How To Recover More Efficiently Post Workout
from a certified health and wellness coach

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Have you ever been in the midst of a great weekly workout routine, feeling like you are finally motivated and noticing improvements – and suddenly you become plagued with fatigue and find yourself plateauing?  You may immediately think you need to change something about your routine. But, what about everything else outside of your routine that could be affecting your performance?

 

Sleep habits, nutrition, stress, and water intake all play a role in how our bodies feel overall. What some people don’t realize, however, is that when you start a new exercise program -- you need to make other lifestyle changes as well.

 

Sleep

We all know the classic “8 or 9 hours of sleep a night” prescription. However, when you are expending more energy throughout the day, that sleep becomes even more precious. Here are some important benefits of sleep:

 

  • Gives your muscles a chance to rest and recover

  • Regulates blood pressure

  • Allows your digestive system to recover, through natural fasting

  • Improves mental health

  • Boosts your immune system

  • Boosts memory function

 

Now, you might be wondering what you could do to improve your sleep. Here are some tiny lifestyle changes that have worked for me:

 

  • Limiting phone/TV usage one hour before bed

  • Committing to a specific bedtime and wake-up time

  • Reading before bed

  • Meditation within an hour of bedtime

  • Using a weighted blanket for extra comfort

  • Enjoying a cup of herbal tea an hour before sleep

Nutrition

This is probably the most difficult subject to get a proper handle on.  But do not worry - I will give you some simple tips to make this easier.  

 

Let’s start with your base metabolic rate (BMR). We all have a BMR, which can be estimated through a calculation using our height, weight, and gender. I like to use this site for my calculations. This number tells us the number of calories we are burning per day just by simply living. 

 

When you add working out on top of that, that leaves you with even more expended calories per day. Even if you are trying to lose fat, and want to be in a calorie deficit, you are going to need to eat as much as you usually do (or potentially more) because you are substantially increasing your calorie expenditure. 

 

It is safe to stay within a 300-400 calorie deficit, but anything below that will be dangerous. The number one thing to remember is that you never want to be below your base metabolic rate. That calorie number is the number that your body needs to live. Here is what happens if you are not eating AT LEAST your base metabolic rate:

 

  • You will lose muscle mass

  • Your body will hold on to nutrients in the form of fat in order to protect itself

  • You will be depleted in physical and mental energy

  • You will notice apparent mood changes

  • Motivation will waver

 

Here are some easy tips to make sure you are getting enough calories and nutrients to support you in your new workout routine:

 

  • Aim to eat your weight in protein. So, if you are 130 pounds, try to have 130 grams of protein.

  • Do not try to diet in any way.  Your body needs all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) to sustain itself.

  • Aim for nutrient-dense foods - meaning foods that have high nutritional value in terms of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrient sources. Some great examples are salmon, kale, potatoes, whole grain bread, edamame, and greek yogurt.

  • Allow yourself to have your “fun foods” daily mixed with your well-balanced diet.  Restriction can lead to binges later.

 

Stress

Most people do not realize the impact stress can have on our ability to get through a workout or to achieve fitness goals in general.  The sneaky thing about stress is that it actually causes inflammation in the body - which leads to sore muscles and joints, fatigue, brain fog, and bloating. There are some simple things you can do to manage your stress daily:

 

  • Get enough sleep (hey, it’s all connected!)

  • Practice meditation

  • Eat anti-inflammatory foods, like berries, fatty fish, and leafy greens

  • Take time for self-care - whether that be setting aside time to practice a hobby you enjoy, watch your favorite TV show, or chat with a friend.

  • Practice gratitude. One easy way is to list 5 things you are grateful for either first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening. 

Water

When you increase your physical activity, it is imperative that you up your water intake immensely.  Here are some things that can happen if you are not drinking enough water:

 

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

  • Muscle cramps

  • Mood swings

 

I have one simple trick that has worked wonders to help up my water intake.  When you first wake up in the morning, drink a big glass of water BEFORE you have your morning tea or coffee. That way, you are starting the day off strong.  Getting a pretty water bottle helps a bit, too. 

 

Now that you know how all these different facets of your lifestyle can affect your physical fitness, you are going to be so much more successful in maintaining your workout routine.  So get out there -- work hard, sleep hard, eat hard, meditate hard, and drink hard (a glass of wine or a beer every so often isn’t a bad thing, either!). You’ve got this

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