Saturday, January 10, 2015

You are Doing It Wrong! Part I: Rest

I realize I am going to sound like a HUGE hypocrite in this post...but I'm not perfect!  In fact, I'll be upfront with you.  I have two extremely unhealthy habits:

I hate rest days. 
(And do not take them nearly enough...)

I never sleep.
(I'm thrilled if I sleep a solid 4-5 hours per night :/)

As I learn and read more, I realize how these two faults are actually keeping me from some of my long-term fitness and health goals.  This is definitely a focus of mine...

So let's talk about REST.

There are two extremes.  The people SO addicted to rest, they are never active and those that are SO addicted to exercise, they never rest.  Extremes are never healthy.  It's all about balance.

Why Do You Need Rest Days?

Let's try to make this simple.  Exercise puts stress on the body, all the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, bones, etc.  For the body to adapt to the stress from the exercise, it needs time to restore itself.

Have you heard the expression, "Muscles are torn in the gym, fed in the kitchen, and built in bed?"  It is absolutely true.  Removing any of these aspects will disrupt the harmony of your body's ability to function properly.  Eat too little and your strength will never improve.  Rest too little and your muscles will never have time to heal.

And did you know that overtraining may result in weight-loss plateaus?  Your body is designed to protect itself.  If it has too much stress and is overworked, it is going to react by plateauing or possibly even resulting in weight gain.

Lack of rest also leaves your body susceptible to injury because of fluid build-up and inflammation.

Some Good News About Rest!

Taking rest days will keep your appetite in check.  It makes sense...the more you train, the more fuel you are going to need (aka FOOD because food = fuel).  If you go a little lighter on your workout schedule, you may be able to stick to your clean eating habits easier.  It also helps with moodiness.  Far too many people workout too much and eat too little, causing a slew of problems....including the HANGRY mood. (Stay away!!)

And after a rest day, aren't you able to crush your workout the next day? Maybe you never noticed, but pay attention to HOW MUCH BETTER you feel in your next workout after taking that time to recover.

Currently, I'm doing an {{ Insanity Max:30 }} challenge. I actually just finished DAY 30 aka MONTH 1 is over!  There are only 5 workouts a week, 30 minutes each...meaning you get 2 rest days on the program (although, full disclosure, you can do an active recovery DVD for one of those days. I'm still teaching and taking my favorite classes - I admit, I have an exercise addiction. But I have forced myself into 1 rest day a week!).  After taking that rest day, my mind is focused and my body feels awesome - the next morning's workout is always more enjoyable and I can absolutely push myself harder.  This experience is really what sparked my interest in looking into the benefits of rest!

The moral of the story?
Be kind to your body.  Listen when it tells you that it is exhausted.  Yes, there are some days that you may have to push your mind more than your body.  But if you are sore, tired, and feeling burnout, a rest day may be the perfect prescription!

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