Frequently when I am reading fitness posts, blogs, etc. rest periods are not mentioned enough!! I’m not referring to a rest day or two, but an actual chunk of time taken as a break from fitness. The break is just as important for your progress towards body positivity as the fitness part.
Some natural times to take one of these extended beaks are holidays like Christmas or Easter. Another time is vacation times to paradise or a family reunion. But these types of breaks only happen a few times a year, and that just isn’t often enough! We aren’t that of Superman, the muscles, joints, bones and tendons need extended periods of rest. So, how do you know when to take these breaks aside from holidays and vacations?
Listen to your body! It sounds simple, but it isn’t for a lot of us. For people who suffer from; anorexia, bulmia, binge eating, E.D.N.O.S, obesity, over exercise, and yo-yo dieting, listening to their natural body signals is really, really hard! I speak from experience. It becomes impossible to tell what is a true body signal, or our minds playing tricks on our bodies. Telling us to not eat when we should, or to workout when we shouldn’t. I’ve learned that I personally struggle with knowing when to take a rest, because my brain will tell me to keep going. So, I’ve come up with 3 easy to identify signs that suggest your body needs an extended rest (3 or more days).
|In pain, don’t train!|
Are you in significant pain? I’m not referring to sore muscles from training legs the day before. I mean pain that can’t be easily explained such as; headache’s, stomachaches, back pain, neck pain, or overall physical pain from illness. Some people might suggest that you work through the pain. But, 95% of us aren’t training to be pro-athletes. So, we shouldn’t exercise through it. I have learned the hard way that working out with a migraine does nothing. You don’t get the most out of your workout, and you get more pain as a result. If in pain, don’t train!
2. You have been dreading the gym/workouts
Unless it your first moth of fitness (when your body isn’t in the workout routine and your mind is still adjusting to the changes) if you have been dreading your workout for 2-3 days, then that is your minds way of saying ‘take a rest!’. Maybe work has been stressful, or life has been throwing extra crap at you one week. Don’t make the situation worse by forcing yourself to fitness. Instead, allow yourself the grace to take an extended time off from exercise. The break won’t ruin your journey. Your muscles won’t disappear, your weight gain or loss won’t evaporate overnight. Instead, take a few days to relax and come back to training refreshed and ready to push yourself.
3. Family/friends are telling you to take a rest
As I said previously, those of us who struggle with mental illness like eating disorders or have problems associated with food or our bodies, we can’t always trust ourselves to know what is best. But, our friends and families can see things we miss. They might notice us looking run down or trying to exercise through the flue, or overloading ourselves with working out and the daily struggle of life. So, if someone you care about tells you to take a rest, listen to them!! I’ll be honest, that this sign is the one I struggle most with. When my partner advises me to rest, my brain makes up lies like ‘he wants me to get fat’ or ‘he doesn’t want me to make progress’. Obviously, that isn’t true and these are disordered thoughts. Our loved ones only want what is best for us, they would never try to hold us back. Listen when someone close to you says to ‘take a break’, because they have a good reason for suggesting it.
I’m sure there are many other ways to know when your body requires a break. I am not a fitness or medical professional, all of this is my own opinion. These are my general rules that I try to follow. But, I’m not perfect and I am frequently guilty of pushing myself too hard and not allowing my body to recover properly. I’m a work in progress like everyone else.