If you're a lover of all things fitness, then it's always hard to turn down a workout or an opportunity to workout (sprinting up the sledding hill 10x before your kids first sled run? No? Is that just me? I'm competitive.). But there are times that we should be absolutely flexing our discipline muscles and not workout the way that we want to be. But all hope is not lost- active recovery is a great way to replace a higher intensity workout. Such as walking, foam rolling, light Pilates, or a deep stretch session.
The crazy thing is, many people don't recognize some telltale signs that they're overtraining. This is because a) sometimes they are so discreet it is hard to identify b) the fitness industry doesn't want us to take breaks.
1) You want to eat everything
If you're noticing that your appetite has increased and it's becoming excessively challenging to turn down food that it may be time for you to take a rest and reset your body. Our bodies love equilibrium and want to achieve a balanced input/output. When we are exercising from a place that is energetic and refreshed, we are able to better resist certain urges. However, as soon as we are functionally overreaching and become run down, it is hard to pass on the comfort foods. Take a rest day.
2) You're swollen
During workouts, we break muscle down to be able to repair themselves so we grow in strength. When we are exercising reasonably our bodies are able to fight inflammation. However, when we are over-exercising we are not giving our bodies the appropriate amount of time to repair. Our bodies go into overdrive, toxins are released into our bloodstreams, and water is retained to help combat the damaged areas and toxins. Take a rest day.
3) You're irritable
Most fitness enthusiasts use exercise as a form of stress relief. However, when we lean on exercising too frequently we actually increase cortisol and adrenaline in our systems, and for a sustained amount of time our moods are going to be impacted. Not to mention being in a constant state of exhaustion! Take a rest.
4) You have an increased perceived exertion
If the same workout feels way more challenging (or even slightly more challenging) it might be time to take a rest day. If your muscles are still broken down and trying to recover, breaking them down even more is going to make everything feel heavier/harder/more challenging. Take a rest.
5) You're experiencing from insomnia/restlessness
Remember how your stress hormones increase with overtraining? Right. Our bodies cannot rest appropriately when cortisol and adrenaline are pumping through our veins. Take a rest day.
6) Gut issues
Excessive high intensity exercise effects our microbiome, studies show. If you're experiencing unexpected bloat, diarrhea or constipation... take a rest day.
7) You're fatigued
See numbers 3, 4, 5. When you're tired, do everything you can to get rested so that your next workout can be b o m b. Rest up.
8) Your performance and or results have decreased
If you're seeing that your performance, strength and results are not matching your output, but you're doing everything right, it's time to take a rest day. Our bodies make fat cells to trap toxins in. As we begin losing fat cells (generally a desirable goal) but we are overtraining and not getting proper nutrition, those toxins will be rereleased into our bloodstream. What do our bodies do? What they should!- creating fat cells to retrap those toxins. In other words, your spinning your wheels if you're not resting appropriately. Take a rest day.
And here's the thing. A lot of people (like me, even just a few years ago) are in a constant state of over-trained. Check out some of these indications that you've been in a sustained, toxic relationship with grinding:
10) You're frequently sick
Oxidative stress (one of my favorite topics ever) is when there is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in your body. So if our bodies are unable to deal with the overload of oxidative stress, our immune system won't be equipped to deal with our raised susceptibility to infection and illness. Take a rest day. (and eat more fruits, vegetables, and berries).
11) You're battling low self esteem
You're tired. You're not getting the results that you've expected. Your body has been in a constant and sustained state of stress. If you're starting to hate yourself, not enjoy the journey, and resent the results (or lack thereof) you're overtrained.
12) You've got nagging injuries
Constant and nagging injuries is not a badge of courage. If you're dealing with chronic injuries or inflammation, it is time to assess your workout routine. I promise. There is no workout that is worth an injury. Take rest, council, and rehab. Your body will thank you.
Ya'll, I was a victim of the fitness industry's "grind, grind, grind" methodology and marketing. I paid for it for years. I had to retrain my brain and restore my body. You're not alone in this and it is not too late to get to your best and healthiest version of yourself.
Find joy in rest so you're able to find joy in training! Rest is part of the program.