So in my last recap, I mentioned that I was in a two minds about the Kayla Itsines 12-Week Bikini Body Program. Although I was still enjoying the workouts at the end of Week 8, I was so ready to be d-o-n-e. After plenty of thinking and discussion with a few friends & my sister, I decided to put the program on hold…at least for now. I did manage to get through Week 9 and while in the past, I would’ve felt amazing for powering through, that was far from the case. I felt exhausted and my body was constantly sore…and not the kind of sore that strangely makes you happy. I could feel my body burning out and mentally I wasn’t far from that either i.e. by Week 9, I started to dread each upcoming workout & felt guilty every time I contemplated skipping a planned session. My sugar cravings suddenly started to escalate & despite the workout intensity and keeping an eye on my diet, I stopped seeing any kind of physical results.
From past experience & research, I knew these signs all pointed in one direction: elevated cortisol levels i.e. the hormone that our adrenal glands release in response to stress. While exercise is certainly a great stress relief, it also acts as a physical stressor on the body. Without realising it, I had been putting increasing amounts of stress on my body to the point where each workout made me less healthy, both physically and mentally. Looking back, I can’t say I’m surprised- the last time I took a full week off exercise and really allowed my body to rest was over 8 months ago.
While part of me initially felt like a quitter for not wo-manning up & finishing the 12 weeks, I know doing so would do me no favors. Although good health & weight loss are both often associated with diet & exercise, these 2 components are hardly effective if cortisol levels are outta whack. A little stress is normal and good, and we all have it. BUT it’s your body’s ability to recover that matters, and if you’re not resting and eating well and continue in stress mode for extended periods of time, it’s only a recipe for burnout because your body doesn’t have the ability to recuperate. So for next few weeks, I’m focusing on just taking care of my body’s needs and making sure it’s adequately-rested. That means plenty of sleep, low-intensity workouts including walks, yoga & swims & proper nutrition i.e. eating whole, real foods most of the time and not sweating about the not-so-real foods that occasionally happen …basically minimizing any kind of stress on my body.
Despite this world of abundance that we live in, less truly is more sometimes. Although low activity levels is often a sign of laziness, proper rest is just as important as the workout itself when it comes to seeing results & reaping the all-round benefits of exercise…and that means realizing when you need to respect your body by giving it some much-needed R&R. It’s taken me a long while to realize that but what I can say- better later than never!
For a more elaborate explanation on the effect of stress on the body, check out a post I wrote earlier on the topic over here.
Have you ever experienced exercise burnout?
What kind of workouts are you currently doing?