Are you always in a hurry? Is money a recurring problem in your life? Are you working to live instead of living to work? Do you have a relationship or two adding stresses to your life? How are your eating habits? Do you have a history of dieting, skipping meals or living off of packaged or pre-prepared foods? How does your body feel? Do you suffer from nagging low back, neck or shoulder pains? Are you taking medication for one or more ailments?

Each “yes” response to the questions above to equals one stream of stress into your “cup of life”. When you consider that the body summates stresses, or adds them up to create a total physiological level of stress at any given time, it becomes clear that the more stresses you have, the closer your “cup” is to “running over”! The less streams of stress we have at any given time, the more balance or homeostasis we have, leaving us adequate capacity to compensate for the occasional stressor that life occasionally throws our way. If your cup is getting full and your body is not capable of tolerating much more, you must be careful about how much exercise you do and what type and intensity you use, or you will certainly “spill over". Remember, exercise is stress as far as the body is concerned!

If your cup is getting full, you may be experiencing some or all of the following symptoms:

* Reduced motivation
* Reduced libido
* Constipation, diarrhea or alternating between both
* Becoming antisocial
* Prolonged recovery time from nagging injuries
* Infection or sores in the mouth, nose, ears, toes or digestive tract (ulcers)
* Experiencing a plateau in exercise performance and taking longer than normal to warm-up for a training session

And if you are experiencing these symptoms, take them as a warning that your body is not likely to respond well to additional stress from exercise.

Many of you will be committed to your exercise and see it as a form of stress reduction. While exercise certainly has many physiological and psychological benefits with regard to reducing stress, it is critical to remember that no matter how you slice it, exercise is stress to the body. The more full your cup is, the more careful you have to be if you want to get the most from your exercise program.

To get off a training plateau, or simply get the most therapeutic and physiological benefit from your exercise program, the following tips will serve to “drain stress from your cup,” reducing the physiological load on your body:

1) If you are headed for the gym and feel tired, avoid drinking coffee or stimulating drinks such as Red Bull, for example. Such drinks are neurostimulants that only serve to increase the level of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is a stress hormone and puts your body into a catabolic state, exactly the opposite of what you want when training! To get a natural boost, try “neurotonic training”. To perform a neurotonic or “pick me up” workout, after completing one or two warm-up sets at progressively increasing intensity (per exercise), select a load for each exercise to be performed that would only allow you to perform a maximum of 4-6 repetitions. Once the load is selected, only perform half of the reps you could if you maxed out (2 vs. 4 for example). Allow yourself 2:00 – 3:30 rest between sets and perform your normal number of sets or even one less than normal. This type of training will serve as a natural “tonic” for your nervous system, and provided you have not consumed anything sweet before training, you will not only feel better than you ever could drinking coffee or the likes, you will be anabolic – which means you are creating an environment that favors building your body, not breaking it down!

2) If joint or muscle soreness is the problem, try cutting the number of sets you are performing for each exercise in half for one full week. Remember, your body gets stronger at rest, not while training! This method is very useful to apply every third week of your training program unless being guided by a highly trained exercise professional (See my Program Design videos for more information).

3) Take a day or two off from your training. No you won’t shrink to the size of PeeWee Herman in 48 hours! Instead of training, book a full body massage.

4) Take a 15-30 minute power nap before training. The results can be amazing!

5) Eliminate consumption of anything higher than 60 on the glycemic index (available in many nutrition books) for a week. This will mean going without most breads, pastas, packaged cereals and many things your are probably addicted to, including sweeteners such as table sugar or fake sweeteners (which are just junk anyway). You will most likely be shocked at how much better your energy levels are. My clients often find that many of their nagging pains are gone after making this change, indicating that they need to be tested for food allergy.

6) Drink two liters of clean bottled water every day. That doesn’t include beer either!

This simple approach has helped hundreds of my clients get more out of their training programs and their lives over the years. Give it a try!

Author's Bio: 

Paul Chek is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of holistic health and personal, professional and spiritual mastery systems addressing all aspects of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing. For over twenty-five years, Paul’s unique, holistic approach to treatment and education has changed the lives of countless individuals worldwide. As a walking, talking definition of success, Paul is above all an educator: teaching and applying his methods to benefit others. He has produced more than 50 videos, 6 books, 2 e-books, and 16 advanced-level home study courses while regularly contributing to many diverse publications and web sites. Paul is the founder of the C.H.E.K Institute and the P~P~S Success Mastery Center, in San Diego, California, USA.

Learn more about Paul and his work at both his C.H.E.K Institute website and the PPS Success Mastery Center.