Are you someone who continuously “runs off” that last indulgence you felt guilty about? Are you currently feeling stressed about your massive to-do list? Are you “on a diet” or trying a new “cleanse”? Dealing with a pesky injury that won’t go away?
I’m here to tell you that our hustle and bustle “always on the go” lifestyles, combined with our obsession with diet and exercise, is a recipe for disaster.
Focusing solely on diet and exercise as a means of getting to your ideal clothing size or getting the number on the scale to your satisfaction is short-sighted, and without proper care, can lead to more trouble in the long run. What do I mean by ‘trouble in the long run?’ Most of us do not fully understand what causes injury and why many people become more prone to injury as they age. We do not fully consider the relationship between sleep, stress, movement, and injury.
Stress and Injury
The connection between stress and injury is substantial, vastly overlooked, and a big reason so many of us “fall off the wagon” when we start a new exercise program. When we are stressed, our brains literally turns off a focus on motor control. The brain tenses up, the body begins pumping cortisol, and we are less focused on proper form and breathing, the essential parts of movement which help us build strength and prevent injury. In short, when we are fearful, stressed, and full of cortisol, we are more likely to become injured during that heart-pounding shred class.
Sleep and Injury
Sleep is important for multiple reasons, and now research is showing that a person’s overall injury rate increases as their amount of sleep decreases. Sleep gives the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and growth plates a chance to repair and regenerate from the day. Sleep also supports the body’s ability to react and move efficiently, which is essential, particularly when engaging in cardio intense exercise routines or when lifting heavy weights. And finally, when we are sleep-deprived, we are more stressed, which then induces all the problems caused by too much stress.
Movement and Injury
We have all experienced situations in which we moved ever so slightly in the wrong way and felt a muscle pull, discomfort sometimes lasting for weeks. Our body is meant to move, but frequently we only move the large muscle groups and ignore the smaller ones. Additionally, sometimes we move in ways that inadvertently cause more stress on the body because our form is not good. Over time, out of alignment movement or a lack of engagement of smaller muscle groups can lead us to injury.
Your body’s needs at 45+ are different than at 20
Back when we were 20, we could injure ourselves and overcome the injury with a little ice, elevation, and rest. Now, at 45+, your body is different. If we demand so much from it during the day, then add on stressful dieting practices and/or exercise programs; we also need to invest resources and time into the maintenance of them.
Building your wellness team and maintenance plan
So, what’s the secret to getting stronger and feeling better without “punishing” ourselves in the gym or dealing with injury after injury?
Maintenance. Consistency. PT. Chiro. Stress management skills practice. Refining your sleep. Self-awareness. Journey of wellness. Gratitude.
I wholeheartedly believe these are some of the best tools you can use to feel your best, despite your age or where you are at in your fitness journey. When we seek maintenance practices like massage, PT, chiro, acupuncture, whatever you choose, you are maintaining your body like you would a fancy sports car.
For example, if you are experiencing muscle tightness or limited range of motion, you should seek the help of a specialist to address these issues. Giving your body the proper care and attention that it needs will ensure you are able to continue doing all that you ask of your body on a daily basis, including your exercise program. Failing to do so will not only increase your risk of injury, it will slow or halt any progress you are making, leaving you frustrated, discouraged, and, yes, more stressed.
Additionally, you should find the resources for stress management, sleep help, menopause specialist, etc., so that you can curate a team to help you become the wellness wonder you want to be!
When we need a cardiologist, we seek the best. When we need help with our diet, we need to seek the best – not pull some new program off the internet. Seeking the advice of an expert will ensure that we can spend our time and energy on methods that are healthy, sustainable, and will benefit us long-term. Giving yourself the grace to be you and find what works for you is the recipe that will lead you to your happy place of wellness.
It’s time to swap out those old practices you may have been holding onto for decades and lean into this new, holistic approach of giving your body the care it deserves. Now, possibly, hopefully, you are figuring out you are different now. You are better, and you deserve the time and focus and expenditure of resources and energy on programs that will benefit you and your body the most.
I hope this series has helped you view your wellness as a top priority that is worth investing in. For more information about our programs, click here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss how I can help you or your team develop your very own wellness practice.