A Little Me Time – What I Learned From Taking Time Off AND Signs You May Be Overtraining
What did I learn…
First, it felt good.
Second, it felt good.
Third, it felt necessary!
Some weeks I work out every day while others I squeak in 2 or 3. Some weeks I feel I have boundless energy (I could use one of those weeks to happen again soon…) yet other weeks I am dragging my tail no matter how much I rest.
Now, when I said I took the week off from working out that doesn’t mean I didn’t move. I actually continued my yoga practice which is rather gentle these days and I walked on my treadmill at a pace that you would not consider annoyingly slow if you were behind me in a hurry.
I read, I relaxed, I watched bad TV, and I LIKED it.
Which reminds me to tell you that you may very well like it too. You may like it better than working out. YIKES
So, to save you from yourself here and a downward spiral into inactivity, you have to set a limit to your break. I really only intended on taking 3 days off but it turned into a week because I was sick (still walked and did yoga). In general, I try not to let 3 days go by without completing a serious workout (but it happens!). Be sure to make a rule for yourself too.
I want to point out now that 1. I didn’t gain 10 lbs. and 2. I didn’t turn into flubber.
Many people fear if they go off their daily workouts they will fall apart, immediately gain weight and lose all of their muscle tone. This is unlikely unless you are laying around doing nothing but eating cartons of ice cream and still the muscle tone will still be there. Muscle starts to diminish after about 2 weeks, so taking a week off (like for a vacation) certainly won’t take you that far off your goals.
You might find that you lose a couple pounds as inflammation in your body subsides from the rest of the pounding exercise places on the tissues. Or nothing will change. But you will feel rested when you’re ready to return to your workouts.
When I returned to my work out, I was READY and felt great. Sometimes it’s the winter blues, or being exhausted after the holidays, or just needing a bit of ME time that makes me, take a break but other times it may be because I’m feeling like I’m not making progress. That’s when I realize that I may be overtraining.
One reason you may need to rest is due to overtraining. You, and you know who you are, run, bike, zumba, yoga, lift weights, cross fit, jump rope, join a marathon and swim a mile — all in one week. Or you do one or two of these activities 6-7 days a week. Over training can happen to anyone from the fitness pro to the newbie and the best cure is a break. If you have any of the following symptoms, you’re going to need to take a break.
Signs of Overtraining
Suddenly, your normal workout seems too hard; you barely make it through the warm up and you feel pooped. Sometimes you cannot complete your typical workout.
You can’t lose weight or you start to gain weight even though you haven’t changed your diet or exercise routine. You may lose your appetite. Your progress diminishes or stops altogether.
You continue to workout through injuries. You get really sore from your regular workouts and the soreness lasts more than 3 days.
Your joints, limbs, and bones hurt.
You don’t sleep well.
You may feel depressed.
If you’re a woman, your menstrual cycle gets out of whack.
When you have any of these symptoms, it’s time to reevaluate what you’re doing and why you are doing it!
Some people become addicted to their workouts and this is quite problematic for overtraining as taking a break creates psychological issues. If this is your case, please talk to your doctor.
How To Recover From Overtraining
Well, first, avoidance is probably your best bet. Don’t go crazy with your workouts. I know with the Olympics coming we are all going to want to try harder, but really, there’s a reason why there are so few Olympians — not everyone can afford to workout and train daily as a living. Be appropriate with your goals. Can you afford the surgeries and time off of work that many Olympians have to take when they push their bodies to the brink? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Take a week off. This gives your body time to recover.
Go to bed early. Get some extra shut eye and allow the body to recover.
Eat better. Yes, better. You know, less processed food, more veggies, fruits and quality protein.
Okay, so if you’re killing yourself on the treadmill, at cross fit, or training for a race, remember that your body sometimes needs a break to accommodate and repair. Listen to your trainer!