If you've been setting some major body transformation goals for yourself, then yay! We're right there with you, and we're going to help you get there — we've got tips and advice for every step of your journey. We recently talked to Tommy Armenta, CSCS at DIAKADI, and asked some questions about how we can make major changes to our bodies and get the transformation of our dreams.
He celebrated the idea of having great fitness goals, but also warned against the dangers of going a little too hard in our quest for a better body. "I'm a big advocate of balance and listening to your body . . . being more intuitive," said Tommy. "It's so great to have this amazing goal — an outward goal — but be sure to check in with yourself, and take the time to see how you're feeling."
Why is he so cautious? Because of something called adrenal fatigue, which can sometimes occur without you even realising it — it can sabotage your goals and your progress. He told us about some of his most focused, most motivated clients, who "worked so hard to do lots of cardio and add in strength training, but it was a bit too much, and it put them into a state of adrenal fatigue."
"Adrenal fatigue can sneak up on you," said Tommy. "It's a crazy world we live in; everyone's so competitive, working crazy hours, and adding in these intense workouts . . . the body can only handle so much stress." And the signs of adrenal fatigue aren't always noticeable. Here are the indicators Tommy says to look for — signs you've been working out too much:
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue and Physical Exhaustion
- Feeling lethargic. Workouts should give you a burst of energy, and you should feel renewed, not worn down.
- Constant fatigue. If you "feel like you've never gotten enough sleep" all the time, Tommy says this is a sign that you've gone too far. Track your hours of sleep and see how you feel — if you're tired after getting seven to eight hours consistently, then you've likely exhausted your body from too much physical (and/or emotional) stress.
- Foggy thinking. Tommy noted that if you're having trouble thinking clearly and your memory isn't sharp, this is also a symptom of adrenal fatigue.
- Trouble problem solving. Struggling at work? Used to critical thinking and managing major tasks, but suddenly things are off? Evaluate your schedule.
- Getting sick more than usual. If you usually have an iron-clad immune system or only catch a cold once or twice a year, but now seem to be getting the flu every time it comes around, this can be a sign of physical exhaustion.
- Slower recovery time from sickness. Can't kick that cold no matter how many soups you slurp and vitamin C pills you pop? This is another clear indicator to scale back on workouts.
What Happens If You Ignore the Symptoms?
"You've got a compromised system," said Tommy. "And many of these clients I see have an A-type personality — you'll get your workout in no matter what. But these [symptoms] and things going on might hinder your performance . . . something is going to give."
This is when Tommy sees bigger health failures in his clients. When you're so stressed physically and mentally, "your body doesn't know if you're being chased by a wild bear or just doing too much exercise." As such, your body reacts with an adrenaline overdrive, and you'll see things like major injuries, more serious illnesses, and posture that suffers, according to Tommy.
How Do You Fix It?
"I'm an advocate of working in as much as working out," said Tommy. Usually when his clients are stressed, he said, "They'll come to me and say 'I need you to kick my ass!' But that's actually not what they need."
Tommy reminded us to maintain perspective when setting our physical goals. "People have all these big goals, and if you're hyperfocused on the goals, you forget about the inside, the heart and spirit, which are arguably more important than exterior goals." Here are his tips for balancing out and recalibrating after pushing yourself too much.
- Take a rest day.
- Go for a walk (instead of doing your workout).
- Take a (restorative or Yin) yoga class.
- Start a meditative practice.
- Practice mindful breathing.
- Catch up on sleep.