Do You Crash Post-Workout?

I had to share something with you all today. Because I think it’s SUCH an important conversation that we’re *not* having – as women {you and me} and as fitness professionals {my colleagues} – at least not in the mainstream media. One #lifechanging fact that I share with my one-on-one health coaching clients all the time, but don’t really talk about here as much {obviously I should more}. About your workouts. And IF they’re serving you {read: working FOR you versus against your goals + desires}.

In a group I’m apart of on Facebook, someone wrote a post with the fantastic question of asking for tips on how to avoid crashing post-morning workout (she was struggling to stay awake at her desk, even after a large coffee after working out in the early morning).

Can you relate to this? I hear this struggle SO. MUCH. – from clients, from pregnant mommas, from new mommas, from working mommas, from women. So if this is you — know that you’re not alone sister and here’s what I want you to know (and what my response was):

“First of all, above all things – listen to your body. It feels the way it does for a reason and is sending you a message. The more you can tune in versus resolving to push through no matter what, the better it will serve you and perform for you. Period. When we do any type of workout  – which I know high-intensity interval training isn’t new for you (and likely you, my sweet blog reader also!!!)- there is of course an adaptation period.

With that said, in my work {as a holistic nutrition + health coach and fitness pro}, most people don’t get enough rest and don’t realize that the body actually needs a break from stress. The body doesn’t differentiate between different types of stress – emotional, mental, work, traffic, relationship, or physical. A high-intensity workout is super stressful on the body – not necessarily bad stress, but it depends on when you do it and also what the rest of your life looks like. If your job is high-stress, you’re feeling emotionally vulnerable or insecure, your day is a constant go-go-go and you rarely stop until your head hits the pillow, adding high-intensity workouts to the mix will only deplete energy stores you don’t have (read: sooner or later, it will move you farther away from your goals and how you want to feel).

Exercise will always create an immediate “high” from the endorphins produced afterwards, but the telltale sign of whether your workouts are working FOR you is what happens a few hours after or in the afternoon — is your energy sustained or are you dog-tired? Do you feel stronger and better equipped for your day or like you’re dragging your body around? H O N E S T L Y.

Being in the fitness industry for almost ten years, I can tell you with 100% confidence that pushing and killing yourself in the gym (when your body is calling for something else) is counterproductive to weight loss, to your health, to your energy, your nourishment and your vibrancy.

And here’s a little known but crucial known fact (especially for you cutie Type A’s out there): if your life consists of being in constant “push mode” and you thrive on a fast-paced work life with deadlines + goals, working out hard WILL feel good to you (even when your body needs something else) — because it’s familiar. Because you’re good at pushing, it’s what you do. BUT that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you in the moment. Or that it’s going to take you where you want to go. #truthbomb #realtalk

Being an integral part of and writing the workouts for a high-intensity interval training studio, obviously I’m a fan of these types of workouts. There are most certainly benefits and I think understanding how to physically tap into our body’s strength better equips us to know our capabilities in life — but, there’s a time and place. And it’s not always. And sometimes {okay, always in my opinion}, rest is more important, as in low impact movement. Because we don’t do it enough. We undervalue it. Because it’s harder for us to slow down and feel and honor versus push through, ignore and stuff down. But it’s essential to our well-being.

So, if it’s possible {and I know sometimes it’s not}, maybe sleep instead of workout. And if you’re feeling good as the day progresses, maybe workout later in the morning, at noon or after work. Or if you resolve yourself to do a HIIT class, maybe adapt your strategies to being there.

Don’t *always* run your hardest if you’re coming more than 3x per week.

Don’t *always* lift your heaviest and go to fatigue if you’re coming multiple days in a row.

