Can you over-train? Having the ability to distinguish whether or not this is happening seems to become harder and harder. Well, at least that’s the case with me. You see the fitter and more “hardcore” I get, the more difficult it is for me to tell whether or not enough’s enough or if I’m just being lazy today.
Is it a crazy fitness induced obsession I have? Is it maybe something that happens to many athletes or “die-hard’s?” That’s exactly what I want to chat about, so that I can help you to not put your body through unnecessary stress like I did.
Who Loves Exercise?
If you have managed to pass the procrastination phase and now cannot get through your day without a killer sweat sesh – then congrats to you! You.re like me. We both know the amazing chemical and hormonal reactions that cause such energy boasting effects within our bodies. The benefits are insanely addictive. I mean after a great workout you feel happier, calmer, stress-free, clear minded and filled with so much more energy! Not only this, but you can start to see all your hard earned efforts in the gym starting to show on those sexy legs, bums and tums! I’ve got some killer workout programs for you btw!
Nothing beats the benefits of regular exercise, but trying to explain that to somebody who hasn’t tried it properly – won’t ever understand. Trust me, they’re missing out! However, in my journey I advanced from a fitness enthusiast to a part-time athlete. Well, it was as if I was trying to be some sort of warrior that they pulled out of Gladiator. I think the journey can become a foggy one. This is particularly true if you are well into the fitness industry and surrounded by super fit fitness coaches, ripped bodybuilders, gym junkies, athletic sprinters and athletes or even MMA fighters and Boxers posting on Instagram or posing at your local gym or workplace.
The main factors that kept and still do pop up in this little head of mine is competition, aesthetics, fitness levels and new challenges. Basically I always want to be the best, look much better than I do, get even fitter than I am and seek out the next big challenge. I.e. Boxing or some other hectic sport. (Crazy I know!) My fitness journey, akin to many others started out as a way to lose weight and then progressed into a passion, a career and then it became a sport. That’s probably the best way to describe the feeling and why it became easy for me to overtrain.
Maybe it is because the little athlete in me never showed its true colours until now.
P.s. If it were not for my change to the Mediterranean diet I would not have any energy or gains at all. Nutrition is 80% of your efforts so get yourself a quality, easy-to-follow guide here.
So, Where Did It Get Foggy?
My journey began to get tricky when I left Body20 and moved to a part-time Boxercise job at a local Boxing Club. This was probably the first time I had ever realised my seriously competitive nature and ability to chase a challenge even when it is hurting me. Can anybody else relate? I think I knew that I was already fit and could take on the job, and knew that I would get some awesome experience with it by coaching large groups of people and mastering a new discipline. However, what I didn’t notice was that I got sucked very quickly into the actual atmosphere of the boxing environment. I began picking up boxing classes on top of coaching boxercise classes (my job) and then cross training during the day between swimming, running, pilates, strength and yoga. Wowza! I know right. Pretty intense.
Another dilemma that also comes into play is probably my A-type personality. Since a little girl, I have always wanted to be perfect at whatever it was I was doing. And no, it’s not healthy nor normal to be perfect at everything but I struggle to let go and embrace imperfection. So, although the signs were obvious that I needed rest… I ignored them and went flat-out every single time I coached and trained. Now I know there are many of you who struggle with similar feelings. However, you need to be aware that attempting perfectionism is very limiting and leads to negative self-talk.
Yes, the determination and perseverance to push harder is indeed an admirable trait and many people do notice. But, at the same time you need to learn to listen to what your body is telling you and if it means neglecting an hour of exercise or a week of getting to the next level, so be it! Sometimes we literally need to do absolutely nothing in order to succeed at absolutely everything. (I only recently realised this.)
What Happens When You Push Harder?
Whilst I enthusiastically engrossed myself in mastering this new discipline called, Boxing Fitness, I of course pushed myself harder.
No surprises there! In total I completed about 6 months of coaching and training at that boxing club. I also, in that time managed to learn a lot. I got really fit and achieved things I didn’t know I could do. One of which was learning to skip! Have you ever!? Before, I couldn’t even jump once without my legs tripping over the rope. So, it is quite an achievement. (I just had to bring that up! Haha.) It’s true, perseverance gets you results.
What most don’t know is what my day to day looked like and the struggles I dealt with mentally, physically and emotionally.
This term describes the feeling you get when you are physically and emotionally exhausted, due to stress from work and demanding conditions. Burn out is followed by symptoms like; chronic fatigue, moodiness, depression and susceptibility to colds, headaches, and fevers. And in my case, work was just the contributor whilst exercise was the perpetuator.
Of course I lived oblivious to this initially, because I was super involved in my fitness career and goals. Yet, the days where I experienced random moodiness, extreme tiredness or even just plain laziness really did make me think something was up. It isn’t at all like my character to be demotivated nor lazy. But throughout the day I felt as if watching paint dry on a wall, could potentially be better than facing another day of tackling sales pitches and responding to emails or visiting a client. I mean. shit man. Where was that energy meant to come from? Excuse me while I giggle a little at myself.
