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 and sleep are necessities; not something we EARN the right to do. People tend to think that they have to “earn” their sleep or what they eat, when in actuality it may be the other way around, with our workouts being the thing we have to “earn.”
"It’s hard to get out of the mindset that we have to “earn” down time, sleep and rest but in reality we’d all be a lot more productive and efficient if we got the proper amount of it. Rest is a necessity not a luxury." - Katie Edwards
So now we know food is not something we should view as having to “earn.” But 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 Our Workouts
"Earning" our workouts might not be the exact way to phrase it but the emphasis needs to be on assessing and addressing our body's capacity for stress on any given day. Earning our workouts is simply understanding what my body feels like and how recovered is my body in order to maximize the amount of stress that I want to allow my workout to generate. 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 Prime. These 3 being:
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 slept 4 hours the night before, you may not have earned the right to workout.
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 okay, and often necessary to maximize our bodies ability to perform and recover. Our bodies are resilient and exercise can work wonders, 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 stress of 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 causes stress. Whether from 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.
We need to check in with our body, physically and mentally. The human body is capable of amazing things. When we properly train/prepare and recover, we can run that marathon... we can train hard for weeks on end... we can do all the things you want to do. But we HAVE to do the right things on the back end. We need to manage our stress both physically and mentally.
So what does this mean?
This does not mean that if you are experiencing any amount of stress, you should just ditch your workout for the day. 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 rest day from the gym.
Here at Prime, we understand 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. Here at Prime we are working to flip the narrative: It is time we start viewing food and sleep as necessities, not something we have to earn, and to start viewing workouts as the thing we have to earn. This mindset can help to optimize your overall health and recovery from injury. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org today to set up an initial consultation.