Are you missing results you think you deserve? If you don’t recover from exercise with a collective of lifestyle habits in addition to adequate time between workouts, it’s a dance of either overtraining, or under recovery or both.
If you’re under-recovering from exercise, you will not increase lean muscle, decrease fat, or reach a higher level of fitness.
How are over training and under recovery unique? You may indeed need those workouts, but you may be “wasting” them by not getting adequate steps in between them. That would be under-recovery.
No coincidence that of course is over training too. Because the frequency your quality workouts come, deem them “junk” in terms of benefits. Sure, they feel “hard.” Your brain may say, that was great, just what I needed was a head-clearing message that I worked hard.
However, addiction to movement at the expense of performance usually ends up in injury or illness. Before that it’s just a low-level frustration of poor workouts, poor response, changes in appetite and sleep, mood, and relationships.
Separating Over Training and Under Recovery
We can lump them together, but I’ve selected to highlight the unique difference here between what happens with overtraining and what happens if you don’t recover from exercise. For many, it may be easier to see clearly by looking at one or the other as independently as possible. [It’s not easy, given they have to relate! For instance the longer a “long” run, the more days should be between the next one. Yet, many novice exercisers don’t do this. Instead they “escalate” like a drug addict would. “I did X last time, I have to do X + this time for it to ‘count’” is essentially the internal message. It doesn’t matter if you’re a runner, a Zumba participant, or a weight lifter, it’s possible for anyone to fall down this hole.
Performance suffers first, and then life in general will.
- Chronically “diet” to create a caloric deficit
- Think one, even two meals a day regularly is a good thing but you’re exercising frequently, intensely, or both.
- Are not sleeping either because of insomnia or because you aren’t prioritizing it.
- Exercise every day regardless of how you feel.
- Have chronic soreness or fatigue. (but don’t be fooled: lack of soreness is no sign you’re fine)
- Could take a nap after a workout.
- Are never in the mood or always “have a headache, honey”
- Crave sweets or salty snacks either one
- See muscle mass go down, fat go up, or both in spite of “doing all the things.”
You very likely don’t recover from exercise.
This has nothing to do with what you do compared to anyone else. It doesn’t have a much to do even with what you do now compared to what you used to do. So, if you think, “oh, I’ve always done that, so for me walking 4-5 miles a day is nothing,” you could be very wrong. It worked yesterday, last year, but may not if suddenly you’re under a lot of other stress or your hormones changed dramatically. (Stress means they do whether or not you’re in menopause).
It’s just relative to the “allostatic load” your body in midlife, whatever stage of menopause you’re in, is sensing.
Your body gets to tell you.
Your mind can all too easily think, “But this is nothing; I used to do x, y, and z.”
I get it. Not about me here, but here’s my truth. I trained for 7 Iron-distance triathlons. On number 8, I gained 12-14 lbs… of inflammation. I called it my cortisol-pack. Most seek a 6-pack, right? So, you get it.
And of course… I can look back and put the pieces together and understand how it was just too much that year.
In spite of “loving it” and it being something not that I’m compelled to do but love to spend time doing.
So, if you think that this could be you (and if you landed here to read this, there’s a chance you have an inkling it might be true of you), then there’s a question.
Where to begin fixing it?
First, cut back on exercise immediately. It’s not forever, but for now, you’ve got to give your body extra rest, longer recovery. And time to really listen which you can’t do if you’re keeping score about your exercise.
Depending on how severe your symptoms of overtraining, you might cut back completely or maybe just a small amount. I usually suggest just walking for a week. No more than 70 minutes a day. But two or 3 10-minute walks may be best if you’re suffering from all-day fatigue and even tired when you wake in the morning no matter how much you’ve been in bed.
In all seriousness, here, this next sentence is important.
You’re going to think, what you used to do used to work. But in reality you may have just been causing damage and finally got to the tipping point.
Your nutrition is everything. Diet culture may be catching up to you. Are you eating? Regularly? High quality meals rich in quality sources of protein and plenty of vegetables?
