Listen to your body (it knows what’s good for you)

I was talking with a soldier today about water intake. She asked me how much water I drink, and I told her I drink when I’m thirsty. She was incredulous, and said that I was probably dehydrating myself because I wasn’t drinking a gallon of water a day. I told her that I do drink a lot of coffee, tea, and water throughout the day, and I always drink when I’m thirsty. She said her coach told her she needs to drink water all day long, to which I told her that it’s probably overkill.

The reality is that our bodies are good at communicating to us. We just have to listen. When we are thirsty, our body is telling us we need to hydrate. When we are hungry, our body is telling us we need to eat more. Maybe we didn’t eat enough at the previous meal, or we’ve been exerting ourselves and we used up more calories than we took in at our previous meal. Now, let’s not confuse huger with appetite which is a false signal from the brain after we eat foods high in carbs. That’s what leads to snacking, which leads to more eating, which leads to more snacking, etc.

The same holds true for injuries. When we experience pain, we need to recognize the difference between good pain and bad pain. Good pain is muscle burn after a good workout or exercise session. Bad pain is when you feel a pulled ligament or muscle. Right now, I’m experiencing a bit of the bad pain deep in my right calf. I overdid it a little on Friday, so I took Saturday and Sunday off from running. Depending on how it feels today, I might have an easy run, or I might skip it entirely. I will listen to my body and let it tell me what the best course of action is. Ignoring bad pain can lead to serious and long-term damage that is counter to what I’m trying to accomplish: to remain fit, to gain distance, and to increase my speed.

Listen to your body’s signals. Our bodies have been talking to us since the beginning of time. It’s up to us to learn how to read those signals, and it’s up to us to listen to them to get the most out of our nutrition and exercise.

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