How many times have you heard someone say something along the lines of, “I earned my carbs after that run,” or “I can’t eat ___; I didn’t earn it.”?, or “I didn’t do enough to deserve a nap today.” First and foremost, food, sleep, and recovery are necessities; not something we EARN the right to eat or do. People tend to think that they have to “earn” their sleep, rest, or what they eat, when in actuality it may be the other way around, with our workouts being the thing we have to “earn.”
Our physical therapists at Made 2 Move like to drive home the point that quality nutrition, rest, and sleep are essential for injury recovery and overall wellness. So now we know food is not something we should view as having to “earn.” But let’s flip the script: have you ever thought about workouts and exercise being something you have to “earn”? What do we mean by “earning the right to workout?”
Earning your workouts
Earning your workouts is as simple as it sounds. Did you take the proper steps outside of the gym to be able to maximize your performance in the gym? These proper steps are the “Big Three” that we talk about often at Made 2 Move. Checking these 3 boxes will help you to feel ready to hit workouts, physical therapy sessions, and just maximize your day to day activities. While seemingly oversimplified, these “Big Three” are:
Some examples of times when working out might not be the best decision for your body:
If you have only eaten one meal or had one sip of water and it’s time for your 5 pm workout, you may not have earned the right to workout.
If you only slept 4 hours the night before, you may not have earned the right to workout.
This is contrary to what social media, and the fitness world seems to say. Many mantras like “sleep is for the weak,” and being “all in 100% of the time” that we see on Instagram are counterintuitive and may in fact be doing more harm than good for your health. A walk or a nap is sometimes the best thing you can do for your body when hitting the gym is going to place an overload of stress on your system.
Health is more than just what we are doing in the gym. It is imperative that we are in tune with our bodies and recognize that an unanticipated rest day is not only okay, but oftentimes it is necessary to maximize our bodies ability to perform and recover. Our bodies are resilient and exercise can do wonders for all aspects of health, but only if we are being intentional in matching our recovery and stress load with our workouts. Earning our workouts means being self aware and examining times in which our bodies might be in a hyper stressed state and not able to support the added stress from an intense workout that day.
The relationship between stress and exercise
Exercise is often used as a stress reliever, and the literature backs up its role in this, in which “regular exercisers are more resistant to the emotional effects of acute stress” (Childs 2014). However, the inverse can also be true, in which exercise induces stress. Whether it is an intense Crossfit session, a breakup, or a hard day at work, stress is perceived by the body in the same way.
Exercise is a form of stress on the body and while it is a form of eustress (or the “good” stress), it can become a distress (“bad” stress) if it is piled on top of other life stressors or not adequately matched with proper nutrition, sleep, hydration, and rest.
Sure, doing a high intensity workout and sweating your guts out after a hard day of work can be beneficial. But doing this for weeks or months on end is where it may start to wreak havoc on your body. Your body will not be able to recover because of its constant “fight or flight” state due to elevated stress levels.
So what does all of this mean for me?
This does not mean that if you are experiencing any amount of stress, you should just ditch your workout for the day. At Made 2 Move we are big believers of utilizing exercise as a means to relieve stress. However, if you are not properly recovered and are experiencing an overload of stress in other areas of your life, it may be wise to do a low intensity workout that day like walking, yoga, or pilates or just take a full rest day from the gym. The gym will still be there in 24 hours when your body is ready to hit it again.
Here at Made 2 Move, we like to dial into the factors that can dictate the tone of a workout or physical therapy session. This is why we commonly ask patients about their stress levels, sleep patterns, recovery modalities, and dietary habits. Our Doctors at Made 2 Move are working to reverse the narrative: It is time we start viewing food and sleep as necessities, not something we have to earn. Workouts are the real thing we have to earn. This mindset can help to optimize your overall health and recovery from injury. Reach out to email@example.com today to set up your initial consultation.