Stop Working Out on Mondays

NEVER MISS A MONDAY

You may have heard the saying “never miss a Monday” tossed around the blogosphere and social media in some sort of an attempt to motivate you to drag yourself off the couch Monday morning and start the week off with a bang.  Normally this is used in the context of fitting in a workout, although it could also be applied to the cyclical nature of restrictive eating that many of us put ourselves through in a losing battle of willpower.

Let me let you in on a secret: our hormones don’t know it’s Monday.  Nor do they care what day of the week it is.

They just know that (for most people) you’re getting up a lot earlier than you did all weekend.  You’re likely a little stressed about the day or week ahead and going through a mental checklist of everything you need to accomplish.  Perhaps you didn’t sleep well due to the stress, and maybe you’re feeling sluggish and fatigued.

Additionally, if you’re anything like me, it feels as though Sunday nights are often spent trying to get your entire life together in a single night and getting to bed a little later than planned ;).

Let’s take a different approach to pushing yourself to workout on Mondays, no matter how you’re feeling.

REASONS NOT TO WORK OUT ON MONDAYS

  1. Lack of either quality or quantity of sleep throw our hormones way out whack.
    • Don’t underestimate the quality of good sleep.  It can change our brain chemistry, and alter the hormones that tell our brain how hungry we are, what kinds of cravings we are experiencing, and affect our menstrual cycles.  Often stress or thinking about the week ahead can reduce the amount of quality sleep we get on Sunday nights, and this has a big impact on our hormones and energy.
  2. Circadian rhythms
    • We often only think of circadian rhythms in the context of sleep and jet lag, but in general they are our body’s internal clock at all times throughout the day and night and shape how our energy levels fluctuate.  Many of us keep different sleep/wake hours on weekends than we do on weekdays, and this can throw our circadian rhythms for a loop come that early morning alarm on Monday.
    • There is strong evidence that exercise and a good sweat session can help to keep our circadian rhythms in line, and often it’s the absolute best activity we can do to keep things balanced.  However, our bodies may feel stronger or weaker in terms of energy levels and exercising at different times of day, and repeated cycles of exercising at times when our energy is low is tough on the system, and on our hormone health.
  3. Can cause unnecessary stress on the body
    • Pushing our bodies through a workout when over-tired can be a major recipe for both injury and hormonal imbalances.
  4. May add to fatigue rather than energize
    • Workouts should leave you feeling energized and ready to tackle the day, totally revived.  If you’re feeling more like you could go back to bed or you’re barely making it through your workout, then it may not be a great time to push your body and a re-evaluation of your lifestyle choices could be helpful.

Listen, if you have loads of energy and don’t feel like napping after a workout, your week somehow feels a bit off if you don’t fit in the first training session of the week and you wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed on Monday mornings, go for it!  By all means, go ahead and push out a workout.

On the other hand, if you’re forcing your body into doing workouts that are stressing more than they are stress-relieving, I would argue you’re not being honest with yourself.

ASKING YOURSELF TOUGH QUESTIONS

I say this from experience.  I used to weight train 4 – 5 days per week, minimum.  No problem.  However, my body was sending me signals that I was ignoring.  I was constantly fighting cravings and failing miserably, which left me in a never-ending state of guilt and self-hatred towards my perceived lack of willpower and feeling as thought my body was failing me.

It wasn’t until I started seeing a naturopath specializing in female fertility and acupuncture regarding my issues with amenorrhea that I started seeing what I’d really been putting my body through.   Given my hormonal issues, she showed some concern about how often I was weight training.   One of the questions she asked was if training energized me, or if I wanted to take a nap afterwards.  My immediate answer was that of course, it energized me.

I had a nagging gut feeling after I left her office, however, that made me question myself.  Was that really true?  Did I have more energy after I trained, other than the obvious muscle fatigue that comes with a great workout?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I’d been choosing to look past clear signals my body was sending.  As I continued to go about my usual workout routine, I started to notice that workouts were draining me.  I was exhausted afterwards and simply wanted to crawl back into bed.  Sometimes when I would do an early-morning workout, by lunchtime I was struggling to keep my eyes open in comparison to the days when I would go for a walk or do some light yoga instead.

My love of weight-training and lifting heavy shit runs deep, and limiting myself currently in that area is something I have struggled with. 

However, this doesn’t necessarily have to mean a) you stop lifting weights completely, or b) that you can never lift heavy weights regularly again.

Real talk: your hormones didn’t get thrown out of whack overnight.  For many of us, these issues developed over years of long term issues such as over-exercising, under-resting, not enough sleep, poor nutrition and/or digestion, hormonal birth control use, under-eating, or other forms of stress.

What this means is that they are not going to fix themselves overnight.  If you’re willing to put in the work and truly make lifestyle changes, you may be only months away from being #HormoneHappy.

In the meantime, stop bowing to societal pressure to #NeverMissAMonday in order to feel validated and good about yourself.

Until you are willing to lose the ego and be totally honest with yourself about the difference between when to push through a workout and when your body needs a break, I would like to suggest that giving yourself a pass on Monday morning workouts might be the kindest way to treat your body.

It will also give your hormones a break, especially depending on what types of health issues you may currently be experiencing.

Instead, I would encourage you to start getting clinical about how you’re feeling.  Remove the emotion from it, and start to get very honest with yourself about how you’re feeling.

 

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