As we inch closer and closer to the end of the year, many are thinking of setting New Year’s resolutions. Something about the start of a new year kickstarts our motivation to live a healthier life. Whether it’s a goal to lose weight, eat a cleaner diet, or to generally be more active, most of us could benefit from one or more of these body-benefitting goals.
But don’t be surprised when things go awry.
No, we’re not talking about your coworker’s mid-January birthday that’ll have you feeling some major FOMO as you gaze longingly at that tempting chocolate cake in the break room.
We’re talking about the effects of working out. While the long-term effects of working out are undeniably positive — a slimmer physique, a more positive demeanor, and more energy over time, the short term effects can be less than stellar. Don’t be surprised if you experience one or more of the following weird body reactions as a result of more movement. Just trust us when we say these are only temporary.
Why Do I Look Fatter?Ever notice yourself feeling a little extra fluffy or swollen after a week’s worth of hard workouts? It’s likely due to water retention. When you put your body under stress through strength or resistance training, your muscles actually break down, through what is known as micro-tears. It is through the rebuilding process that your muscles get stronger and grow. But as they do so, your muscles experience inflammation which can cause water weight gain.
To reduce the amount of time your body is holding onto water as it heals, drink plenty of water (at least half of your body weight in ounces), eat a healthy diet that’s low in sodium, and allow yourself plenty of rest. Another reason you could be feeling a little extra fluffy is your diet. Have you ever heard that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet? It’s entirely possible that a new workout routine or an increase in movement is causing extra hunger, leading you to consume more than you used to.
And it can happen even when you’re choosing healthy options. Keep an eye on your food intake or try making a log of what you eat in a week. Even seeing on paper what you’re eating can be eye-opening and cause us to realize where we may be eating more than we thought we were.
Why Am I So Tired?
Have you ever felt like you could just lay down and take a nap after a particularly grueling workout? It’s not that uncommon. Though exercise in general should give you more energy, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the harder you work, the more tired you’ll be afterward. But it is possible that the reason you’re feeling so lethargic is because you’re pushing yourself too hard, not fueling your body properly, or not drinking enough water. Are you seeing a pattern here?
Regularly monitor your workouts to ensure you’re working hard enough to get a calorie burn but not so hard that you’ll suffer from burnout. A great way to do this is by tracking your heart rate, ensuring you stay in your targeted heart rate zone during your workout. Fueling your body with healthy foods is also just as important to keep your energy levels up.
Make sure you’re not depriving yourself and allow yourself to eat when you’re hungry, but avoid turning into the nearest drive-thru on your way home from the gym. Foods higher in sugar and saturated fat, such as ice cream or fried foods, will only lead your body to crash instead of fueling your exercise routines.
Finally, make sure you’re drinking enough water — as much as half your body weight in ounces. When you exercise, you lose fluids through sweat, which can cause dehydration and fatigue if you’re not replenishing those fluids. Make sure to stay hydrated before, during, and after your workout, and you’ll avoid unnecessary tiredness post-workout.
Why Am I Sick?
Ever been on a roll with a few hard workouts under your belt before waking up one morning to a sniffly, sneezy cold?
While regular exercise can boost your immunity in the short term, going at it too hard or not giving yourself enough rest can actually have the opposite effect on your immune system. When you perform an all-out kind of workout, energy is diverted away from your immune system to assist your muscles in the rebuilding process.
Giving extra attention to proper nutrition and hydration before and after your workouts, as well as properly warming up and cooling down can ensure you stay healthy and sniffle-free. In general, a lack of sleep and extra stress can do a number on your immune system, so ensuring you incorporate plenty of rest and recovery is vital for your physical and mental health.
Why Am I So Sore?Ever had a workout that made even small tasks such as getting out of bed or using the restroom an excruciating task due to the amount of muscle soreness you experienced?
You can blame what is known as DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, which happens when you get micro-tears in your muscles. This can happen anytime you utilize muscles you haven’t worked out in a while or anytime you increase the intensity of your workout.
The solution in your head is likely to sit on the couch and not move. Unfortunately, this does more harm than good. It will make your muscles more stiff and likely not reduce soreness at all. Active recovery, such as light stretching or going for a walk, encourages blood flow to your muscles, which will not only help in repairing muscle tissue but also relieve your soreness faster.
You’re bound to experience one or more of these weird reactions to working out, but when you do, now you have proof that you’re not crazy. But don’t let these keep you from exercising. All of these are temporary and will likely subside as you get into more of a routine.
Keep crushing it and Keep Groovin’.