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If you want to be healthy woman, with strength and energy for years to come, then you and I need to huddle up and talk about burnout and overtraining. Whether you think you’re at risk for this right now or not, you need to hear this, because I want to be able to check in on your when you’re 80 years old and see that you’re still crushing it.
There is one story that stands out vividly in my mind as the first time I was introduced to the idea of overtraining.
In college, as a senior in the Exercise Science department, we got to do site visits of places like sports performance facilities, cardiac rehab centers, PT offices, and super clinical places that were doing applied exercise physiology. And one facility worked with high-end athletes, mostly endurance athletes. Being in Seattle, running, cycling, and triathlons were extremely popular, so they did a lot of metabolic testing and VO2 max testing. Fancy stuff.
When we visited, there was one woman in there that was perhaps 35 years old, but she looked really odd because she was moving like an 80 year old. Very fragile, very careful, slow movements, and she was constantly being monitored.
She explained to us that she was in the process of rehabbing her body from overtraining syndrome. And it had taken her a year to get to where she was at now. She had been an elite marathoner. And unfortunately, pushed her body way past all the warning signals and well beyond the point of no return. And her body was so stressed it simply shut down. And the process of returning to a normal, healthy individual was going to take years of careful monitoring by rehab professionals, gentle coaxing, and hyper-focused diligent effort - just so she could function like a normal human being again.
Now, my guess is that you’re not an elite marathoner. But even still, you could be pushing your body in ways that are ignoring all the warning signals, and you’re on the verge of burning out or even worse, overtraining.
My mission, always, is to help you love your body and to steward it well so that you’re strong, healthy and effective in life for years to come. I want to make sure that every single day you have BALANCE and MODERATION so that you’re not underdoing it and getting unhealthy, and also that you’re not overdoing it and getting unhealthy.
Today I’m going to teach you the signs and symptoms of overtraining and burnout, and how to avoid it so that you have a sustainable health journey.
Through all my years coaching women, I’ve seen (and often admired) the superwoman status.
This spirit in women is amazing, but it can lean over the edge and eventually cause you to fall off the cliff
We have to recognize when the desire to do things well and to challenge ourselves and push ourselves to be better is simply going too far. There’s a line that gets crossed where you’re no longer satisfied or content with the simple joys of the habit itself, and it turns into greed and pride.
So, like all things in your health and fitness journey, your actions are governed by your heart and your mindset.
Burnout is more of an emotional state, and it impacts your mood, your desires and your drive. When you burnout you don’t care and you don’t want to care.
Overtraining is a physical state, so this is how all of your body’s systems responding to too much stress. There are two main mechanisms in play:
There’s a really great article from Precision Nutrition that I’ll link to in the show notes that has a great analogy for understanding overtraining by picturing the way a car works.
Burnout and overtraining very often go hand in hand, but not necessarily.
Signs and symptoms of burnout:
One question I always ask clients when I help them put together a routine is, “How does this feel? Does this feel doable? Does it overwhelm you?” I want to make sure that even if it looks just fine and balanced on paper, I don’t want it to overwhelm you. Because you could have a lot of other stressful things going on in your life to the point that doing one workout a week could put you into burnout mode.
Signs and symptoms of overtraining:
Wisely manage the stresses in your life:
Other things to consider
A really good example of all of this in action is how I design every workout program I create. I’ll use the Strong Mommas Coaching Program as the perfect example. Every month, I gives the members in my program a new set of workouts. And everything is intentional - it’s NOT just a group of hard, random HIIT workouts designed to burn the most fat or whatever.
The big idea here is that I want you to still be Superwoman, but be wise and remember that your body, and even your mind, is not a machine. Don’t forget that God intentionally designed an OFF DAY for us humans in the form of Sabbath. Does He need it? No, but we do. Because with days off, with intentional rest, you can operate at your best and be highly productive and effective for a long time.
Your action steps now are to:
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