Today’s article focuses on the importance of REST, which, is a timely topic for a few different reasons. First off... IT'S SUMMER! Summertime opens up opportunities for family vacations, provides school teachers with a much-needed break, and gives burned out students a chance to rest and recharge. For some, however, this season remains chaotic. The warm weather sparks an increase in social obligations, project deadlines, and new job opportunities. Others even clock overtime in preparation for their family vacation. Moreover, regardless of the time of year, the season of life you are walking through, or nature of your profession, we, as Americans, are a culture that is ALWAYS TIRED. We are a culture that celebrates not only working hard but OVERWORKING.
From the adolescent juggling play practice, a dozen birthday parties, soccer tryouts and swim practice, to the corporate Father planning a family vacation in between back to back weekends of work travel. OUR CULTURE SIMPLY DOES NOT ALLOW US TO REST. In fact, it glorifies those of us that don’t. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard millennials turn their workload into a competition. “I worked 50 hours last week…. I had 5 papers, two exams, and one presentation...” “...AT LEAST YOU DO NOT DEAL with X type of situation at work” YOU GUYS. OVERWORKING IS NOT A COMPETITION. I get it. We all just want validation for all we are doing and for the degree to which it takes a toll on us. But wouldn’t it feel better if we simply learned to take steps back? If we ACCEPTED the fact we are merely humans (not robots) that DO need rest? Now, the concept of incorporating rest into an already jammed packed schedule might seem daunting. However, I am going to first take a look at its context in the fitness industry to hopefully make it more applicable. For those of you that train with me (or on your own for that matter), prioritizing rest might be just as important (or even more so) than the actual workouts themselves. It doesn’t matter how many sets of squats you perform, how many PR’s you hit, how long you ran or even how many calories you ate that day IF YOU ARE NOT getting adequate sleep each night. Your workout is a physical STRESSOR on the body and results in tissue damage. If you are not sufficiently resting and recovering from the workout, these damaged tissues cannot adapt and grow from the demands placed on them during the workout.
This also goes hand in hand with your diet. Even if you eat in a caloric deficit, the scale will not respond accordingly if sleep is not in check. Just as training is a stressor on the body, so is the act of dieting. If your internal stress levels are COMPOUNDED from not sleeping properly, your body will fight back by plateauing in your weight loss efforts.
Let’s take this one step further. Now that I’ve emphasized the importance of rest for achieving your fitness goals, the same can be said about its carry over to the rest of your life. Feeling burnt out all the time and tired will hold you back from performing optimally, whether it’s at work, in social settings, or in your relationships. Your mood will suffer, you’ll be irritable, you’ll say things to loved ones (and maybe even your trainer) that you didn’t mean to, you’ll notice an inability to control your emotions, etc. That being said, there will always be a list of demands that will try to overwhelm you. As someone who is a recovering Type A perfectionist and workaholic, resting is no easy task. Chronic illness has definitely humbled me, though, by forcing me to rest even when I don’t want to. Because of this, I MUST set boundaries for myself. This includes limiting the hours I work from home (to prevent burnout since I am already physically training clients in the mornings and evenings), setting restrictions on smartphone usage (specifically text messages and emails), and prioritizing my own rest each night in order to make sure I can perform most optimally at work. While this requires me to say “NO” to some things, it allows me to say “YES” towards becoming my best self.
To wrap things up, I will leave you with a question: How can you set boundaries for yourself and find a way rest in the midst of it all? Feel free to share your thoughts with me! I would love to hear them. I hope you seek rest this summer and take some time to prioritize YOU!
Until next time,