Read this if you want to find out why it feels like your body is working against you, when you’re trying to work for it.
You’ve put in the hard hours and upped your exercise regime. You’re sacrificing sleep to wake up 90 minutes earlier every morning to make it to the gym. You’ve overhauled kitchen cupboards and removed all the packaged foods. You’ve spent all your money purchasing all the green vegetables possible; you’ve spent countless hours on your one-day off prepping meals for the week ahead. You’ve cut out all the sugar from your coffees and your snacks. You’ve even given up your evening glass (*glasses) of wine. You’re constantly battling the hunger cravings; the muscle fatigue; the unrelenting fatigue; the massive pile of sweaty gym clothes. But now you have a cold, again, your head feels like it will explode, you’re feeling run down, beaten, and beginning to think that it’s all too hard, and that you don’t have it in you, and that possibly these new changes are sending you farther away from your goals, and wondering if it’s all worth it. You’re now out of your routine, and watching your goals slip away before your eyes. You’re running out of time, and motivation.
Welcome to the ‘un-doing of the damage’ phase. This is the phase where you learn how strong you are. Where you grit you teeth and keep going. Where you build resilience. Where you dig deeper, and visit the reasons why you began in the first place. When you lean on your friends for support, to have a whine, followed by a cry and then a good old giggle. BUT, this is also the phase where you need to listen and honour what your body is trying to tell you. You are tired. You are run down. Your body is trying to battle an infection and has no time to be picking things up and putting them back down again at the gym. Your body is working for you, to try and heal, so that you can get back to your routine with ease. It’s asking you to slow down for a moment, take a breath, re-align, refocus, so you can begin again.
But why does it happen?
We all know that research suggests the common link between regular exercise and a strong immune system. However there is also evidence that suggests the common link between too much intense exercise and the reduction in immunity. Intense exercise combined with other contributing factors such as stress (physical and emotional), poor nutrition (not enough food, too much food, not enough of the right nutrients), lack of sleep, not enough adequate rest and the big one, not enough hydration; the perfect recipe for illness.
When we have new health goals in mind and begin a new routine, we tend to go full force because we are jam packed with motivation. Instead of allowing our bodies to steadily adjust to the new changes, we think that the harder we go, the quicker we will achieve our goals.
Our immune systems say otherwise. This is added stress to our bodies.
When we are exercising, we are always thinking and worried about falling off the wagon, or not doing enough, or being too tired to do enough, and not having a solid enough session. These worries and thoughts are stress to our bodies.
When we are trying to reach our daily food goals, sometimes we are over, sometimes we are under, and sometimes we indulge in a days worth of food in one meal. And then we beat ourselves up over it, we fill our minds with guilt and shame, and we begin to fight the vicious cycle of not feeling good enough, or not feeling strong enough to keep going, to get back on track with filling our bodies with the right foods, or to make that 6am gym class after our indulge. These worries and thoughts are added stress to our bodies.
All while we get on with our busy lives and schedules, and kids, and partners, and work, and friends, and family commitments. Not to mention the housework, the piles of washing, the grocery shopping. Oh and don’t forget to do it all with a smile on your face, holding your shit together and putting on a brave face in front of everyone, and then remember to fit in 15 minutes of meditation every day! These are all added stresses to your bodies.
As you can see, the more stress (intense exercise, poor nutrition, inadequate hydration, guilt and shame) we put onto ourselves, the harder our immune systems work.
Stress causes our stress hormone, cortisol, to slow our immune systems and create an imbalance within our insulin regulation – in-turn causing fatigue, low energy, weight gain and a compromised immune system, at the very least.
So how can I support my body through these stresses?
· Listening to your body - know when to push yourself, know when to rest. Speak with your Personal Trainer to ensure you are planning your week of training with both high intensity workouts and low intensity workouts. Get to know the difference between knowing when your body is physically fatigued, and knowing the excuses we make up in our minds to trick ourselves. Stress could show up in many different forms; interrupted sleep patterns, low libido, eating habits and post-training recovery time.
· Nutrients – fueling your body with the right nutrients to enhance your energy, performance, endurance and strength.
· Sleep – 7-8 hours every night, non negotiable. When our bodies sleep, we are allowing them to recover, detox, and recharge for the day ahead.
· Hydration – Just like sleep, we need to replenish our stores, all day, every day. 2 litres minimum. Research has shown that adequate hydration contributes to effective weight loss.
Other ways to support healing
· Focus your nutrition on supporting your immune system
· Focus your nutrition on nourishing your micro-biome. Your gut health and immune system are inextricably linked. Around 70-80% of your immune tissues are located in your digestive system.
Speak with a Naturopath or nutritionist to find out ways to incorporate foods and supplements to fuel your immune system and help you to train harder without becoming ill.
Try adding one of these to pack some nutrients into your day.
Immune Boosting Smoothie Bowl
Image from Pinterest
· 1 large frozen banana
· 1/2 medium cucumber
· 1 kiwi fruit
· 1 tbsp coconut yoghurt
· 30g vegan protein powder
· 1 tsp spirulina
· 1 tbsp hemp powder
· ½ fresh lime juice
· chia seeds
· sunflower seeds
· pumpkin seeds
· kiwi fruit
· coconut flakes
· honey + cinnamon
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy, pour into a bowl (eat the scrapings from the blender) and then top with your favourite nuts, seeds and berries!