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Beginning a Healthier Life, Part Eight: When to Listen to Your Body

Your body can be pretty chatty when you take the time to listen to it. At times, it can be crying for help, and other times it may just be trying to pull a fast one on you. Once you figure out what your body is saying, you need to learn which things are worth listening to and which are best ignored.


I’m Hungry: Listen

Unless the hunger is mistaken for being bored, eat something! Your body needs food about every four waking hours of the day in order to maintain energy levels. It tends to start rumbling and growling after these intervals of time, so give into your lion stomach with a snack or meal.

If your stomach is telling you that it’s hungry for a fatty burger, then that is something you can ignore (unless it is your freebie day!). Feed it some healthy, protein-rich food instead.

The only time to be wary of your stomach’s hunger opinion is while you are eating. Your mind takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to communicate with your stomach about whether it is still hungry or not. If you inhale a huge meal in ten minutes, you could double what you just ate without even realizing that you were actually satisfied after the first round. Wait a few minutes after your first helping and then listen to what your body has to say before you get seconds.


I’m Full: Listen and Don’t

This depends on what you are doing at the time of the feeling. If you are in the middle of eating, then quickly stop. Your body is telling the truth.

If it has been several hours since you ate last, you really need some more fuel even if your body does not think it’s hungry. Try to eat a meal or snack every four hours of your day. Don’t try to cram a whole meal down your throat if you do not feel particularly hungry. Try a few light snacks such as nuts, Greek yogurt, fruits, or vegetables.


Pain: Listen

Whether it’s your muscles, joints, bones, anything, pain is part of our existence in order to give you a signal that something is wrong or something needs to change. If your legs are aching during a run, take it easy on the elliptical instead, or just workout your arms for the day. Never ignore pain. If it is not addressed and fixed, it can get much worse. Taking the day off is not as bad as taking off several months, years, or even a lifetime.


Headache: Listen

Headaches always mean something. Maybe you are not getting enough sleep, water, or stretching in. I’m not suggesting that you take the month off in order to make sure your little headache is taken seriously. Try to counteract the three possible problems with sleep, water, and/or stretching. You could be back to normal within the hour. If not, take an easier exercise day, or give yourself a rest.


Illness: Listen

When you are sick, take the day off. Your perfect schedule and avid workout routine are not as important as getting healthy again. First off, I am almost positive that you do not want to throw up in front of your coworkers and gym mates. Secondly, it’s really not a nice thing to risk the health of others by being around them. Finally, why not just get yourself healthy faster, so you can be more on top of things when you are better. When you’re feeling crummy, your body is not messing with you. Cut it some slack.


Tired: Don’t Listen

Tiredness is your body’s excuse for laziness. Almost every single day, your body will try to trick you into thinking that you are just too tired to make it to the gym after your day at work. Once you fall on your bed or crash in front of the TV, you will be kicking yourself for falling into your body’s sneaky traps when you realize that you would rather get up and do something than lay there the rest of the night – or at least you should. As we learned from the Making Habits article previously, we do not listen to what our lazy body has to say once our workout plan is set. I don’t care how tired your body thinks it is. Get it to its workout class. When you get back, you really will be tired, and it will be well deserved.


Exhausted: Listen

Exhaustion is vastly different from being tired. When you are exhausted, you have trouble keeping your eyes open, your body feels weak, you move slower than normal, your eyes are watering, everything feels too heavy, and breathing can become difficult. Exhaustion typically occurs from extremely stressful lifestyles, from illnesses, or if your workout is too extreme.

Catching some extra rest is a good idea for the first two cases. As for the last case, you need to be willing to accept that your body cannot handle the intensity of your workouts right now. A year ago, I found myself having a hard time performing normal activities, and I wanted to sleep more than ever before. My husband and I were doing extreme workouts six days a week, and my body could not handle it. It was a difficult thing to accept that I needed to slow it down, but after the switch to five workouts a week, my energy levels have returned to normal. When your body is exhausted, it is telling you it needs a change or a break. Do not be too prideful to give it that.



Once you are aware of the different ways your body communicates with you, you will be better prepared on how to react and what to do for it. Don’t let it fool you, but don’t let it down.


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