Accept that just being there is the benefit and then gauge the effort you have to give based on how you’re feeling that day. There is JUST as much benefit (more, I believe, truly) to focusing on your breathing and working on flowing the reps of exercises together and trying to engage more muscles and be hyper-focused on form versus rushing and pushing. #trust

The benefit to interval training is just that – interval training. So maybe back off your paces on the treadmill and still let the heart rate go up and down, just to a lesser degree. It’s the increasing of breath that will benefit you most and just moving.

This is a hard mental shift to make. Believe me, I’ve been there. But I can promise you that honoring where your body is (which changes daily and yearly and seasonally and cyclically) instead of pushing what it doesn’t have will always, always make you feel better. And that’s the whole point, right? — to FEEL GOOD. When you walk in and hopefully better when you walk out (which includes the whole day, not just right after).”

So consider this your permission (from a fitness + healthy living pro) to just move. To move in many different ways, at many different speeds and (hopefully) for many different reasons (namely, of course, to feel good). Permission to know that going for a walk IS good enough. That going to yoga IS worth it (likely even moreso than your HIIT class, especially if you’re anti-yoga or anything high-intensity).

I encourage you to drop the “if it doesn’t kill me, it’s not worth it mentality”, because honestly that’s what WILL kill you / break your body / cause chronic pain / injure you to a degree that slows you down way more than doing yoga here and there ever would. #sir-ee-ously

But even those moments – where we experience less-than-optimal physical injuries – are a gift in and of themselves. Another way the body is saying, “Hey sister, I’m serious. You weren’t slowing down, so I made it happen. Can we figure out  a different strategy here?”

So like I said — consider this permission. Permission to do less and know that you’re probably going to get more in the long run. To daily assess, “how do I feel today and what does my body need?”

{To know, momma, that the more you focus on “getting your body back”, likely, the harder it will be to sink into your (new) life and (new) body. That although it might feel familiar and like you finally feel like yourself again to push hard in workouts, that that’s not actually the goal or what will move you closer towards your own goals – to return to the “old you” and way of being isn’t actually your truth. This is the time for honoring what your body has done, tuning in to her new needs and listening with your whole being instead of pushing. Truly and from the bottom of my heart, I need you to know this, because it’s at this moment in our lives – in becoming a mother that we draw closest to our unique feminine power.}

Sometimes the body needs to be pushed, to be challenged. Sometimes it needs to be gently guided through a more meditative + flowing movement. Ask yourself: what does my life MOST look like of the two scenarios I just mentioned — pushing or flowing. Likely, your workouts should be (or at least include) the opposite of what your day-to-day consists of.

So, back to the original question posed, just to recap: if your workouts are serving you, if they’re supporting your body versus depleting it, you should not crash post-workout. The energy generated from your movement should make you feel more connected, more rooted, stronger and more vibrant.

Do you feel me sister? Just think about it at least, and know it’s okay to say: “namaste in bed” to your morning workouts once in awhile. 😉

{I also wrote two separate blog posts on this topic that dive a little deeper into this topic awhile back: Making Your Workouts Work FOR You, which you can check out here: http://wp.me/p2Y0Cn-r8 and Getting Your Pre-Baby Body “Back”: http://wp.me/p2Y0Cn-ri}.

WHAT ABOUT YOU: Have you struggled with crashing post-workout? Are you exercising regularly and energy levels not where you desire? What could slowing down and listening to what type of movement your body needs versus pushing and dictating mean for you?

Photos taken by: Sarah Heitman Photography

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About Whitney Mack of Macks Mo

Whitney Mack is a holistic nutrition health coach, fitness + movement specialist, feel good fanatic and founder of Macks Mo - a healthy living business that empowers busy women and mommas to connect to their desires and they want to feel daily in order to macks-imize joy, freedom, vibrancy, energy and ease. Through her programs + services, she uses real food, movement and signature health coaching strategies to guide clients in creating a more meaningful and fulfilled life (soulful, joyful, healthful) through nourishment and love. And turns out, as their love grows (for their life, themselves, their spirit), their body intuitively sheds the mental + physical weight holding them back from a life and body they're excited about.

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