Friday, November 20, 2015

of the too much variety

I haven't been feeling well lately. A handful of symptoms to grimace and yawn through, a few worrisome enough to engage in the fine art of denial. My migraines bring with them a general malaise, and since I've had a few more than usual over the past few weeks, I figured my exhaustion was part of the usual game. But then the headaches cleared and the fatigue did not. I would go to bed tired and lay awake for hours with a mind determined to think all of the thoughts in rapid succession. In the morning I was waking up acutely aware of every joint in my body, some hollering more loud than others. Shuffle to my coffee, stretch on the couch, and reluctantly get up and head back to the gym with my notebook of sets and reps written out.

This morning I grabbed denial by the shoulders and did some shaking, then some googling and reading, then some confirming. Here I was wanting to think that overtraining was a mythical state, something too major league for my minor activity. But after looking at all of the symptoms and my documented workout days, it's quite clear that I've tipped my balance and fallen right into the overtrained category. Chronic joint and muscle soreness, check. Insomnia, check. Spots in my vision? Check(this one has been really bugging me lately). Weight loss and appetite loss, check check. Irritability, check. Doing too much? Yes. For nearly two months now I've been dedicated to spending 6 days a week lifting. I document my workouts time-wise for each day, and I've clocked over an hour for each workout for the past two weeks. Yikes. The regimen started out innocently enough, but with time I've added reps, sets, weights, and variations. Added, and not really taken away.

Today I decided to take at least a week off from lifting. During my rest, I plan on figuring out a way to better balance my diet--keep it protein heavy but be generous with carbs since I need those bad boys for energy. I will also be redesigning my training program, because my current load is absolutely not sustainable. My body hurts in ways I am not used to. My mood sucks. And progress-wise, I'm starting to regress. There is such a fine line between training and overtraining--the instinct is to lift more, lift heavier. But if you don't manage the load and allow proper recovery, your muscles never fully repair themselves. All that progression ends up in the dirt, and you end up losing muscle(and even bone density).

I called my dad today to talk to him about it. "You get that from me," he said, before listing his own arsenal of workouts from the previous week. Five spin classes, a long bike ride, and three sessions in the gym. And he's 65. So yes, I guess it's in our nature to overdo it. I expressed my frustration to him--I love working out, sweating, getting stronger. But I hate that I let my love for it push me to this current state. I see it in my eyes, I feel it in my joints, I hear it in my voice when, for the umpteenth time in a row, I don't have the energy to even go out to dinner.

My solution comes in two parts: rest and diet. I'm going to take a break from the gym. I'm going to take a look at my diet and I'm hoping that I'm dealing with this overtraining business in a timely manner--approximately four of my symptoms fall in line with having high levels of cortisol(the body's long term stress hormone). High levels can lead to adrenal fatigue, which can require a longer recovery time.

I'm writing this out(and sharing it) because I don't want to do it again. I'm writing this out because I am currently in school to become a personal trainer, and it's my responsibility to promote healthy habits within myself so I can extend that to my clients. I suppose it's good, in a way, to experience the effects of this so I understand the consequences. Despite overtraining, I'm proud of the hard work I've done this year, in and out of the classroom. I'm motivated to continue and grow stronger. Growing stronger simply requires being smarter about how I get there.

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