As you know from Taking Healthier Road Trips, we recently set out on a a mini-vacation to North Carolina. In the 16 weeks prior to Christmas, I had been religiously following a workout plan, putting in 12-14 hour work days, and trying to launch a website in order to help others make improvements in their lives. To put it simply, I was due for some much needed rest.
I decided to give myself a break from Christmas to New Year’s Day. This did not mean straying completely away from my healthy lifestyle but it did mean indulging heavily on pepperoni bread and Swedish meatballs as well as racking up a little more couch time. I completely shut myself down from the gym in order to let my body recover and catch up to the training.
It did not take long for me to realize that my indulging quickly became overindulging. My crystal clear work mornings became struggles to focus. I could not concentrate on anything of substance and I had a constant feeling of anxiety. Despite the fact that I was taking the week to minimize stress I felt more stressed than usual, only this type had no validity.
On top of those lovely feelings, my energy levels were all over the place and I had some pretty intense mood swings. I was often confrontational and angry over little and insignificant things that I would normally let slide or wouldn’t even consider an issue. My nights were usually met with a giant headache and a strong desire to simply go to sleep.
I was expecting my deviation from my nutrition and exercise plans to have some negative effects on my body and mind but not to the extent that it did. It goes to show the importance of a sound nutrition plan and how even straying from it short-term can have catastrophic effects. They say you don’t miss something until it is gone, and that could not have been more true in the case of my nutrition plan. When I was eating a clean, mostly Paleo nutrition plan, I felt normal but did not think that it was anything special. Eating sweets and junk food, along with consuming more alcohol than usual made me realize how great I was doing and how well I was taking care of my body.
There were two huge positives that came out of my week of deviation. First, I viewed my poor health decisions as individual lapses instead of a relapse and was able to use them as motivation to get back on track. Rather than thinking that I ruined my approach to personal health, I grew a greater appreciation for what I do on a daily basis and became excited to get back on track.
Second, allowing my body rest time after many weeks of training allowed my muscles to fully recover. After an initial couple of days of feeling flat I started to feel stronger than I have in a while and by the time I got back to my first workout session back I was feeling incredibly strong and fit!
Taking a week completely off, hitting the open road, and generally relaxing was absolutely beneficial to my physical wellbeing. My body was able to respond, replenish, and recover. However, taking a rest period like this should not be used as an excuse to binge on junk food and abuse your body. There is certainly some extra room for treats and dabbling with snacks that you otherwise would not eat, but don’t let it become the basis of your week. Finally, use a lapse as motivation to get better, not as a way to put yourself down. Mistakes happen, we are not perfect, so don’t hold yourself to perfect standards. Just get better everyday!
How do you spend your recovery weeks? What helps you make the most out of your routines and habits? We want to know! Leave a comment below!