Let's talk about rest. Admittedly, I am not the best at taking full rest days. Just a few days ago on my instagram, I was encouraging you to get up and move a little bit every day. While I whole heartedly believe it is important to get in a bit of exercise daily, it is also important to know when it's time to rest, either through active recovery or a complete rest day with no activity.
I always take Sunday as a full rest day to prep for the week ahead but often that will be the only rest day of the week with absolutely no workouts. The last two Saturday's have actually ended up as rest days due to circumstances beyond my control but usually you'll find me at my YMCA every Saturday morning.
For this first time in quite some time, I've taken more rest days in a single week than I can remember and I'm not mad about it. My body needed it. In fact, I think it had been giving me tiny nudges ever since we returned home from spring break by way of a scratchy throat here or a tired feeling there that it wanted to slow down. Tuesday afternoon I came down with flu-like symptoms and took that as my queue to give my body the rest that it was asking for. As much as I wanted to do something, I knew that it was time to take it easy so I decided to take Wednesday and Thursday off completely from any activity.
The moral of the story here is to listen to your body. Yes, you should move that body daily, work hard, push yourself, and get in your workouts, but when it is time to rest, rest. Know that when you aren't feeling well that your body is trying to tell you something. Listen. Allow your body the time that it needs to heal and recover. A few days off routine is not going to take anything away from the hard work you have been putting in. It actually might help you. By giving your body and muscles ample time to rest, they will be much more energized and ready to go come your next workout.
I'm not a medical expert on any of this, but speaking from personal experience this week I wanted to share my lessons learned. I felt better come Thursday and if I decided to skip the gym Friday I know it would be more laziness settling in as a result of taking the previous days off rather than still being under the weather. That said, it's also good to differentiate feeling unwell with feelings of laziness. It can become easy to use the sniffles or "I've been sick" as an excuse to skip the gym. A general rule of thumb is if your symptoms are above the neck, you can maintain your workouts but if they are below it's generally best to take the day off. Just be smart about it. If you are feeling better or sniffles aren't bothersome and you have no other symptoms, do a lighter workout to test the waters. Go for a walk, do some yoga. If the next day, you're feeling better you are probably safe to resume your routine. But, if the next day you still feel like maybe something else is going on, it is probably a good idea to continue to rest.
All it takes is a couple of days away from the gym to get you refocused and your fitness priorities straight. Friday morning I found my way back to the gym after those two days of complete rest and it felt awesome. It was m my best workout of the week! I ended my workout with a three minute #mindright meditation which is something I had actually been skipping out on a little bit lately. I remembered on my way home just how much I love this component of my workout. On busy days it becomes very easy to pass on the three to five extra minutes to slow down and breathe, but when I take the time to do it, everything feels right. Taking the time to close my eyes, listen to relaxing music and breathe after Friday's strength exercises, I left the gym feeling energized, relaxed and ready to begin my day.
I'm looking forward to getting back to the gym on Saturday as long as my body is feeling up to it and resuming my full weekly routine next week. The time off this week has allowed me to be grateful for the amazing things that my body is capable of, recognizing its strength and endurance but being willing to pay it back every now and then by giving it a little time off and properly cooling it down at the end of an intense workout. Just as we need time off from our day to day through vacations or a day at the spa, our bodies need time off as well. Be good to your body and it will be good to you!