If your New Years resolution is to get fit, beat that PR or fit into those skinny jeans again, I applaud you. But seriously, it’s how you do it that counts.
As much as there’s great knowledge and info out there, people still struggle with the balance and this January is starting to make me mad. All these great fitness motivations saying, “beat yesterday” “run every day in January” “Gym everyday in 2017”. Do you really know what you’re doing to your body? As much as it’s great to have a goal and a plan, working out every day or trying to out do yourself every day leads to nothing more than; injury, illness and in some cases serious health damage you can’t undo!
Think of it like a pendulum, as it swings one way, so must it go the other.
As a born again fit girl I understand that rush you get from achievement and the absolute dedication it takes to get you there. This time last year I was lighter and fitting into smaller clothes and feeling really happy with myself…until I had a PT client who could lift more than I could. I wasn’t up to scratch and I couldn’t support them how they needed. Back then I looked over my food diary, I’d stuck to the 80/20 rule but it was the same cycle of doing good all day and eating what I fancied on a night and as a result not sleeping properly…and repeat…pointless! With my training I’d upped the cardio to drop body fat but I kept getting injured, felt tired all the time and picked up colds from everyone. I thought I was doing ok but I didn’t learn about what overtraining really does to the body.
Working out lowers the immune system, in some cases it puts your body in a state of extreme stress and it drains your body of vital minerals and nutrients so it can sustain the effort. The only way to combat this is a relentless good diet and recovery techniques. If you are a professional athlete your bedtime routine is a medical drip to replace the micronutrients your body needs, through the day macronutrient filled meal preps created by dietitians to fuel your body are essential and scientifically/medically induced recovery techniques are used, such as ice baths, work to speed recovery. Are you doing all that? If not, what are you doing to your body? Seriously look at the stress and strains you’re putting your physical health under. Is it worth it? Do you recognise the symptoms or have you already learned to live with them? If you knew the long term effects would it change anything?
Before you set yourself a challenge to ‘go all out’, without resting the body properly, know the facts. Repetitive injuries I see in the Sports Massage Clinic are almost always preventable. The scary fact is, most people don’t come to see me until they get injured. Injury isn’t part of your sports training, it’s a massive lesson that you ignored the warning signs and that you’re not listening to your body. My regular clients know prehab is so much better than rehab and that’s why they see me to prevent those injuries from happeneing.
When people say they’re training so hard they can ‘eat what they like’ that’s bull****. Think of your body like a car, are you Diesel, Petrol or Unleaded? We would all love to be Hybrid, but it’s not always possible. I don’t criticise anyone’s diet but at least be honest with yourself. It makes no difference if you drive all day 80% on Unleaed, adding 20% Diesel will do what to the engine? Pick your fuel carefully, you only get one engine. Find a balance to enjoy food but with good quality fuel. If you want pizza, have it but get your a** in the kitchen and learn how to make one yourself that isn’t full of sugar/saturated fats/processed meats. I didn’t have the time or money years ago but when faced with life in a wheelchair barely able to take care of myself, I made a better choice. Don’t wait till you pass that fork in the road, take the time now to think what’s ahead.
Over training has symptoms a lot of people ignore. We put up with the pains, tiredness, mental exhaustion and stress, but at what cost? We’re told that good diet and exercise helps to reduce our risk of cancers and long term health conditions. True, but what happens when you go too far? So the stress we put ourselves and bodies under is fine? No. A lot of us just accept the symptoms of stress as part of the process. It’s not. It’s a huge red flag, raging bull warning sign that something is wrong. Ever gone to bed with a headache after working out? There’s a serious reason for that. When people say, the day you don’t want to workout is the day you should, sometimes, but what if it’s really not..
It’s really sad for me to greet a Sports Therapy client and hear about their injury. I take my job seriously and if you’ve ever been to my house you’ll know my dining room is like a human anatomy libarary. In fact the only reason our local libarary is still open is because of the money I pay regularly for overdue sports coaching and medical research books. It’s really heartbreaking to work with clients who have preventable injuries because at that point without a massive shift, it will happen again or they’re already learning to accept the problem. My job is to aid recovery certainly but I learn’t my trade to help to prevent injuries. SMR (self myofascial release) is one of the simplest ways to support any fitness training. The way you know it’s working is you don’t get injuries often or your training is uninterrupted. We all know brushing our teeth twice a day is a preventative measure but a lot of people don’t floss or use mouth wash until their dentist has to recommend it. If we all know how to look after ourselves, why don’t we do it?
Think of all you can currently do; lift weights, swim, rock climb, surf, run, crossfit, dance, football. Whatever your chosen sport is, think about what you truely love about it, what made you start in the first place and why you continue to do it. Now imagine locked in syndrome. Imagine your mind is fully active but your body is like a dead weight. You can think all you like but you have no way to communicate with anyone. Your body is a stone cold giant paperweight. You can’t look after yourself, can’t feed yourself and you’ve lost everything that makes you who you are. That’s what the long term costs of not looking after your body looks like. If you don’t take care of yourself you are at serious risk to lose everything. It’s a harsh reality but it’s something I’ve faced. It takes that thought and that fear of what could really happen to jump up and smack some sense into some people. Don’t be ignorant to how much you’re wearing yourself out. That achievement of 20k steps a day 365 is great but be honest with yourself and get to know what that is really doing to your body. When you’re honest with yourself, use preventative measures to combat it. I have no place to tell anyone how to live and I have no desire to change anyone so you alone have to realise what you’re doing to yourself. Take full responsibility for putting your heart into cardiac stress because you want that PB without training properly. Realise your family will have to deal with the fall out if your heart can’t take it.
The worst part of my job is knowing a lot of people are only motivated to take care of themselves once they get a serious problem. I know some clients are relentless when it comes to recovery and it’s marvellous to see but I just wish they could take 5 steps back and put that energy into preventative measures to avoid disappointments. There’s three vital parts to a healthy life. Fitness, nutrition and wellness.
- Fitness- Physical activity you enjoy that enhances your physical and mental wellbeing
- Nutrition-Fueling the body with food and fluids full of good nutritional value
- Wellbeing-Resting the body and mind and activity taking time to recognise your efforts and appreciate them
What’s really making me mad this month is seeing people push themselves too far and for no good reason. Running streaks are great for those who want it but are you willing to accept the repetaive strain injuries as consequences? Hypertrophy is a great was to build that muscle but is that quick buff body plan worth agonising torn ligaments that take years to recover? Know what you’re taking on and know what you can lose. Take the time to educate before it’s too late.
As for health and fitness the whole point to it is finding the right balance. If you want to really feel good about yourself don’t work out to; lose weight, look better or beat that goal without fully training, do it because you love your body and your deserve to take care of it. If you want a truely inspiring achievable goal this year how about being the best version of yourself? Find a healthy balance that works long term and be the example for others to look up to.