Learning To Love Rest Days

As someone involved in fitness or seeking a healthier lifestyle it is easy to get caught up in the “go, go, go” mentality. I have seen it in a lot of people who are new to fitness… the “addiction” grabs you before you know it. You see posts and posters and motivational sayings about ‘always making time’, daily fitness, etc. You admire those that have the “perfect body”, envy those that find the time to work out 4 hours a day. And, like some, try to accomplish this. You see streaks for running and other activities. The thought of sitting still brings about guilt for not being active.

I’ve been there. I’ve tried it, more than once. I have failed every time. Why? Because my body and my mind want rest and will beg for it. I might try to ignore it, but eventually, the body will be heard, usually with a bout of sheer exhaustion or getting sick. If there is something I have learned in my journey to lose 60 lbs and become a runner, it’s to listen to my body. I won’t lie, sometimes I still try to ignore my body’s cries for a break, and it usually makes me pay for that arrogance. I admit I would feel guilty taking a day off, like I wasn’t dedicated enough, that I should be stronger than needing a rest day. I’d stare at my training plan and feel like a failure if I chose to curl up with my dog and relax instead of doing my tempo run.


my sleeping Mia…

Then, I did some research. I am not a fan of guilt or feeling bad for doing something, whether it be resting or working out. I learned the importance of rest days, both physically and mentally. When giving 110% non-stop the risk of burning out and stopping completely is higher. Your body and muscles need time to recover and repair. Your mind needs a break. Your sanity needs balance.

But, I still felt bad taking “a day off”, like I was being unproductive. Never mind the mounds of laundry and dishes that would be done, the extra time with dogs, the shopping, catching up on emails, spending time with my husband… nope, I didn’t exercise, therefore I wasn’t productive. It was an unhealthy mindset, but an easy one to get sucked into if you aren’t careful.

It took some time for me to come to terms with rest days and make my mind shut up and enjoy them. I knew the importance of them, my body appreciated them, but my conscience did a number on my psyche. Guilt can destroy you. It took some time to get my conscience in sync with the rest of my mind and body and to enjoy the moment, whether it be the sunset on a run, a curled up sleeping dog on your lap, or drinks and dessert with loved ones. Taking that break will allow your body to reward you with more progress. It will improve in strength, endurance and muscle tone when allowed the time to recover.


me and two of my besties enjoying dinner and drinks

So, how do you take a rest day? Good question.

  1. Listen to your body. It knows what it needs best. What my body needs for recovery and what your body needs are completely different, do what is right for you.
  2. Ignore the chatter. Both inside your head and all around you. There is nothing wrong with rest days. They are recommended by professionals. All progress won’t be lost if you take one (or several).
  3. Find an active rest routine that works for you. Taking a day off doesn’t mean sitting on the couch gorging on junk food. Take a walk, do yoga, find a stretching routine.
  4. Schedule them in like you do workouts and don’t skip them!
  5. If you are recovering from an injury or being sick, take more than one a week, ease back into your routine allowing your body time to adjust.

my workout details are more specific, but the idea is the scheduled REST day!

I’ve gotten to the point with my rest days where I will do a short yoga routine, drag the hubby and dogs out for a nice walk, then curl up with a good book. Some of them, I just relax all day. I am learning to relax my mind as well as my body. It took awhile, but, I really am falling in love with rest days.

Here are some great links on the benefits of rest days and some tips!