How many times have you skipped a workout? How many times has skipping one workout turned into a whole week? Okay, here’s the important question. How many times have you felt guilty about it? Every time? Whether it is brought on by over-training or a simple lapse in motivation, it is important to recognize when your body needs a rest day, and that you should not feel guilty about it! Keep reading to hear about my experience with learning to rest, and not to quit.
The other morning, I woke up feeling as though I had not slept in weeks. My body felt like dead weight, and my immediate worry was that something was wrong with me. I ran through a check list in my mind, drink enough water? Check. Have enough to eat? Check. Get enough sleep? Check. My next thought was how am I going to get through my workout? I had previously associated skipping a workout with failure, and I was in the middle of trying to think up ways to get up and out of bed when I realized that my body might be trying to tell me something I often ignore; I needed to rest.
It is so easy—I’ve come to realize—to fall into the endless pit of over-training. If you aren’t as in love with fitness as I am I’m sure you think that is a ridiculous statement, because trust me, I used to think that too. When I started my Instagram account, and then this blog, I was working out 6 days a week. Most weeks I still do, but I was working out hard 6 days a week, sometimes even twice a day. I did it because I loved to, but then I slowly started to fall into that pit I just referred to. I’d be sitting on the couch watching TV and feel like I could be using that time to do some squats, or crunches during commercial breaks. It became an obsession; anytime I wasn’t active felt like wasted time. I tell you this because it happens to a lot of people, and they don’t know how to pull themselves out of it.
When I first realized I was over-training I was slightly embarrassed. When did I become such a workout freak? When did it start to consume my thoughts? I began to question my reason behind working out more than ever. Was it for myself or for my page; for myself or the people following me? I had always felt as though it was for myself, but I could not ignore the fact that I had been worried about staying in shape for my followers in the past. There is an undeniable teamwork that takes place on fitness accounts like mine between the account holder and their followers. We motivate each other, and as someone who was a part of a sports team their entire life I appreciated this. If someone wakes up in the morning and see’s that it is 7 am and I’ve already completed my workout maybe it will inspire them to start. Maybe it will inspire them to begin their own journey towards a level of happiness I was able to find through fitness.
But that morning when I woke up I questioned everything. My account, my happiness, my health… and I stayed in bed. I snoozed my alarm and went back to sleep for another hour, and I did not workout that day. Or the next. Or that entire week. By the weekend I wondered why no one had mentioned it to me or had asked me why I hadn’t worked out, so I finally asked my mom if she had noticed (mainly for my own validation). “Of course I did.” she said. I asked her why she hadn’t said anything to me, and she told me it was because she felt like my body was telling me to rest, and that it was normal to take a week off. I couldn’t be running on all cylinders all the time, that’s how I’d get burnt out, and had been why I gotten burnt out from hockey. I had been feeling like maybe I was burnt out, like I had already passed that point. I felt tired and sluggish, and even though working out typically wakes me up I had been having trouble feeling motivated and energized enough to get through a session. She had a point.
I saw this quote on my Tumblr page that really resonated with me and fit my situation. It read, “when you’re tired, learn to rest not to quit.” I had felt like taking a week off was the equivalent of quitting. I had felt like snoozing my alarm was giving up. But I needed to rest, my body was telling me to. If I have experienced this, I am sure many people have. I don’t want people to get sucked into that pit again, and I don’t want people to quit when they don’t need to. I want people to learn the difference between the two. Being healthy is so much more than having muscles. If you can’t give yourself a day off without feeling bad about yourself, is that healthy? If your main incentive for working comes from a place other than yourself, is that healthy?
There will be days where you don’t want to get up early, or want to skip the gym. Recognize the difference between being lazy and needing to rest. Recognize that taking a week off isn’t hurtful, but can be helpful. Your body speaks to you in so many ways that we don’t often recognize or acknowledge. I say this all the time, but mindset is everything. Loving and respecting your body and it’s needs is so important! The next time you need a day off forgive yourself for it, and then get after it again the next day. Rest and reset. One bad day won’t undo 5 good ones. A bad day is only a bad day if you make it.