Three weeks ago, I challenged myself to be fit every day this summer.
Less than two weeks into my challenge, I failed.
At first, I was angry and frustrated with myself for being so lazy. After a few days, however, I started to listen to my body, and realized I was suffering from exercise burnout. I had tried to do too much at once.
I’m now (slowly!) easing back into my exercise routine, and want to share with you all a few things I learned over the past few weeks. Hopefully this list will be of use to those of you who are feeling the effects of exercise burnout.
Listen to your body
This can be difficult at first. Especially if, like me, you exercise in the morning. I am not a morning person, so waking up early is always hard. But there is a difference between being tired and being physically exhausted.
I’ve tried a few things recently that have helped me to gauge my tiredness level. First thing when I wake up, I sit up in bed and drink several sips of water (I’ve been keeping a bottle of water on my nightstand so I don’t even have to get out of bed to do this). I’ve also been trying out morning meditation. I sit in a comfortable, quiet place and meditate for ten minutes after waking up. Afterwards, I usually feel much more alert and refreshed, and ready for a workout! But if I still feel physically exhausted, I can always go back to bed and snooze.
If you are experiencing burnout, then make sure you take the time your body needs to recover. Let your body relax and get extra sleep if you need. Don’t stress about losing all the hard work you’ve been doing, either; it can take two months of inactivity to lose all the gains you’ve made, so taking a break for a week or even two will not put you back as far as you think.
Don’t forgo physical activity altogether. Try to do some easy activities like yardwork, easy yoga, stretching, or a simple walk. Or do something fun that makes you happy! Play with your pets or kids, do some arts & crafts, go roller skating or surfing. Just don’t overdo it.
When I’m not feeling up to going on a run or going to the gym, I sometimes go on a walk with my friends. We take the opportunity to talk about things together without the distractions of home that so often get in the way. Usually these walks end up being pretty long, but don’t even feel like exercise because we are having such a good time.
Don’t Take a Break from Everything
Just because you’re taking a break from your exercise routine doesn’t mean you can cheat on your diet. Keep eating healthy! Keep up with your sleep schedule, too. It will be much easier to ease back into a fitness routine if you keep your other healthy habits in check.
When you feel ready to get back into your fitness routine, take it slow. After a week off, I started to feel anxious to get back to the gym. When I finally got there, I wasn’t feeling one hundred percent, so I took things slow. Just do what you can. If you can’t finish your routine, try again next time. Same with running; just put on your shoes and go outside. If you can’t run more than five minutes, then run five minutes and go home. Don’t push yourself too hard or you’ll likely burn out again.
The most important thing is that you don’t beat yourself up. Listen to your body, allow yourself the time you need to recover, relax, and regroup, then ease back into your routine.