I’m going to be honest with you, I’ve been really, really tired for about four weeks now. Not your usual work, social commitments, stayed up too late last night kind of tired, but that kind that involves a relentless eye twitch, falling asleep by 8pm, feeling emotionally drained kind of tired. I put it down to a combination of season change, low body fat, training probably a little too often, multiple interstate trips, work stress and the stress I create for myself inside my head.
I’ve never maintained this level of body fat for an extended period. I’ve never trained so hard while working full time and eating less. Chances are my iron levels are a little low (yours could be too, 1 in 3 women aren’t getting enough iron) and I need a magnesium hit. Plus, I’ve never been on so many planes in such a short space of time, which is exciting but really takes it out of you. I take my hat off to all of you ladies who do this on the regular because being a boss chick wearing a crown and making money ain’t easy (that’s the name of my new rap song, it’s a remix of Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy sung by a 20-something year old girl, it probably won’t make the radio).
Anyway, in the face of my need for 3pm naps, seriously sore muscles, food cravings and general lowered vitality I’ve implemented a few me-time, recovery undertakings to get myself back on track. These things can be done day-to-day and while they’re simple, they certainly make a big difference. Because if you’re anything like me, you don’t have the time for the three days of sleep or five days of relaxing holiday time to get you back in the groove.
A better nighttime routine
For me, this has a lot to do with what I do before bed. My evening routine usually includes a workout that goes until 7:30pm, dinner, shower and maybe a TV show. By the time 10pm rolls around I haven’t really unwound and I find myself only getting to sleep at 11pm. My body was screaming out for a better nighttime routine. So nowadays, I like to get home and eat. Then get on the foam roller, read or talk through my day with Nick, I’ll have a hot shower, drink about a litre of water and get into bed about an hour before I want to sleep. I feel like this makes me feel less like I work, rush, sleep and work again and more like the evening is my time.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with increasing your food during periods of fatigue. I tend to aim for 10% more carbs and 5-10% more fats. I also like to make sure my iron intakes are up to scratch, because if you’re weight training 4 or more days a week then chances are your iron levels are taking a hit. I get my iron boost from beef. A rump steak after a long day with mushies and green beans is one of my faves. Or sometimes we lovingly slow-cook chuck steak or brisket in the oven and serve it with a teriyaki sauce and lightly stir fried veg. When I’m feeling fatigued I always check in to make sure my beef intake is adequate (it’s probably my favourite source of protein), I aim for around 3 times a week and I notice a big difference when it is. And guess what? Australian Dietary Guidelines say you should be eating red meat like beef 3 to 4 times a week anyway.
Not ballin’ out all the time
And by ballin’ out I mean, not going so hard when it comes to exercise. Our bodies are amazing things and while pushing them to the limit might make you feel really awesome most of the time, sometimes it’s seriously okay to cruise along at 60% effort. In fact, easing up in the gym, doing shorter sessions, lifting less, decreasing your cardio output and taking an extra rest day every week is not only going to help your recovery but it will also allow you to get a lot more out of your body in the near future. I’ve swapped a lifting sesh for a yoga session and I’m taking a second rest day every week until I feel like I’m ready to go again.
Doing all those little, lovely things
When you can, spend an afternoon under a blanket with a good book, sleep in, get a massage, get a pedicure or a manicure, eat the ice cream, the burger or the doughnut, meditate (even just for 5 mins), take a walk outside, spend time with good people, take a nap and invest in a magnesium supplement to help your muscles relax.