Home » Why it’s ok not to push yourself too hard during exercise – and how you’re actually still benefiting from it

Why it’s ok not to push yourself too hard during exercise – and how you’re actually still benefiting from it

I was diagnosed with covid in November of 2020 and my life has never been the same since. I was 28 at the time of my diagnosis, physically fit and otherwise a very healthy individual. An avid fitness junkie, I cycled through Beachbody programs and was working out an average of 5+ days a week.

I pushed myself constantly.

I loved the high of endorphins after a hard workout. I loved seeing the results of my efforts and I used to thrive knowing that the harder I pushed, the faster I got stronger.

My COVID diagnosis changed everything and as I write this 4 months later – I’m not able to push myself like I used to. And it’s way harder on me mentally than I thought it would be, so I’m sharing what I’ve learned.

Built to move

Our bodies are amazing machines and every body is unique in its ability to move.

Every joint and muscle and bone was built to uniquely support us and in a lot of cases they really actually love to move.

When we exercise, we release endorphins which give us that feel-good high that keeps us coming back for more and more. It can decrease anxiety and depression and help us feel our best. Our heart gets a workout and our muscles get a chance to rebuild and become stronger. We get to explore the mind-body-connection and get out of our heads for a little bit and just move.

After sitting through dozens of zoom calls, this sounds amazing right?

So why does it hurt so bad?

Ok, I know I just made working out sound magical. But there are some side effects.

Muscles soreness and fatigue are no joke.

Depending on how hard you push (and we’ll come back to this idea in a moment) your body will need time to recover. You may experience, soreness, fatigue, and aches as your body works to repair and recover. Simple tasks become so much harder than they were the day or days before. Every movement reminds you of what you did the day or days before.

It’s all part of the process, and is usually something that will sort itself out in a few days time.

Vital, Damnit

But, depending on how hard you push, you may do more harm than good. Especially if you are recovering from an illness, or have a unique physical condition.

In any case, I believe it’s vital to listen to what your body is telling you.

Vital I tell y’a!

I’ve had more than a few moments with COVID where I’ve pushed too hard with exercise thinking it’ll help me get stronger faster – only to end up in agony needing several days to recover from my stupidity.

The thing is, my body knew when to quit, I was just too stubborn to listen.

“But my body….is telling me yes.”

There’s a fine line between your mind telling you to stop and your body telling you to stop. Often our mind cries wolf first, because it’s not always fun to do the work. Anyone that’s spent time exercising knows that it’s ok to push past the mind telling you to stop – but it’s not ok to push past your body telling you to stop.

Listen to the signs, and if you are recovering from COVID, or any other illness, or physical condition – listen very closely. It’s so important to keep yourself well and take care of your sore muscles and joints as you recover.

Can you push too hard?

I don’t think it’s always necessary to go balls to the wall to get the results you want in fitness. And it’s certainly not sustainable for the average person at the very least. If you workout a few days a week doing something you love, I think you’ll be amazed at the benefits. 

Early on in my fitness journey I tried the “bootcamp” approach to working out. You know the mentality – pushing yourself to go all out several days a week – and shaming yourself when you can’t meet the seemingly impossible goal. It totally failed for me, and left feeling ashamed and like I “wasn’t cut out for this lifestyle, I should just stop.”

Over time I learned that if I could show up when I could, I was better off than if I didn’t show up at all. This actually worked wonders for me. I found exercise that I liked to do and actually felt encouraged to show up more because it felt so good to do so.

Most recently, I learned to push myself through the mental struggle of exercise. Past the “f*** this I want to quit” during cardio mentality.- I saw great improvement in my fitness levels and it encouraged me to try harder for every workout. Then Covid hit, and it obliterated my ability to not only show up during the first few months, but now it has effected my ability to push my body like I used to be able too.

I don’t see this as a setback any more, but rather a chance to share my story and hopefully encourage others with what I’ve learned.

I’ve seen dramatic improvements in my own fitness since COVID. Even doing just 10 minutes a day a few days a week. I’ve modified moves to meet my level of fitness and I’ve felt myself get so much stronger! Even without pushing myself too hard at all. The timeline is a little slower, but I’m enjoying the journey and focusing on how I feel every step of the way.

Speaking of feelings….

So let’s recap:

  • If your considering exercise or feel trapped in that all or nothing mentality:
  • It’s ok to just “show up” and not push yourself too hard during a workout.
  • Your body still reaps all the benefits of exercise and movement, and you still get to enjoy exploring the mind body connection.
  • You are still growing and improving as long as you are trying.
  • Your body knows when it’s time to quit – listen closely to that. (Your mind will likely tell you to stop immediately, so it’s vital to listen to your body instead.)

Hope things helps you on your journey! As always I’m wishing you the very best. And if you wanna talk wellness or need some 1:1 encouragement, head over to my coaching page and lets chat.

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