Is this you?
You exercise every day, sometimes twice daily. You anally track your food, down to the last calorie. You push yourself to your limits every day, but something truly awful is happening.
Despite your hard workout regime and eating habits, you can’t seem to lose any more weight. In fact, you may even be struggling to concentrate, sleep is elusive, you are constantly sore, and you struggle to enjoy much of anything any more. You may not even have an appetite.
You could possibly be over training and undereating.
We will call this “under-recovering”.
Anyone’s instant reaction to this is to hit the gym harder and to bring down the calorie count even further, but as counterintuitive as it may seem sometimes eating more and working out less is the ONLY solution to fix this nightmare.
This may be hard to cope with for the hard-core fitness enthusiasts and chronic dieters. But once you understand how this all works, it becomes easier to follow.
Overtraining is defined as an accumulation of training and/or non-training stress that results in a long-term decease in performance capacity. If you are constantly working out at a high intensity level for long periods of time most days of the week, and not scheduling in recovery days or eating adequate calories, then your efforts are counterproductive.
Be on the lookout for the warning signs, which are a combination of physiological and psychological signs:
- Mood changes such as irritability, depression, and the inability to focus.
- Altered heart rate and blood pressure, especially an elevated resting heart rate early in the morning.
- Haematological alterations, using a blood test, including changes in iron status, protein status, electrolyte balance, phosphorus / calcium balance, elevated blood urea nitrogen, elevated uric acid, and a skewed lipoprotein balance (including cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipids).
- Abnormal aches and pains, nagging injuries that seem not to heal.
- Decreased immunity.
- Muscle wasting or easily putting on fat despite low-calorie dieting. Overtraining is almost always accompanied by appetite suppression despite increasing energy expenditure.
You can help yourself by:
- STOP. As difficult as it may be, you must REST. Take a couple of weeks off. Eat sensibly. Sleep more. Overtraining has altered your body’s hormonal balance, wreaking havoc on your adrenal glands and insulin levels, as well as your ability to achieve deep sleep.
- Once training has been reinstated, keep workouts intense but short and be sure to build in rest days. Gains in strength and size do not occur on workout days, but on rest days. Remember, NO REST=NO GAIN.
- Use periodisation into your workout schedule. You cannot train at 100% all year round if you want to avoid overtraining. Schedule in easier periods leading up to more intense periods.
- While you are taking time off from the gym, learn more about how much food you need to be eating. You can’t eat low calories if you want to be training hard core. You need to find your balance of adequate nutrition to training.
Do yourself a favour, and give yourself the time to recover properly. Recovery will help you achieve your goals!
Please seek professional and medical advice if you recognise any of the above symptoms for overtraining. Please seek professional or medical advice if you recognise any signs and symptoms of an eating disorder.
- Em xx