Have you ever had a miserable workout? The kind that makes you feel like you've never worked out a day in your life. They're the days when you just don't have it. I know I have. As someone who loves to run, I'll admit that I've had a couple workouts that have me wondering, what the hell just happened? An easy three mile run starts and finishes like the last three miles of The Boston Marathon. My heart rate is higher than normal, therefore I'm breathing much heavier.  My feet feel like bricks. Needless to say, I'm not as happy as I normally am. Everything just sort of falls apart.

What happened?

While any number of things could be going on, here are a few possibilities.

  1. Don't Workout on Empty: If you're working out on an empty tank, this could be the culprit. Generally speaking, if your workout is early AM (shortly after you wake), you may not need to eat anything. If you're working out an hour+ after you wake, you need to eat breakfast - even if it's a light one. If your workout is later in the day, give about three hours between eating and exercise. More than that and you might need a little something in your stomach.
  2. Don't Workout on Full: On the flip side, if you eat too much and workout too soon, your body is busy digesting food in your stomach. All the oxygen-rich blood that should be going to your heart, arms, legs, etc., is shunted to your gut breaking down food. Wait around three hours to workout after eating a meal. You'll have a lot more energy!
  3. Eat Less Bacon and Deli Meat: Ok, bacon is yummy. But if bacon, lunch meats and anything else that contains nitrates are staples in your diet, you could be taxing the amount of oxygen available to your body. Nitrates convertto nitrites in our body. Nitrites are carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and that's no good. Aside from that, nitrates are notoriously known  as oxygen hogs, robbing the body of precious O2. While some may be more sensitive than others, if you're eating a lot of nitrates, you could be starving your body of the oxygen it needs to make a workout enjoyable.If you're going to eat bacon or lunch meats, do it in moderation - and don't go out of your way to buy meats labeled as "nitrate-free." Even though this version doesn't have any added nitrate, per se, it probably has celery juice powder added. Unfortunately celery juice powder is full of nitrates. In fact some "nitrate-free" bacon has been found to have more nitrates than conventional bacon.  Your best bet: go to an old-fashioned butcher who cures his meats with salt. Problem solved.
  4. Take a Look at the Calendar: Sorry guys, but this one goes out to the ladies. Sometimes it seems like we women are on a hormonal roller coaster. When it comes to working out, this couldn't be truer. Fluctuating levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone tug, pull and push our energy levels - in good and not-so-good ways. We can go from feeling like rock star athletes a few days into our period to utterly sluggish and fatigued a few weeks later. Watch caffeine and sugar levels throughout the month to do your part in helping your hormones.
  5. Get Mobile: Your workouts have been long, hard and rewarding, then you start feeling little aches and pains. What happened? Every workout should include some amount of stretching and/or recovery exercises. Without them, you'll tighten up and risk an injury that could leave you sidelined for a really long time!

 Who wants to get into great shape? Beginning May 1st, TDM is starting the 40-Day Shape Up. This diet and fitness-focused program is free to anyone on my Facebook page. Get the scoop here today.  Traci D Mitchell is a health and fitness expert who specializes in functional fitness and body-type nutrition.