If you have joined a fitness class, you may hear the instructor say “Listen to your body”. You may also hear this when someone is talking about what food to eat, or how much to eat. But many women have trouble listening to what their bodies are telling them.
Listening to your body is a skill that is learned. The best way to start having a sense of what your body is saying is to slow down.
You can practice listening to your body while doing yoga or a body scan. How is this stretch feeling? Are you feeling it where you should be? How do your legs feel after the intense workout you did yesterday?
Listening to your body also takes some body awareness. One way to practice body awareness is to practice balance exercises. The simple act of standing on one foot allows you to sense where each part of your body is in space.
This applies to eating as well. If you slow down you are better able to sense when you are full and if the food you are eating is what you really need right now, not just what you want.
Once you have learned how to listen to your body, you can tell the difference between muscles that are tired or sore from a tough workout and the intense pain of an injury. You can also feel when it is time to slow down or use a lighter weight.
One common way that you can injure yourself while exercising is to push yourself too hard in a class. If you are new to fitness or are trying a new class, then you might be tempted to work through the pain. Don’t ever do that. Listen to the pain and if it feels wrong, then stop.
Eating when hungry
Another way you can listen to your body is to listen for hunger cues. Are you eating because you are craving something, because you are bored or unhappy, or because you are hungry? Slow eating is good because it gives your body a chance for its satiety cues to kick in.
Really pay attention to why you are eating. Don’t confuse cravings for a biological need. Cravings are caused by hormonal imbalances, high stress levels or poor gut health.
Sensing into something wrong
If you are able to listen to your body, you can have some insight into if you eating what is best for your body. After you eat, take a little while to take a measure of how you are feeling. Do you have an upset stomach, indigestion, bloating or other signs of a food intolerance? Do you feel totally stuffed and wish you had eaten less? Are you irritable, anxious or experiencing brain fog?
If you are exercising too much, your body will tell you in several different ways. You might feel overly tired, lack enthusiasm or feel mood swings. These may be signs that it is time to back off or take a rest day.
Your body also has ways of telling you that you are getting sick. Many diseases not detectable without medical tests, but sometimes there are signs that something is wrong. There are some signs that you should get some extra rest or see a doctor. Don’t ignore it when you don’t feel right.
Listen to your body may be a cliche, but if you learn how to do it, it can be a big help in your efforts to get healthy.