. Remember, I am a doer. That means doing the schedule, following the protocol and abiding my the workout rules at any cost…but that’s not life.
A week and a half ago I was confronted with all of these realities directly. First, as I said I was tired and my muscles were exhausted, but then, it was like they gave up, entirely. I had a week of multiple long runs about two weeks ago. The first run was okay, nothing to write home about but a normal run. The second on the other hand was awful. I couldn’t run past 2 miles. My legs hurt and my body ached, and on top of that, my heart rate was through the roof. It was a miserable eight miles, and I don’t often say that. Of course, I just assumed that was some fluke and went to Seattle the following weekend. Even though I was still feeling the effects of overtraining, although I hadn’t realized it yet, I still made sure to adhere to my workout schedule, waking up and running as my calendar told me. For the first time in as long as I can remember, these runs were terrible. I can appreciate a difficult workout. I enjoy being pushed to the limit, knowing that after will be the wondrous rush of post workout elation, but this wasn’t that. I didn’t have the energy or push my body normally gives out, even my warmups were taxing. I was frustrated. For the first time in years, I was not looking forward to my next workout, and this scared me.
Remember, that fear that knocks in the back of mind I talk about a lot, the fear of going back, to gaining the weight and becoming who I was years ago? That fear roared. If I didn’t want to workout, would that mean I would stop? And if I stopped, does that mean the weight comes back? My confidence level plummeted for a day or two, struggling and wondering why my body was responding this way.
Secondly, my workout schedule was effecting other areas of my life. Because I was taking at minimum two hours working out which including travel, getting ready, etc really looked like three hours, other parts of my life were being left unattended. The house wasn’t as clean and I wasn’t being as attentive to my husband or friends. It was all about getting the workout in and then getting to work. Because I was working out when my husband was at work, I was often left to working on the blog while he was home. There were even a few times when I worked in the car, on our way to a restaurant for a date, (I know, I know, terrible). My conversation turned to being only about Keto and working out and I spent most of my time in my phone. It started to have a real impact on our relationship and without being aware of it, I was becoming a person I didn’t want to be. My husband finally confronted me with my new behavior. I had to look at the person I was becoming, and make some changes.
I have a obsessive personality where I get very all or nothing about things. I think this is something that many of us struggle with. Living in moderation is too grey and I prefer the black and white of the all or nothing strategy. The problem, as I stated before, is that’s not life. Doing too much, or too little of almost anything is a bad thing. Living in the grey takes more work. It’s about being aware of all of the circumstances of the day, instead of just one objective, and making a decision that best matches what makes you happy. For me, I had to look at this crazy workout schedule and obsession with fitness, and grapple with the fact that it was too much, which meant once again confronting that fear of gaining the weight again. The fact is, that with this, there was something that mattered far more to me in jeopardy then my weight, and that was the happiness of my husband. He is my best friend. He is my present and my future and the thought of making him feel second rate to my workouts makes my heart ache.
So a change had to be made. Of course, I did some research and read about the physical effects of overtraining, but also the mental effects it can have, especially with in regards to raising cortisol (this is a really great article). I started reading Primal Endurance by Mark Sisson (his podcast is killer too) where he talks about the need for training up and not over stressing your body too fast and getting the basics of running form down. He also talks a lot about rest and creating a regiment of recovery. With these resources in mind, I altered my schedule, reducing my running to only three to four times a week and reducing the weight training to thirty minutes, two to three times a week, where I don’t push my body to it’s max but rather stay more controlled. I am doing more of the fun things that I know are better for my mind and happiness, like rollerblading and hiking with friends, and more then anything, I am checking in with my body and my life each day, to see how my workout can fit in. Your activity should be a priority, but it can’t be the only priority. The reason I call this blog The Everyday Feast isn’t because it is food focused, to me life should be feasted on, with diversity and color, and when you focus too much on one thing, like when trying to follow a restrictive diet, deprivation occurs and ultimately happiness slips away.
I had a plan to handle my activity, but then I had to tackle my time management and, honestly, cell phone addiction. I talked to my husband for a long time about this and we decided that we both have jobs that require a bit of extra work, so some nights throughout the week, it’s okay if we work, but at the same time. That will only account for about two nights out of the week. The remainder we spend together, my phone goes away and we enjoy each others company. I have found that with these types of new rules, I am still managing to complete everything, sometimes more.
It has been almost two weeks of these behavior changes and although at the start, I was a bit nervous, I am now seeing the benefits. Not only am I happier and generally feeling less stressed, my body is responding. Even within these two weeks I have been getting faster and my recover runs are getting easier. I have been focusing on running form and I am noticing that improve as well. I feel less stressed at the gym about getting everything in and am enjoying some of the extracurriculars like rollerblading far more then I ever enjoyed ten extra burpees. On top of that, my husband and I are really enjoying the extra time actually being together, not just physically in the same room, but talking and discussing and enjoying each other.
So this is all to say, don’t be like me. Don’t get caught in the “all or nothing” mentality because, with this approach, eventually “all” isn’t sustainable and “nothing” becomes your reality. Find out what works for your life, and your life alone, taking into consideration not only your goals for your body, but also for your relationships and self growth.
Do you struggle with anything like this? How do you cope? I love hearing about your stories. Comment below or contact me on Facebook or Instagram @theeverydayfeast .
Thank you guys for listening to my life and letting me share. I truly do appreciate it. Have an amazing remainder of your week and keep a watch out for Friday’s recipe video!