When the Spirit is Willing but the Body is Weak
Do you ever expect yourself to do something and you just physically don’t have it in you? In your mind, you want to… in your heart you want to be your best self… your body just isn’t responding in the same way? This is common in every walk of life, from toddlers to athletes to adults of all ages. I am picturing babies falling asleep in their high chair right now, haha. They want to eat that food so bad, but their body wants to sleep- insert ‘face plant into spaghetti’ image. Regardless, I think everyone experiences this feeling on some level at some point or throughout many points in life. There might be an incredible run/walk coming up that you’ve been training for. We have one on April 14th! With training, you may be experiencing some similarities of feeling sore, tired or just not up to running/walking sometimes. Similarly, I coach competitive youth rowers and as coaches we design annual programs on a progressive level to keep their performance improving with efforts to peak in competitive season. High school athletes have high expectations of their performance. They know what they want; they set goals and aim to reach them- after all, isn’t showing up and doing the training what will get them to reach those goals? Reality check. Your mind is powerful and your body will wear down if not treated properly. You can have all the mental toughness in the world and yet your body can still lack in responsiveness. When you’re measuring your improvements based off of numbers or previous experiences- this can set in. The Spirit is willing - You KNOW you can perform better, stronger, faster, (you’ve done it before!) and you just can’t get your body to reach those levels - but the body is weak…
There are many more pieces to the puzzle and if we rely solely on mental toughness and expectations, we will most certainly take a downward spiral both mentally and physically. So, no, I’m not going to lecture you about how you need to be mentally strong and to just do it! Instead….
“Chaos calls but all you really need is to just breathe.”
We’ll talk about how to cope with this feeling and overcome it with preparedness and proper recovery. You don’t have to be a competitive athlete to experience overtraining- sometimes life leads to overtraining; sometimes the lack of sleep, food, stretching, hydration to name a few, will lead to this lack in physical performance. Here’s where I will introduce you to preparing your body for what you’d like it to do; and then recovering your body so it can keep on keepin on!
The 3 Pieces of the Recovery Pie
1. Nutrition (4 Rs)
Part 1: There are 4 Nutritional R’s that will help your body recover and support your future activity:
Replenish your body with Carbohydrates (within 20 min of exercise, both before and after, you should consume 15-20g of the simple carbs- like fruit, honey, (think naturally sweet here). This might mean half an apple before and half an apple after). Repair your muscles with Protein (within 20 min of exercise, both before and after, you should consume 10-25g of easily digestible protein like half of a scoop of protein powder, a hard boiled egg, greek yogurt, etc - nutrition facts come in handy here!). Reinforce a healthy Immune system with colorful fruits/veggies and a good Multivitamin Rehydrate after exercise with Water (add electrolytes if your training for a race and are working beyond a 60 min time frame).
** you may require a little less or a little more depending on your exercise intensity and individual frame.
Now, this may seem crazy to some and you may be thinking, “well, I’m not a bodybuilder or a competitive athlete; I don’t need that much food” and that’s ok. This is still for you, but you may adjust your amounts based on what type of activity you’ve done, how long you did it and your body weight. My point here is that if you can repair and recover your body- you will rely on less mental toughness; you will reduce mental and physical stress and your body will reward you with more strength, stamina and energy! Make fitness feel good! Enjoy the process. This is your journey.
Part 2: Mobility is defined as the ability to move freely and easily. Maintaining mobility is vital in the life of continuing your fitness journey. Release any restricted areas that cause limited movements via a foam roller or lacrosse ball. Practice stretching or light yoga. The more you move, the more your muscles contract and depending on your intensity- breakdown. If you lack in this piece of the pie, your body will get tight and your movements will no longer feel good. Here is a great tutorial for releasing muscle tension.
Part 3: Sleep, the most important part of the recovery pie in life. During sleep your body is repairing muscle and completely resting. No matter what your fitness goals are, having some muscle on your body is important and the lack of sleep is the enemy of muscle. Inadequate sleep causes muscle loss, and can lead to a higher rate of injury as well as the obvious: fatigue, exhaustion, lack of motivation...all things negative! After reading all of these fun facts and validating normalcy in our chaotic worlds, I hope you’ve learned a thing or two on how you can stay motivated both mentally and physically on your fitness track. Keep that spirit willing and the body feeling strong!
Stay tuned for Blog Post #5 Fear Not! Vacation is calling and you will not fail…
Cheers to good fuel for our mind, body and soul! Until next time, Jennifer Hooke NSCA- CPT, CSCS INNERSTRENGTH SPORT AND WELLNESS, LLC www.innerstrengthorlando.com