Workout Burnout: Overcoming The “Fitness Funk”

by Kacie Phillips on July 28, 2012

Fitness FunkIn the past few months, I have become so invested in fitness and eating clean that it has truly become a lifestyle.  It has become so much more than running occasionally or eating healthy every once in awhile; I have transformed my life into a health-focused cycle of fitness and fueling my body.  As I explained about a week and a half ago in my post Expecting Perfection Only Results In Failure, it all has slowly but surely become an addiction.  The problem with all of this is simple: Being too healthy can become unhealthy.

You know how they say diets never work because if you restrict, restrict, restrict–you relapse?  I have found a strong correlation with the simple act of exercise and eating clean.  I workout intensely and I strive to eat clean at all times… but at some point, it will all come crashing down.  While I do not “diet,” eating clean in and of itself is a form or restriction.  Furthermore, constant vigorous exercise requires a great deal of determination and self-discipline.

In the past few days, I have begun to feel the repercussions of relapse–mentally and physically.  Let me explain.  It’s not as if I have taken days upon days off from exercise; actually I only took two.  On top of that?  I didn’t have time either day to workout, so it wasn’t just that I skipped it entirely.  The point of the matter is that–I have been in a fitness funk.  Ever since my workout on Wednesday evening, my body has literally ached.  My joints, my back, my knees, my ankles–weak and in pain.  This scares me.  This scares me a lot.  In addition, I have felt fatigued and overwhelmed with outside sources and it has always taken a vicious toll on my healthily lifestyle.

YES! This is me. Thanks to strength training. ;)

I truly believe a health and fitness based lifestyle is entirely twofold.  You cannot live a truly healthy lifestyle without both parts.  What is healthy eating without fitness?  And what is fitness without healthy eating?  I want both.  I need both.  I need to find the balance.  Every single time I relapse in one realm, it seems to have a domino effect on ALL of my choices.  When I skip a workout, I tend to make unhealthful choices with food and beverages.  If I overindulge with my eating, I find that I tend to have the strong desire to skip a workout.  See how this poses a problem?

I have been ignoring my body for the past few weeks.  My body has been screaming and trying to talk to me for awhile now, but I have ignored it.  The weakness?  The pain?  The fatigue?  I pushed, and I pushed, and I pushed through it instead of realizing that maybe, just maybe I should pay mind to the signs of my body.  I overwork my body.  I expect too much from myself.  In the end, I have pushed it too hard and THIS is not helping me in the long run and it is not healthy.  I have literally been pushing my body to the point of intense pain.  It’s time to pay mind to the signs and what my body is telling me.  I want to be fit, not injured.

Living healthy is not some crazy 1,000+ piece puzzle that we have to piece together blindfolded.  It is really rather simple.  We need to eat, sleep, and exercise.  We need to eat to fuel our bodies, exercise to be fit, and sleep to recover.  It is that simple.  We need balance.  And we need to listen to our bodies.

I am struggling.  I am truly and honestly struggling.  I desire nothing else but to find this balance within my life.  I need it.  I want it.  I can see it in the distance, but I just can’t seem to grasp it.

This morning, I reached out to my fellow Fit Approach Sweat Pink Ambassadors for moral support on the matter of Workout Burnout and they truly came through for me.  I would like to share a bit of the inspiration and advice they provided throughout this post.  You will note their advice in block quotes.  I cannot begin to divulge how thankful I am for the words of wisdom.  They are truly amazing an inspirational wisdom.  Reaching out to me in my time of need? I am forever indebted and hope to return the favor down the line.

Blog: | Twitter: @skippinginsea

Sounds like your body is trying to tell you something. Rest days are just as important as working out. Your body needs time to recover from the beating you give it. Rest days actually make you stronger! Take some time off to let your body recover. If your body is feeling better but you are lacking motivation, try signing up for a race. I always have to have a race scheduled on my calendar to help keep me motivated. Good luck girlie and I hope your body recovers soon!!

