When Not Working out Brings You Closer To Happy
We typically think that in order to get into fabulous shape we have to bang out extraordinary workouts daily and sacrifice all things yummy for boiled chicken and broccoli.
But here’s another perspective.
When we exercise it’s pretty taxing on the body – it’s stressful. Especially if you are doing longer runs or other long bouts of cardio, but also when we do shorter workouts like lifting weights or body weight movements. These shorter bouts of exercise are generally a good thing, but what happens when we are already stressed out from babies who don’t sleep, finances, keeping up with the day-to-day stuff that would other wise pile up, etc?
We have a ‘general’ stress load we carry around that comes from living our lives, and sometimes, when you add really strenuous exercise to this mix, it can lead to a crash and make you feel awful instead of feeling amazing like exercise should.
Here are a few things that may tell you to slow down a bit momma:
- It takes forever for your body to heal: Yes, we can be a bit creaky here and there, but if it’s taking your body an extended period of time to recover from a workout, it may be a sign that your body is just too stressed to train the way you are.
- You just can’t turn your mind off: There’s a lot going on and your brain is in over drive keeping you anxious and making it even more difficult to sleep.
- No control over what you are consuming: It’s hard enough when we are feeling 100%, but cravings and feeling like your blood sugar is on a rollercoaster can make you feel completely powerless when it comes to food.
Any of this sound familiar?
I am a fitness and wellness coach, but even I had to recognize that for almost seven months while my youngest simply would not sleep – I couldn’t workout and train the way I wanted to. My body was completely exhausted and the few times I did push it? I was sometimes sore for weeks after. When it really came to a head, I felt so depleted that I couldn’t control any aspect of my behaviour, not just the food I was eating. Let me tell you – that was not a fun place to be! The reality is that if we are living at a go go go pace, counting on adrenaline and our stress hormones to get us by, it actually compromises our ability to produce the happy hormones that make us feel good. So even in a situation that would typically bring you happiness, you may simply not feel it.
Our stress is real and even though we want desperately to remain healthy or up our fitness levels, we have to assess what’s really happening in our bodies. The key is being honest about where we are at and find BALANCE.
Here are some really amazing things to consider if you want to stay fit (or become more fit), but know you are stressed out beyond your limit:
- Moving more in general can sometimes be more beneficial to you than doing daily workouts that stress out your body too much. This really doesn’t have to be fancy. I tell my clients all the time to try little things, like always using a washroom on another level, doing push ups against the counter while you’re waiting for coffee to brew, leaning back slightly and rocking back and forth while nursing.. and fidgeting!
- Try to discover what is driving you to want to push yourself beyond your limits. Having a passion and a drive is an amazing thing – unless it’s covering up another aspect of yourself you just don’t want to really look at. Sometimes we use exercise to pump up our output of happy hormones – not a bad thing, right? But when we are burnt out we simply can’t afford to use intense exercise as a daily happiness booster. You can, however, still find active ways to seek rest and recovery. Simple things like walking, gentle yoga, getting out in the sun, and trying different therapies like massage, acupuncture, or cupping. Ultimately, breaking down that emotional ‘need’ for exercise might be a little painful and certainly uncomfortable, but it can also be incredibly freeing and take a lot of pressure off. Exercise is meant to increase our ability to have fun. If it becomes too much of a chore or an addiction, it starts to take away from our happiness instead of contributing to it.
- Turning to food can be powerful when a few things are taken into consideration. We want to feel good, and eating well and exercising can certainly make us feel that way. But at a chemical level, our happiness hormone, serotonin, can be pumped up by increasing our intake of tryptophan at lunch time and B vitamins and fermented foods at dinner. Here’s why it’s helpful to separate them: tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin, vitamin B is a co-factor, and fermented foods make vitamin B inside your body. But tryptophan needs time to reach your brain without a lot of competition from other things. So poultry and pumpkin seeds for lunch, then high B vitamin seeds like quinoa and amaranth mixed with fermented vegetables or sea vegetables at dinner makes for an awesome environment for lots of happiness hormones.
Sometimes, even the thought of veering off our parental ‘survival schedules’ can be daunting. I think in our hearts though, we’re desperate to find that balance that affords us healthier, happier moods and bodies and the ability to manage the stress that comes with kids so that we can also experience the fun that comes so innately from them.
Slow down momma, before your body’s survival instincts force you to. Part of being healthy and fit is making space for recovery. This is your time, always exchange it for the things that will bring you closer to HAPPY.