Are you doing TOO Much?

It doesn’t matter if you are new to fitness, or have been active your whole life – everybody needs to consider over-training, and make sure to incorporate rest into their routine. I am a prime example of this – I’ve been physically active since I began walking. My parents kept me pretty busy with registered programs and activities my whole life, so as an adult I have a hard time sitting down and being idle.

Over a year ago I was so overzealous with teaching group fitness classes and running bootcamps that I ran myself down to the point where my doctor thought I had narcolepsy because I was so fatigued all the time. I was pushing a 40- hour work-week in the office, and then teaching 4 mornings per week before work, 2 evenings after work, and 2 weekend fitness classes on top of that. I was constantly sore, and was sleeping 6-7 hours per night, which for me, is 1 – 2 hours short of what my body requires. I was falling asleep during the day (at work, in meetings…), and I found myself needing to pull over to nap while driving anywhere for more than 30 – 45 minutes.  I was so stubborn to actually see what the root cause was, that I thought there must be something wrong with my body. I had experienced these symptoms since I began High School, and had always needed a lot of sleep, but they seemed to be getting worse.

What I know now, is that physical activity is only one side of the over-training puzzle. Physical activity is a stressor that we put on our body to elicit a response – which is usually repairing itself to be stronger and more fit. What happens when we add more stressors on top of physical activity? Such as:

  • Environmental stresses (toxins in our environment – air pollution, chemicals in our products and food, etc.);
  • Emotional Stress from work, money or our personal lives;
  • Lack of sleep – our body repairs and regenerates itself while sleeping. If you cut that short, then it can’t catch up;
  • Poor Nutrition – eating too much, not enough, or unhealthy foods.

If we don’t manage stresses, they start compounding on our body. Our body is a miraculous machine – it will fight cstresses and toxins to an extent, but if there are too many, it will begin to break down. The results can manifest in the following ways:

  • Irritability
  • Weight Gain (specifically fat increase)
  • Soreness
  • Fatigue
  • Sickness (the flu, a cold, or much more severe – Cancer)
  • Mental Illness (such as depression) – lack of motivation, retracting from social situations, loss of joy in life

OverTraining

So what happened? I lost my driver’s license because the Government thought I had a sleep disorder. To get it back as fast as possible (I needed my vehicle to be able to work) I met a Sleep Specialist and paid for a private sleep study. He made it clear that there likely was no problem with my body, but I had been sleep deprived for years. He asked me a series of questions about my lifestyle, and as I answered each one, I immediately felt silly. I had been overloading my body with stressors for so long, and not giving myself any reprieve in the form of rest. The diagnosis after the sleep study you ask? Two things were found:

  1. Moderate Sleep Apnea (caused from a deviated septum and jaw shape) – not enough to cause the amount of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness I was experiencing.
  2. Behaviourly-Induced Insufficient Sleep Syndrome. That’s a true technical term. Meaning – get more sleep!!!

So what’s my point?? While physical activity is important, so is managing all the other stresses in your life. This includes things like:

  • Eat a well-balanced, whole-foods based diet. This will reduce the amount of preservatives, chemicals and other toxins that your body needs to filter and fight.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. This gives your cells a fighting chance – most nutrients are water soluble, and you body needs water for all its vital functions.
  • Sleep!!! Allow your body to take the time it needs to repair itself from the stresses it saw throughout the day.
  • Rest! Always incorporate 1 – 2 days of rest each week in your workout regime. This doesn’t mean you need to sit around and be a couch potato. Rest can include a light walk outdoors, or a gentle yoga class.
  • Do things that you love. Make time for yourself, to do something that you truly enjoy. Whether this is meeting up with friends, artful expression, reading a book. Your body and spirit will benefit from you taking the time for enjoyment.

I am happy to report that I am managing my stresses a lot better, and it is always a journey with every day. Establishing a routine so that I can get enough sleep has been a priority. Being honest about stresses with your friends and family allows you to look out for each other and support each other when necessary. Lastly, pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you are irritable, tired, or are experiencing any symptoms that aren’t just muscle soreness from yesterdays workout, you may want to consider taking a day or evening for yourself to rejuvenate. Build it into your routine.

Happy Resting! 🙂

 

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