On Listening to Your Body

I’ve made reference to being in tune with your body before – it knows if it wants a salad or if it needs some iron, etc.

It takes time to get the hang of it, especially if you’ve been suppressing what it’s been trying to tell you because “you know better, and you aren’t supposed to eat that food,” or “that has too many fat grams; I’d better buy the fat free option.” (Those are both wrong, by the way).  Important stuff, but I’ve also been thinking about listening to your body in other ways. When I was pregnant with Tornado, I started to get back pain that got gradually and gradually worse.  But I thought I was tough, so I ignored it and kept up my too-vigorous workout schedule, and chased after The Wild One (who was even wilder back then) day after day after day.  I learned my lesson, because it landed me in the hospital with the worst back sprain I have ever had in my life.  In fact, the worst pain I’ve ever had in my life.  I literally could not move an inch for at least 3 days, and had to stay in the hospital for a week.  Once I got out, I had to take it easy the rest of the pregnancy.  No swimming, no gym, no exercise basically.  I just had to rest.  And it was sooooo nice.  You know what else was nice?  Having to use one of THESE babies for a while afterward.  

Ohhhhhh yeah.  But why did I feel like it took a doctor to tell me I shouldn’t work out?  Shouldn’t my body be telling me that?  Sometimes I think the voice in our head is too overbearing and we push our intuition aside.  Lately I’ve really been trying to listen to it.  I think we all instinctively know what we need.  Just like mother’s intuition once you have a baby.

This morning I woke up with intense pain in my hip.  I couldn’t put any weight on it.  My first thought was, “It will be better before my swim class tonight.  I’m still going.”  It literally took hours for me to realize it was probably not a good idea and I should take it easy for a few days until I know what’s going on. And after I talked myself into that, I was comfortable in that decision

So here’s the thing:  When it comes to being active, there is a fine balance between being “tough” or “hard core” and making excuses to be lazy.  Both extremes can be dangerous: injury and burnout on one end, and inactivity and increased disease risk on the other.  Don’t get me wrong – a day or two off can literally give you a fresh start or re-energize you, and those are important too.  But we’ve got to find a healthy balance in moving our bodies, feeling good, and ultimately letting our physical body sometimes dictate what we do or don’t need.  Know when to hold ’em (a medium intensity workout), know when to fold ’em (an injury or you got 2 hours of sleep last night), know when to walk away (a great workout with a friend), know when to run (as in people will be chasing you because you look so great from pushing it in your last workout).  That’s my 2 cents.


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