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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 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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