Now this may seem like a basic topic but I have always struggled knowing whether to eat or not before an exercise class or a run, especially in the hot room, and if so how much and what. So I thought what better way to start the conversation than sharing what I do…
I suppose it really depends on the time of day, how much time you have and what the class or exercise is. Given that yoga and the occasional swim is about as extensive as my regular exercise regime goes (I like to mix it up when I’m feeling a little over stretched), I will start with my routine.
In the week I usually practice in my living room first thing before work or in the evening just before bed, both of which don’t lend themselves to optimal eating times. In the mornings I usually don’t eat before practicing as I usually keep to a short 15 minutes floor based stretch and mindful Savasana (laying on your back, trying not to nod back off). I will normally pick up a banana at work or treat myself to a yoghurt and granola bowl to see me through until a late lunch at 1.30pm. In the evening I usually do a similar floor based stretch to help me fall asleep faster so I will make sure I have an earlyish dinner at about 7pm, usually something quick and veggie based followed by my usual two cups of tea.
The weekend is usually when I take a lot more time in my practice and attend a seventy-five minute class at my local studio. Because it is Hot Yoga I will always make sure I am drinking water from when I wake up and I take a large bottle with me to sip on during the class. I rarely eat before a long class as I get quite bad indigestion on a good day (TMI!), however if you are new to Hot Yoga I would suggest eating some slow releasing carbs either the evening before or an hour or so before your class. And remember to keep hydrated! When I first started in the hot room, I found eating small bowl of pasta the night before followed by a cup of tea or coffee and a water in the morning usually did the trick.
The bit that always gets me is re-fueling after my practice. I am always starving the minute I leave the studio and tend to feel a little floaty so I am always careful to take it easy. I usually leave class at around 11.30am so by the time I stumble home I always find the excuse to merge breakfast and lunch into a gigantic feast of eggs, toast, spinach, and so on. The main thing to remember is nutrition, nutrition, and hydration! This is the only way your body and muscles will recover. There have been several times when I have eaten huge amounts of food after class but it just hasn’t been the right food or what my body has needed and I have ended up feeling really unwell for the rest of the day. It is quite normal for your body to fatigue shortly after you eat so make sure you are feeding your body the right thing. It will most likely let you know if you’re not.
You must also remember that whilst you’ve pushed your body physically, you have stretched yourself mentally. Whether you managed to pluck up the courage to go a class for the first time, mastered a balance pose or feel the complete opposite like you let yourself down, remember to never be too hard on yourself and that you should only be going at one pace. YOURS. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. I know how easy this is to do but we all start at different levels so why would you expect everyone to be in the same place at different stages of the journey? Remember to always look after yourself and if you’re feeling stressed about exercise, you need to rewind. Exercise should be a release, not an intake of extra emotions.