Role of Recovery in Well-Being and Weight management

Make your well being a priority and sign up for self care and recovery.

In my wellness journey so far, I have realized the importance of RECOVERY and SELF CARE. In the hustle bustle of our daily schedules, our prime focus only on weight loss and achieving our ‘BODY GOALS’, we unintentionally leave behind one of the most important aspects of wellness, that is, recovery. We often find ourselves making the mistake of being focused only on results rather than understanding the process.

In my experience it’s impossible to lose weight or achieve holistic health without RECOVERY. Hence, I decided to write this blog to bring your attention with intention towards the importance of recovery, and spread awareness on the same.

Do you wake up knackered in morning? Feel exhausted even after a long hour of rest/sleep? Do you feel lethargic, less energetic, foggy, overwhelmed, irritated….throughout the day? Is your waist line or belly size increasing even after a good workout or a good diet?

These are the signs of not getting restorative recovery even after a rest. There is difference between rest and recovery, which needs to be understood, to make their best use in our fitness regime and achieve our goals more efficiently.

REST AND RECOVERY

Rest is a passive process whereas recovery is an active process. Rest is simply the absence of effort or movement—the absence of exertion. Recovery is the restorative process by which you regain a state of “normalcy”; healthy and in balance.

In rest you take break from a hectic schedule.But in recovery, with all your intention,attention and awareness, you create time for healing from a melancholic schedule.

In rest you watch TV, mindlessly scroll electronic gadgets, and engage in unnecessary phone calls and unproductive chit chat. In Recovery mode you take decisive actions. You decide to go to bed on time, take required supplements, day off from exercise, power nap, go for a meditative walk, do deep breathing and meditation, healthy socializing , plan a vacation,technology fasting etc.

Your fitness, health and wellness thrive on your recovery. I have seen people who even after following an intense workout routine, dietary plan and getting sufficient sleep, fail to get their desired results. Instead of being healthy and losing weight, they become exhausted and gain weight. The problem here is not in their training or diet, but the fact that they are not getting proper rest and sufficient recovery.

Due to lack of information about the application of proper rest and recovery and a lot of content on how to exercise, in some situations, I have even seen people suffer sub-acute and chronic injuries.

The primary fault lies with inadequate or improper recovery from exercise, not the type or intensity of exercise. (To put it another way, it’s not that you’re hurting yourself doing marathons or kettle bell swings – more often than not, it’s because you’re not properly recovering from those marathons and kettle bell swings.)

As a holistic coach, I believe that a high intensity exercise program is both effective and sustainable life long, when combined with good nutrition and recovery practices. Hence, I make it a point to educate my clients about exercises with proper forms, nutrition, sleep hygiene, active recovery techniques, and stress management practices.

At some point in our lives, we’re likely to find ourselves over-trained,over stressed, under-recovered, under-fed, under-slept, over-caffeinated…..  Ideally, the early stages are the time to pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you, and take immediate actions 

Recovery requires just as much (or more!) discipline as training itself. Recovery is a step-by step process which embraces all aspects of life,including mental ,physical,spiritual, and psychological health.

COMPONENTS OF RECOVERY:
  • Restorative sleep
  • Stress management and syntonic living
  • Vagal toning
  • Restoring the balance of autonomic nervous system
  • Metabolic relaxation day-Fasting
  • Gut health
  • Self care
  • Self direction and purpose
  • Deep Breathing and meditation
  • Forest bathing(Shinrin Yoku)
SLEEP AND RECOVERY

Recovery is not lying on the bed for a long period of time. Recovery is when you get REM sleep and in morning you get out of bed fresh, lively and fully charged without needing any alarm.

Sleeping for 7-9 hours per night is extremely crucial for recovery, especially if you are looking to change your body composition, increase muscle mass and/or even if you want to be ready for your personal training session the next day. Sleep enhances muscle recovery through protein synthesis and release of human growth hormone. Proper recovery also enhances focus and attention.

STRESS ,WEIGHT GAIN AND ROLE OF RECOVERY:

Stress handling is vital for syntonic living. There is a general consensus that all stress is bad which is absolutely not correct.

There are two types of stress- Eustress(good stress) and Distress(Bad stress) Eustress is healthful and the stimulus for growth. On the other hand, Distress is negative, harmful stimuli that make you weaker, less able, anxious, panic and less confident and in extreme result in depression..

