Learning to Rest

Learning to rest. I think this is a valuable lesson to learn no matter what your pursuit. This benefited while getting my degrees, during my career, in fitness - in really anything I have done that required intense perseverance.

For me, a perfectionist in many ways, I struggled with this for a time. I can pursue a goal relentlessly to the point where I chase that perfect momentum and refuse to break. This is a recipe for burnout.

A perfect example for me was being in grad school when my dad passed away. He died on December 26th and I was due to start my next class on January 9th. I found I did not have the focus or the energy by then to pick right back up. So I took 8 weeks off and then went back. When I resumed classes, I felt energized and a lot more confident that I could manage the pace.

I did have a little trepidation that a break would lead to me just quitting altogether, but that didn't happen. I got my rest, and then returned to my goals with renewed vigor and was able to push through to the end without issue.

I failed at this once back in 2010. I developed bursitis in my right hip from excessive activity (I blame cardio dance classes, those were so fun!). I saw a doctor and he told me to rest. I scoffed at this and would ice my hip and take ibuprofen but continued to workout aggressively. Eight months later - yes, eight - I was still struggling with bursitis when I came down with the worst sinus infection of my life. Illness caused me to have no choice but to rest for almost 3 weeks. Sure enough, when I was recovered from the sinus infection, my bursitis was also gone. I could have spared myself by taking a week off at the very first.

I have even done similar things in my career. Making moves that are perhaps a departure or a lateral step just to give myself some distance with what can sometimes be an overwhelming monotony. Spending nine months or so changing focus then allows me to return to the mayhem with better results.

I am extremely disciplined now in my fitness routine, but that also includes rest days. I focus on proper sleep and intentional rest. This allows me to not only carry my momentum but usually gain momentum.

I think my younger self struggled with what a lot of people have issue with - the fear that rest will turn into giving up. That two days off will turn into 2 years. And sadly, for a lot of people it does. This is why we need to work on our mindsets. We cannot get overly hamstrung by our routines. Excessive rigidity that way become's a rabbit's foot, a superstition that we cling to and it is a manifestation that our mindset isn't progressing along with our goals.

Last month, I felt under the weather for 4 days. A heightened level of concern due to COVID and my recent gallivanting, I was worried. I rested for those four days in a row. Note, the month before I only took 3 total rest days, so I was not pleased to take four days in a row. But I rested, monitored my symptoms and once I started back I felt right back to my old self after two workouts. I was glad my mindset had developed enough to willingly accept my need to rest without beating myself up about it. I didn't worry I would quit or regress. I just rested, took care of myself, and came back renewed.

We have to pursue our goals with passion and perseverance. But our success is much more likely if we achieve it with balance. Our bodies and our spirits need rest, and that is not a bad thing!