Should I Listen to My Body?
“I never lie," I said offhand. "At least not to those I don't love.”- Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat
I’ve heard so many times that I should “listen to my body” and I’ll do what’s best for it. I would like to submit what a bad idea that is in some cases.
Have you ever had a sugar addiction? I have. And you know what my body tells me when I’m trying to avoid that dessert? It tells me to EAT THAT COOKIE! And how about when you’re stressed and tired and your body says, “Hey, that couch looks really comfy right now. Yeah, that’s what I need!” But I’m sure you’ve also experienced the jolt of energy and confidence that comes after exercising instead of going for the couch. So clearly the body lies to us sometimes. We can’t just rely on our feelings. We have to use our brains.
I think everyone understands sugar cravings are not healthy cravings. Certainly we need carbohydrates to function but I’m talking about the urges that come on after a party when you’ve had a slice of cake or a few margaritas. Then you find yourself craving another little sweet treat the next day, and the next, and soon you’ve put on five pounds. Whoops! Time to reel it in.
It’s been my experience that clients trying to wean off dairy and alcohol have similar cravings for sugar. Is it a Candida thing? That’s up for debate. I hate to think of yeast proliferating in my bloodstream by feeding on sugars, but many holistic practitioners have told me that’s exactly what’s happening. Ewww, right? Strangely enough, when I’ve eliminated simple sugars from my diet, my cravings went away.
And like many athletes, I’ve trained myself to ignore that feeling of exhaustion and get the workout in anyway because I almost always feel energized after busting my ass. But is the couch sometimes a GOOD idea?
A better question would be: Am I overtraining? One easy way to know is to check your resting heart rate regularly. If you’ve noticed you wake up in the morning feeling unrested with an elevated heart rate some ten beats per minute higher than normal, then you probably need to back it off a bit. An elevated resting heart rate means your body isn’t healing in between workout sessions properly. Plus you’re probably experiencing other symptoms of burn out like moodiness, irritability, sickness, or injuries.
I love my heart rate monitor. It’s a Polar FT60 with the FlowLink device that allows me to track my workouts on PolarPersonalTrainer.com. It’s pretty awesome and I’m totally addicted. I love seeing my aerobic capacity improve and I don’t have to guess if I’m getting better. I’ve got stats to prove it. Plus, my heart rate monitor alerted me to the fact that my intensity was too high and I was overtraining. I backed off, healed my body, and my results improved as soon as I returned to my high-intensity workouts.
So, should I listen to my body? Sure. But like any advice I receive from friends and family (or politicians, for that matter), I’ve got to question what’s truly best for my health and well-being before I act.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.