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Fit For Life: Spring Forward…Now, REST!

Saturday, March 19, 2016


Haven’t heard so many comments of, “I don’t know why I’m so tired” in quite awhile.  Of course we like to blame that, this time of year, on the turning of the clocks ahead an hour.  All that springing forward is setting us back on our heels – and we think that’s why.  

I have another theory.  Universally, regardless of what time of year it is, we are a tired population.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my 5am warriors who show up energized and pushing forward.  But then they go to work, run around with their kids or the to-do’s of life, and by early in the evening, might be exhausted.  I want to say something about that – just as clearly as I tell people to push through their exercise regime – give yourself a break – rest and recovery is as much part of being successful at fitness as eating the right foods.  You can’t burn it at both ends and be healthy and fit – you might look good – but what is going on in your body isn’t – so stop it. 

Look at rest as part of your personalized path to fitness.

Don’t go and get guilty about taking a nap, taking a day off to rest up, going to bed earlier, etc.  See it as an integral part of fitness. This is important work you’re doing – the Undoing. While I believe that every time you work out you need to bring it on hard, and train like a warrior, preparing to fight gladiators; I also believe that on the flip side, your body must be able to withstand the punishment, and only two things insure that: rest and nutrition. (Hydration falls in the category of nutrition).

It is impossible to train with 100% intensity if you are injured, sore, unmotivated or fatigued. Over training elevates cortisol, that sympathetic fight or flight hormone, and elevated cortisol over long bouts of time, causes your body to enter defense mode making it tougher to burn fat, and it slows down healing, impairs digestion, metabolism and mental function. So you work yourself hard, without attention to rest and recovery, you can end up with a negative result – not a good result, for all your blood, sweat, and tears.  

Other problems associated with over training include recurrent injuries like tendinitis, stress fractures, adrenal fatigue, and chronic fatigue, amenorrhea, or absence of menstrual periods in women, constant muscle & joint soreness, regression (not making any gains in the gym or on the field), exhaustion, illness caused by a weakened immune system, and irritability. 

Take a day off from strenuous physical activity every three workouts, or as necessary. I know there are lots of workout fanatics out there who will say you don’t need to do this, that only working out constantly will get results; but we also need to exercise some common sense, and pay attention to our bodies. Just like when you feel hunger pangs, you eat, so when you feel overly exhausted and sore, - rest. This is perhaps what makes me different than an average personal trainer, because it’s where my holistic training comes into play. My advice - train hard and rest easy.  As with many things in life, it’s all about balance. 

You want to do something that makes you feel good, and relax.  If you say intense exercise relaxes you, you are not doing it right.  No, doing yoga, correctly, isn’t a “break”.  Some yoga classes are as tough as any other workout. 

How to rest & rejuvenate: *  Take a meditative walk, leave your phone and music behind. Get in touch with yourself and nature, by paying attention to your posture, foot strike, breathing fresh air, and core stability.

*  Massage.  Increases circulation which speeds muscle repair, and regeneration, increases disease fighting white blood cells / decreases cortisol, and heals the body. And, it feels great. *  Sleep 8 hrs. This is tough for some, but you need to make the effort. The benefits of sleep are enormous, including mood elevation and mental alertness. Many of our bodies’ major restorative functions like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or in some cases only, during sleep.  Sleep also lowers adenosine levels in your system.  Adenosine levels are thought to lead our perception of being tired. Sleep improves memory, is said to help us live longer, curbs inflammation, spurs creativity, improves performance, sharpens attention, lowers stress, and lowers depression. *  Spa day: what ever you can afford to do...do it!! *  Lay in the grass/hammock and take a nap. 
*  Sit around the house, veg (literally) out, watch a movie or TV – it’s ok.
R-elax E-njoy yourself S-leep T-rain harder
*  Although I’m not an advocate of pharmaceuticals, look at exercise like medication, too much is an overdose, too little is not effective, you need to find the proper dose – and balance between exercise and rest – for maximum success.

Matt Espeut, GoLocal's Health & Lifestyle Contributor has been a personal trainer and health & fitnesss consultant for over 25 years. 


Related Slideshow: The 7 Best Health and Fitness Apps

Here is a list of some of the most obsession worthy health apps.

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MapMyRun is the number one selling running app for a reason:  it is easy to use, offers community support if you want it, and tracks and stores your exact routes for you.  If you are training for a race or a serious runner, users say that the extra perks in the upgraded paid version are well worth it. 

Made for iPhone, Android and Blackberry 

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MyFitnessPal seems to be the clear favorite amongst everyone polled.  It is helpful not only for the fitness tracking aspect, but everyone polled mentioned how much they loved the food/diet aspect as well. From carb counting for diabetics to recipe ideas to complement your fitness goals, users love this app. 

Made for iPhone and Android

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JeFit is another fitness app that has rave reviews.  It not only tracks progress for you, but offers a huge database of workouts.  While many apps offer community support, JeFit allows you to sync workouts with friends who use the app, offering a (real) virtual buddy system.

Made for iPhone and Android

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Strava gets the highest mark of all the cycling apps.  While it is also great for runners, the cyclers seem particularly inclined towards the fierce competition that can be ignited by this app.  You can track all of your rides via GPS, then you can compare your efforts to those logged by others in the community on the same stretch of road.  You can also join ongoing challenges that can net you great prizes (in addition to bragging rights). 

Made for iPhone and Android

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YogaStudio gets the top vote for Yoga apps.  It has a lengthy collection of full class-length videos available at your fingertips.  Unlike many other apps, this one also allows you to customize your own video yoga class.  All of the poses are done by qualified yoga instructors, and you can find classes suitable for all levels of yogis.

Made for iPhone only

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SimplyBeing meditation app offers the best of both worlds.  You can choose to run this app as a background for your meditation with soothing music or natural sounds that run for a set amount of time.  Conversely, for those of you who have trouble focusing during meditation, you can choose a soothing voice-guided meditation. 

Made for iPhone and Android

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Fooducate is an app all about educating people so that they make healthier food choices.  Although not perfect, this app is easy to use (you can even take pictures of bar codes to instantly find foods in their database).  It gives food a letter grade, tells you the pluses and minuses, and gives you better ranked alternatives.  You can also use it as a weight loss tool by tracking your daily calories. 

Made for iPhone and Android


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