I quit exercising everyday and got stronger. I thought I needed to workout 6 days a week and do some light exercise even on my rest day. I thought that rest days were for other people, not me. I would go on an intense 2 hour road bike ride on my rest days and think I was doing “active recovery”.
It didn’t matter how cold it was or how tired I was.
I would wake up at 5am and workout even if I didn’t sleep the night before. I would go run even when it was 0 degrees outside. I remember coming back home with ice crystals formed on my eyelashes and it would hurt my chest to breathe in that frigid air. I didn’t care though, I still went. I never missed.
I rarely missed a workout and if by the rare chance I did, it felt like the end of the world. I thought that all my hard work would be wasted. I felt like I needed to burn extra calories, go extra hard, and lift extra long the next day.
I missed out on so much of life.
I would sacrifice quality time with my family and lunches with my girlfriends so I could make it to my workouts. People would often comment on how dedicated I was.
Turns out I wasn’t dedicated, I was disordered in my thoughts.
Eventually my body broke down and I was forced to quit working out. I mean you can only push so hard until you break. During this time I had to get introspective and figure out why I wasn’t able to approach working out with moderation and sanity. It actually gave me time to discover my true purpose for moving my body.
I had been exercising for all the wrong reasons.
It gave me time to realize that I had been exercising for all the wrong reasons. It was all appearance based. I wanted to look leaner. I wanted to look like I knew what I was talking about as a personal trainer. I was never happy with what I saw. The leaner I got the pickier I got about how I looked. I was never satisfied.
I had to dig deep and do some soul searching as to why that was. My body image and worth had attached themselves to my weight and body size. It wasn’t until I was able to separate my worth from my body image, and truly embrace that I was worthy no matter what, that my mindset started to change. If you want to read more about how I was able to change my thoughts and improve my body image start here.
I am so grateful that my mind is in a healthier place now.
Once my body had recovered from the damage I had done through over training, I started to exercise and move my body again with a new purpose. I exercise to feel strong, to feel capable, to have endurance to be able to keep up with my active family. I exercise because it feels good and enhances my mood. Not one of these reasons is appearance based. Sure my appearance might change because I am exercising but it is no longer what drives me or motivates me.
And because of that major mindset change I am able to take care of my body out of a place of love.
I don’t feel panic if I don’t get a workout in. I feel calm if I feel like my body needs an extra rest day or two. I know that if I miss a week or two of the gym I’ll be fine. In fact, it’ll probably be a good break for my body. I don’t feel the need to follow a workout program to the tee, I am comfortable letting my body dictate how it wants to move.
The human body likes movement. I won’t disagree with that. But it doesn’t need to be an intense workout everyday or a long gym session to be beneficial. A nice walk or a relaxing stretching session can be just as beneficial as an intense workout. It makes me sad to hear women say they “only” got a walk in today. Guess what? That’s amazing! Your body thanks you for it.
I used to think the same way and was never satisfied with a walk. I would get up and get a hard workout in even if I knew we were going to be skiing all day long. I didn’t consider skiing to be enough.
I am glad those crazy over-training days are done.
Now I find joy in all movement. There was a time when I was recovering from over training and under eating that even a walk was too much for my body to handle. Now I don’t take anything for granted when it comes to moving my body. I listen to what it needs and rest when it feels right.
I enjoy things such as walking in the sunshine, riding my bike, playing with my kids, skiing, swimming, beach days, cleaning, or pulling weeds out in the yard. They all count as movement in my book. I don’t feel guilty at the end of the day for not getting in a traditional workout.
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy lifting weights, getting sweaty and breathless and pushing myself but I do it in a much more healthy way now. And my body is so much happier.
I actually feel stronger and healthier than I did in my over training days.
Our bodies don’t need to be pushed to the limit every single day to feel strong and fit. In fact, resting is when you build up your strength. If you exercise every day and never take a rest day you are constantly in a state of breaking down your body. Think of it as what is the minimum effective dose of exercise that I need to stay healthy and strong.
What are your reasons for working out? What do you enjoy doing? How do you feel if you miss a workout? Why? Start asking yourself these questions if you feel like you are teetering on the edge of over doing it.