Listen to your body

Your body, like everything else in nature, is intelligent. Although it may not always feel like it, your body is always on your team, working constantly to keep you as healthy as it possibly can. Our bodies try their best to communicate with us, they send us messages, but do we always listen?

In the past, I have hushed the very clear messages from my body, telling me to slow down, take a break, get more sleep. I would choose to ignore these messages and then get frustrated or even resentful towards my own body for letting me get run down, sick or injured. In reality that was on me, I was letting the team down.

Yesterday morning I had planned to go to the gym and train. I had my work Christmas do the night before and although I didn’t drink, I did go to bed a couple hours later than usual. (Crazy, I know!) I woke up Sunday morning feeling congested with a blocked nose and ear, puffy face and a headache!

I had felt all week as though I was fighting something off and I think the interruption to my normal circadian rhythm had given this cold the slight advantage and today I am feeling below average. This was then confirmed by checking my HRV (Heart Rate Variability) it gave me a readiness score of 3/10 and advised rest and recovery.

HRV is the variation in the time intervals between heartbeats. It is a window into your autonomic nervous system – the part of the nervous system over which we do not have conscious control. Basically, the HRV readings I take indicate whether my nervous system is in its stressed ‘fight or flight’ state or whether it has gone into recovery ‘rest and digest’ mode. The app I use will give me a score out of 10, the higher the score, the better. Yesterday, I was deep in the stressed state.

So instead of stressing my body further with weight training, I decided to give my body what it needed and go into the gym and just walk on a treadmill, mobilise and then meditate. I didn’t feel so ill that it warranted total rest – some gentle, low intransitive movement did me good.

Accepting that yesterday should be a non training day would have, a couple of years ago, been unacceptable to me. I probably would have pushed myself to train regardless of the messages from my body telling me not to, and in all likeliness would have ended up feeling worse in the long run.

I have learnt the hard way, through years of recurrent illness and infections, that skipping training is sometimes a good thing. It certainly isn’t the end of the world, I don’t need to worry about it, I wont wake up the next day unfit or over weight. I think taking this attitude towards your body requires self compassion and knowing that hustling and grinding everyday, regardless of how you feel isn’t always the answer.

I don’t want people to think that I’m just trying to get out of training, I love training and would much rather have done that yesterday, but I love my body more. I want to treat it right, take care of it and I have it the best chance of kicking that cold’s ass!

Today I woke up feeling good and my HRV was back up to 9/10. Listen to your body, it’s smart. We have one body to last our lifetime so it’s in our best interest to be kind to it!

Paula xo

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