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Life Performance Blog: Train Not Strain

Drive gently. You'll still get to your destination.

Are you training... or straining?

Straining in exercise means driving your body like a teenager learns to drive a car, alternately slamming the gas and brake pedals.

Vroom. Full speed ahead on killer workouts! Max effort each time! Add another hour of cardio!

Errrt! Get hurt. Get sick. Feel discouraged.

Vroom. Cut calories down more! Weigh and measure everything!

Errrt! Lose control. Feel even more discouraged.

If that could be you, take a moment and ask yourself:

What am I trying to do here?

  • Get leaner?

  • Get fitter?

  • Get healthier?

  • Have some fun along the way.

Do your actions truly match your goals?

If you're crushing yourself in the gym, trotting for hours on the treadmill, and/or severely restricting/over-thinking your food intake...

How have your familiar fitness habits been working for you? Are they getting you closer to the results that you want?

Is gas-and-brake getting you where you want to be?

The Cardio Fix

Strenuous exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that make us feel good.

For most people, the endorphin release helps them sail out of the gym on a high note. It's a nice added bonus.

For some people, endorphins also become a "hit" that they seek. Pushing their bodies to the limit and working hard becomes like a drug.

And for some people, exercise (along with cutting calories) can make them feel in control—of their bodies and lives.

So, naturally, in both cases, we do more exercise. Or cut calories more. It seems logical, after all.

Except, eventually... this approach stops working.

Training Without Straining

Here are some tips to keep you happily training, without the strain.

Understand that sometimes, more isn't better... better is better.

Past a certain point, more and more exercise, combined with fewer and fewer calories, stops working, especially if you're already relatively fit, and already in a healthy weight range.

Focus Your Energy

Be a laser beam, not a scattergun. Pour your energy into doing your absolute best at the few things that truly matter.

Make recovery—what you do between workouts—just as important as training.

Getting stronger and leaner requires balancing stress and your total allostatic load (the cumulative total of all the stuff in your life that causes physical, mental, and emotional stress). If you're training hard but under-recovering, you won't see as many benefits.

Listen To Your Body

Use a mind-body scan to observe and read your body cues.

Mix It Up

There's a time for tough workouts and a time for taking it easy. There's a time for long runs, and there's a time for throwing a Frisbee around. Look at your workout journal and see whether you can mix things up.

Remember the Purpose of Your Journey

Stay focused on what is truly important, meaningful, and valuable to you about this process. For example, what does deep health look like for you?

Most of the time, just tap the gas or brake pedal... gently.

Put in a good effort, kick some butt, then relax.

Have Fun

Play. Goof around. Do activities that bring you joy.

If you require more help in training smarter, why not book a Discovery Consultation to find out more about the coaching I provide and how I can help you achieve more from the time and effort you are giving to improving and maintaining your health?

Chris, myHealthCoach

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