So you’ve reach that point – the point where your exercise obsession has finally got the better of you and you are well and truly EXHAUSTED.
Run down, under the weather, fatigued – call it what you like but your body is officially telling you enough is enough.
But like all exercise addicts – you can’t seem to stop… am I right? Although exercise is good for us, too much exercise can really take its toll on our bodies, until we reach the point of exhaustion.
But trust me – I feel your pain, and that’s why I’m going to tell you the top 10 ways you can escape exhaustion without the dreaded anxiety and withdrawal of having to stop everything.
Why Am I So Tired All The Time?
So first things first – how have you got to this point? Well the answer will vary from person to person but most likely some of the below apply to you:
- You’re doing too much exercise and over training
- You’re eating a calorie deficit diet – either intentionally to lose weight or unintentionally due to exercise load.
- You’re substituting being tired and lack of food with coffee and stimulants
- You’re not sleeping or struggling to sleep
- Your day to day life is stressful and your suffering with added anxiety
All of the above will take their toll on our adrenal levels and cause our adrenal glands to become stressed or fatigued – and guess what…. Things aren’t about to change unless you work to change them. So if you’re tired of… well … being tired! Why not try some of the below:
1. Put Some Electro – Lite into Your Life
If you’re working hard, powering through classes, weights, runs and gym sessions that are over an hour long – then you should be sweating! When we exercise hard – we sweat, and we don’t only lose the water that keeps us hydrated, but we also lose stores of minerals and salts in the body – which if you’re not taking the right supplements or eating enough food, won’t be getting replenished and replaced.
When we exercise we put a lot of stress on our muscles – and if we don’t replace the salts & minerals that are also lost, we reduce the body’s ability to recover from this stress – which over prolonged periods of time will lead to you feeling achy and tired. Basically your body is telling you its missing something! For example, many gym goers and people who suffer from fatigue are often found to be deficient in Magnesium which plays an important role within energy metabolism and muscle function.
Make sure after your supplementing with a decent electrolyte post workout – you can get them pretty cheap from places like Home Bargins or on any online sports nutrition company e.g. Myprotein or one of their competitors.
2. B more Energetic
The most important vitamin for energy is…. B… oh and also C!
If your exercising everyday you need to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C and B. It’s important to remember the recommended daily intake suggested is based on the population average – so it’s not tailored to people who exercise regularly – aka you will probably need more than the recommended daily intake!
We can get vitamin b and c in fruits and vegetables but in some cases a calorie deficit diet can mean you may not be getting everything you need.
Try taking vitamin c supplements 3 times a day with your meals or before/after exercise. You can go for tablets but I prefer the dissolvable tablets to drink with meals and in my sports bottle.
When it comes to vitamin B – there is actually 12 vitamin B’s! You can get a super B complex with all 12 B vitamins in but when it comes to energy vitamins B5, B6 and B12 are the most important for energy.
3. Cut Out Caffeine … or cut down at least
I am GUILTY as charged when it comes to excessive caffeine consumption and feel lost without my pulse gel pre workout. But realistically caffeine creates a viscous cycle – we’re tired, we take caffeine… we then have 2 hours of productivity and feeling pumped, we then hit an all-time energy low. Finally when it comes to bed time and finally time to sleep… we can’t… and the caffeine cycle continues.
Yes when you need focus and an energy lift from caffeine does the job in hand, but really the short term energy high from caffeine is not doing you any favours. When we take caffeine it adds a significant amount of stress to our adrenal glands and also causes an increase in anxiety, which in turn can stop us sleeping and make you even more tired in the long run.
I’m not saying go cold turkey – but write down how much caffeine you’re currently having on a daily basis… for example are you including all those diet drinks packed full of caffeine on top of your coffee and tea (some tea actually contains more caffeine than coffees!)? Try and keep it down to either your pre workout (200mg) or 2 cups of coffee a day – and not before bed… for your own good!
4. Join the Anti-Oxidant Band Wagon
Are you sick of the super greens trend yet? Well maybe you should give it some time because antioxidants can provide a ton of goodness for your health and well-being (although it’s not “scientifically” proven so don’t quote me on studies).
You don’t necessarily need a ton of super green, red and purple powders to get antioxidants – those special phytochemicals can be found in fruits, vegetables and plants. In fact, although I LOVE a good nutritional supplement and superfood powder (Myprotein’s Nutri Purples Fruit Blend being my favourite at the moment) most of them are “freeze dried” to apparently maintain goodness – but remember… any process that is taken on food will reduce its nutritional value. So just make sure you eat fresh, drink your green tea and eat your greens & grains!
5. Listen to Your Body
Did you go for a run or a gym session yesterday… was it a living HELL. Did you hate every minute, feel so tired you could cry and count the seconds till you could accept defeat, feel like a failure and go home?… Then did you get up again today and do it all over again?
Guess what – “powering through” isn’t always the best thing to do. Realistically are you going to “power through” every gym session thriving from the odd “good day” where you may have caught an extra few hours’ sleep? It’s just no way to live and you’re not listening to your body! If you heard someone shouting and screaming for help in the street – would you ignore them? No you’d probably get help or ask them what was wrong and your body shouldn’t be any different.