Blog: | Twitter: @jenna_beil
Your body needs rest days in order to recover. Too much exercise can be just as detrimental as no exercise.  Overtraining your muscles is no good.
Anyway, the best thing to do if you want to exercise and not take extended period of breaks is at least go for a long leisure walk or do some yoga! These exercises really put your mind back into place. Yoga, especially, makes me feel great when I am feeling down.
Find a low to moderate paced exercise that you enjoy (even cleaning the house!) and do that on days when your body feels burnt out.
As for getting back on track after eating unhealthy for a few days. Put it all behind you. Start fresh. Plan your meals and eat smaller meals about 5 or 6 times a day to keep your metabolism running and your stomach full! Drink lots and lots and lots of water!!!
I have definitely experienced this. Your body does need to rest. It’s very important to listen to your body’s needs. On days like that, I do something light like go for a walk so that way I know I’ve done something without overdoing it. I’ve also gone off track with eating… for example yesterday I indulged in way too much of my mother-in-law’s homemade pound cake. I could give myself a super hard time about it, but I am not. It’s wasteful energy to be negative. It doesn’t do anything except make you feel m ore discouraged. I am putting it behind me. Today is a new day, so I started fresh and positive. Don’t get discouraged at all. It happens to everyone, even elite athletes.
Blog: | Twitter: @ShutterbugRunnr Sometimes, we need a couple days or so of extra rest. When your body needs rest and you don’t listen, not only can you get hurt, but you can over-train or over-do it. I’ve experienced overdoing it and it’s not fun. Thankfully, a day or two of extra rest helped me pull through it.I’m learning more and more about how to stay in tune with my body. It gives us signals if we just listen. I think the longer we are active, the easier it gets to feel/see those signs. Burnout is nothing to shrug off, the signals our bodies give off with extra soreness or aches are it telling us to ease off. Bottom line is, listen to your body.
Blog: | Twitter: @runtodreams “Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning noon and night but the body is never tired if the mind is not tired” – George Patton
When my body tells me that I need a rest day, I listen to it. I don’t go to the gym, I don’t run, I just rest. It is weird, but I know I need to do it. While I try to always eat healthy, I give my body a break from that too, and then get back on track right away.
If you’re feeling healthy but need a little more kick to your mojo, maybe make a workout date with a friend.  That really forces you out the door and helps you get back on track!
The best advice anyone ever game me for life is “strive for progress not perfection”. 100% “on” in everything 100% of the  time is sure to land you in a rut.  I train for long distance triathlons and every 3 weeks we have a recovery week, to go slower, and recover.  Unless I am sick or injured, I don’t have self induced rest days … the turmoil it causes me mentally to skip a workout is not worth the cost of pushing through.  I won’t go hard, but I will get out and do at least a little of what I am meant to do.
So if that day calls for a tough  track workout which means getting up super early to make it to the track on time,  i might skip track but go for a fartlek run (fast/slow) around my house.  I get some extra sleep, don’t push too hard, but don’t get that whole negative inner dialogue.  I understand negativity doesn’t lead me anywhere but I can;t help avoiding the thoughts (I will gain weight, i will not make my time on the race etc.), and so it takes more effort to turn the negative thoughts around to positive ones than to just go for an easy run around the house and say “hey, at least I got out there and I lapped the “me” that would’ve stayed home.”
On the food side, each meal, each time I pick up some food is a chance to make a better or worst choice.  I don’t consider a treat a bad choice.  I consider it a treat.  If I make bad choices over and over again I start feeling uncomfortable and then I have to check in with myself and see what this is all about.  Why am I really doing that if I enjoy the way healthy eating makes me feel?  Did I not have time to shop? To cook? Am I angry and saying “F… it” once I realize why I am making the bad choices, than i have power over them and I can change things to get me back on track.  So I make it a priority to make it to the store, or choose a restaurant that has something healthy that I like, or talk to the person I am mad at to resolve it, or whatever I need to do.  There are no ghosts when I shine a light.
This blog has become so much more to me than a simple blog.  Without my blog and the health and fitness community, I would not be able to overcome all of the things I struggle with.  I am recognizing the problems, seeking solutions, and hopefully making the progress.  Thanks of bearing with me.  Let’s get fit and live healthy together.
xoxo Savvy Sassy Me
savvysassymeP.S. – I have been using my personal instagram account for health/fitness and I finally stepped up my game and made one specific for this topic.  I am very excited because now I won’t have to hold back on progress pics and all the things I want to post.  So give a follow?! Just search @savvysassyme.
  • Shannon

    You will push through. :)
    Thanks for the mention, we all need a bit of help every now and again.

  • Dominique @ CraftfullyCooks

    Love this! Thanks so much for sharing- I’m coming off running hiatus due to surgery and your post is giving me the kick in the butt I need to get my balance back! And dont be too hard on yourself- you’ll be back in balance before you know it :)

    • Kacie Phillips

      I am so glad it helped you! Best of luck getting back into the swing of things!!!!

  • StoriesAndSweetPotatoes

    This is such a great post. Rest (mental and physical) is what makes our workouts so amazing and sometimes it’s easy to forget that!

    • Kacie Phillips

      It is all to easy to forget this! I am just relieved to finally be realizing it.

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