If we take the time to listen to what our body is telling us, we can learn a lot, and in the process, keep ourselves from further pain, injury, or more. This week, I started running after a two-month absence due to a minor knee injury. I wanted to give my knee time not only to heal, but to get past the possibility of an easy re-injury. I think I got there, and my run on Monday was really good. However, while I didn’t push the pace, I pushed the distance, and as a result, I have excessive muscle burn. Some people thrive on that feeling; I’m not one of them. To me, there’s nothing worse than sore muscles (beyond a point). I was planning on running on Wednesday, but the pain was still too much, and I decided to run on Thursday (not remembering that I had a show scheduled with my wife that precluded running). Then there’s today, and I have plans with friends. I may still have time to knock out a run before they come over, but it will really depend on what time I get home. But I digress.
What did I have to gain by pushing through the excessive pain? In past experience, when I’ve done that, one of two things happens: either I’m able to get past it and the pain goes away, or I develop an injury because I run in a way my body isn’t used to, and I end up pulling a muscle, ligament, or tendon. I wasn’t willing to risk it, so I decided to sit it out. While I didn’t get the benefit of exercise on Wednesday, as I sit here and type this, I am not injured.
The same holds true for hunger. Since I cut out added sugars and grains, I haven’t had to cope with cravings or false appetite. What that means for me, however, is that when I get hungry, I have to listen to my body and feed it. It’s also feedback on the size of my meals. Last week, when I had an exceptionally large lunch, I wasn’t hungry again until the next day at lunchtime. I skipped dinner that night because as I was getting ready to prepare a meal, I realized that I was still not only not hungry, but stuffed. I listened to what my body was telling me, and the next morning I went into my regular Intermitted Fasting (IF) routine without issues. I was hungry about an hour sooner than usual, but it was fine. I ate a little early that day, but ended up having no ill effect.
Every time I eat, I make note of not only what I ate, but the volume so that I can make adjustments to later meals. Feedback is worthless if you ignore it. Our body is telling us things all the time, not only through muscle pain or hunger, but also through things like our weight, our size, how our skin looks, the bags under our eyes, etc. There’s a lot to take in and consider if you just open your eyes and allow yourself to see it. Don’t ignore those feelings. Don’t ignore the data. Use it all to analyze where you are at, how you’re doing, and use it moving forward to monitor your progress and guide you to your goals and beyond. Our body wants to help us: we need to listen.