I’ve rustled up my sis Jess from her blog retirement for this post and I am so glad she wanted to write this with me as it is a topic that is near to our hearts but also one we both wrestle with more often than we probably care to admit.
Rest. We talk about doing it, we do it sometimes, but do we *really* do it fully and believe in why we are doing it? Not always.
As we have both been hit with illness the past couple of weeks, we noticed some major realizations and observations and we share that here, openly, honestly, and fully.
I believe in rest, and in rest days. I completely do. But I also wrestle with rest days when I feel good, strong, and interested in being active on said rest day. Sometimes I bend that rest day a little, as a result, and almost entirely because I absolutely adore my workouts – my chosen workouts – barre (n9ne) classes and running, primarily, and there are days where it is truly hard to temper that excitement and passion. And I’m not talking miles and miles and miles and doubled up classes (taken). I’m talking a quick (extra) run or a Sunday afternoon class (a rare treat, especially if my sister is teaching!). And Jess and I are really good at tempering each other’s workouts and being that reality check for each other – do you want to run, or do you feel like you have to run. If the latter, don’t even bother. Do you hurt everywhere? Fail. No workout. Nope, don’t even attempt it. But that doesn’t mean the mental mind games don’t stay behind, even if I’ve agreed to keep that rest day and honor it fully. *That* is what I wrestle with most, far more than stillness.
But illness is a funny thing, isn’t it? Suddenly, you are flat on your back, can barely keep you eyes open, and everything hurts in a hurts so bad way and all you can fathom is recovery and feeling normal again. Nowhere near workout ready.
And as those days pass, where you rest, rest, rest, sleep, sleep, and more sleep, a funny thing happens. You realize what rest does. It renews you, mind, body and soul. It resets you. And it reinvigorates you. And when you come out on the other side of illness, you appreciate your body’s abilities and you learn that it shouldn’t be taken for granted and you shouldn’t do more, more, more, even if your body feels good, because that’s harder and not smarter.
Let’s face it, for example, one really strong run, no matter what distance, pays off far more than a few ‘meh’ runs where you feel like your body doesn’t want to move because your legs are tight, sore, or overworked. One – it’s not nearly as enjoyable as that ‘happy’ and strong run, and two – you aren’t doing yourself any favors in your strength or endurance. What are you accomplishing? Checking a box. That’s it. I’d much rather have one really strong run than three crappy runs. Quality, not quantity.
This is what rest does, and what rest has taught me (especially as I sit here teetering on a cold brewing, but determined not to succumb so soon after the FLU last week!). It is about honoring the rest day, honoring your body’s abilities by resting, renewing and restoring. As I like to say, one day, you won’t turn into a pumpkin. Quite possibly, the reverse. Your body becomes more efficient, more able to recover and well, happier. And who doesn’t want that?!
So I’ve been a non-blogger now for almost a year and this is one of the first times that I found myself itching to write. You see, I was down for the count with this funky laryngitis thing that had me sidelined for a week. From everything. The day job – done from my home. In solitude. My beloved barre classes? I had to sub them out. Pained me. My ‘me’ workouts. Gone. I had a lot of time to think. And question.
…how could I possibly be sick after two weeks off from work *and* a quick surprise getaway to Healdsburg (aka ‘my mecca’) with my husband over the holidays? I was uber relaxed. Not worn out in the slightest.
…why was I sick? Besides the obvious – duh I picked up some icky germs somewhere along the way – but truly why. Why now?
And the more I sat and thought about it, sipping on cup after cup of tea with honey (swapping in the occasional hot toddy thanks to a certain Tony, aka Sarena’s husband!) – it struck me.
I hadn’t been valuing rest as much as I proclaimed to value it. My sis and I had this pact at the end of the year, it went something like this:
Stop embracing go-go-go-how-much-can-I-fit-into-my-day mentality and return to the smarter, not harder mentality. A mentality that, admittedly, neither of us had been embracing as much as we’d care to admit.
Yet, as soon as I got back from wine country, I was ready to go balls to the wall again. Um hi, where did that pact go that we so smartly made right before the new year???
Yup, out the window.
And bam – laryngitis swooped in. Down.for.the.count.
My, my, God has *quite* the sense of humor, I do believe.
As the days went by, and the rest, rest, rest, mentality settled in, I started to really SEE, for the first time, the true value of rest. Every second I spent cuddled under a blanket, not running around doing a million things, not working out or teaching or any of that, not doing much of anything…except for rest…and it amazed me to see my body respond.
I actually wasn’t feeling nearly as sick as I sounded (or didn’t sound, haha), and I think that’s because I rested. My body was working hard to avoid a full-blown case of bronchitis or something far worse and I allowed the rest to seep in.
And I sat there laughing at myself after awhile. Thinking about all those mornings where I sat in a funk, mad at my rest day, not wanting to take the rest, feeling like a superhero and wanting to do it all, be it all. Silly, short-sighted thoughts to say the least.
So now, I sit here recovered and rested and ready to REALLY do what I say and say what I mean.
Seems simple. But clearly, I wasn’t really doing that before, nor was I even admitting that to myself. So I was taught (well WE were taught (how ironic that we both got sick nearly at the same exact time…) a very important lesson this past week, whether I (we) wanted that lesson or not, a certain Someone wanted to show me (us) the way.