Thursday, November 12, 2009

Take A Break

I've mentioned it before.  You've got to take breaks.  Breaks from work, breaks from school, breaks from kids, breaks from parents, breaks from life and yes, breaks from fitness. 

Taking a break can do a world of good for physical, mental, and emotional well-being.  It allows your body to rest, heal, grow, recover and rejunvenate itself.  In our world of health and fitness, sometimes it can become overwhelming. 

Eat this, eat that, don't eat this, don't eat that, push to failure, stop short of failure, use light weight, use heavy weight, weights only, bodyweight exercises, sprint, run long distance, low fat, low carb, grains, no grains, all about calories, all about get the gist.

So I took a break.  A full 7 day break from all things health and fitness.  I didn't exercise.  I didn't take in my daily health and fitness reading.  I didn't worry about calories. I took a break.  And I feel rejuvenated.  I had a tough, but great workout yesterday.  I was well rested.  Just like IF allows your body a break from food, taking an exercise break allows your body a rest from work.  This provides a prime opportunity for your muscles to heal and grow.  Overworking your muscles by pounding them day after day does not make them grow, it breaks them down.  Only during times of rest will your muscles grow.  This is why sleep is so important to a healthy and fit body.

If you decide to take a break keep these 5 things in mind:
  1. Don't scrap your nutrition.  Breaks are often accompanied by bad nutrition.  There's something in us that makes it easier to eat crap when we are not exercising; it should be the opposite, if at all.  Maintain your healthy nutrition during a break; it will help in the recovery process.
  2. Limit your break to 2 weeks or less.  Don't take too long of a break.  If you go beyond 2 weeks' rest from your 'normal' routine, at least throw in some bodyweight circuits.
  3. Enjoy it.  You are not going to halt your progress with a break.  You'll actually make progress.  Don't stress about it.  Enjoy the rest and let your body enjoy it.  If you want to go for a leisurely walk or bike ride, don't stop yourself from going just because you're taking a 'rest'.  We are talking about resting from your 'normal', high-intesity workouts.
  4. Evaluate.  This is a great time to evaluate your goals and adjust them as necessary.  Do you want to gain muscle or lose fat?  More HIIT or move lifting of heavy things? More sprints or more leisurely walks?  Take the time to assess where you are and where you want to be.
  5. Read a good book.  Although I didn't read much health and fitness material, I did review one of my favorite books,The Primal Blueprint. This can help you during your evaluation period or just provide some reinforcement to how or why you're maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
So take a break and enjoy it!

Until next time...

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