“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”John Lubbock
In my first experience with weight loss, I found that I had to completely change my way of life and of thinking in order to meet my goals. To an extent, this is a good thing. We all know that no great change ever came about by continuing to do the same thing.
The problem for me was that I was so consumed by a goal to look a certain way that I lost sight of who I was, and worse than that, I put too much stress and pressure on the only body I’ve got to live with for the rest of my life. Sleep and rest took a back-burner to intense daily workouts and extreme calorie-cutting. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that this wasn’t a sustainable way for me to live.
Time to unwind each day is just as important to your health as exercise is.
Relaxation is Integral to Health
At the height of my physical fitness, I was all about endurance. If I could just power through a longer workout and eat just a little bit less today than I did yesterday, I was sure I could meet my goals even faster than planned.
Although I never stated it this way, I had basically decided I was “too good” for television. In the past, I’d enjoyed ending my evenings with a few episodes of Friends, a movie, or maybe an episode of the Bachelor. But by this point, I was “enlightened” enough to know that time spent watching TV was simply time wasted.
If it weren’t for guidance from Steve, I probably never would have taken a rest day while I was in the throws of weight loss. He always reminded me though that your muscles need at least one day every week to recover from the stress of exercise and continue to strengthen.
In addition, my counselor has had to remind me time and time again of the important role slowing down can play in mental health.
Find What Relaxes You
So, here I am four years later, still playing around to learn where the perfect balance is in my life of physical and emotional health.
What I do know is that I love spending time with my husband, and we enjoy watching TV together. To watch an hour of TV with my husband after a long day at work will never be wasted time.
If you’re not sure yet how to rest, try something new every week for a couple of months and really pay attention to what seems to help you relax the most. Some more examples of relaxing activities you can try include sitting down to enjoy a quiet cup of tea, reading, knitting, eating dinner at the dining room table with your family, bubble baths, or a slow walk around the block.
Make Time for Relaxation
Once you’ve found a restful activity (or lack of activity!) that calms you, schedule it into your day just like you schedule your workouts and meal planning time.
Eventually, you’ll find that you are sleeping better, and getting more out of your workouts too. Then, you won’t need to schedule your rest time anymore . . . it will be habit.
Do What’s Best for Your Body
Goals are important. Exercise and nutrition are important. But we must also never overlook the importance of rest.
The way we rest and how long our body needs to rest is different for each and every one of us. Spend some time getting to know yourself and find what works for you.
Let me know in the comments what your favorite resting pastime is.