I’m on my 3,621st sit-up when the gym buzzer alerts me to the glorious 40-second rest period I’m afforded between the Crossfit exercises my out-of-shape frame is trying desperately to do.
I reach up from my corpse position—in yoga, this is actually a free-choice, relaxing pose, but in Crossfit it’s an inevitable pose designed to make your fitness instructor believe you’re dead, and therefore unable to continue—and begin to prop myself up against the wall, which looks as though it’s about to collapse underneath the weight of my body and my shame (which is heavy when I realize there’s sweat dripping from my ankles).
I realize quickly that under no uncertain terms will my legs be partaking in walking or weight bearing of any kind.
I am sore. So, so, so sore. And I haven’t even finished the damn workout yet.
It dawns on me then that, like a vast majority of Americans trying to get in shape—or back into shape—the hardest part of all of this healthy living stuff is the motivation to go on after your legs turn into Jell-o-wrapped barbed wire.
It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when you’re bending down to pee and it feels like Satan himself is squatting on your quad muscles. I’ve just decided to hold it in until the pain subsides or I enter into late stage renal failure.
But I’ve heard there’s an easier way to get through all of this. Many professional health nuts will tell you that extreme workouts require extreme recovery.
And, I mean, this makes sense. After a night of lifting heavy beer pints into my mouth, I always need a recovery week or two. So I like to think of this whole the-place-where-my-abdominals-should-be-feels-like-a-sink-hole-full-of-pit-vipers thing as a workout hangover.
You can’t call in sick to work for being hung-over (OK, you can, but everyone hates you), and you can’t call off the great lifestyle changes you’re making simply because you’re sore.
Of course you should allow yourself rest time between workouts, but don’t get unmotivated.
Your muscles hurt because they’re damaged (but mostly built up!) by your workout routine. As you tone those gluts and refine those triceps, you’re actually breaking down muscle tissue and depleting your energy stores (muscle glycogen). So while it’s great that you’re getting out there and doing it, you’ve got to remember your body is also a touchy piece of expensive equipment.
Obviously physical rest plays a huge role in getting you back to fighting gym shape, but there’s also a crucial window of time right after an exercise routine that will help you rebuild and restore your energy.
In the 15 to 30 minutes following a workout, it’s very important to eat something with complex carbohydrates and proteins.
A stop at Bliss Café (778 Higuera St. Suite D) or Jamba Juice for some all-fruit smoothie goodness will help rebuild your hydration and your energy storage.
Cherries also have great anti-inflammatory properties, so pick some up at Farmers’ Market in SLO on a Thursday night.
But if you’re in a real hurry, just grab a cup of chocolate milk after you bust out some exercise. It tastes great, has plenty of calcium, and will rebuild and reboot your muscles in no time.
Now you have zero excuses not to work out. You’re welcome.
Maeva Considine is not a doctor, but she plays one on Google.com. Send her your bites news at firstname.lastname@example.org.