Over the past four weeks, my wife and I have each been battling some sort of illness. Unfortunately, my wife got the worst of it with a sinus infection, which wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t given her my cold while she was tending to my care. I had the misfortune of contracting the virus from a fellow client who was sick and coughing everywhere (like into my face) and not having the decency to cover his mouth. I have come to accept that these are the challenges and consequences I must face daily while working in a medically integrated facility.
While I was under the weather, my workouts eventually came to a complete halt. This made me feel like a waste of life, and my co-workers agreed with me that it would be highly disappointing and not at all like a role model to have to miss days of exercising in our field. Part of the reason I exercise and tell my clients to do the same is to prevent illnesses and viruses from inhabiting our well-maintained bodies. We do it to allow our healthy white blood cells to ward off evil particles from ruining days or even weeks of our daily workouts. Even with the cold, I pushed through the coughing and stuffy nose to continue my workouts. Every day while sick, I would try to get through my normal weekly workout and would come home feeling worse than the day before. When I thought I should have been getting better, I was getting worse. Finally, I had to say enough was enough and throw in the towel. This victory would have to go to the cold, so that I could fight another day. This little virus (now gone and I’m back to good health) conjured up a good blog piece and this week’s daily fitness topic.
Men, I know you want to be in the gym or outdoors everyday of the week to get that summer body, or you’re trying to sweat off those few beers you accumulated during your weekend excursions, but you need to know when too much is too much. From overtraining to eating incorrectly to being sleep deprived, guys sacrifice important key elements of their daily habits in an effort to achieve their knockout physiques. I must credit those who are very dedicated, tracking their workouts, food, and days off, but unfortunately like my scenario, the unexpected bug could crash into your body rendering you hopeless too. For the rest who are pounding at the weights every day or running like a wild and free stallion trying to get your body into fighting shape, realize that you too must take a break. If you plan on working out everyday, make sure to give your muscle a day of rest. If you’re beginning an exercise program start off light and slow. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 2-3 days of resistance training and up to 5-6 days of aerobic training to maintain your healthy lifestyle. Overtraining is a very common problem especially in beginners trying to lose weight or gain muscle strength. Overtraining not only can lead to decrease immunity against infections, but it can also cause serious stress on joints, muscles, and even tendons. Straining or evening fracturing a body part can cause permanent damage, so take it slow and learn how to progress safely. A qualified personal trainer or wellness coach can help you create a program that fits your ability levels and current health conditions. Remember, there is never a “one size fits all” exercise program.
Another area that many men I see go wrong, whether it be trying to lose weight or gain size and strength, is their diet. You can now pick up any Men’s Health, Muscle & Fitness, or even GQ from the newsstand and find a nutrition section. However, what you don’t find is a section that has your name in it or your exact body type. Therefore, you start following the advice you read and you wonder why your energy levels are low. You have to maintain a proper diet if you want to build muscle or lose weight. Eating a diet with a variety of color and keeping your red meat content to a minimum can provide your brain the power it needs to focus. Carbohydrates provide fuel to hour body. By decreasing your carbohydrate intake, you start to increase fat or protein intake to obtain your normal caloric consumption. Kittie Spedding, registered dietitian, states that people can decrease their carbohydrate consumption to 10% of their total caloric intake. Yet she warns that this can lead to loss of energy and fatigue. Learn how to modify your diet properly so you don’t suddenly crash in your workouts. Seek out a registered or licensed dietitian to create the power meal plan to get your body fired up for every workout.
So whatever your goal, keep your body completely nourished to stay focused and energized. And when you exercise, know when enough is enough. This will bring quicker and faster results in the end without having to be laid up in bed trying to recover from a major setback. Lastly, don’t forget that rest will always help your body recover even if you’re not sick. Your body’s natural repair team works best at night while you sleep. Getting seven to nine hours of sleep will replenish your body’s energy and help heal any sore muscles that you might have acquired from the intense workout you had the other day. If sick, getting enough rest will determine if you’re back to normal in a few days or weeks. And believe me, you do not want to have to start your workouts from square one because you didn’t listen to your body. Take the time to let your body refuel and rest so you can get back to chiseling your six-pack.