Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hooked on a Feeling

You know, one of the things that have made this lifestyle so achievable is getting a feel for things. This is both for eating and exercising. Feeling and trusting your body is a big part of staying healthy. It’s weird how your body wants to be pushed in some ways and coddled in other ways. Too much of either will be painful and counterproductive.

Again, I feeling lucky to have played a sport because I’ve come to learn what feels like good pain and what feels like bad pain. Good pain is pain that is a result of exercise building your muscles. What happens is that your body uses exercise to break down the muscles. Starting out, you will feel pain in the form of soreness, shin splints, and tightness as your muscles rebuild themselves to be stronger, faster, better. When you step up your exercise your muscles respond with soreness. That’s why it’s important to have days off. Those days are where your muscles rebuild themselves. It’s why you may not feel sore immediately after a strenuous workout but the next morning you feel stiff. Bad pain is injury. That is where you really can’t put weight on your particularly muscle and can’t do ordinary things with it. It means that the more you work a muscle in normal ways like walking, the more it hurts. That’s bad pain.

The challenge is to exercise enough to work your muscles and burn fat but not so much you injure yourself. The advice, I’ve gotten on this balance is to exercise enough to sweat but not enough so you are breathless. Like The Biggest Loser tells you, make sure you can still sing when you exercise (although they seem to take a perverse joy in turning exercise into torture for their contestants).

Feeling your body as it tells you how much is enough when it comes to exercise is something I am having to learn when it comes to eating. You should be hungry when you eat. You should wait until you feel hungry. But don’t wait until you are STARVING. Finding that sweet spot of eating when you are hungry versus eating when you are starving is a big challenge. At this point, I tend to eat every three hours – three meals and two snacks. There are times when I will skip a snack because I am not feeling it. Sometimes that’s fine. Sometimes that’s totally bit me in the ass where I’ve been starving and willing to eat anything that’s around. It’s getting better, figure out how hungry feels as opposed to starving. But just as it’s taken a lifetime to know how much is enough for exercise, it will take a while to figure out how much is enough for hunger.

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