When I first got into fitness, I fell in love. I loved the way I felt, I loved how strong I was getting and exercise became my escape. When I started to see the benefits of exercising four times a week, I thought that if I did six times a week, the greater results I'd experience. I religiously went to the gym six days a week and reluctantly took the seventh day off- in my mind, more equaled more. I carried on working out like this for many years and over those years, I developed an abundance of injuries. The first injury I got was a stress fracture in my tibia (shin bone) from excessive running and jumping. At that time, running made me feel alive. I had gone through so much pain in my youth that running made me feel like I could escape everything for that moment. I would run 10-15km a day on top of weight lifting for another hour. The impact my body was taking was too great and eventually it broke down the best way it knew how.
When I fractured my tibia, I could hardly walk. I wasn't able to put any pressure on my leg without it hurting and I was forced to stop running. After a painful visit to the physio, I was told that I wasn't going to be able to run again for 6 months. I remember exactly where I was when I heard those words even to this day. I burst out crying in his office and with a compassionate heart, he had consoled me that it wasn't going to be forever. He designed me a back to running program where, just as he said, I was running again 6 months later.
You think I would have taken a cue from that injury to slow down a little, but I just couldn't. Exercise wasn't about being healthy for me at that time- it was my escape from reality. The more issues I had that I refused to deal with, the more I would exercise. The next injury I faced was a shoulder dislocation while exercising, then I sprained my lower back while kickboxing, I fractured a bone in my foot, then I tore my hamstring, quad and hip flexor all on the same leg within a year because I wouldn't slow down and give my body rest. Those were the main injuries, not to mention all the little aches and pains I pushed through because "more equaled more" and the 'no pain no gain" mentality I had.
How many of us think like this? It makes logical sense that if you can get results doing a moderate amount of something, how much better will the results be if you do more f it!? This is usually not the case though. Why? Because rest is a critical component of our lives that we need in order to regenerate physically, emotionally and spiritually. Our body needs adequate rest in order to function the way we want it to. Without recovery, we simply get injured- the body will slow us down for us. Without mental rest, we can easily become exhausted. In fact, we can't learn much of anything if we over work! Studies have shown that our attention span is between 20-45 minutes max, which means that we need to take a mental break (even 10 minutes) in order for us to function at a high level. We also need spiritual rest; we need to put down our weapons against ourselves and others and sit in the peace and love that comes from being one with God.
When you give yourself constructive criticism, it can be a good thing that pushes you forward, but if you constantly judge and criticize yourself, it will drag you down and keep you from moving forward. When I became aware of how over exercising wasn't helping my body and started to give myself the rest I needed, my body started to change- I dropped 3 dress sizes in two years without even thinking about it. My husband brought this up to me one day when I was being overly critical of myself. He told me that just like I believed exercising as hard as I could every day was going to make me better, I also believed being hard on myself relentlessly was going to make myself better. I wasn't getting better emotionally though, I was always depressed and felt like I could be better- I was never content.
Thinking about dropping my weapons against myself seems counterintuitive because I've been hard on myself for so many years. It did serve a purpose for a time, but it's no longer serving me well anymore. I think we all need to take a rest from the judgment and criticism we give ourselves every day if we want to become more content and joyful people. Just like over exercising isn't going to give you the body you want, being overly critical isn't going to give you the life you want either. Put your weapons downs, take time to rest and be kind to yourself. Your body, mind and spirit will flourish when you do. More doesn't usually equal more.
Are you a believer in more = more? Do you feel exhausted, frustrated, depressed, or are you always injured? It may be time for you to develop a new mindset about rest and recovery in all areas of your life. Your body, mind and spirit need proper rest- make sure you give it freely. Thanks so much for reading!
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