A Rough Idea of My Schedule:
(By no means do you have to read this whole thing, just skim through it to get an idea.)
Monday: 03.30 Wake up. 05:00 Train mobile client. 06:30 Go for a run or swim. 09:00 till 15.30 Freelance work, social media advertising, sales, blog, website design, follow-up’s, emails ect. 15:30 till 16:00 Yoga (If I could squeeze it in.) 16:30 till 20:00 Coach Boxercise classes at the gym.
Tuesday: 04.30 Wake up. 05:45 Coach Boxercise. 07:30 Pilates 09:00 till 16.30 Freelance work, social media advertising, sales, blog, website design, follow-up’s, emails etc. 17:30 till 19:00 Boxing class (my own fitness.)
Wednesday: 03.30 Wake up. 05:00 Train mobile client. 06:30 Go for a run or swim. 09:00 till 15.30 Freelance work, social media advertising, sales, blog, website design, follow-up’s, emails ect. 15:30 till 16:00 Yoga (If I could squeeze it in.) 16:30 till 20:00 Coach Boxercise classes at the gym.
Thursday: 04.30 Wake up. 05:45 Coach Boxercise. 07:30 Pilates/Skipping/Strength 09:00 till 16.30 Freelance work, social media advertising, sales, blog, website design, follow-up’s, emails etc. 17:30 till 19:00 Boxing class (my own fitness.)
Friday: 09:00 Wake up. (Finally a little break!) 10.00 Yoga. 11.30 till 15.30 Freelance work, social media advertising, sales, blog, website design, follow-up’s, emails ect. 16:15 till 18:30 Coach Boxercise classes at the gym.
Saturday: 06:30 Wake up. 07:45 Boxing Circuit Training/Coaching.
Sunday: REST!!!! = rest of life’s tasks.
Sheesh! It was exhausting just reading that.
Obviously there were times that the day differed, but you get the picture. On top of things there was also my relationship, family, friends, financial and personal life that needed my attention. I think that we get really sucked into our goals or commitments that we forget to take care of ourselves and this is a huge problem. Establishing balance is really difficult and it is something we should continuously revisit throughout our lives. I am still figuring it out.
All of this over a period of six months began to take a toll on me both physically and emotionally. I managed to work up some really painful shin splints, and an inflamed ITB band (Iliotibial band syndrome.) Despite the physical pain I experienced I continued to push through it until I realised it was time to ease up. I realised this when my emotions were getting the best of me and when I began getting the flu easily or experiencing sleepless nights and cramping muscles.
Tip 1: Push yourself to be your best but not to the point of exhaustion.
Tip 2: Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. There is always time for training. But more importantly there is you, healing and recovery time.
10 Signs You’re Burning Out
1. Your workout performance drops. Usually the drop is first noticed in endurance exercises like swimming, cycling and running.
2. A sudden lack of motivation occurs. Experts say this is particularly common in weight lifters, sprinters or fighters who are driven by speed and power.
3. Moodiness. When your body is in a constant state of physical stress it is likely you’ll experience feelings of Depression, anger, confusion, anxiety and irritability.
4. Muscles that are ALWAYS sore. And I mean always. If your muscles are sore for hours or days after your workout then it’s clear you need more recovery time.
5. An abnormally elevated resting heart rate. Stressing your body out has an impact on your resting heart rate and will increase a normal rate from about 50 beats per minute to 65 beats per minute. Take note of this because it could be a crucial indicator that you’re placing immense stress on your body!
6. You’re tired and fatigued daily. Fitness experts state that both extreme mental and physical “grogginess” is the hallmark of over-exercise. When you’re forcing yourself to workout just to brush off your feelings of sluggishness as an energy booster, that’s the time to stop!
7. Sleepless nights. When you have a highly stressed out body, it is likely that you’re finding it really difficult to sleep. So, instead of getting that much needed rest you are actually wide awake at night with a tired mind.
8. You’re not that hungry. This is your body trying to slow its bodily processes down like metabolism to try and reduce its workload.
9. Excess body fat. You might be smashing as many workouts as possible. But are you actually gaining any lean muscle mass? You may have lost a ton of weight. However, because your body is in a state of stress it is releasing the stress hormone called, Cortisol which decreases muscle mass. So, if you’ve noticed you’ve lost weight but there’s an increase in body fat, you could be in the later stages of exercise overload.
10. Weakened immune system. Pushing through exercise does not make you any more hardcore. Bottom line: Nurture your body and give it a much-deserved break when it needs to rest after that tough workout. Otherwise you’ll weaken your immunity even further which results in weeks off of training, injury and health problems,
I really hope that you found this post insightful and will use some of my experiences as a way to improve your fitness and health lifestyle. Remember that you are the most important factor in your life and without you there won’t be any exercise happening in the first place. Work hard and keep your goals in mind. But listen to your body and when it is begging you for a break, give it one.
Your mind, body and soul always need to live in harmony with one another.
Want to know why you should pursue what you are good at in life? Find out here.
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