Why Recovery Is Essential

The Narrows @ Zion

Why do over 90% of people fail when they attempt to get in shape for the first time?

  • They don’t know what they need to do to get results.
  • They think they’ll lose thirty pounds in January.
  • They promise to work out every day.
  • They drastically change what they eat.
  • The list always goes on.

It’s incredibly easy (and normal, by the way!) to align with this way of thinking.  These mindsets are a parade of unrealistic expectations, which we’ve discussed before at length and they are ingrained in our culture.

But what HUGE additional factor is easy to overlook?

  1. Stress.
  2. New routines are stressful.
  3. Stress is cumulative.

It’s a very American response to stress to go harder when we experience it, and to push further when we’re exhausted.  Ever hear the maxim, “no pain, no gain”?  I see this work-until-you-drop, no-off-switch, Silicon Valley MO in the corporate environment literally every day.  Personally, I am moving out of one of these non-stop work cycles right now.  They are so common that one of my newer clients told me earlier this week: “Nicholle, I can’t remember a day when I was NOT tired.”  This is not the first, or twentieth, time I have heard this during a client interview.

This leads me to believe that many people are already operating on less than a full tank when they begin a fitness program.  Chances are, if you’re already tired, you’ll de-motivate quickly — even when you know that changing your health habits is the best choice for you.  There’s a better way!

Here are some ideas that can help you maintain balance between motion and rest — BEFORE jumping full tilt into a new routine:

  1. Stop working.  Make a commitment to yourself to take at least one day of the week for complete physical and mental rest.  Two may be ideal based on your schedule and ideal workout program (the latter of which I highly recommend determining alongside a qualified fitness professional).
  2. Stand and move more.  In addition to day(s) of rest/light activity, take regular breaks throughout the day from sitting, which can be extremely stressful for the body (and in turn, the mind).  Your body was not meant to sit, and it literally needs to recover from sitting!  Try to move at LEAST five minutes for every hour, and moving every 20-30 minutes is even better.
  3. Sleep!  Adequate sleep is ridiculously underrated in our culture.  It’s a badge of honor to survive (and supposedly thrive) on four hours or less.  According to my physician, most of us need 7-9 hours to function optimally.  Dedicate a few extra minutes each night to turning in earlier to begin building it as your “new normal”.  It will take some time and be worth every minute in improved energy, health and performance.

Apply these consistently, and you’ll have a much higher chance of success in achieving your goal and maintaining your best health for life.

[Photo: The Narrows @ Zion National Park; Springdale, UT]