Rest Days: A Reckoning

I am both pleased and unsurprised to say I finally need rest days on occasion.

WHAT?

Hah, no, really.

This isn’t a “You told me so” moment — in fact, the opposite in some ways.  Plenty of negative Nancy’s were like OH MY GAWSSSHHH THREE MILES A DAYYYY YOU WILL NEED KNEE REPLACEMENTS YOU WILL RUIN YOUR LIFE PLEASE RESTTTTTTT AND BY THE WAY DEFINITELY EAT TWICE YOUR BODY WEIGHT IN PROTEIN IN CASE YOU NEED IT CAUSE YOU WORKED OUT A LITTLE.

Can you tell by my tone how very much I disagree with those offers of advice?

I’ve always maintained I would eat what I felt I “needed” to eat, and would take a rest day if/when one was needed.

When I was averaging 3 miles a day on the treadmill, I never needed a rest day. I was never sore. I just kept on with my life. Same went for my eating habits; I ate bananas and extra protein near running time, but never felt the need to eat more. In fact, for the purposes of weight loss (and within reason/proportion) it makes no sense to eat back all the calories you just burned. That only really works as a strategy if you’re seeking to maintain.

Now, that being said, things are changing. I run about 4 or 5 days a week now instead of 7. I also tend to run 4-5 miles (usually 5.2) instead of 3. I find myself much more full-body-tired after I run (not immediately after, but in the evening and next day). I am still never sore (no achey legs!) except for in my shoulders and upper back — largely because I have shoulder problems.

FINALLY, the day I knew would come, has come: I can tell when I “need” a rest day or two. Logging 20 miles in four days usually requires a full weekend of rest, depending. I can also tell when I need a little more food. Yesterday evening, I had two “peanut butter spoons” (slightly heaped tablespoons) of Better ‘n Peanutbutter that ate up 2 of my activity points. I felt like I needed it.

It’s not that I didn’t think I’d need rest days. It’s that I got frustrated that everyone else thought they knew what was best for my body. Anyone who knows me should know that I am smart; I research EVERYTHING; I do nothing without thinking it through over and over and over. And so constant reprimands to rest more when I am trying to explain that my body doesn’t need it (or didn’t, at the level I was at, then) and demanding I eat more/suggesting I’m eating too little when I’m trying to explain that I had been feeling GOOD eating the way I was eating — well, those things were pushy, rude, and unhelpful. I know there’s plenty of people who want to support me on this journey, but I’ve done my research and if I’m not soliciting advice, perhaps I don’t want it.

In the end, yes, I now take rest days. But that’s because I’m running 5+ miles, not 2 or 3. And I eat a couple activity points (though never ALL of them — what fool would!?) when I feel it’s needed. And I can tell when it’s needed, because I’ve learned to listen to my body.

That, I think, is something I’m more proud of than anything else specific about my journey: I’m doing what I do without fat-burning pills, without supplements, without fad diets or bad habits. As a result, I’m really learning to listen when my body speaks. Knowing its ebbs and flows, the things it needs, the things it doesn’t. Knowing the ways and limits to which I can push it, and the ways to back away or be gentle. A huge part of Weight Watchers (and wellness) is coming to learn yourself — if you’re doing WW right, you too will be becoming friends with your body, and understanding its intricacies.

My advice to you, dear readers, is to work hard on doing the same. Know when others are being helpful, too, and when (conversely) they might just be contradicting your vote of confidence in your body. THIS IS NOT ME SAYING TO DEVELOP BAD HABITS OR UNSAFE HABITS OR TO STARVE OR TO OVER-EXERT YOURSELF. Moreso, this is me saying: “If I wouldn’t accept someone’s unsolicited advice about my very personal, intimate and private emotional relationship with Chelsea because, well, ‘how would anybody else know better than Chelsea or me?’ then why would I accept what someone else tells me about the relationship I have with my body?”

My body and I.

My body and me.

Me and mah bod.

Awhile ago, we didn’t need rest days or peanut butter spoons.

Now, we do.

I know it, because she told me.

And I listened.

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