I met with a friend of mine yesterday who needed some advice - an avid runner (a couple of marathons in the last few years), group fitness class lover, yogi and lifter in the gym, she had lost her 'fitness mojo'. The appeal of the couch and TV were far outweighing her desire to exercise, and she was not enjoying her favorite classes and workouts when she did go.
Perfect timing for me to advise, as I am just coming out of this funk myself. Only this last week have I found my love for working out again, the last two months have been a struggle for me to feel motivated and enjoy my workouts. This is especially hard for me as in my industry it is expected that trainers love to train, and I believe that we should practice what we preach. The flip side of this is that we are human, and it can be just as hard for us to haul ass to the gym, or to strap on our sneaks and go for a run.
So I gave my friend the same advice I gave myself: stop being so hard on yourself. Energy levels will ebb and flow, and its what you over the course of weeks, months and years that is important and will impact your health, not what happens over the course of a few days. Also, there may be a biochemical reason for needing the downtime: in my case I had followed a diet regime and workout plan designed by a trainer/dietitian colleague of mine in the UK over the summer that had totally kicked my butt, and the dental surgery I had in November was way more intense with a longer, harder recovery than I had expected. In my friends case she had run two marathons in the last two years, coupled with some stressful family events, and a super challenging job.
All of these things will effect our physical and mental health, and at this point 'pushing yourself' is the last thing you should be doing and no amount of positive self talk or beating yourself up is going to help. Prolonged stress is going to raise your cortisol levels (stress hormones), which has a cascade effect on your adrenal function, possibly resulting in adrenal fatigue (when your adrenal glands function sub optimally). If this is the case then it is time to back off, and give yourself time to rest and recover, and implement nutrition, wellbeing and supplement strategies that will help you heal the body and get back on track. I suffered with severe cortisol disregulation and adrenal fatigue 3.5 years ago, following the unexpected death of my mother, and my move to the U.S. and recovered by using the above strategies.
So back to the advice I gave my friend: give yourself permission to take time off (this was the most important part), nourish yourself with great food and more sleep (now is the time to up your good carbs and get your 9.5 hours), workout only if you feel like it, and prioritize lifting over cardio, and add in some great supplements such as Vitamin D (everyone should be taking this at this time of year), magnesium (to help deal with stress), and adaptogens which help the body deal with stress and fatigue. And be kind to yourself.
If you would like any more information on dealing with high cortisol levels or adrenal fatigue please feel free to comment below of email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.