Remember how I mentioned wanting to go for a run yesterday afternoon? Here’s what actually happened…
What can I say? Gloomy weather, a comfy couch, warm tea, a stellar [Christmas] movie lineup — what more could you ask for in a rest day? Well, how about the ability to actually enjoy it… If you ask me, that last one is kind of the kicker.
Rest day anxiety. I feel a little funny talking about it since I haven’t had a proper workout/rest schedule for a couple of years now, but I have struggled with a serious exercise addiction in the past, and I remember wanting to jump out of my skin on those days where I wasn’t working out.
There was a time where I worked out 7 days a week, without fail. The idea of taking a day off caused me so much grief, that I convinced myself that what I was doing was actually healthy. I mean, exercise is a great form of stress relief, right? Right. And that’s what I was doing — relieving stress. What I failed to acknowledge was that what I was actually doing was catering to an exercise addiction. I thought I loved exercise, but the only thing I really loved about it was that it would rid me of the anxiety I felt over the idea that taking a day off would cause me to gain weight.
Eventually, my body started to break down and I was forced to introduce 1, and then 2, rest days a week. It was agony — I didn’t know what to do with myself when I wasn’t planning my day around a workout or fuelling… So much extra time — what to do?! And to make matters worse, my appetite was usually out of control on those days, and a lack of exercise in addition to an increased appetite made me one big ball of nerves.
Fast forward to today — I can honestly say that I enjoy the occasional full-on lazy day, but more so than that, I enjoy not feeling like I have to work out. Don’t get me wrong — physical activity is a beautiful thing and definitely a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle — but we should be looking at it as a way to improve ourselves rather than punish ourselves. I think a big part of the reason that I’m enjoying running so much more this time around is because I’m no longer looking at it solely as a way to burn off extra calories. Me time, endorphins, accomplishment, getting stronger… that’s what I love. And on that note, I really need to update you guys on how I’m doing with the whole running thing… But I digress.
Rest days. Embrace them, they’re good for you. I didn’t write this post to highlight the benefits and importance of rest days, but to tell you that it’s okay to take them and enjoy them — it doesn’t mean you’re being lazy or unhealthy. I get a good amount of e-mails from girls struggling to overcome exercise addictions, and I know that one of the things that helped me deal with my own was seeing examples of people who were happy and healthy and not obsessive about their workout schedules. It’s possible. So, my friends, keep calm and rest.
How do you feel about rest days?
Why do you exercise?