Dr. Daniel Kalish said, “Psychological stress and physical stress are virtually indistinguishable in the body.” If you’ve got a ton of psychological stress, it costs you recovery capacity. It cuts into your reserves. In fact, being chronically psychologically stressed is probably more damaging than over- training or under-sleeping or poor diet.

Day to day stress is unavoidable in this fast pace of life, but chronic stress could be avoided by addressing it, timely.  Few stressors like: intermittent fasting, high-intensity exercise, under-eating, cold showers or acute exposure to cold, caffeine intake, eating extremely hot peppers…are good stress. Stressors like death of loved ones, divorce, long time illness, loss of job….. Are obviously bad and take a toll on your physiological and psychological health.

Minimum effective dose of stress are undoubtedly good for your productivity and growth. However, it is extremely important to overcome stress and its scars before letting it affect us negatively, and for that we need proper recovery.

When you are over stressed and under recovered; here are the few things to look for-

  • You don’t feel good about getting up from bed in the morning.
  • You immediately need caffeine or tea to come out of your bed and start your day.
  • You find excuses for your exercises, meditation and self-care sessions.
  • You don’t seem to heal/ recover after a good workout.
  • Your sleep pattern has become irregular.
  • You crave for carb more than before.
  • You get sick more often.
  • You’re training hard and “eating right” but that belly just isn’t going away.
  • You’re actually gaining fat, instead of losing it.
  • Day by day you feel exhausted, foggy, miserable, less clear, loss of energy, tired…..

The More stressed you are the more time you need to create for your recovery and to heal.  Stress can significantly impact your ability to maintain a healthy weight and also prevent you from losing weight. Researchers have long known that rises in the stress hormone cortisol can lead to weight gain. Imbalanced cortisol gives rise to sugar cravings and slows down your metabolism, making it difficult to lose weight.

Break the cycle of stress and weight gain by proper recovery.

“My Recovery must come first so that everything I love in life does not have to come last.” 

VAGAL TONING
NOW — The Most Precious Thing. ..

Have you seen a tiger chasing a deer in discovery channel? Have you noticed that after a long run for its life,when the deer is finally in the safe zone,with no threat and fear ,then , how within seconds it gets relaxed and again start enjoying the grazing of the green grass ? In seconds, it shifts its attention and focus from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode. Sympathetic is our survival mode and parasympathetic is our digest and rest mode.

By stimulating the vagus nerveyou can activate parasympathetic nervous system and send a message to your body that it’s time to relax and de-stress, which leads to long-term improvements in mood, well-being and resilience.

Vagus nerve is the 10 th cranial nerve running from head to toe and supplying parasympathetic fibers to all the organs (except the adrenal glands)

How to stimulate vagus nerve?
  1. Deep breathing and meditation-The aim is to move the belly and diaphragm with the breath and to slow down your breathing. Vagus nerve stimulation occurs when the breath is slowed from our typical 10-14 breaths per minute to 5-7 breaths per minute. You can achieve this by counting the inhalation to 5, hold briefly, and exhale to a count of 10
  2. Yoga and mantra chanting– Impact of yoga asanas on the nerve makes us feel calm, relaxed and safe.The vagus nerve is connected to your vocal cords and the muscles at the back of your throat. Singing, humming, and chanting can activate these muscles and stimulate your vagus nerve.OM chanting has a lot to do with the vagus nerve and that is why it has a soothing effect on our whole being. 
  3. Cold bath and splashing cold water on face-Try it out ,your vagus nerve will thank you! Our ancient yogis bathed in cold water to increase prana (vital force energy) in the body.
  4. Intermittent fasting-Intermittent fasting increases parasympathetic activity and vagal toning.
RESTORING THE BALANCE OF AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM:

 The autonomic nervous system is further divided into the sympathetic (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).The sympathetic nervous system, is like the accelerator of the body, is known as the flight or fight nervous system and deals with stress, typically speeding things up. The parasympathetic nervous system, which is like the brakes of the body, is known as the rest and digest nervous system and helps to conserve energy and protect, typically slowing things down. 

