Opinion: Should You Listen to Your Body?

Hitting the gym entails a lot of different factors. We have goals, whether it’s to lose weight, put on muscle, or run a 6-minute mile. They require motivation and drive to elicit the change we’re seeking. This motivation probably comes from some sort of realization; it could’ve been a humbling doctor’s visit or even a friend giving you some tough love about your fitness.

So, you go to the gym with your program in hand. You make a lot of progress to start. Working out feels awesome. You feel less stressed, you get a good sweat, you’re making progress, and you feel accomplished. Your brain runs wild with endorphins, and you associate the gym with positivity and good vibes.

Suddenly however, progress stops and your mood starts to change. You wake up tired and go to the gym even more tired. Eventually, every joint, muscle, and body part starts to ache and your motivation disappears. You can’t sleep, everyday feels like a 12-hour day, and you feel old; you’re basically morphing into Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

Should you workout? You want to say yes, but your body says no. Still, most of us would continue to do so for the sake of our goals, and dig further into a state of plateau-staleness. I’m here to tell you that 1. You need a break, and 2. This whole cycle could have been prevented.

The easiest way to prevent something like this from happening is as simple as listening to your body.  I’m not telling you to take it easy the minute the struggle becomes real, but there is a big difference between creating supercompensation and overtraining. You need to know when to take a break and when to push it a little bit. This will come with experience, but your body also gives you objective clues about how you’re feeling. Things like aches and injuries, elevated resting heart rate, susceptibility to sickness, and insomnia. Mentally, you’ll feel irritable, depressed, and unmotivated.

So why is it so hard to listen to your body? It’s simple: you’re motivated. Your mind can wander and dream, but your body cannot. Even if your body gives you all these objective clues, it’s hard to fight the subjective nature of the mind.

The next time you get after it in the gym, I want you to be conscious about how your body is feeling and progressing. Know that you don’t have to be Rambo every single day. Take the time to reset and recover, so that you can make steady progress towards your end goal without setbacks.

by Ross Curtis