Painful Misunderstandings About Tiredness Versus Fatigue

One misunderstanding (among many) that I had, while I was in the depths of overtraining, was not knowing the difference between tiredness and fatigue.

Tiredness vs. Fatigue

When you are running dozens of miles a week, plus doing hours of cross-training, holding down a full-time job, managing a family, and maintaining other social obligations and responsibilities, of course, you feel tired. Sheesh, I feel tired just thinking about it. 

But feeling tired is very different than feeling fatigued.

When you're tired, typically a good night's sleep or a rest day is enough to rejuvenate and recharge your batteries so that you're ready to do it all over again! 

When you're fatigued, you're tired all. the. time. It doesn't matter how hours you sleep, how many massages you get, or how many rest days you take. 

Your body just doesn't bounce back. 

The simplest workout leaves your muscles feeling raw and on fire. Your body is sore all the time, and you're likely injured a lot. Bouncing back is slow. And eventually, your body stops recovering at all.

When you've gotten to this point, you likely are having GI problems too. At least I did. 

When I overtrained my body, my digestive, and immune systems were hot messes. I needed several days to recover after a seemingly easy 6-mile run, and even then, it didn't feel like enough. 

But I could will myself to push through sore muscles, injuries and a hot gut (isn't that what Immodium is for? For the record this was messed up thinking)

But it was the fatigue that finally did me in.

The Fatigue Was Unreal

I couldn't get through the day without needing to take naps (plural!). And I have never been a person who needed to take a nap, even as a kid!

There were some days where I could barely get out of bed. It took every bit of energy just to make it through a rest day. A run or even a simple workout at the gym felt insurmountable. I had nothing.

There were many contributing factors that I've tackled one-by-one. 

First, I set a boundary. If I don't get enough sleep, meaning at least seven hours for me, I don't workout the next day. Not enough sleep is a huge stressor, and piling on exercise on top of an already tired body was a sure way to guarantee a depleted.

Next, I practice intuition. You've probably heard of intuitive eating. Well, I practice intuitive exercising. While I would LOVE to be on a training plan for a goal race, that isn't in the cards for me right now. In fact, being so tied to a plan and an outcome contributed to my losing touch with what was honestly going on with my body. 

These days, I pay attention to the signs and messages my body sends me about what kind of workout I should do each day.  If my resting heart rate is elevated, I do an easier workout, like yoga, Pilates or a long walk. If I'm feeling more energized than normal, I go for a run. If I'm feeling weak, I head to the gym to lift some weights. 

And lastly, since the health of my gut was a big one, I zeroed in on digestion. I wanted - and needed - to do anything I could to make digestion easier.

Did you know that digestion is the biggest daily stressor on our bodies, especially if you have poor gut health? 

Digestion becomes an even more significant problem when we're under added stress, like emotional stress or even overtraining. Why? Because cortisol, our stress hormone is affected. 

Other factors that contribute to digestive stress are not adequately chewing our food, and eating foods that our bodies can't tolerate. Our body will need extra energy to process foods that are difficult to digest. And when we're already depleted, it just piles on to our fatigue.

You've heard me preach about the benefits of smoothies. Not only are smoothies energizing because its full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, but also because it's easy to digest! This is why I'm such a huge believer in smoothies!

I Also Believe in Eating Seasonally

And Autumn (because it's such a prettier word to use than "Fall") is a season of transition - from summer to winter, from cooling foods to warming foods.

And smoothies are very much a cooling food. And now is the season to transition to warming foods. One of my favorite warming foods is soups! They're an ideal replacement to smoothies because you can pack in a ton of vital nutrients, and they're just as easy as smoothies to digest!

The first storm of the season arrived here in the San Francisco Bay Area over the weekend, and it finally feels like Autumn has arrived. So I made myself a big 'ol pot of  Apple Butternut Squash soup, and I've been enjoying it all weekend.

It's quickly becoming a Fall favorite of mine, so of course, I have to share with you, my friends.

Apple Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 4 servings

2 apples, chopped
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
4 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch parsley, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
2. Add apples, squash, and onion to a large mixing bowl. 
3. Coat the apples, squash, and onion well with melted coconut oil.
4. Lay the mixture on a shallow baking pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes. The mixture should be soft and brown around the edges. 
4. Next, add the roasted mixture to a large soup pot. 
5. Add grated ginger and vegetable broth. 
6. Cook for about 10 minutes until hot. 
7. Use an immersion blender or a high-speed blender to make a smooth soup. 
8. Serve with fresh parsley.

** Optional: Add some diced chicken or hemp seeds for protein!

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Naomi Nakamura is a certified Holistic Health Coach who takes a holistic approach through functional nutrition. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, coaching programs, and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with acne and other chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop! Connect with Naomi at: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest.