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8 Not-So-Obvious Signs You’ve Been Working Out Too Hard

8 Not-So-Obvious Signs You’ve Been Working Out Too Hard

For the majority of the people in this world, getting motivated to exercise or even beginning to exercise is difficult. But there are a few of us who actually do the opposite of this… We exercise too much.

While exercising and being physically active every day is great, like everything else in life, too much of something is a bad thing. As far as our fitness goals go, 80% of our chance in attaining them will depend on what we put into our mouth.

That said, this article is somewhat personal to me. Overtraining is something I have been struggling with in the last couple of years. Once we have exercise in our blood, it is impossibly hard for us to stop. We feel guilty and moody if we skipped a workout. Even as a fitness professional, I technically know my body better than anyone else but it is a struggle to find a good distinction between working out too much and just right.

It wasn’t until I learned to listen to my body, to plan and regimen, and figure out what my own strengths and weakness are, that I solved the puzzle.

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If you’re reading this and it resonates in you, or if you’re feeling tired and unmotivated, here are some signs that might indicate you’ve been working out too hard. Our body needs at least 1-2 rest days a week and if you’re constantly facing some of these signs, a few weeks or even a month off exercise can do you good. Don’t worry, taking some time off will not throw all your efforts out the window and will definitely won’t make you an overweight person. If anything, it will make you feel refreshed and energized, and most importantly bring you awesome results in the future.

1. You consistently fail to complete your workout.

Failing when progressing is great. You know, when you’re lifting heavier weights and you can only complete 4 reps. Or when you’re sprinting harder and can only complete a short amount of time. But if you’re getting slower and weaker, in other words, failing when you’re regressing, it probably means you’re working out too hard.

2. You have trouble sleeping or falling asleep.

Difficulty falling asleep simply means your sympathetic nervous system is still working even when you’re resting. While this can be a major sign of overtraining, it can also mean that your stress levels are high when you need them to be low. If you’re tossing and turning in bed or you’re waking up in the middle of the night, you’re overtraining.

3. You’re lifting, sprinting or doing HIIT exercises every single day.

Unless you are a professional athlete who trains several times a day and eating food and supplements that can enhance your performance, you are not Wolverine. For many of us, lifting, sprinting and doing high-intensity interval trainings every single day won’t leave our body with enough time to recover. In the end, our health will deteriorate along with our mood and feelings and that is something you don’t want to happen. Take a break or alternate high intensity and lifting days with easy stretching days. Your body will thank you.

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4. You feel excessive pain in your limbs.

If you feel pain in your knees, wouldn’t it be obvious that you’re probably overusing or not using it correctly? If you’re running and you feel sore in your lower limbs, it might mean that you’ve run too hard or too far for too long. If you’re lifting and you feel pain in your limbs, there could be one of two possibilities — number one being a delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) or number two, you’re lifting with poor form. While the former is a natural thing and will go away in a couple of days, lifting with poor form can over time lead to undesirable injuries. It is imperative for you to tune in to your body and listen to these important signs to avoid overtraining.

Think having good posture is unnecessary? Read this — The Importance of Having Good Posture

5. You feel tired and moody after a workout.

Exercise is suppose to make you feel good, due to the high levels of endorphins released and circulating in your body during and after the workout. It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? But what if that feeling never comes? What if you feel like napping each time after exercise, or worse, you feel like death? If you feel like a Lochness monster after a workout and it isn’t making you feel good, it’s time to scale down a little bit.

6. You crave for more sugar than usual.

Our body tends to crave sugar when our levels of cortisol are high or when our glycogen (glucose in its storage form) is low. If you crave Tim Tams and Pop Tarts more often than usual, it’s a good sign that you’re working out to hard.

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Learn more — How Sugar Affects Our Brain

7. You frequently fall sick.

While there are many reasons why you may fall ill, exercise shouldn’t be one of them. Exercise is known to be one of life’s natural immune boosters. One reason why I started exercising in my late teenage years was because I was constantly sick, and it worked. However, if you’re up to date with your flu shots and no one else in the house is sick, but you’re staying in bed because of a virus or a bug, you might want to take a look at your exercise frequency and intensity.

8. You feel like you’ve gained weight even though you’re exercising a lot.

Yes, exercise should make you lose weight and increase your lean muscle mass. But sometimes, working out too much can increase muscle wastage and fat storage. You might be burning calories, but you’re burning calories from glucose and glycogen and your precious muscle stores and you don’t want that. To achieve leanness, your body’s cortisol levels should be in balance. Lack of sleep and overtraining can tip this over, leading to high cortisol level and increase fat disposition. Have you been working out like a crazy person and still feel like you’ve gained weight? You’ve overtrained.

If you’ve experienced some of these signs yourself, take a step back and have a break. Don’t deny the signs, because at the end of the day, you’re exercising to improve health, not deteriorate it.

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Life is too short to spend being tired and moody and definitely too short to spend all your time exercising.

That is why all the exercises I suggest in my blog are short and sweet, but effective. My goal is to strike a perfect balance and recovery is imperative in achieving this and most importantly, teach my clients how to do that.

Listen to your body. You only have one.

Read more — 7 Things You Should Stop Doing When Trying To Be Healthy

Featured photo credit: HJ Media Studios via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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