Anatomy of a Rest Day

Yesterday, Sunday, was my rest day. Not that it’s an “official” day for me. I’m not that regimented, though I know a lot of people are. It simply turns out that Sundays are usually my rest days and, like most four-letter words, it begins as plenty fun.

For starters, my hyperactive, non-procrastinating, morning-bird of a brain might just let me sleep ‘til seven in the morning when it knows it can’t get up and bust out lifting or cardio right away. Otherwise, around five in the morning is my usual waking up time. Most days, I’m up early enough to get in an hour of lifting, an hour of cardio, a little work and go back to bed for an hour before my husband’s alarm even goes off.

But Sundays? The much-needed rest day? Also like other four-letter words, they can be a distress call. Alarming, frustrating, and not nearly as much fun as I thought they’d be.

The Importance of Rest

For a lot of people who are really into fitness, have orthorexia tendencies, are training for a fierce competition or are simply 100 percent Type-A, rest days can be painful. I’ve felt bored, lazy (especially if I see someone else working out), and it’s very tempting to severely limit my calorie intake to “make up for” my lack of movement.

However, I know the importance of rest days. Just one per week, no more and no less, for those who are highly committed to their fitness. You know the benefits, too. It’s obvious. Your body needs time to rest. To recover, for those muscles to heal and endurance to build back up again. It’s the same reason we try to lift every other day, or at least not work out the same muscles in two consecutive days.

It’s simple: Without rest, your body won’t get as strong, toned, tight and taut as it can. Skipping rest days won’t do you any favors. You’re sabotaging yourself without them.

Still, the brain and the rest of your body aren’t always in agreement. Sometimes your brain isn’t even in agreement with itself! Here’s how my rest days (usually) go:


7 a.m. Wake up: It seems way, way too late to still be in bed. It’s brighter outside than normal. It feels kind of nice, I suppose, but I don’t feel any more rested than my 5 a.m. days. Time for lemon water and green tea.

7:30 a.m. I guess I’ll clean the house since my body and brain are both confused as to why we’re just sitting here. Cleaning isn’t really a workout, right? Otherwise, wouldn’t all maids and cleaning crews be really jacked?

8:30 a.m. That’s enough for now. God, I have a lot of time without workouts scheduled. Should I go to that 9 a.m. yoga class at the gym? What if it’s a gentle class, is that a workout? No, I don’t want to go—and gyms on the weekends are insane anyway.

12 p.m. How long is this day? I mean, it’s nice and all to be able to just hang out, run some errands, and get that Hawaiian shaved ice down the street with all the sugar-free syrups. I’ve tried all the combinations and figured out orange/guava/tamarind is my favorite. I’m sure that fake food coloring is killing me, though. Maybe I’ll just do some work, even though I promised myself I’d try not to work on weekends.

3 p.m. Oh, hell no. Now my husband is saying he’s going to the gym. He has his gym shorts on, so he  must be serious. By law, I think he has to ask if I want to go. No, I don’t want to go to the gym at three in the afternoon, are you insane? I’m a morning person. By now my energy is starting to drain. But then again, I’m really, really jealous and starting to feel like I’m slacking.

5 p.m. Is he seriously still at the gym? How many calories could I have burned by now?

6 p.m. You know what? For once this week, I can’t identify a muscle that’s sore. It must be because I went on a hike yesterday instead of running 1,500 stairs each way at Mt. Tabor. If I’d done the stairs, my butt and thighs would be complaining for sure.

6:30 p.m. Sundays are the longest days. I can’t believe I have to lift in less than twelve hours now. This is actually kind of nice.

7:00 p.m. Should I try on those jeans to water the yard? I don’t know … I feel like I can’t fit into any jeans right now. No workout today means I must have instantly doubled in size. Well, what do you know, they fit.

9 p.m. Ugh, spin class is in 15 hours. It’s better than running, I guess. And more entertaining than a cardio machine. And I can’t just go on hikes every day and call that diverse.

11:00 p.m. Bed time—and my brain is already calculating how many hours until it wakes me up to get back on the weekly schedule.

I’ve obviously left out a lot for 1) brevity and 2) because I highly doubt anyone is interested in all the little nuances somebody does on a Sunday. Really, this is to show that rest days aren’t particularly restful. In fact, they can be really stressful if working out constantly tries to bully itself into being the be-all, end-all of your life. There’s a fine line between fitness and actual fitness freak. Rest days help you keep obsessions in check, but that doesn’t make them easy.


(Photo is personal).


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