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Respecting Rest Days – When to Rest and When to Power Through

My goal for this blog is not only to document my lifestyle but also to discuss fitness and nutrition topics and hopefully provide some insight and education for my readers.

The topic I want to discuss today is something that you all know that I’ve been struggling with the past couple weeks with moving, traveling and guests – exhaustion. I never updated “This Week’s Workouts” last week to reflect what really happened but I ended up taking three rest days. I was only able to practice yoga once, only got one run in and taught BodyPump twice. I had other workouts scheduled but when it came down to it – I was just too tired. I didn’t make it to bed until after midnight and was up before 6 a.m. every day last week. Every second of my day was taken up with working, errands and unpacking and organizing the house.

Rest days are an important part of the workout routine. Without them our bodies and minds face burnout and we don’t benefit as much from the work we’ve already done. The body repairs and strengthens itself when you’re resting. I will be the first to admit that I don’t take enough rest days. I probably average one rest day every 7-10 days and I know that’s not optimal for keeping my body in prime condition and preventing overuse injuries (which I definitely struggle with).

On the other end of the spectrum, I want to talk about when you should power through. We’ve all been there – maybe it was a long, stressful day at work or school or maybe you didn’t sleep well the night before – but you find yourself wanting to skip your planned workout. I usually find that in these types of circumstances that if I can dig down deep and just do it, I end up feeling markedly better after the workout. My energy levels are higher, I’m generally happier and feel good. And maybe in order to get the workout done you change your plan. Not feeling running? Swim, bike or go to a group exercise class. Switch it up, do something that you enjoy. I think exercise is one of the biggest stress relievers and energy boosters.

So there’s a dual message here. Respect the importance of rest and listen to your body when you are truly exhausted and need a break. It’s okay to skip a scheduled workout if it’s the best thing for your physical and mental health. But learn the difference between “I’ve been going nonstop and I am exhausted” and ” I’m just kind of tired from the day.” Remember that sometimes just sucking it up and getting it done can truly make you feel a million times better.

This topic has been on my mind this week and I wanted to share. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what rest days mean to you and where you draw the line on skipping a planned workout.

Quick recap of today. Yesterday’s oats topped with the strawberry mini-muffin were so good I had to repeat today. Breakfast was (unpictured) banana oats topped with Justin’s Maple Almond Butter, Crofter’s and a crumbled strawberry mini-muffin.

Lunch featured leftovers from last night’s Pesto Shrimp and couscous.

I placed the couscous and shrimp over a bed of baby spinach mix. A great lunch!

After yesterday’s sudden hunger attack, I came back to work after my lunch break armed with a snack. I taught BodyPump after work so I knew I would need a snack to get me through my workout and hold me over until lunch.

Snack was Yoplait Greek Vanilla Honey (was really impressed with Yoplait’s Greek yogurt!) topped with Tahitian Vanilla Granola from Earth Fare and a little bit of trail mix that had nuts and dried fruit. This snack was awesome.

This morning before work I whipped up a marinade for the chicken I had planned for dinner. It took about 5 minutes to prepare and the chicken was able to marinade all day. I’m a big fan of pre-work/lunch break dinner prep.

Grilled Rosemary Chicken Breasts (from Josie’s blog, Pink Parsley, one of my faves!), with mashed red potatoes (with a little goat cheese stirred in – yum!) and roasted broccoli. Loved this dinner and will be blogging about it soon on Bakin’ and Eggs.

I’m outside on our patio writing this blog update and my feet are getting eaten up by mosquitoes so I think I’m going to call it a night.

Off to rest! 🙂

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Stephanie (of Stephanie Inspired) May 14, 2010, 8:03 am

    I know rest days are so important. In the beginning when I first started exercising again I feared rest. I figured if I took a day off it would turn in to 2, 5, 15… you get the point. I am now at a point where I know that won’t happen. I try to schedule in 4-6 days of activity a week, normally aiming for 5-6. I skipped a planned workout this week to meet up with my mom and sister for dinner. At first I felt guilty but then I realized I can’t remember the last time the three of us went out together so I felt that was more important. Generally though I try really hard not to skip my exercising.

  • Sarah May 14, 2010, 8:22 am

    I am so glad you touched on this about workout and rest. I take rests when I feel that my mind needs one. I mean there are always different circumstances, but I began yoga everyday when I was very stressed out in my life. So I feel that if I am adding stress/possibly going to cause injury by taking a class, then its time to rest!

  • gobi70 May 20, 2010, 5:41 pm


    I have also just written a blog about rest. I am a streak trainer although I always make sure I break up what I do so 5 days of swimming here 6 days of running there. 13 days of cycling etc. You get the drift. What I have learnt is to skip sessions here and there so although I may have trained everyday for months I will often find that there have been 30 or so hours between sessions.

    I do have one rule though.

    Rest means TOTAL and utter nothing day not active rest or I just did weights.

    Rest = NOTHING

    Good Luck


    • Jen May 24, 2010, 4:54 pm

      Gobi – the “streak training” is interesting. Thanks for sharing your philosophy on rest days. I try to make my rest days complete rest too with no activity.

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