Have you ever had one of those days when you get to the gym, you think you're all ready for a good workout, but then your energy level just stinks? I have. In fact, I had one just last Saturday. I used to get them every so often a couple of years ago – when I was training for a 1/2 marathon and doing lots of other workouts. I was over training. I wasn't listening to my body then, and last week, I wasn't either.
My company had a big party last Thursday night. I took that as my one night for the month to really party it up. I rarely drink alcohol, so when I do, it doesn't take many drinks to get me pretty drunk. Needless to say, the next day I was hung over. Even as a woman who completely knows that feeding a hangover with non-foods is NOT the right thing to do for my body, I did it anyway. I ate a healthy breakfast (can't remember what it was but I know it wasn't junk), and had a good, solid lunch of salmon and broccoli. After lunch was where it all went awry.
My hangover kicked in, big time. I was feeling tired, sluggish, and craving carbs, big time. And I caved, big time. The fact that my office has a HUGE pantry of non-foods did not help. (I will blog later about what I mean by non-foods, but you can probably guess what I am talking about.) I ended up devouring things that I don't even consider eating on a daily basis. Cheez-its and pre-packaged granola bars. Two bags of the Cheez-its and 2 pks of the granola bars. Those really tasty Nature Valley ones in the shiny green package. Crunchy, sweet, yum. But, oh man…they didn't even make me feel better at the time. What I needed was sleep, probably water, and to just keep my body filled with real, good foods.
That's not where it ends. I've covered Thursday and Friday…but then there was Saturday. Oh…Saturday! Saturday morning rolled around and I woke up feeling okay. I ate breakfast and got ready for the gym, my usual routine. I headed to my cardio kickboxing class and was feeling a bit “off” but just thought maybe it was the new choreography that the instructor had introduced. Typically when we start something new, it's a little bit harder for me to get into it and really get my heart rate up, get a smile on my face, and have an awesome workout. I was going through the motions and it was feeling completely OFF. I was dragging. I could barely keep a smile on my face. My heart rate was not getting up there. I was barely sweating. What the heck is going ON HERE?! I left the gym feeling pretty upset about it.
When this happens, I actually am nearly brought to tears. I feel so upset about not getting a good workout, and also upset about the fact that I was feeling so “down.” Plus, I missed out on the endorphin rush that I so desperately craved! (One craving that I will mostly say is okay to fulfill!) As I was in my car, I racked my brain for what could have caused this to happen. I hadn't been over training at all. I had eaten a good breakfast and had slept a reasonable amount the night before. When I got home I hopped onto my computer and was researching some information and came across a Body Ecology article about a carb/sugar “hangover.” OH MY!!! That was what I had!
I tried to cure my alcohol hangover with carbs/sugar, and in turn ended up giving myself a carb/sugar hangover the next day! What began as one night of fun, turned into two days after of suffering. Oy. What a great mistake I made on Friday. But, that is over now, and I have learned from my mistake! I learned the hard way, but I learned.
Lucky you, you get to learn it without living it…or maybe you HAVE lived it, and didn't make the same connection at the time. Test it out for ourself. Be mindful of the kind of food you eat in a day and into the evening. The next day, see how your energy level feels. I know I am way more in tune with it even after just that one incident. I have also realized that usually when I am craving carbs/sugar, that I will feel worse afterwards if I cave to the craving. Sending my body into an unbalanced blood-sugar state is never going to feel good. I'd be willing to bet that the same is true for you.
The next time my body is in an unbalanced state, and I am not thinking clearly about what is right to put into it as fuel, I will remember that morning. I will remember that my body ALWAYS wants real, whole foods. That it will ALWAYS respond better to them. That it will ALWAYS let me know when I have made a poor choice. That it will ALWAYS perform better when I have made a choice I know is better. A painful 2 days have resulted in a great revelation. Yippee!