If you’re an athlete, or exercise enthusiast, who trains 5-6 days a week, you will need carbs. Yes, potentially reduced amount compared to what you used to do, but still muscle and hormones require some quality carbs.
Are you eating a variety? Some of my clients jokingly say, “They know my order before I ask,” or “I get the same thing at the grocery store every week.” This is not good! Diversity is the gut’s best friend. You need to avoid eating the same thing every day. Track how many different foods you eat in a week. That number should be pretty high. (A challenge inside our Flipping 50 Member’s area focused on this very thing this month).
If you can check off that you get adequate sleep quantity, you sleep when tired, wake rested, move on. But if that’s not true, spend time either prioritizing sleep or step-by-step getting a better night’s rest. That’s sequentially trying one thing at a time to improve your sleep. Tweak it, test it some more, before you eliminate it or realize it does work.
These things alone can course-correct for you. If they don’t, there are next steps.
Self-reliance on compliance can be tough. It doesn’t matter if you’re a school teacher, lawyer or doctor, we sometimes need a little accountability and a plan.
If you address each of these and still there’s no improvement, it’s time to consider testing. It’s not first. Why? Because twofold: your lifestyle habits may support you enough to mean no need or less additional support and, a
If you’re open to considering hormone replacement, testing hormone levels with a functional doctor is the way to go. A look at estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, cortisol, DHEA, and the proper thyroid hormones, as well as fasted blood glucose levels can be helpful.
Micronutrient sufficiency is important to hormone production, muscle and bone health and metabolism. There are several common micronutrient deficiencies you want to check at minimum. Magnesium, Vitamin D, Omega 3 and 3:6 ratio, B vitamins. If you’re tired or don’t eat meat, Iron can be good to test as well.
Sometimes the problem isn’t micronutrients you’re eating, but what you’re absorbing. So stool testing can help if you have chronic issues with gas, bloating, and particularly diarrhea, constipation, or both. From these tests you’ll find out if you are low in certain good bacteria, high in bad bacteria and with a functional health doctor or coach understand how to supplement for course correcting.
Your muscle and bones can’t fully benefit from exercise if you’re not receiving all the nutrients that you need and in fact you could be running yourself down from otherwise healthy doses of exercise if you aren’t eating or absorbing micronutrients properly.
That’s a start.
Food sensitivity testing is another consideration. There are two ways I like to see this done. First, you test yourself by eliminating foods that could be causing problems (while substituting for just about anything you’ll miss: this isn’t a “diet” in traditional terms). Then you reintroduce one food at a time in a step-by-step way. The other way is a lab test. Many think this is “best” but truly you need to do both, though I suggest the elimination diet first. They’ll each give you information the other won’t.
The hardest part sometimes is compliance. Because it doesn’t make sense to a brain conditioned to think “work hard, get results,” and “eat less, exercise more” is the answer to weight issues. It’s NOT. There’s more going on.
Let’s face it: our daughters will know better. But we didn’t have the right play book, unless your mom was an anomaly. So, if this is news to you, it’s not your fault. We all (self-included) think we’re going to be different, and it won’t happen to us. Until… it does.
You can order your own (called self-directed) lab test whenever you want to. You’ll pay out of pocket. You may now be able to use HAS account. Be sure to check first. Then go over those results based OPTIMUM, not norms (aka, based on a whole lot of people who don’t feel well).
If you want a little help, see this 90- minute “ultimate session” with me to deep dive into your needs and a road map. While we’re looking into the possibilities that some of your “healthy” habits may be getting in your way, we’ll find the best exercise for you to do meanwhile.
10-day Hot, Not Bothered Challenge – offered infrequently, this challenge is a start, restart, or reset that teaches you the way behind exercise type and timing. https://www.flippingfifty.com/hnb-challenge
Ultimate 90 Minute session – a one on one with me to thoroughly review your current exercise, lifestyle and nutrition habits, the results you’re getting now and want, and determines a series of next steps for you to do solo or to pursue additional accountability coaching. https://www.flippingfifty.com/store/coaching-programs/private-coaching-90-min/