A Scare That Taught Me to Listen to My Body


A few years ago, I wrote a post about how I think “listening to your body” can be such a BS phrase that’s loaded with excuses.

Sometimes it is, and sometimes I’m wrong.

These days, I do find myself using that phrase a lot at work — part of my job is to play cheerleader for our users and keep them motivated. We have comments on our workouts — and some of them get tricky. I’m not a trainer/doctor/nutritionist/therapist, so my hands are sometimes tied on what I can say. Our users talk about injuries/illnesses and trying to push through for workouts. I usually don’t know much beyond their comment, so “Listen to your body” is a pretty safe comment — because our bodies do send us plenty of messages, if we’re willing to listen.

Any injury I’ve ever had, I’ve felt those niggling, nagging pains in the days and weeks leading up to that “OK, I need to do something about this.” If I had just listened at first…

As of late, I’ve become really obsessed with Fhitting Room, specifically our Daily Burn trainer Dara.

Facts:

  • Fhitting Room recently got voted one of NYC’s hardest workouts by Well + Good.
  • I took class late Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.
  • I had birthday celebrations that involved several (OK, a bunch of) glasses of wine on Thursday and Friday nights.
  • I am super competitive and love to push myself in workouts, especially if I know the instructor and am with friends.
  • I was with my boss on Friday and four friends Saturday morning, and I love Dara.

Friday night, we ended class with a circuit on the erg. I feel like my form recently completely clicked on the erg, and I wanted to end class on a strong note, so I went all-out to get that final burn in.

As we cooled down, my heart was racing through child’s pose, and my heart rate was still high as we took this photo. (Theodora, doing her own thing (sometimes unintentionally) since 1983.)

But I went out for dinner and drinks and quickly forgot about that…

The next morning, I woke up, chugged a little water and headed back to Fhitting Room, surrounded by 5 people I knew and with my fave instructor again. Once again, I gave 100+%. I don’t recall what my heart rate was just after class, but it was definitely still elevated. Three or four hours later (and after only half a coffee), my heart felt like it was racing and my watch read between 80 and 90 just sitting on my couch. Frame of reference: my normal resting heart rate is somewhere between 50 and 70. Right now, it’s at 65.

So I was worried. I asked some trainer buddies and some doctor/nurse friends, and everyone landed on two things: overtraining and/or dehydration. Doing two tough interval classes basically back-to-back while kind of dehydrated and not properly fueled is asking a lot of my body. Hell, this class is asking a lot of my body properly fueled and rested.

My body was throwing up some massive warning signs: don’t work out dehydrated, you’re not in your 20s any more, go easier on yourself.

I’m listening to those signs in a few different ways: I took a full rest day Sunday, I did a low-impact workout Monday, and probably even more importantly — I went to Uplift today and didn’t push myself 150%. The instructor, Jessica, said something in the beginning about not competing with the woman next to you or your yesterday or last year, and I was careful to not compete against my coworker that I was with or to push myself too hard because I knew the instructor and enjoyed hearing her say “You’re doing great, Theodora!”

Nope, I pushed hard, but dropped to a lower weight or down to a lower-impact variation when necessary because it was what I needed today, and right now, as I’m trying to be careful to be kind to my ticker, which, after all, is a muscle, too.

What does “listen to your body” mean to you?

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