Today is a rest day for me, but not in a way most of my friends and family would think about rest. I’m leaving my house for Healthworks at 4:30 this morning, working until 12:15, then heading to my part-time position at Harvard until 8 this evening. That doesn’t sound like rest to just about anyone!
But when I say I’m taking a rest day, it’s my day off from strenuous exercise and from counting every calorie.
That doesn’t mean that I sit around on the couch all day stuffing my face without abandon. It is simply my day to give my body and my mind a little bit of a break. A day when I am already so busy that trying to plan every single bite and an hour or more of exercise might actually drive me insane.
I hate the terms cheat meal and cheat day, because it puts a negative spin on being healthy. If having something indulgent is cheating, then that means being healthy can never be indulgent or fun. I reject that idea.
I think being healthy can be both indulgent and fun so rather than thinking about a day like today as a cheat, for me it’s just a bit of a break from my usual routine. The fact is, a day like today still won’t take me out of the overall calorie deficit I need for the week for weight loss even though I may not have a calorie deficit for the day.
With that said it seems to make perfect sense to take a meal or day off from strict calorie counting or eating 100% “on plan”, but not everyone understands the logic behind rest days from strenuous exercise.
This article is not a very recent one, but I like it a lot with respect to how a rest day can improve performance – specifically with running. As important as rest is to letting the body recover and eventually perform even better, it is also about a mental break.
If I am exercising at 110% percent intensity 100% of the time, I am going to burn out. I am going to get to that place where I resent going to the gym or putting on running shoes, and that’s the last thing I need.
So even though today may not be a very restful one in terms of my overall schedule, it’s a day to step back and remember why I love exercising and eating super healthy. It’s a day that makes me miss that structure and how I feel when I’m doing both.
And you know what? Some weeks there are a few of these days because sometimes I do need to take a break on days when I’m off work as well. I am trying my hardest to stop and listen to my body more closely these days and so far the information she has given me has been invaluable.
Rest days are relative. Yours may not look anything like mine and that’s OK. Listen to your body, take a break when you need to. Just remember that a break does not mean reverting to old habits.
How often do you rest?
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