As much as we are told by others to “listen to our bodies,” and as much as we tell others to do the same, this is still one of the most difficult things to actually do.
Monday morning I woke up with a stuffy nose and a headache, which I never get unless I’m sick. I thought about not going to the gym that day, but after eating breakfast, I felt good enough to go. I went and did a slightly lower intensity workout, but still worked hard enough that I was sore the next day. After my workout I felt more awake and relaxed which I took as a good sign. Then, on Tuesday morning I woke up exhausted, despite getting 9 hours of sleep. Instead of going to the gym before class, I decided to play it by ear, planning to go after class depending on how I felt. After class, I was exhausted, so I figured I’d grab a coffee before I had to hand out some flyers on campus and then I’d be ready to go to the gym after. However, this was not the case. As I stood handing out flyers, I started to feel nauseous, I could feel my heart beating in my chest and I was shaky. Fuck. I knew I was experiencing caffeine overdose effects and I was thoroughly annoyed. I finished my shift of flyering and made the executive decision to go home instead of to the gym. Clearly, my body was not managing anything well and putting my body through more stress could have ended very badly.
As proud as I am of myself for listening to my body, it was INCREDIBLY hard. I felt guilty, unsure and worried that I was just making up an excuse to skip the gym. My mind was telling me that because I’d taken a rest day on Saturday, I really shouldn’t be taking another one so soon! It’s so challenging when you know your thoughts are irrational, but you can’t seem to push them away. In my head, I reassured myself:
I love going to the gym so why would I be making an unnecessary excuse not to go? Also, my body is clearly trying to fight an illness and it’s not functioning at full capacity, so rest is important. And honestly, I am not going to lose all my gains or gain weight because I took one day off from the gym!!
While these thoughts didn’t get rid of all my guilt and discomfort, they did help remind me that my worries are not based on any kind of factual evidence.
I know how hard it is to actually listen to your body, but I encourage everyone to do so. Your body is an incredible thing, and it knows what it needs to maintain its health. That’s why it gives you signs like hunger, pain, exhaustion – so you know to eat, address an injury, or rest. It’s easy to think you’re invincible (trust me I definitely do), but honestly you aren’t, and that’s okay! Humans are incredible, but we are not invincible.
So, my challenge to you, is the next time you catch yourself telling someone else to listen to their body, check-in and make sure you’re listening to your body! Make sure you aren’t only supporting the growth of those around you, but you’re supporting your own growth too! It’ll all be worth it in the long run.