A while ago I wrote a post about recovery days, aka active rest days and how important they are. And they are. And then...I promptly ignored my own advice.
I did it because I loved my workouts and didn't want to miss an opportunity to move.
Part of the fun of being a personal trainer is that I can play around with my workouts and see what my body can do. But I also know how to keep myself safe and the signs to watch for that indicate that a particular exercise or program isn't working for me.
Which leads me to the subject of this post.
Several weeks ago I started to notice that I didn't feel right. I had trouble sleeping and was tired all the time. My muscles were sore constantly. I was irritable. I had been sick a couple of times in quick succession. My knee, which I had injured last year and recovered from, was starting to hurt badly again. My appetite was often nonexistent.
And I was starting to dread my workouts. Workouts that I normally loved. Exercises that used to be challenging but doable, now often seemed impossible. I wasn't feeling stronger. I wasn't having fun.
I suspected that I was overdoing things. Big time. So, I decided I needed to scale back. A prospect that in some ways I didn't relish, but in other ways was desperate to do.
I'm two weeks in to an 8-week scaled down, moderate-intensity program at this point and I gotta say...I'm feeling really good. My energy level is up, I'm sleeping well, and I'm enjoying moving through my workouts again. I'm following a program designed by another personal trainer that I really like, so I also freed myself from the responsibility of putting together my own workouts. I'm tracking things like my energy level, sleep, appetite, mood and how my body feels, which has been really helpful.
When the 8 weeks are over, I'll see how I feel and may bump up the duration or intensity of my workouts a bit. Maybe. Or maybe I'll change them up in some other way. I'm not quite sure yet. There are some classes I'm thinking about taking and they're a bit longer than my current sessions. If I take them, then I might decrease the intensity on other days. I'm just going to play around with different things until I find something that challenges me enough, while not draining me.
I encourage you to check-in with your body on a regular basis too. How are you sleeping? What's your energy-level like? How about your appetite? Your mood? Are you in pain?
How are your workouts working for you? Are you giving your body a chance to recover from activity? If you generally like exercise, do you find yourself looking forward to it each day or dreading it? Are you doing the same kind of workout, but not with the same amount of enjoyment? Have the gains you were making in strength, endurance, flexibility or balance slowed or plateaued? Are you bored? Are you feeling overwhelmed or too challenged?
We often stick to routines out of habit, or out of the fear that if we change things up whatever the new thing is won't be as effective as the old thing and we'll lose whatever gains we've made. And we very often don't pay attention to the signals our bodies are sending us that it's time to scale down, scale up or just change our activity.
When you've done your own self-assessment, feel free to change anything that isn't working for you. There are tons of great personal trainers who can help you figure out a great plan, and I'm always happy to share the name of the program I'm doing now with anyone who's interested, with the caveat that every body is different and what works well for me might not work for you and vice versa.
There are so many ways to move your body, that finding something that works for you is a matter of trial and error. And, in case I haven't said it here before, you can always break up your exercise time into manageable chunks. If your goal is 30 minutes a day, you can do three 10-minute sessions instead of one 30 minute block. Do what works for you, both in terms of content and time.
Take care all. Until next time...