If you're like me and have (stupidly) run yourself to the ground in an endless pursuit to go hard, do more, push to the extremes and see results, then here's our game plan.
First and foremost, we have to do two things.
Arguably the first and most important change we need to make is the way we're thinking and talking to ourselves. We're clearly engaging in some less than healthy behaviours for a reason - and I bet it's because we're either unhappy with ourselves, we're feeling insecure, or we're chasing a very disordered approach to health.
I've had to make a huge reassessment of my habits and dig deep to figure out the 'why' behind a lot of the 'healthy habits' I engage in. Here's an example;
Am I training hard 5-6x a week because I love training and how it makes me feel, or because I'm still trying to burn calories, alter my appearance and deal with some underlying unhappiness with my appearance and frustrations in my life?
......I know exactly why I train intensely every single day....and while I genuinely do love working out - it's often not my main motivator. I don't love feeling exhausted, sore and anxious at the end of the week when I've successfully pushed through all my gruelling sessions. I just love knowing I've pushed hard and satisfied the voice in my head that's searching for control or stress relief.
I admit that the 'burn' of a workout is still a big motivator for me, and it's because I still yearn for a sense of control over my body, a desire to 'get smaller/leaner' and an outlet for my depression and anxiety. So, I obviously still suffer from a very disordered mind, and it's tearing all my efforts of achieving a healthier life apart.
You can't hate yourself happier or healthier, and you definitely can't combat stress and exude health with a mind that's thriving off chaos and angst, so here's my advice:
Lifestyle and habit changes
Once you've laid down the groundwork to a healthier mind, you'll be in a much better frame of mind to actually start implementing some better behaviours for your body.
When you've come to peace with the fact that less is more and that you can't simply force your body into submission through a punishing regime - you'll be able to shift focus toward trialling and adopting new strategies for getting your body and health back to feeling their best. Personally, here are some of the changes I'm making to achieve my killer comeback:
Prioritise sleep and rest: Sleep is one of the best antidotes for a stressed body and the foundation to a healthy lifestyle - so embracing quality sleep habits and routines will be crucial to healing your body and getting your metabolism firing and hormones functioning optimally again (especially stress and reproductive hormones!). Again, working with a peaceful mind will help you achieve better sleep, and with better sleep will come better digestion, improved energy and moods, more fulfilling gym sessions and working days, and your body will start to function as it should. Do not skimp on sleep.
Train smarter, not harder: It may seem really counter-intuitive (and frustrating) to slow down or switch up your exercise pace to improve your body composition and overall health, but this is important. Depending on your specific hormonal issues, the way you train is most likely going to have to change. For me, I need to focus on reducing cortisol and maximising testosterone production during training - which means all my energy needs to go into resistance training, compound moves, a shorter overall workout duration and any cardio I do needs to be intense, to the point and very minimal. No more 2 hour long workouts or 45 minute long cardio sessions. The aim is to build our bodies back up, not tear them down any further. Remember, exercise is still a source of stress for our bodies, so implement it wisely and make sure it leaves you feeling stronger and happier - not more worn out.
Prioritise one act of self-care a day: When your body is run down, your head is feeling overwhelmingly chaotic and tumultuous, it's easy to dwell in self-pity and neglect yourself. You feel like sh*t, so you treat yourself like it. It's a vicious cycle, and it needs to stop. Your body needs some extra pampering and self-love right now more than ever - so don't let your mind convince you otherwise.
Release some endorphins with some feel-good practices like a warm bath, a night curled up on the couch watching your favourite TV show, a face mask etc.... Put in some time each day to make yourself feel better - because it will work. The better you start feeling, the more motivated you'll be to keep working to feel this way in the long-term.
Spend time with the right people, doing the things you want to do: Don't make yourself your last priority, make yourself too busy with commitments or say 'yes' to any social event or activity that won't serve your or leave you feeling any better for it. Engage in things that nourish you, not drain you even further. This can be a tough one to learn, but I promise you, you're not being selfish. You need you on your side first and foremost right now, and you need you in your best state to get through this and heal. Anyone or anything that triggers you, burdens you or sucks up your energy is not for one second worth your time. Instead, prioritise the friends and activities that leave you feeling that little bit lighter, more optimistic and more elated. These are the feelings that you need to release your body of some stress and sadness.
Eat with structure, purpose and ease: Eat for your body, eat regular meals, and eat in a way that causes you as little stress as possible. Don't get sucked into specific diets, rigid meal plans or start to restrict your intake because you're desperate for a means to feel in control. Remember: your body can't heal if you don't fuel it with what it needs to do so. This one is a BIG one, so stay tuned for part 2, where I'll discuss specific dietary changes and supplements that can help heal a stressed body....
For now, please remember; you and only you can build yourself back up again. This is YOUR comeback and your chance to bring back that healthy, thriving body you deserve. So put the work, time and most importantly, the love in to get there xx
Welcome to my journey and please stay in touch!
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