“Listen to your body” is an alluring principle for steering our health and fitness efforts.
But how does it pan out in practice?
How many times has your body encouraged you to eat or drink in a way that was out of alignment with your goals?
How many times have you felt like you were going to have a great training session but ended up dragging through it and feeling fried afterwards?
How many times have you felt as though you were going to have a horrible training session but ended up smashing a PR?
How many times have you “felt” one thing when you “knew” the opposite?
You felt tired but knew you were rested.
You felt hungry but knew you’d eaten plenty.
You felt ready to train but knew you needed a day off.
How many times have you not even recognized these conflicting signals until after the fact?
“I wish I had…”
“I wish I hadn’t…”
Sure, there are times when the signal is clear.
When we’re injured, for example.
Such moments of clarity, however, can be few and far between.
Listening to your body is a fine skill to practice.
But remember that your body can be confusing.
It will often send mixed signals and deciphering which to follow to move toward your goals may be tricky.
Have a plan, while being flexible and forgiving as you figure this out.
Of course, the plan has to be sound.
And figuring out when to stick to it and when to be flexible isn’t always clear.
That’s where forgiveness comes into play.
For now, go ahead and practice listening to your body.
But don’t stop there.
Consistently ask yourself what signals it’s sending you.
Explore how these signals align with your needs, preferences, and goals.
Assess whether these signals are worthy of action.
Accept the inevitability of imperfection.
There will be times when you’ll wish you’d listened.
There will be times when you’ll wish you hadn’t.
This won’t be an easy process.
This will take effort.
This will take time.
You’re worth it, though.
You’ve got this.