Be a go getter. What are you willing to sacrifice. If it doesn't challenge you it doesn't change you. It doesn't get easier you get better. Go hard or go home. Make your new normal.
I'm getting exhausted just writing these things! These are the things we are inundated with day in and day out about getting in shape, being healthy or any number of things mainstream media tells us we need to do in order to be happy.
Who has time for easy?
Is it ever okay for something to be easy? For something to be gentle? Not according to many people in the insanely influential and lucrative fitness industry. As an athlete who works a full-time job, supports herself financially, has a relationship, has a fur-baby, occasionally writes these blogs, and attempts to have a social life--I've learned the hard way that it's so critical to find balance.
The Glorification of Exhaustion
I love intensity. Often times, people think I'm angry or shouting when really, that's just my voice and I'm just loud. Intensity is a part of me and something I am very, very familiar with. A sweet friend recently reminded me that my nature is to go 150% at anything I commit to. While that quality is something pride myself on as a strength, I understand fully how it can also become a detriment to my health and happiness when I let it take over. Take it from me, it is very easy to convince yourself, or require of yourself, that you perform at your very best a level every single day. But, honestly, is that realistic? Or more importantly, is that healthy? That doesn't sound like balance. It sounds a lot like ambition transformed into self-inflicted punishment.
Why do you think people LOVE pre-made diet and workout plans so much? "So I just eat this or do this exercise every single day and never have to think? SIGN ME UP." We love to take slowing down and deciphering our own needs out of the equation. We love to put parameters on our daily performance. All the coaching and Instagrams and fitness boards on Pinterest and self-help tips in the world are NOT a replacement for listening to your own body.
My body isn't saying much
Maybe you think the phrase "listening to your body" is 1. weird and way too hippie or 2. completely useless because you don't know what that means or how to do that. Both are fair and reasonably true. Check out Part 2: How to Listen to Your Body for a dive into what that new-age phrase means exactly and some concrete ways to start applying it to your life. If you're sold, feel free to switch over; Part 2 is long but it's good work to put in. However, if you're not convinced that it's important or necessary, keep reading.
I'm so passionate about this because, by neglecting to listen to my body, I sidelined myself and now I have to deal with the consequences. The very real, physical consequences of relentlessly fighting through illness and injury and stress and lack of sleep and poor nutrition and taking too much pride in my ability to ignore my own needs and intuition.
So don't be like me. Don't ignore every yawn that was actually a masked cry for more sleep. Don't drive yourself into the ground because you refused to listen and slow down. Don't constantly push yourself to your limits because that's what someone who has an infinitely different lifestyle and actual body than you told you to do. Your health is so wonderfully and beautifully unique. Nothing is one-size-fits-all because that's not how humans were designed. There are similarities, yes, and we can definitely learn from each other and see what works. But that's it; we can learn from each other. Not copy each other.
Are you moving forward or just spinning your wheels?
Part of tuning into what your physical needs are is pausing to ask yourself, "Am I moving closer to my goals or do I feel stalled?" If you're no longer seeing progress, or you're seeing progress but also injuries/sickness/depression/something clearly NOT good, you may need to shift your focus. Put the same work into your recovery, rest and ability to intuitively KNOW what it is that you need so you can make the choice to push through or to rest when you need it. Because the beautiful thing is that it is your choice and no one else's. Meaning the responsibility and privilege of listening to your body falls on YOU.
The goal is to be able make these important decisions for yourself, not because you think that's what you need to do because someone else said so. They're not you. They don't feel what you feel or move like you move or breathe like you breathe. No one else lives life like you do. Treat your body as special as it is and be willing to try something different in order to get better results at whatever you're working towards.
Support & Empower
Also, this isn't a free pass to JUDGE the way someone else pushes their body. As athletes and humans, we should encourage each other to listen to our bodies and respect what we hear, individually. Then, collectively, we can strive towards whatever goals we have, stronger than before. We might hear completely opposite things; that's okay. Support each other, challenge each other from a place of love and empowerment, and most importantly, listen and respond to your unique needs. Whether that be taking 6 weeks off to ward of an injury or kicking your training up to two a days! I hope after reading this, you understand the importance of listening to your body and figuring out what you need to be balanced and empowered!