Pain is the first thing many people think of when they hear the words, “Listen to your body.” What if you have a high pain threshold, though, so you tend to get injured a lot because you don’t feel pain until you’re torn apart? Or what if you have a super low pain threshold, so you quit quickly for fear of getting injured?
To find the right fitness programs that we can sustain and enjoy for life, we need to look at other markers that may be manifesting in our bodies, telling us that it’s actually safe to do more or nudging us to do a bit less. Because pain is so subjective — and the thorn that “hurts” one person may go unnoticed by their friends — let’s look at six other signs that your fitness needs to change.
This Is About Early Recognition
When you notice more than one of these signs right after a workout, or even in the days following a fitness session, you can make adjustments faster. When these signs go unnoticed — often because they are seen as normal or acceptable after bearing children or after a certain age — we miss the chance to connect them to our workouts and, in turn, use our workouts as a catalyst for change.
- Leaking — Any kind of leakage from your front or back passages (pee or poo) is a major sign that your workout was too much for the base of your core, also known as your pelvic floor.
Please run fast away from anyone who says if you’re NOT peeing yourself, you need to push harder. Sorry, but soiling yourself isn’t the sign of a stellar strength session. On the contrary, if you’re leaking while lunging (or running, box jumping, walking fast, or whatever) it’s a loud signal from your body that you need to slow down, adjust your strategy for whatever movement caused the leaking, and if that doesn’t work immediately, seek physical therapy with a qualified specialist and stop feeding the billion dollar incontinence industry who is making money off your treatable core dysfunction.
2. Bigger Belly — If you notice bloating, inflammation, or distension in your gut (or anywhere in your body) after a workout, you need to listen to your body trying to tell you that something upset your stomach area. Maybe it’s as simple as recognizing that you exercised too soon after eating, and your routine shook up the contents of your stomach which hindered your digestion. That’s an easy fix: eat a little earlier or wait a little longer after eating to exercise next time! However, if you notice your belly gets bigger after doing traditional ab exercises like crunches or planks, you should check your abs for a diastasis recti here.
3. Sleep Issues — Are you so exhausted after working out that you want to sleep right away, all day? On the flip side, do your harder workouts leave you tired but wired and unable to sleep? I’ve noticed that I have trouble sleeping on the days when I race walk for long distances. My legs ache and I can’t get comfortable. I need to be religious about stretching, balancing my electrolytes, and settling down before bed (no screens) on those nights.
Insomnia and its opposite — chronic fatigue — can also be signs of hormone imbalance. If you’re experiencing sleep issues after age 35, it could be a sign of perimenopause. The years before, during, and after menopause require several changes in fitness programming to get the best bang for your booty-blasting routines. What worked for you as a pre-pregnant teenager just won’t work for your post-pregnant menopausal mom bod.
Seasons change, and so should your exercise choices.
4. Soreness — If you are seriously sore after every workout, take a look at your nutrition. Being sore is more of a sign that you didn’t fuel properly and less of a sign that you’re a superstar worker-outer. A little soreness after doing a new exercise the first couple times is normal while your muscles are recovering and like “What in tarnation did she just do to us?” A lot of soreness after the same routine you’ve done a lot is NOT — and it means you’re pushing too hard beyond the amount of fuel you consumed. Isn’t that what you need to do lose weight? No, you do not need to hurt yourself to lose weight. How is that sustainable?
If you are too sore to move, you can’t move. If you’re injured, you can’t move. If you can’t move … well, duh!
5. Mood Swings — Weightlifting is known to elevate testosterone and cortisol levels, and this can make some people more “grumpy.” Women do have some testosterone, just like men have some estrogen. You won’t turn into a hairy macho maniac if you lift weights, ladies. Gotta take a lot of steroids to have that happen. Just know that “runners high” may not always apply. Pay attention to your mood after various activities: Does cardio leave you feeling floaty or frantic? Does lifting weights ground you or aggravate you? Does Yoga calm you or craze you?
6. Weight Gain — Everyone is different. Just like a long, hard walk makes it hard for me to sleep while my husband nods off instantly, your body may actually gain weight in response to certain types of exercise that you’d think would cause it to shed all the extra. This goes back to those hormones: cortisol is a hormone that signals your body to store fat because you’re stressed. If your workout routine is stressful to your body and you don’t listen to how your body shows you that it’s stressed (i.e. sleep issues, moodiness, indigestion, etc.), then it may respond by packing on the pounds because it thinks you’re in danger and not getting enough calories while running from a bear every day!
What Is YOUR Body Trying to Tell YOU?
This is not about what works for your friend, and this is why I have filmed such a massive variety of Fit2B workouts over the past ten years. Every body responds differently.
My body loves to lift heavy things once a week, walk 3–6 miles about 2–3 times per week, stretch every day, do hypopressives + yoga + pilates twice a week. I feel amazing when I do those things at MY pace in ways that let ME finish feeling stronger than I started.
Your body might like 5–10 minutes of cardio 4 times a week and to lift heavy things twice per week. Cool.
In our workout videos here on Fit2B, you’ll hear cues to listen to your body in these specific ways throughout each workout. We don’t make it about pain and soreness. We teach you to tune in, not tune out. By doing this, you discover that fitness can be fun, safe, and effective without hurting yourself (or soiling yourself) — and then you sleep better, your mood improves, and your body finds its happy weight.
LEAVE A COMMENT
What other signs have you noticed in your body besides the ones I listed here in this fitness blog? How do you listen to your body? Was there a time you ignored your body’s signals, and that compromised your overall fitness and wellness? We’d love to hear from you!
2 thoughts on “Listen to Your Body: 6 Signs Your Fitness Needs to Change”
This is such a great article! Very practical information to help individualize an exercise program! Love your emphasis on the fact that no two people are the same!
It’s been forever since I’ve worked out, but I’ve been wanting to get back into it. I will definitely be keeping these tips in mind! Thank you!