My friends are workout junkies but lately I think they’ve been overdoing it. Working out has become an obsession and the focus of their lives at the expense of their physical health and I suspect mental well being. It’s a common occurrence at our facility to have to send someone home and tell them to take the day off. I see this most often in our single female clients and some of the younger guys. They just cannot see the beating their bodies are racking up or understand the importance of rest and recovery until it’s too late. As a whole the American culture has become trapped in the notion that exercise fixes everything and if an hour a day four or five times a week is good; than two hours every day is better and will overcome all their bad habits like poor diet, lack of sleep, and stress.
Exercise is a great way to relieve stress but many athletes just don’t seem to realize that high intensity workouts are in fact just adding more stress to their bodies. The human metabolism is capable of awesome feats of repair and rebuilding but it’s not all powerful and if not given time to adequately do its job it will shut down altogether. We call this over-training but what it really means is your body has begun cannibalizing itself out of desperation and panic and your adrenal system has over-loaded and shorted out. Short term it means lack of energy, poor sleep, constant soreness, muscle tissue degeneration, and even weight gain. If however you were to take this condition forward long enough you’d be looking at nerve damage, kidney and liver failure, and complete adrenal shut down.
I think those most susceptible to over-training are those who tend to “work-out” instead of train. They come to the gym each day out of a compulsive drive instead of pursuing definite measurable goals. They’re trying to fill a hole inside that cannot be filled by exercise but it distracts them and drains away nervous energy and dwelling on things like loneliness, depression, grief, guilt, or any number of issues. They often have no plan in mind let alone one that is written down. I actually encounter this often in those seeking weightloss. They know they want to lose weight but have no concrete idea how to accomplish this or even how much weight they want to lose. They are also seeking are also likely to seek an exercise solution to their weight without first addressing their nutrition and eating habits.They may also approach this task with unrealistic goals about how long it will take and when results are not instantaneous they will up the amount of time they spend working out and the frequency of those sessions.
There is another group of workout junkies though that is far more troubling to me and becoming more common among my friends and clients; the pain addicts. You’ll instantly recognize these brave souls in your gym by the bloody hands and ripped calluses supported by a wide grin and pictures posted on Facebook to celebrate the fact that they’ve just caused major trauma to their hands that will set their training back for days if not weeks. I can only hope they don’t have careers which require working with their hands. You might also know one of these people as the runner that’s always hurt but refuses to adapt their running style or seek alternate forms of training. They seem to get off on bragging about their injuries to everyone who will listen. Myself I seek to find the easiest most efficient way to perform. My job entails I stay physically active and capable and a preventable injury isn’t just inconvenient it can be bankrupting.
I’ll never say that training shouldn’t hurt. In fact if you’re not pushing yourself into uncomfortable zones and waking up some mornings sore and stiff than you’re really not working all that hard. If however your workout program includes frequent blood loss, injury, trips to the sports doctor, or chronic fatigue and unspecific feelings of crappiness and lack of results; you’re probably taking things too far. Besides working out too much, running too often, or over-training you’re more than likely not eating enough, sleeping enough, and I’m sure you’re definitely not taking enough time off to recover from your self inflicted punishment. There is a wide world out there of people lining up to beat us down and inflict pain why are you going out of your way to do it to yourself. Great results can be had quickly and effectively without destroying your body and shredding your mind. If you’re stuck in a rut and stalled out in your weightloss and workout program I’d suggest first taking a solid week off from training. Sleep in late everyday and increase your protein and healthy fat intake. Next contact a knowledgeable trainer and ask for help in establishing a program. You can contact me through this blog or by email and Facebook. I’d be glad to offer free advice on how to revamp your routine for maximal results.