As I was returning from a great family vacation in the Caribbean to cold and rainy NYC (why do I live here again??), I kept thinking about a strange phenomenon I encountered while there.
During the first 48 hours on the ground there, I was constantly hungry, and I mean ravenous to the point of going hypo. Interestingly enough, I was only craving quality food such as chicken, rice, pineapple (my favorite food on earth), steak (a close second), protein bars, watermelon etc.. you get the picture. If I had to guess, I would say I ate around 6,000 calories per day. The fatigue part knocked me out at 9pm in the evening, along with one or two short naps during the day.
And after 48 hours, it stopped. Appetite was back to normal and a regular sleeping pattern returned.
While it isn’t a huge surprise that the NYC lifestyle comes at a cost, what was shocking to me was how deep I was in the hole, how overtaxed my systems were.
How did that happen? I had not undertaken any major projects recently, just life as such. But it creeps up on you.
Here the most likely culprits:
1. Overuse of stimulants, especially when consumed after 3 pm.
2. Too high of workout frequency (guilty)
3. Too much volume per workout
4. Forgetting about micronutrients. One of the reasons I felt so recovered after the vacation was because I ate boatloads of pineapple, papaya, and mango. Very often we focus too much on our macros and forget the little guys, but you cannot be healthy without them. Your grandmother was right: you need to eat your vegetables and fruits.
5. Bad sleeping habits such as using the phone in bed (guilty), watching TV and going straight to bed.
What is to be done?
Recovery is not a dirty word, so rest more if you need it. If you need to nap, try to arrange for it.
Listen to your body. If you are craving high quality food, eat it.
If you have three sub par workouts in a row, you are due for a day or two off.
Life happens outside the gym (I think), do not spend it all inside!