Avoid Over-Training and Burnout with Intuitive Exercise

In today’s fitness-obsessed world, more is often viewed as better and phrases like “no days off” are often glamorized on social media. Unfortunately, society has taught us that everyone should always be trying to lose weight. This makes fitness feel like a chore, and some people’s “why” becomes changing their physical appearance.

The issue with this approach is that it’s not always sustainable long-term. Not only is burnout common with this style of training, but it can often lead to disappointment and negative body image. It’s also not uncommon for this cycle to leave you feeling as if you’ve failed at fitness, coaxing you to push harder and harder overall. This can ultimately cause an unhealthy relationship with exercise and even over-training.

If you’ve been living that “on good days I workout, on bad days I workout harder” lifestyle, here are some signs to watch out for when it comes to over-training:

• Feeling tired, drained or lacking energy post workout instead of that endorphin release high
• Pain in muscles and joints—especially DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
• A sudden drop in performance or stamina
• Muscle fatigue
• Insomnia
• Headaches
• Decreased immunity (increased number of colds and infections)
• Moodiness and irritability
• Depression
• Decreased appetite
• Abnormal cortisol or hormonal fluctuations
• Low libido
• Loss of period or irregular periods

So, what’s the flipside? Fortunately, there is a shift happening in the wellness community—one that is based on how you feel versus what you look like in the mirror. It’s about feeling good in your body and empowering yourself to know what’s best for you at that moment, instead of copying others or following a strict plan. It associates fitness with having fun, honoring your body, embracing whatever movement the day brings and having a healthy and vibrant life—guilt free.

You can easily do this by reconnecting with your “why” and by making it more purposeful. Once you do this, it makes fitness seem more relatable, attainable and manageable. It allows you to be more mindful when it comes to movement, and you can choose your workout based on where you are that day.

Photo by Jake Martin

Practicing intuitive exercise is a feelings-based approach as opposed to being driven by external factors. You do what you love, not what you dread or believe will harness the ideal body. It’s about tuning into your body every day to practice balanced and mindful movement. Has work been stressful? Are you super sore from a previous workout? Do you feel a nasty cold coming on? Have you been doing mostly high-intensity lately and need something more restorative? Maybe you do yoga today to balance out the boot camp class you did the day before.

I know this can seem scary but it is totally okay to take days off or time away from structure to re-center yourself. It’s important not to let your mind talk you out of what you intuitively need and to feel satisfaction in all forms of movement. If walking the dog with friends on a Sunday is what your body craves, then rock it and know that it is enough, no matter the result or the intensity.

I love this approach because it keeps things fresh and your mindset positive. We put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves to continuously hustle, but intuitive exercise allows you to be flexible in a way that empowers you to be in charge of your own body. Your movement choices will be unique to you, meaning your idea of balanced exercise is going to be unique to you as well. Exercise and movement is medicine for the soul. Like some prescriptions, it should be tailored to your own individual needs. It isn’t one-size-fits-all like once perceived or portrayed.

So, as you rethink your fitness routine for 2019… just focus on movement. Focus on what makes you feel good right now. And do more of what makes you feel good when you can. That might be bike rides with your family, pilates, barre, HIIT or yoga. Heck, it might even be dancing around your living room for an hour to your favorite jams. With movement, there is no right or wrong. It’s just about getting off your tush and finding joy in the sweat.

Main photo above by Heather Morrow

About the Author

Kirsten Myers is a Kansas City native but, for the time being, is living off the grid. With an expansive past in digital marketing and advertising, she’s recently switched gears as an adventure and lifestyle content creator who travels full time. Living an untethered life, Kirsten is a blogger, photographer, workshop leader, smoothie drinker, explorer, and daily hiker. She’s also extremely passionate about helping women find the confidence to try new things, make healthy choices, and feel empowered to live their best lives. Find her on Instagram @sweatadventures.