SparkPeople Blogs  •  health  •  injury

When Your Body Speaks, Do You Listen?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I've always been someone who pushes myself, whether during a workout, setting goals or finishing a daily to-do list.  Sometimes that's a good quality to have because I'm able to accomplish a lot of things (like running marathons or balancing work with the demands of raising young children.)  Sometimes, it's not such a great quality to possess, because I tend to ignore the signs from my body that it's time to slow down.  I've been doing a lot of ignoring lately, and I'm starting to realize that it could do more harm than good.

When starting a new fitness program, it's easy to feel motivated and want to jump in with both feet.  Why start with just 15 minutes of walking when 30 or 45 seem so much better?  Why take a day or two of rest each week when you think you could probably push yourself to exercise every day?  That might sound like a good idea at first, but decisions like these often lead to physical and mental burnout.  It's no fun feeling tired and sore all the time, so exercise becomes something you dread instead of something you look forward to doing.  What happened?  You went from being totally motivated to unmotivated in such a short period of time.  Maybe if you would have started slower and listened to your body when it was telling you it was too much, you would have had more success establishing a lasting, healthy habit.

Perhaps you're someone like me who has been exercising regularly for a while.  We all have those times when workouts aren't going quite as smoothly as they had been, or you just aren't seeing the progress you once were.  Do you ever consider scaling back on your workouts for a few weeks, or even taking a week or two of rest (meaning active recovery, not just sitting on the couch for days on end)?  People who listen closely to what their bodies are telling them often find that these periods of rest leave them prepared to come back stronger and working harder than ever.  Too bad I've not been a good listener.

Over the past few months, my workouts and daily routine have become increasingly difficult because I'm not giving my body the rest time that it needs.  I am well-aware of what's going on, but for some reason, I struggle with doing what I know I need to do.  I'm someone who likes to check off a long list of items I've completed at the end of the day.  The more I've done, the more accomplished I feel- regardless of whether or not it's taking a toll on me in the long-run.  I'm not trying to make it sound like my health is in danger, so I hope it doesn't seem like that.  I know that I'm in good health, but there are just those little cues here and there that I need to start paying more attention to on a daily basis.  I know it will leave me better off in the long run.

Are you someone who listens when your body tells you it's time to slow down?  Or do you try to push through it and just hope things get better?