With the increased popularity in paying attention to our health and spending more time on fitness, a re-education on training in a healthy way is important. The standard belief is more training equals to more benefits. Here’s something to consider. If everyone’s level of fitness is different, then doesn’t it make sense to say that everyone’s threshold on how much they can push their body is also different. Doesn’t it also make sense to say that our rest days should be relative to our level of training. If a friend trains hard everyday, don’t default and think that’s what’s right for you too. Yes, training everyday can be a good thing, but the level of intensity and what’s appropriate for me as an individual is important to consider. If Lilla works out at 80-90% capacities 6-7 days a week, that doesn’t mean that’s what’s right for me. Remember fitness is an individual journey.
I get it the idea of taking a break or skipping a day may seem daunting towards the goal, but remember rest is when muscles have the time to repair itself. Time dedicated to rest is when I reap the benefits from my hard work and don’t worry I didn’t understand this before either, which is why I want to share my journey.
There was a point in time where taking rest days made me nervous and drowned in guilt. I was aiming to train 7 days a week at high intensities. At one point I had pushed myself to a breaking point. This happened in the days of my past when I was obsessed with losing weight. Honestly, there was no regard to my actual health or wellbeing. There was no concern for rest and recovery. All I could think about was how can I lose weight faster? My answer was to push myself harder, until one day I pushed myself so hard I literally pushed myself into a fever. My body was left shattered and shaking in cold sweats. Is this what the pursuit of health and wellness is? Is this what fitness is about?
One thing I’ve learned is that caring about my body is so much more than just weight loss. Although fitness is a means to achieve a healthier me, it isn’t a subscription to do more and more. In my mind fitness was the only way to lose weight and there were recurring thoughts which polluted my mind:
I am a disciplined individual, so training 7 days a week is and should be achievable.
If I take a break (even for a day) I am going to gain weight.
If I take a break (even for a day) I am being lazy and sabotaging my chances for weight loss.
If other people can, so can I. (This was from a false belief that the fittest individuals worked out everyday).
What I realize now is how important rest and recovery is in regards to improving performance, optimizing the benefits, and in general improving my well-being. If my real goal is to achieve a healthier self, then it is impossible without rest days. Rest days is when my hard work pays off. It’s when the muscles repair itself! It’s when the muscle tissue re-develops.
I can’t say this enough, but rest is part of a healthy journey. Giving our bodies adequate rest time each week is important and it is what is standard even in the most serious athletes. Without a doubt the world’s top athletes probably pay more attention to rest and recovery than most would think. Let’s think back to Michael Phelps and the evidence of his cupping treatment at the Rio 2016 Olympics. What runs true is the more serious the athlete the more attention and time is dedicated to quality recovery. What athletes are continually reminded of is what we should consider for ourselves as well.