Like an automobile, the autonomic nervous system has divisions which can speed up or slow down various functions of the body. The sympathetics typically increase heart rate and blood pressure to pump more blood to deal with stress; and dilates pupils to see more, bronchi to inhale more oxygen, and peripheral blood vessels to bring more blood to the muscles. The parasympathetic nervous system does the opposite,its a rest and digest mode. If the sympathetic system, like the accelerator of a car, becomes over-reactive it may actually damage the parasympathetic nervous system.

In the car analogy, this is like driving fast all the time and therefore, having to stop hard all the time. Doing this you wear out the brakes faster. The problem in the human body is that we cannot replace the “brakes” (the parasympathetics). Once the Parasympathetics wear out you are essentially a heart attack waiting to happen.

Overactive sympathetic drive may suppress immune system,leads to excessive oxidative stress,raise blood pressure,promote atherosclerosis, cause persistent inflammation, accelerate diabetes, promote atherosclerosis, and accelerate the onset of heart disease, kidney disease, or dementia.

METABOLIC RELAXATION DAY-FASTING

Metabolic relaxation day, as the name suggests, is a relaxing, holidaying and rejuvenating day of your metabolism process. In simpler words, it is calorie restriction or restricted feeding day. On these days your body recovers and heals from all type of common(Physical, mental, environmental ), chronic or oxidative stress. It is actually a delicious recipe for fat loss and is a quintessential healer. Fasting is not something you do, its something you do NOT do.

Fasting reduces insulin and mTOR and activates AMPK and autophagy. This is the phase where maximum recovery happens.

Fasting, is actually far more beneficial than just stimulating autophagy. It does two good things. By stimulating autophagy, we are clearing out all our old, junky proteins and cellular parts. At the same time, fasting also stimulates growth hormone, which tells our body to start producing some new snazzy parts for the body. We are really giving our bodies the complete renovation.

Nutrient deprivation is the key activator of autophagy.

Calorie restriction is useful only if you maintain adequate nutrition.

He who eats until he is sick must fast until he is well

GUT HEALTH
“ALL DISEASES BEGINS IN THE GUT”- HIPPOCRATES

Maintaining a healthy gut contributes to healthy recovery which further promotes better overall health and immune function. For healthy gut health-

  • Take probiotics and eat fermented foods.
  • Eat prebiotic fiber and butyrate rich foods.
  • Avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Avoid sugar and processed foods.
  • Exercise.
SELF CARE
“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”

Self-care allows you to treat yourself better and recover fast. Self-care is any deliberate activity that you do to take care of your mental, physical, and/or emotional health. It could be taking one or two days off from gym, proper resting, meditation, reading, gardening, eating a well-balanced diet, moisturizing your skin, going on walks, getting good sleep, treating yourself with a massage, a rejuvenating vacation, taking one or two weeks off in a year for self-reflection and much more.

SELF DIRECTION AND PURPOSE IN LIFE-
“If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.”

An absence of self direction and  purpose opens the door to addiction; and the presence of a felt sense of life purpose and direction supports recovery. It is crucial to remember that life purpose as well as meaning is needed for a solid recovery.

SHINRIN YOKU

We have known it for centuries that how nature heals us and healthy for our good being and recovery. The sounds of the forest, the scent of the trees, the sunlight playing through the leaves, the fresh, clean air — these things give us a sense of comfort. They ease our stress and worry, help us to relax and to think more clearly.

Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses.

SIGNS OF GOOD RECOVERY
  • Restorative sleep.
  • Feel fresh,lively, and charged in morning.
  • Energetic throughout the day.
  • Recover fast from injuries,illness and workout.
  • You perform well in your training sessions.
  • Improved focus and productivity.
  • Could handle the stress more efficiently.
  • Better resilience .
  • No more craving for processed food.
  • Clean eating.
  • Better thinking .
  • A healthy bowel movement.
  • Better emotional intelligence.
  • Fat loss, improved metabolism and a healthy balanced hormones.
  • Your days calendar is full of highlights.
  • Excitement for your passion and purpose in life.

Recovery is something that you have to work on every single day, and it’s something that it doesn’t get a day off.” — Demi Lovato

I am grateful to Harshi kumar for editing this blog.Thank you very much for your great work and proof reading. Your effort is highly appreciated and I am pretty impressed with the corrections you made. I invite you for my future blogs.

REFERENCES:

Are You Recovering, Or Are You Just Resting?

OVERACTIVE SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM