Afraid of Taking Rest Days
I used to be so terrified to take days off working out.
I would drag myself to the gym no matter how many hours of sleep I didn’t get, no matter how much every joint and muscle in my body ached, or even if I was sick and knew I should have been staying home. If I was forced to miss the gym (due to travel, work stuff, family stuff, etc), I would “double-up” on workout sessions and make up any “missed” programming… even if it meant being at the gym for hours on end.
I was terrified of the scale. Terrified that missing the gym would result in me gaining weight or losing my abs. Terrified of losing “progress,” that my strength would disappear, or that my lift numbers would go down.
I’m really sorry if you’ve experienced any of these same fears, currently are experiencing any of these fears, or are still struggling to be okay with regularly taking time off the gym. While the fitness industry profits off our insecurities and may convince us otherwise, it’s REALLY important to have regular (complete) rest days and time off the gym for your body (and mind) to rest, relax, recover, and recharge from working out. Maximizing recovery is the secret sauce to positive adaptation (whether we’re trying to improve gym performance and lifts, improve our health, or create a change in our aesthetics/appearance).
We cannot drive a car on empty, so how can we expect our body to do the same?
When I first worked to break my exercise addiction and fear of taking days off, I had to change my environment. While I have nothing against CrossFit, I was working out in a toxic gym that took pride in #norestdays and trained 7 days/week. So the first step was switching gyms. I hired a 1:1 coach to immediately hold me accountable to 2 complete days off a week from exercise (7-8k steps, 0 exercise or time in the gym). And I forced myself to sit with the feelings of discomfort/anxiety, began a journaling practice, and starting seeing a licensed therapist regularly.
Now I LIVE for deload weeks (an entire WEEK of little-to-no working out every 6-8 weeks) and rest days are actually the days I look forward to most.
Just remember: the way you eat and exercise should provide freedom and peace of mind.