If you wake up one morning and you’re in pain, aching, tired and really struggling – take the pressure off and rest. Missing ONE gym session won’t make you fat and it won’t make you a failure. Think of it this way – will missing that one day matter in a year’s time? Will you think back in a year’s time “oh I wished I’d not missed that gym session” – of course you won’t!
As an ocd perfectionist who is known to NEVER miss a gym session or class – I know how hard it is to tell yourself “NO – I’m not going & today I’m going to rest”, but trust me you and your body need it. So take the stress away ask yourself will it matter in the long run and REST that pretty little head!
6. Mix up your Routine
Do you have your fixed routine? Do you run the same route, go to the same classes, follow the same day splits? Monday legs, Tuesday Chest…. You get me?
Routine is something that is so important to people like myself who are perfectionists. You come up with the perfect plan and you stick to it day in and day out. But time passes quickly whether you are or aren’t having fun and eventually you may stop seeing progress or may have a routine which just becomes unmaintainable.
For me – 3 hours of cardio a day from running 8 miles to 2 hours on the cross trainer straight after went from being “look at how much I can do” to absolute hell. And it’s no wonder – unless you’re eating a huge amount of food and looking to go to train for an event you should not be doing that much exercise every single day, but for me that was my routine and I needed to stick to it.
Routine can be good for getting organised but it can also become boring or if too intense, most definitely exhausting – so make a change. Mix up your routine whether it means going on bodybuilding.com for a new plan or instead of going for that run, switching to a bike ride or trying out a new class which could be … god forbid… actually relaxing? Like yoga or pilates!
7. Watch That Sugar & The Sweeteners TOO!
Sugar, Sugar, Sugar – the topic on everyone’s lips this year. If your suffering from fatigue you may be guilty of either of the below:
- Eating too much sugar in the form of what you may regard as healthy – e.g. fruits
- Or gone sugar phobic and cut all sugar out of your diet
For me – I became a sugar phobic. When we eat sugar the body digests it and our blood sugar levels increase. To stabilise these levels the body produces a hormone called insulin – which can tell our body’s to store fat. The “Fat Storing Hormone” – well as soon as I heard this little nutritional nugget that was IT – NO MORE SUGAR… EVER!
But guess what our body still needs sugar – you just have to be smart and follow the everything in moderation rule! Watch your sugar intake and eat it around your workout window – that way the body can use it for energy and to recover.
One thing that many fitness fanatics seemed to have done is cut out sugar and replaced it with sweeteners and other substitutes. Calorie free right? Well guess what just because these products are not sugar does not mean they can’t affect our blood sugar levels in similar or even worse ways.
It is actually thought when we consume sweeteners the sweetness can fool the taste buds and body into thinking we are eating sugar when we are not – this in turn can cause the body to produce insulin. However because there is actually no sugar present, this reaction puts additional stress on our adrenal glands which can contribute to what is making you feel so tired all the time.
So look at moderation with both sweeteners and sugar – ideally try and cut sweeteners out completely… but I’m not one to talk… my consumption is way up there on the scale of 1 – out of control.
8. Eat More
Not what you want to hear if you’re dieting, but if your exercising loads and not eating – is it any wonder your tired? “But it used to be so easy” – it was… but months of this behavior is bound to take its tole on your body resulting in damage to your digestive system, hormonal imbalance and more.
If you are restricting food to a high standard – just think… will I be able to do this when I have a family or get pregnant? Stop living in the distorted now and look at what’s real.
Work on increasing your calories but… do it gradually and slowly with whole and healthy foods – eat plenty of protein and if you’re worried about weight gain go for a higher protein and vegetable based diet. Be careful not to fall for the “all you can eat healthy fats” bandwagon too. Nuts and nut butters are amazing and good for you… but a tablespoon not a tub.
If you think you eat enough – look into your macros, are you getting the right ratio of protein to carbs and fats? If you struggle for energy, look at increasing your complex carb intake around your training windows and sugars pre workout.
9. Sleep More
Easier said than done I know! But sleep is so important for our bodies, from muscle recovery to just general mind relaxation.
If you struggle to sleep make sure you are turning phones and laptops off 2 hours before bed and try reading a book. You could also have a bath with Epsom salts as the magnesium can help relax the muscles and put you to sleep.
10. Jenny Says… RELAX!
Anxiety can be an annoying thing. Whether you’re stressed about work or life in general this little demon can not only tire you out in the day but also keep you awake at night.
Try and reduce anxiety by asking yourself questions. A common theme with people who suffer from anxiety is the tendency to over dramatize situations. So when you find yourself getting stressed and anxious – just stop and ask yourself “how important is this?” “does it really matter?” “Will it matter in a year’s time?” “What can I do to change it?”. Address the issue at hand and don’t put it to the back of your mind or channel it into the gym/ nutrition. Ignoring anxiety at the time will only cause it to come crawling back later… most likely when you’re trying to sleep!
And there you have it – try some of the above and see how you feel in 2 month’s time – hopefully revitalised with a ton of energy!