When it comes to a committed fitness routine, I do believe in too much of a good thing.
Our bodies need rest and we need the chance to recharge our batteries, as invariably , once you have made that commitment to make exercise a regular part of your life, you will be fitting this in around a busy schedule.
I am definitely one of those people who can overdo it. Considering I have been training since I was 5 years old, my mind and body just don’t function well without the training ‘high’. An endorphin junkie perhaps, but then it has served me well.
As a result, I find it hard to jump off the treadmill (pun intended – even though I don’t spend much time on these!) and this can cause fatigue, poor training, no results, poor gut health and invariably, injury. Injury is your body’s way of telling you to slow down. I am a nightmare when I’m injured (just ask my daughter! 😡), but I’m learning to slow down before I get to that point, when the other signs appear, and take the rest needed.
Rest doesn’t always mean doing nothing. It can mean doing something different , to give your body and mind the break it needs.
When I go on holiday, I always try and embrace the environment around me and do something different . I’m a water baby, (I grew up by a beach) so the ocean is my happy place. Swimming, walking, jogging, paddle boarding, kayaking and outdoor yoga and stretching, are all things I love to do when I’m on holiday to give my body the rest in needs from the intense workouts I’m used to.
I’ve just returned from a blissful week in Fiji 🌺 with my 17 year old daughter. Lazy long breakfast buffets, (we love the concept of multiple food rounds!! ) hours snoozing by the pool, walking around the lagoon doing yoga and being tucked up in bed early to get some much needed shut-eye, was just what the doctor ordered.
We both felt the impact this had on our mental and emotional health. We returned ready to face the second half of the year with positivity and energy. This is so important.
Our resort did have a gym and I did go on a few of the mornings, but I have developed some really effective 20-30 minute HIIT and tabata training routines which I could do in a gym, on a beach or even in a hotel room if needed. This stops me losing my overall fitness if I am away for more than 3 or 4 days, but also takes the intensity out of my normal gym sessions are pretty gruelling!
I also love to stretch when I’m away in a warm climate. There’s something so blissful about stretching and breathing when you have sunlight and water in front of you. You don’t need to be a hardcore yogi for this – just practice a few of your favourite stretches in a beautiful location, close your eyes and breathe. Its really invigorating and good for the soul.
But you might not be on a tropical holiday – you might just need to take a few days or even a weeks break from your routine to rest, recover and recharge. Maybe try a yoga or stretching class, go for a couple of leisurely walks and embrace nature, or go for a swim if thats not part of your normal routine. Or, maybe you just need to take a complete break – that’s OK too.
My operation and subsequent recovery, taught me the enormous power of rest – the mental and the physical. Your body can’t heal without rest. In fact, if you don’t get enough of it, you risk serious consequences. I don’t think I had ever fully rested in my life, prior to the surgery. I was a single parent, working full time in London, with all the stresses and financial pressures that went with it – how could I even know what rest was! There just isn’t time! But we are our own worst enemy. I used to be one of those people that could never sit still and ALWAYS find something that needed doing – right now! I’ve learned this is just not true. We wind ourselves up like coils that if we don’t do that job, make that call, or run that errand in that instant – the world will stop turning !
Recovering from a serious operation, not to mention one on the brain, means your mind and body slows you down so you are forced to rest, recuperate and heal. For the first time, I understood the true feeling of rest and clearing my mind of anything non-essential. Time sort of stood still and it was totally liberating.
Sleep is sadly not something my body likes to furnish me with 😏. I certainly need it – I just can’t seem to get it! I’ve never been a late riser – that probably comes from all the competitive, before school, sport training sessions from a very early age. But I became a mum at 28 and then a single mum at at 31 – so sleep wasn’t really an option! Then came a brain tumour diagnosis at 35 and all that comes with that. Now, I just think my body is in a habit and will not let me sleep past 5/5.30 am no matter what the day. To counter balance this, I go to bed early – usually about 9pm so that I am asleep by 10pm. That way I can try and get 7 hours if possible. Most nights is more like 6 hours and I’ve learnt to function on that. We are all different though and you will know what your body needs.
Alcohol isn’t really an option for me anymore, as it seriously affects my sleep and everything else that goes with it. I care too much about my health and soaking up life to deal with it’s after effects. I also seem to have a bit of an issue with my liver and bloods post my operation so it’s absolutely not worth the risk. I’ve worked too hard to get this far. I have never been a big drinker, so its not particularly hard for me and it doesn’t mean I don’t drink at all. I will still enjoy a really lovely glass of wine or a couple of champagne – but if I go past that… I pay.
What we have to get better at, is reading the signals our bodies give us and in turn, treating our minds and bodies with more respect.
Rest doesn’t mean bowing out of those early morning gym sessions, walks, runs or yoga classes, because they are just too hard and you want to be in bed longer. That’s absolutely not what I mean as achieving positive health and wellbeing does not come without hard work, drive and focus. What you need to remember is that with that hard work and focus comes great rewards.
Once you’ve made those positive changes and fitness is a part of your daily routine, know when your body does need rest. Feel confident that you won’t go backwards, but will actually move forwards when you return to normal.
Rest, recover, recharge…. then come back fighting!!