Everyone says it, from yoga instructors, PTs, doctors, your mum, but really, do you listen to your body? Do you even know what people mean when they say this? Or how on earth to actually do it?
Training Michiel, I often ask him how he feels. At first, he didn’t know quite what to say to this. I mean, we are lifting weights, or running, or doing something else challenging – what to say to that question? I use a 1-10 range when training. 1 being super relaxed, 10 being absolutely exhausted, cannot possibly carry on, may die. Usually anything between 5-8 is desired when we are intending to push the body, but this relies on the personal interaction between the body and the mind. Listening. Discomfort is totally different to pain. We should feel some discomfort in exercise, or anything that pushes the body – but not pain – think face screwed up, eyes shut tight, bending over in pain – if you feel this – stop (preferably before this point…) What is your body telling you here? It has reached its limit. To try to go too far past this point, you will end up injured, or worse – put off working out!
It is a great practice to lie flat on the floor on your back (like in yoga), and simply check in with your own body. After a few minutes laying flat, what do you feel? Any noticeable niggles? Aches? Pains? Discomfort? Feel it. Notice it. Address it. Understand why it may be there, and how you can help or prevent the pain, change position, and stretch in that area. Meditation is also great for checking in with how we feel, and using our minds to react to it in a controlled and comfortable way (see ‘omming in the hills’)
Listening is also super important when it comes to nutrition. There is no one size fits all with what to eat and when. Jot down how you feel, start a food diary, notice how you feel when you eat certain things, or if you’re lacking in energy – it could highlight something you need to work on, increase, or even drop from your diet. If a health professional, your trainer, or someone in the ‘know’ says something about your body that you disagree with, don’t be afraid to challenge it, or explore alternatives with them – you know your body and how it feels better than anyone. Trust in yourself, and listen to yourself.