Your Rest Days are Killing You!
Every day on social media I see tons of pics and posts about how excited people are for their “rest” days or “cheat” days. For those that do not know. A rest day would be a day you don’t go to the gym so your body can have a chance to recover. A cheat day is similar it just normally has to do with food. So you would eat something that you’ve been keeping away from all week. The idea is that you get a reward for all of the hard work you put in over the week. That thought process is completely wrong.
Don’t get me wrong. Rest is important, like my friend Elliott Hulse likes to say, “Even the warrior knows when to rest”. Rewarding yourself is also important, but the psychology most people use is backward. I know it’s cliché to say but the reward should really be in getting/staying healthy and fueling your body so you can function at peak performance.
If you look at any program I write for a client or myself you will never see a “rest” day per-se. Everyday should be about being better, challenging yourself, and moving forward. What happens most often for people is they take the idea of a rest day literally, and do nothing at all. Unless you’re a professional athlete that pushes your body and mind to the absolute extreme almost every day, doing nothing, means you’re going backward.
I’m going to share with you some ways that you can take advantage of your rest/cheat days and continue to move forward. Your rest days should be about reflecting, rehabilitating, and re-energizing your mind, body, and spirit. Your real rest needs to come from your sleep.
Everyone has tight areas. Everyone has imbalances. Your rest days should be about working on those. Use the entirety of your workout time to work on those areas. There are tons of low intensity mobility exercises and stretches you can do. An example might be deep squats. Not a sets and reps routine, Ido Portal has a great deep squat routine I use and recommend you use as often as possible. You can watch below.
I know a lot of people read books or blogs. There was actually a challenge to read a book a day for a whole year. While this may sound like something I would encourage, being that like most of you I’m an information hound. It’s really something I try to avoid. I mean unless you have the abilities of Laurence Kim Peek(Rain man) you cannot possible retain that amount of information and most often leads to something called Analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis. So I encourage my clients to study, not just read. Slow down and digest the information. I promise all of the other books will still be there when you’re done.
I talk a lot about “work in” exercise and how our bodies are not infinite energy creators and we need to get our energy from somewhere. We get that energy through our food but we can also get that energy from exercises. Some examples would be Tai chi, Qigong, breathing exercises, or Yoga (Not hot yoga…). The trick here is to listen to your body and feel what it can handle. If you are doing a work in exercise and your heart rate starts to go up, your mouth gets dry or you start to sweat, than you need to SLOW DOWN or try a less stressful variation of that pose or posture. We are working in NOT working out.
Use your rest days to create! Like I said before most of us are information hounds. I mean you’re getting more information right now. But even when we aren’t intentionally seeking out information we are always getting it from somewhere, that’s just the nature of being alive, especially in our digital world. So instead of being a consumer, try to be a creator. Draw something, write something, paint something, or build something. There are so many ways you can create. It can even turn into something you do with your family. I would love to see some of the stuff you folks create. Post them on our Facebook page or email them to me.
Notice I’ve saved food for last. I don’t think getting a Big Mac is ever ok, it doesn’t matter if it’s your cheat day or not poison is poison. I am going to be cliché once again and say the reward for eating well should be you being healthy. There doesn’t need to be anything more. I’m not talking about professional athletes here, who get paid to perform. They live a different life than most.
That does not mean you shouldn’t enjoy your food, I love food. But I eat high quality food whenever I can, and because I do this I “cheat” more than just once a week. When my wife makes her banana, cranberry, apple, oatmeal cookies I eat one or two no matter what day it is, because they are DELICIOUS. Now I don’t eat the whole pan, and I know what’s in them, because they are made at home, from ingredients I help purchase.
The point I’m trying to make is your diet should not be a punishment it should be a part of your lifestyle. Having that mindset allows you to skip the ice cream at night because you want to, not because your spouse or trainer is going to get on your case if you do eat it. It allows you to enjoy your food all week without binge-eating on your “cheat” day.
I hope this helped some of you. Remember use your rest days to reflect, rehabilitate, and reenergize. Always moving forward!
Let me know in the comments what you do on your rest days.