I recently received the email below from a client….
Hi Ryan, I know I need to be more in tune with what my body is telling me with regards to my training and nutrition, but how do I do this? I tend to struggle when my training plan has me doing a hard interval workout and my HRV is “fine”, but I feel pretty crappy. Or when I have set my macros but I am starving and have already met my caloric goal. I tend to ignore what my body is saying and go with what the plan is and I often feel it is to my detriment. What should I do in these situations?
P.S. You are the best coach ever!
OK I added “You are the best coach ever!“, but everything else is accurate 😉
I can’t tell you the number of times I have received similar emails from clients. I will also admit to having struggled with this myself. Over time I have come up with a simple 3 step process that clients can use that struggle with what I call “type A personality syndrome“, the drive to get work done no matter what. Below is my response to Collin, where I go into the 3 steps in more detail. If you struggle with this problem give it a shot, I guarantee you will learn something from the process. Of course be sure to hit me up in the comments if you have any questions.
This is something that a lot of people like you (type A, hard charging athlete) have a hard time with, I see it all the time in both my clients and myself. This personality trait has most likely served you well in other areas of your life, but when it comes to training and overall health, it can be detrimental at times. I know you are very analytical and data driven, but my number one piece of advice in this case is to put aside what the wearables and the apps are telling you. This includes the programming I have sent for you to do, and the macros I have laid out for you to consume. Instead of letting these things dictate your actions, what I want you to do is listen to your body. Don’t worry, I will walk you through the process step by step.
This is hard, and it takes some practice, but ultimately our bodies know what is best for us and if we can tune into what they are saying we would all be better off in the long run. Here is what I would like you to do….
Step 1: Journal…yup old school writing stuff down.
First thing in the AM, wake up, go to the bathroom etc, but before you check your Oura ring or your HRV, write down in a journal how you thought your last night’s sleep was, how recovered you feel, any aches or pains you might have, how you feel mentally, etc. Overall how are you feeling when you wake up? After, go ahead and check your devices and see what they say.
Step 2: Pre-workout check in!
An hour before you plan on working out, do a self check, how do you feel at that moment? Compare that to how you felt in the morning. Sometimes things change for the better, sometimes they get worse, sometimes they stay the same. If YOU do not feel like the workout you are about to do is going to serve you in the long run YOU have the right to modify it.
Same goes for your diet. Yes I set your macros, but these are guidelines. If you are starving after meeting your calories no big deal, go over. Eat too many carbs one day, no big deal. Feel like you want a big bolus of protein, go for it.
Step 3: Summarize your day.
Finally at night each day, write a few sentences about how your day went and how you feel. Do you feel stressed? Was the workout hard or easy? Were you more tired than normal? Did you have more energy? How was your diet for the day? Use this information the next day before you do your workout and assess your diet.
The goal with journaling is to get you to become more in tune with your body. By writing it down on paper you become more self aware with how you feel. This is just like your own wearable device, except it is your subjective feelings. Only you know how you feel, no device, app, coach, guru or anyone/anything else is going to be able to tell you exactly what to do. Being in tune with your own body is one of the keys to long term sustained progress.