A Scare That Taught Me to Listen to My Body

A few years ago, I wrote a post about how I think “listening to your body” can be such a BS phrase that’s loaded with excuses.

Sometimes it is, and sometimes I’m wrong.

These days, I do find myself using that phrase a lot at work — part of my job is to play cheerleader for our users and keep them motivated. We have comments on our workouts — and some of them get tricky. I’m not a trainer/doctor/nutritionist/therapist, so my hands are sometimes tied on what I can say. Our users talk about injuries/illnesses and trying to push through for workouts. I usually don’t know much beyond their comment, so “Listen to your body” is a pretty safe comment — because our bodies do send us plenty of messages, if we’re willing to listen.

Any injury I’ve ever had, I’ve felt those niggling, nagging pains in the days and weeks leading up to that “OK, I need to do something about this.” If I had just listened at first…

As of late, I’ve become really obsessed with Fhitting Room, specifically our Daily Burn trainer Dara.


  • Fhitting Room recently got voted one of NYC’s hardest workouts by Well + Good.
  • I took class late Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.
  • I had birthday celebrations that involved several (OK, a bunch of) glasses of wine on Thursday and Friday nights.
  • I am super competitive and love to push myself in workouts, especially if I know the instructor and am with friends.
  • I was with my boss on Friday and four friends Saturday morning, and I love Dara.

Friday night, we ended class with a circuit on the erg. I feel like my form recently completely clicked on the erg, and I wanted to end class on a strong note, so I went all-out to get that final burn in.

Fhitting Room

As we cooled down, my heart was racing through child’s pose, and my heart rate was still high as we took this photo. (Theodora, doing her own thing (sometimes unintentionally) since 1983.)

But I went out for dinner and drinks and quickly forgot about that…

The next morning, I woke up, chugged a little water and headed back to Fhitting Room, surrounded by 5 people I knew and with my fave instructor again. Once again, I gave 100+%. I don’t recall what my heart rate was just after class, but it was definitely still elevated. Three or four hours later (and after only half a coffee), my heart felt like it was racing and my watch read between 80 and 90 just sitting on my couch. Frame of reference: my normal resting heart rate is somewhere between 50 and 70. Right now, it’s at 65.

So I was worried. I asked some trainer buddies and some doctor/nurse friends, and everyone landed on two things: overtraining and/or dehydration. Doing two tough interval classes basically back-to-back while kind of dehydrated and not properly fueled is asking a lot of my body. Hell, this class is asking a lot of my body properly fueled and rested.

My body was throwing up some massive warning signs: don’t work out dehydrated, you’re not in your 20s any more, go easier on yourself.

I’m listening to those signs in a few different ways: I took a full rest day Sunday, I did a low-impact workout Monday, and probably even more importantly — I went to Uplift today and didn’t push myself 150%. The instructor, Jessica, said something in the beginning about not competing with the woman next to you or your yesterday or last year, and I was careful to not compete against my coworker that I was with or to push myself too hard because I knew the instructor and enjoyed hearing her say “You’re doing great, Theodora!”

Nope, I pushed hard, but dropped to a lower weight or down to a lower-impact variation when necessary because it was what I needed today, and right now, as I’m trying to be careful to be kind to my ticker, which, after all, is a muscle, too.

What does “listen to your body” mean to you?

13 comments on “A Scare That Taught Me to Listen to My Body

  1. Meagan Leanne

    I’ve learned that I have to be especially attentive to my body because of dealing with a herniated disk for almost the last 2 years. I have to be careful to realize when certain exercises are putting too much strain and I need to modify so that I don’t end up aggravating an existing injury.

  2. Susan - Nurse on the Run

    I’d bank on some dehydration – wine + workouts + probably not drinking enough water can definitely make you a bit dehydrated! I’d also make sure to get in some electrolytes – just chugging water doesn’t make me feel as good as having some Nuun before/after a workout. In the cold, I think it’s especially easy to get dehydrated because you don’t necessarily have that “OMG I’m so hot” feeling. Drink up!

  3. Naomi

    Listening to my body means drinking enough water, not doing activities that aggravate my existing back injury, and taking time off from working out when I feel any pain. I actually went to Uplift yesterday for the first time and loved it! Jessica was a great instructor. I had seen Uplift on your blog so many times I figured I should try it, and I already booked another class for next week. Thanks for the great recommendation!

  4. Beth

    Why is it so hard to listen to our bodies sometimes? For me, I think I get worried that I’m just making excuses to skip a run or go easy on a workout. And I struggle with when to push through and when to back off. The discernment is hard! I’m glad you were able to realize you needed to back off for a bit, and that you followed through with it!

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  6. Steph - loveandlunge

    It can be so crazy how our bodies know exactly what is up all the time even if we don’t want to listen. I have had my own health scare in the past due to overtraining and it isn’t fun, but it’s a total wake-up call. I am much more in tune to little things I never noticed before like aches and pains and how my body feels after a couple of days of working out. I’m less afraid to take more than one rest day a week and know that its just as good for me as a full blown workout.

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  8. Jess W. @ Run Life Co.

    So glad you’re okay! I just recently realized how closely our heart rate and dehydration are related. I was having terrible heartache while running and sometimes during the day (I’m 24 so that seemed strange) and I’m pretty sure it was from dehydration. Since I started drinking more water, I’ve been fine!

  9. Faruk ali

    Hi, istening to my body means drinking enough water, not doing activities that aggravate my existing back injury, and taking time off from working out when I feel any pain. I actually went to Uplift yesterday for the first time and loved it! Jessica was a great instructor. I had seen Uplift on your blog so many times I figured I should try it.

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