You know that kind of sick where you can’t even move? That’s the kind of sick I’ve been for the last few weeks. Luckily, it was not Covid-19 but it really through me off any semblance of a schedule or plan I may have had in every part of my life!
I knew if I wanted to get better, I was going to have to respect what my body was telling me so I didn’t work out and I slept a lot. When I wasn’t sleeping I was resting. I even called in sick to work one day, which I never do! I also took about 2 1/2 weeks off of any kind of exercise. No yoga, no walks, and definitely no lifting!
When I was ready to go back, I took it easy on myself. I did a few days of restorative yoga, then a little bit more energetic yoga, and finally fit in a 20 minute strength workout yesterday. I think by next week, I’ll be back on my normal schedule, which I’m very excited about! You really have to respect what your body tells you when you’re sick or injured, otherwise you’ll end up just making your rest period all the more longer. You aren’t going to gain a bunch of weight and you’re not going to lose a tremendous amount of your fitness level if you allow your body to rest and heal.
While I was resting, I got a new cookbook with lots of macro-balanced recipes and I’ve already started testing them. Stay tuned for the results, including the protein brownies that are in the oven right now!
As I write this, I just finished my first workout in two days. I planned to take Sunday as a rest day but when Monday came around, I listened to my body and knew I needed an extra one.
Rest days are important. They help heal your body from the strain you put it through during your workouts. Sometimes you also need the mental break from working out. Whatever the reason, no one ever lost all their fitness or weight loss from taking a rest day here and there. Could I have forced myself into my gym yesterday? Probably, but that extra day of rest allowed me to tackle the workout today with heavier weights and more energy.
Even an active rest day can be beneficial. Taking a walk or a bike ride, doing yoga or swimming in the pool; these are all great active rest days that allow you to physically and mentally take a break. You can even stretch or foam roll!
But sometimes sleep doesn’t love me back! Between a husband who snores, an elderly dog who is up several times throughout the night and crazy blood sugar numbers that need attention at 2am from my daughter, sleep has been fleeting the last few months. When all the stars align and I can sleep without having to get up, it’s a feeling like no other!
Why is sleep so important? You probably know that you feel better and think better when you’ve had a good nights sleep. Did you also know that sleep allows you body to slow down, rest and get stronger? Your blood pressure decreases which helps your heart functions. It also regulates your blood sugar and helps prevents type 2 diabetes. You are also less hungry if you are well rested and are less likely to give into unhealthy temptations.
On the flip side, lack of sleep can make you cranky, as my family can attest to first hand! It also impairs your cognitive functions like problem solving and alertness. Chronic sleep loss can increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and type 2 diabetes. It also ages you and give you puffy or listless skin. It messes with your metabolism and can cause you to gain weight. If I wake up too tired, it’s hard to get motivated to workout and my best chance to work out is first thing in the morning. For me, too tired equals no workout, which makes me feel even worse!
So how can you get the best sleep possible? For me, I try and keep a consistent schedule where I am in bed no later than 11pm and I get out of bed between 6am and 6:30am. (If it’s been a particularly sleepless night, I may sleep longer than 6!) I also cut caffeine, at first just after lunch and now it is rare that I drink coffee at all. Everyone in my family, even my 10-year-old, benefits from a little melatonin about an hour before bedtime. I prefer Good Day Chocolate and my husband prefers the Zzzquil gummies. A good cup of Sleepytime or chamomile tea may help as well. I also try and limit my screen time on my iPad while I’m in bed and I recently invested in a Kindle, which doesn’t use blue light and doesn’t disrupt your sleep. Of course, a good workout during the day along with keeping balanced macronutrients through the day helps too.
And as unpopular as it may be, especially during the stress of a pandemic, limit the alcohol you drink before bed! Any deep sleep you get when you first lay down after many drinks will be ruined by the disruptions that will come throughout the night because your circadian rhythm is off. This goes the same for a heavy meal or snack right before bed. The only time I’ve ever had a good workout after a night of drinking is my forced morning runs in Las Vegas!
Here’s hoping the stars align for us all to get a good nights sleep!