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?
Ashley @ AlmostVegGirlie
I’ve talked about rest days on my blog before, and I always admitted that I may have an exercise addiction, but I never and still haven’t done anything to address it. I take occasional rest days (like once or twice a month) only when I’m forced to, like if I’m out of the house all day or traveling and it always gives me anxiety to take a rest day. It makes me hopeful to read that others have dealt with the same feelings and found a way to make peace with exercise. I know that dreading rest days isn’t normal and it’s something I have to work towards feeling more comfortable with!
Kelsey @ Ramblings of Change
I LOVE rest days, and I’m craving a real one where I can spend the entire day at home (end of the semester, could you please come quicker?!). Even more importantly, I’ve started to learn how important they are with my CrossFit schedule. In the past, I definitely had a little bit of exercise addiction, with 6-7 days of working out a week, and sometimes, two-a-days (DVD in the AM, cardio at the health center at night with friends). Looking back, my poor body was probably pretty tired. Sometimes, I do feel guilty, but it is rare now. I crave relaxation time, and feel like taking those rest days gives me an opportunity to honor my body. Amanda, I love post like these; they make my heart smile and make me feel like I’m in the right place. I honestly cannot wait to be regularly blogging after finals – Can. Not. Wait!
Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli
At the height of my calorie counting/restriction, I started getting a bit obsessive about working out…I would only allow myself one (maaaaaaaaaaybe 2) rest days a week…and then I started with the whole “active rest day” thing which was just a way for me to prove to myself that I could burn calories while cleaning the house. “Yeah! I’m gonna vacuum the whole house in 5 minutes…annnnnnd GO! Woo hoo, calorie burn!!” <- I'm honestly surprised that I never strapped on my HRM during those times. The main reason I developed that attitude WAS for the calorie burn/weight loss aspect of it, but the secondary reason was because I was afraid that if I missed a day or two (especially in a row), that I would lose all my motivation, stop going to the gym altogether, and get FAT! I'll admit, that I'm quick to get lazy…um, hello using my knee surgery as an excuse to get out of working out regularly for over SIX MONTHS! I mean, yeah, I've had pain at times and really needed the rest, but there have been a lot of times where it was just me feeling sorry for myself. I'm just glad to be finding a bit of balance now and finally feeling like I'm enjoying my workouts again. Wow…I seriously didn't even realize all that until I just sat back and read what I wrote! I don't know how you do it girl, but I swear, your posts are one of the best forms of therapy for me! Lol
Thank you for writing this post! I find myself being very similar to the way you described your exercise addiction. It’s definitely hard, but your post has helped! I need to realize that rest days are good and that I don’t have to constantly be working out!
Danica @ It's Progression
This is such a great post, Amanda!
I’m actually working on this right now. While I don’t feel like I’ve worked out too much, my body is telling me otherwise, so I’m working on doing more low-impact workouts and embracing rest days 🙂
Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health
i have been the similar road before and I felt bad for not working out. I do have days even now where I feel like I have to do some sort of physicial activity almost everyday. I have resorted to light walks or stretching as my free day.