Ready for a mind-blowing fact? A lot of times I go to the gym just to sit. Yes, the occasional super-fit person will tease me or make a joke and I don’t care at all.
The truth is, I used to do it all. I would get my daughter off to school, head to the gym, head to college classes, work a part-time job, come home, make dinner, do homework and then get up and do it all over again.
These days, I’m older, I’m wiser and I avoid stress at all costs. Especially self-inflicted, avoidable stress.
So why do I make it all the way to the gym just to sit on my butt and do nothing? Because they have 2 hours of free child care which often times are my only 2 child-free hours of the day and sometimes even the whole week. A moment to recuperate and relax is sometimes exactly what I need.
Trying to sit down with a good book at home usually lasts for half a page before I’m up getting crayons, or cleaning up a spill. Enter: the gym. Many good books have been read at the gym. Sometimes I even take them to the stationary bikes so I feel a little better about accomplishing nothing fitness wise.
Our mind and body are connected; if one isn’t happy, the other isn’t either. The placebo effect is proof of this. If our brain believes something, our body can achieve it. The human body has even fended off cancer because the patients brain so strongly believed it would happen.
These brains of ours are absolutely crucial to our health, so we have got to make sure we give them a well deserved break every now and then.
Not only do sleep and rest help us learn better, grow muscle strength and even lose weight more quickly. It can also prevent muscle tension and aid in digestion.
Rest is crucial to ensuring that our bodies function optimally. We all have those days where work is busy, family has us running all over the place and we don’t want to “make the excuse” of skipping the gym. When this happens, we drag our burnt out brains and bodies onto the treadmill and can actually do more damage than good. We may make it there with good intentions, but could be leaving with less energy, a body that is begging for a break and a brain that’s no longer functioning properly.
While we sleep, we can actually build muscle! All the good foods we ate during the day go to work at night. Not only does our brain recharge and get a break, but our muscles are also given the chance to grown and regenerate.
It makes perfect sense. If you just continued to drive your car without giving it gas, it would burn out and die. Well, to get gas, you also have to turn off the engine. The whole machine needs a break in order to function properly. It needs maintenance and care and so do you!
As an adult you should be getting between 7 and 9 hours of un-interrupted sleep per night.
This gets tough when you are a new parent, or have children. During these times in life you are never guaranteed a good nights sleep.
You may also be sleep deprived at night due to high stress levels during your waking hours. If you are trying to lose weight, making time for the gym could be a big contributor to that stress, especially if you’re not seeing results. The fact of the matter may very well be that you just simply need to give yourself a break.
In America, it’s a scary fact that half of workers don’t take their PAID vacation days! Paid. These days are paid time off and half of American’s are choosing to continue working. The value of a vacation is highly under used and under appreciated!
We worry so much about letting others down, about missing deadlines, not working hard enough to get where we want. There is so much stress and worry to be better, achieve more and make more money that we are running ourselves into the ground.
The Japanese have a word for this: Karoshi. Translated it means “overwork death.” Karoshi is a common known thing in Japan as many of it’s people die every year from over-working. Tokyo is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. With a high population and booming industry, it’s no wonder there is a desire to keep up with the fast paced lifestyle.
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If you start to sense that you need a break, be honest with yourself, remember your body won’t crumble if you listen to your instincts and just take a nap.
1. Quiet Down. Meditation is a great way to clear your mind, be alone with your thoughts and yes, it would be ok if you dozed off too. Just take 5 minutes to start with, set a timer and close your eyes. Imagine your day going the exact way you want it to go. Choose a positive affirmation to repeat to yourself. Meditation can be a simple 5 minute break in the day to refresh and boost yourself back up.
2. Yoga. If you are so insistent on moving your body, then yoga is absolutely the best way to get everything you need. Yoga has a multitude of proven health and body benefits. It’s a great way to strengthen and lengthen your muscles. It’s also a great way to really work on that mind/body connection. Yoga can calm you down, strengthen you up and make it easier for you to listen to your body.
3. Read. Take a clue from me and read a book, do a crossword puzzle or do a sudoku. All three of these have been proven to help build your brain and prevent you from diseases like Alzheimers.
4. Pamper yourself. Get a massage or sit in the tub with some lavender bath salts. It can be hard to relax your mind when your muscles are out of whack. Do something to release any tension you might have. Reducing tension will help relax your mind and relaxing your mind will prevent you from further tension. Talk about a win/win situation.
5. Turn off social media. Our bodies react to light as a stimulus to tell us it’s time to be awake. That means watching TV in bed at night, scrolling a book on a tablet or checking Facebook on your phone can all throw off your body’s sensors. The light will prevent you from falling asleep and unfortunately, these days, it’s so hard to just power down.
As always, nurture your body and give it the best. If you decided to skip the gym, I fully encourage you to also challenge yourself to taking in more water. Eat light foods, lots of fruits and veggies. Take the entire day and use it as an all around detox.
Detoxing is a great way to re-set your system and give your body a little love. It doesn’t have to be a fast or a limiting cleanse. It can simply be a day of eating simple, easy to digest foods throughout the day, lots of water, lots of rest. Think day on the beach minus the cocktails. This is a great time to try out any smoothie recipes you haven’t tried out yet or those great spa water recipes.