Monday, 21 August 2017

Rest Days

Something I've struggled with in my fitness journey is taking rest days, while I've made lots and lots of progress over the years in my journey, a part of me wasn't fully happy with my progress. While I wouldn't excessively train on my "rest days" I would much to all the trainers I've had objections would train my abs and then down the line I converted to high incline treadmill walking for 20 minutes- I wouldn't and felt like I couldn't take a rest day... in my head more equalled better results, getting it done each day meant results and I was dedicated and it is my "me" time, a time I LOVE and enjoy, a time to get my anger and stress out and through out the years exercise has helped me cope with eating and given me a reason to eat and be ok with that- it has helped give me trust with food knowing that it's helping to fuel my exercise, fuel growing muscle or dropping body fat and strength.

Though ultimately not taking rest days can most definitely derail and harm progress and once upon time as I found out lead to injuries when I struggled to find balance and not being able to learn how to substitute extra exercise sessions.

Too much and/or too intense exercise frequently can keep your cortisol levels (your stress hormone) raised which can encourage body fat storage and break down of muscle along with many other health issues including fatigue and loss of period- this goes for both physical and emotional stress. I highly recommend reading these articles:

Seemingly this may go against what you know, learnt, heard and have ingrained in your brain... more doesn't always mean better.

I thought maybe after all these years just maybe I was making it harder for myself.... harder to grow muscle, maybe putting my body in state where it was holding on to fat and breaking down muscle- along with the fact I use to slash my calories after being in a muscle building phase and surplus of calories because I struggled so much with my body and the extra bit of fat that you gain during this period which is a part of building muscle. Slashing calories like that can lead to damaging your metabolism and binging. Slow tapering down of food is the way to go and same goes the other way to grow muscle... slow tapering up.

I've had to drill into my brain that taking rest days are important and again learning to cope with the uncomfortable feelings and fears it brings up... in which the automatic response is to run back to comfort and to what I know, also trying to learn and acknowledge what's underneath those feelings?...what drives them?...

Honestly I had to do things my way and not fully listen to my trainers for over 5 years (Yes it has taken that long!) before realising maybe it's not the best thing- I can have a hard time trusting people when it comes to food and exercise and for me at least I've had to make the mistakes I have to learn otherwise.

After realising it was maybe time to try something different and step outside my line and having a talk with my trainer-who had always encouraged rest days...I just never listened...ha! we came up with a plan and I turned 1 out of my 2 rest days into a general yoga day and then over the next coming weeks turned my 2nd rest day into a general yoga day too. I adjusted my food intake down just to be a bit more at ease with the change and put it back up when I was ok with how it was going.

I didn't gain a bunch of weight really quickly, I was actually in a muscle building process while doing this and by the end of it, I ended up weighing the highest I have in a very long time but being leaner than I was in my last muscle building phase.

Though that's not to say it was smooth sailing from there, while going into my leaning down process to drop body fat and maintain muscle- I had been struggling with my eating disorder issues for awhile set off with life being a struggle and while at this point it was extra set off and I was also struggling with my body with the bit of extra fat gain from building muscle...I thought I was going to have a massive breakdown and go into a self destructive phase and destroy myself with restricting food if I didn't acknowledge and open up to the fact I was struggling. I was starting to add in extra exercise sessions and not take my rest days to desperately get rid of the extra body fat and I was so close to going full on open season on myself once more with everything. Though a part of me didn't want that and a part of me knew that was not the answer. When I caught up with my trainer I told him what extras I was adding in and that I was struggling and he again had to let me know that more doesn't equal better and that I could be over stressing my body which wasn't going to help me. 

With that we came up with a plan of an active rest day of a 20 minute stroll (Not high incline treadmill walking ha!) and a bit of yoga if I wanted too and one full rest day which I could do some basic stretching if I wanted too. My trainer also said again it takes time, just has it has for me to grow muscle it takes time to drop body fat and same could be said for any true results you want without some extreme pendulum effect.

Through out this it reiterated to me if I'm struggling I need to speak up and say so to the people who can help me and well I've learnt and I'm still learning that rest days are not the devil and you're not a hero for not taking them, it in fact could be negatively effecting the results you are working towards and wanting by not taking them.

With hope and love
Rainbow :) xoxo