Do you beat yourself up when you’re tired? We all have done it. Maybe we are just generally fatigued during the day or we have day or days on the bike or exercising when we were supposed to feel strong.
The Motivation to Get Started
You overcame the hardest part- the showing up and getting started. You’ve likely heard my mantra “show up” and maybe even read or listened to how to use it. Sometimes we just feel lazy or unmotivated- it’s hard to get dressed and head out the door. But once we get started, it’s all good. Motivation follows action.
What If You Are Still Tired?
But what about the times you actually STILL feel extra tired or foggy after 15-20 minutes? It happens and it means you need more rest- either a really easy effort or just turn around and go home. Learning how to listen to your body and having the confidence to rest when you’re tired is a practiced skill.
You might decide to go easy or turn around, but WHAT do you say to yourself during this time? Do you beat yourself up? Do you convince yourself to slog through and maybe overdo it? Do you ruminate the entire ride as to why you don’t feel good? The crushing weight of our expectations of what we should be able to to do is hard. This is where accepting where you are today and trying not to get caught up in mean stories you are telling yourself is important.
Acceptance- Joseph Goldstein says “It’s Okay”
The first step is just to notice the climate of your mind. The next step is to accept where you are. There’s a meditation instructor named Joseph Goldstein that I really like. One of his mantras is “It’s okay.” Saying “it’s okay” to the thought really helps you accept it. Here’s a quote from one of his interviews: “But from understanding that relationship of acceptance to it, then, as it arose again, I was able to be with it and observe it in a much more relaxed way. And I would remind myself, “It’s okay. It’s okay to feel this.” And that’s what gives the ease. That’s what gives the spaciousness.” It also helps if you can try to figure out what is wrong or just accept that you may need days or even weeks of going easier to get back to normal.
Truth time: I just had an entire week where I felt awful on my bike.
I went through all the emotions: fear I was getting left behind, fear I was losing fitness, the frustration that I had to shorten my rides, frustration that my free time was “being wasted,” sadness that I wasn’t able to enjoy my rides in the same way. I couldn’t believe an entire week passed me by and I was still feeling weak, tired and foggy. I chose to work on things like cornering, braking, or just going for shorter rides.
I chose to work on self-compassion and the mantra “It’s okay” and it helped. That doesn’t mean I was happy with feeling tired. That doesn’t mean I didn’t spend time beating myself up or ruminating on why. Having an intention with your inner narrative helps and no one is immune to shutting down the critical voice. It’s also important to realize that if you dug a hole (went too hard, too long, too many days in a row, or mismanaged your sleep or nutrition), that it’s not permanent if you pull the ripcord and rest.
I would add it takes mindfulness and self-compassion practice to not beat yourself up. It takes big picture thinking to accept that your fatigue won’t last forever and you have to wait it out and try to be nice to yourself about it. Everyone experiences this. Not many talk about it- so you’re not alone!
So what was the problem? Keep reading…
How Many Calories for Breastfeeding Athletes
This is a digression but stay with me. What was the reason for my fatigue? My HRV was the best it has ever been, my resting heart rate was great, I was sleeping 8.5-9 hours per night. All the signs showed I should be fine… but then I discovered a big mistake I was making. I was massively undercaloried.
I’m exclusively breastfeeding my son, Bradley. He is 5.5 months old and all of his calories are coming from me. You hear the blanket statement that breastfeeding moms need an extra 500 calories per day. After talking with my great friend Brenda Davis, one of the world’s best dietitians, I learned what I was doing wrong. Brenda is releasing a new book she wrote with a Pediatrician Reshma Shah called Nourish. The book is an evidence-based, practical resource that explores the many benefits of a plant-based diet and provides parents with the tools they need to feed their families for health and with joy.
SO- I talked to Brenda. I told her I was shocked that I’m eating more than normal, but I keep losing weight. I told her that after big training blocks, one recovery week is not enough and I’ve seen this frustrating cycle. She asked me about my caloric intake and said that the 500 calorie guideline is presupposing that you have extra maternal body fat from pregnancy. For lean athletes, you need to eat more. You need about 120 calories/kg of baby. So if your baby is 19lbs/8.6kg, you need an extra 1032 calories to maintain your weight. During big training weeks, I’ll do 3-4 hour rides with intensity. So quick math: 2000 calories burned on a ride, 1000 calories for breastfeeding, basal metabolic rate average 1500 calories = 4500 calories.
I’ve adjusted my caloric intake accordingly. I know I’ll be feeling strong again soon and when I do- I’ll make sure that I continue to monitor eating more so I don’t shut down after my next big training block. I also am aware that in a few weeks, Bradley will start eating solids meaning the caloric drain from me will be a bit less- and that’ll make recovery from big training blocks a little bit easier.