How do I start to listening to my body better? How do I know if I am full or hungry? If I am exercising too much or not enough?
Wow, you guys had amazing questions this week, and this one is truly so hard to answer. To make it simple, you start by slowing down, learning to disconnect and paying attention. That’s really it. You put aside all the crutches you have and the rules you are defining success by and start tuning in. The training plan, the goals we set, the macros target, MyFitnessPal, and your running watch tracking your pace and heart rate are all tools. Tools can be helpful; but if we just follow them blindly and put all of our trust in them we forget that we’ve been equipped all along to make decisions for ourselves. We can’t just blindly follow the data that these tools provide us with and forget to look inward, pay attention and listen to what our bodies are telling us. And we need to stop labeling food as good or bad and living by a set of restrictive rules.
When you wake up in the morning, take a moment to lie in bed with your eyes closed and do a body scan. Do you feel well rested? Forget the sleep score you get from your Fitbit, how do you feel? Are you in pain? How is your body feeling today? Do you need a rest day or maybe some active recovery?
Are you eating your meals on the run? Try taking proper time to sit down at mealtime, chew your food and and appreciate your meal. Are you satiated? Are you still hungry? Pay attention without judgement and do your best to forget how much you think you should be eating. Remember simpler times when you ate something just because you wanted to and felt hungry? Remember a time when you didn’t think eating fruits was bad and carbs were evil?
Back in the day as a runner, I followed my training plan to a T, often ignoring the body aches and pounding the pavement when I should have been resting. That led me to injuries that took me out for months when really it could have been avoided by listening to my body better. Heck, I didn’t really learn this lesson completely as a runner as I made many of the same mistakes as a Crossfitter. With age came more wisdom, but it is something I need to check myself on often.
Injuries happen in sports, but pay attention if you feel like you’re going from one injury to another. If you spend your day in a mental fog after going to the gym or need a nap after every bike ride, you are not listening to your body. The way we move and exercise should energize us, not drain us. I am not saying I don’t love the feeling of a good hard workout and the afternoon nap that follows, but this can’t be every training session. I am trying to live a full life here, in and outside of the gym.
Measuring and quantifying things has a time and a place. Setting goals for ourselves and following a plan is a big part of achieving our goals. Without a plan to follow and the tools to get me there, I wouldn’t have reached many of my goals, such as running 7 full marathons and competing at Regionals. But we can’t follow macros goals and training plans blindly. Over time, if we only focus on numbers and data we forget to listen and pay attention to our bodies and we forget that ultimately, we know what our bodies need. It’s why I honestly pay more attention to bio-feedback than numbers in my coaching. It doesn’t matter to me if your macros are perfect if you are not feeling great.
When it comes to how much to eat and when to eat, normal eating involves trusting your body to tell you when it needs nourishment and when it doesn’t. Same goes for movement.
Again, it truly comes back to building a lifestyle that you love, but also being mindful of everything else that is in your life. For example, I love training hard. But I am also 47 years old now, a wife and a mom, a business owner and a part-time coach. So for me to train twice a day 5 days a week is just not realistic. As much as I love it, my life right now is not conducive to me doing so and also being happy and productive in the rest of my endeavours. Focus inward. View it as a practice; you won’t always get it right, but with practice and consistency you will gain confidence in yourself to know what you need and what is right for you.
If you like journaling this can also be a good place to start. I like to pick a couple of journal prompts to focus on and answer daily without judgment.
- Did I allow myself to eat when hungry today?
- Did I eat the food I wanted to eat today or did I chose the food I thought I was supposed to eat?
- Did I feel satisfied after eating today?
- Did I honour my body today?
- Did I move in a way that brought me joy?
- Did I feel energized after the gym today?
Hoping this is helpful. And this is a conversation to be continued for sure.❤️