Working in vs working out

We all know about working out. We are told that we need to work out to stay healthy, lose or maintain weight, improve mental health, and for overall health and vitality.

For many years, I would train 6-7 days a week and would hardly have a break. I would get angry and frustrated at myself if I missed a training session. No matter how tired I felt or sore I was, I would still be at the gym or at CrossFit ready for another session. It was only last year when I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue (twice!!) that I had to re-evaluate my life and my training. I had to ask myself:

  • What was I training for?

  • What were my training goals?

  • Was my training supporting my dreams?

My goal was to be healthy and fit, but I was overtraining. I was doing high intensity training 6-7 times a week and not giving my body enough time to rest. My training was not supporting my dreams as I was pushing myself to exhaustion and my body was constantly stressed. Add this to being a mum and trying to juggle a full time job, looking after my son and maintaining a house. Something had to give and I had to re-evaluate my lifestyle, goals and training. I had to make more time for myself, to 'work in' and listen to my body, otherwise I was going to get sick or injure myself. I had to give my body what it needed, rather than what I think it wanted.

When you work out, you expend energy but you need to have energy to give 'out' in the first place. Exercise is a physical stress on the body. It uses the sympathetic nervous system, which triggers our flight or fight response.  When we exercise, we break down muscle tissue which then stimulates the recovery process to help repair and build muscle. It is during the rest period that growth happens. If our training sessions are too close together or we are training too hard and not eating enough good quality food, we are not giving our body enough time to rest and recover. Recovery needs enough quality sleep and good nutrition to help build you back up. If your diet is filled with lots of processed foods, if you have poor lifestyle habits, or under a lot of stress, these factors will hinder your recovery. In cases like these, going to the gym and exercising will not serve you well. People in these situations will find that they are really sore for days. It will also affect your training goals especially if you are trying to build muscle or lose weight.

Think of your body like a car...it won't work without fuel. When you put fuel (energy) into the car, it is able to work. Same as your body....you need to fuel and look after your body right for it to work optimally. You need to feed it with good organic whole foods, drink enough filtered water, get enough sleep, and breathe correctly so that your body has what it needs to be in homeostasis. However, if you do not fuel your body right. it is going to feel tired and fatigued. If you exercise and expend more energy than you have, it can lead to infections, illnesses, sickness and disease. If you don't have energy to expend, or you have an illness, have parasites, or are under a lot of stress, then you probably shouldn't be working out and it is detrimental to your health. You can't expend energy you don't have. To create energy, you need to work in first.

Now I can hear you ask...how do i work in? How do I generate enough energy within myself to make sure I have enough energy to do the things I love - to look after my family, do things at home, play with my kids, work, exercise? We do this by doing energy building exercises such as deep breathing, meditation, tai chi, and qi gong. Even gardening, slow walking, washing dishes in a meditative way, are all ways to work in. It is all about using the breath to generate energy within the body. When we work in, our body should be able to do this on a full stomach. This is the best test to make sure you are doing it correctly. When we work in, our tongue should stay moist and it should rest on the roof of our mouth. We should be calm, and our heart rate and respiration rate should not increase. You should not work up a sweat doing this otherwise you are working out, rather than working in. Taking 20minutes a day to work in will have profound effects. We all have 24 hours in a day. We can all spare 20minutes to do this even if it means getting up 20mins earlier, or at lunchtime taking a slow meditative walk, or meditating before bed. 

So next time you go to exercise, ask yourself:

  • Do I feel like I have enough energy to expend?

  • Have I given time to myself to rest between training sessions?

  • Am I too sore and haven't recovered from the last session?

  • Have I been eating well, eating whole organic wholefoods? drinking enough filtered water and  getting enough quality good sleep?

If you can answer 'yes' to all of the above then go ahead and train hard. If not, then maybe you should be resting and working in. Take the time to listen to your body and give it the rest and recovery that it needs. Not working out means that you can still move but do an active recovery like swimming or walking but at a lower rate of intensity. Working in is just as effective and will serve you well in the long term. Working in will increase your health, vitality and life force.

My training today has changed a lot. I listen more to my body and I feel so much better for it. Somedays I want to train hard and lift heavy, other days I want to do more cardio, or stretch and do yoga. Somedays I just want to be out in the garden and close to nature. The trick is to listen to your body and become more in tune with it. Ask yourself what do you need today? What will serve you better? 20mins of movement a day is plenty to get the body moving. The key here is to pay attention to what your body needs, rather than what you think it wants or what you think you should be doing.

Let me know your comments below. How is your training going? How much rest and recovery do you give yourself? 

Have a great day everyone!!

 

 

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