There is nothing more important than a rest day after a long week of work, exercise, and constant daily activities. Everyone should grant themselves at least one full day of rest in their workout schedule. Take this day to focus on slowing down and practicing different self-care methods. Discipline and working toward a goal are great but understanding the importance of rest is so important for our overall health. Sometimes the hardest thing to physically do is to slow down.
I had to learn this lesson the hard way. There was a time in my life when I was working too hard. I was burning the candle at both ends. I never took the time to take a breath and ground myself. My nervous system never got relax. I was modeling in New York at the time, as well as studying to become a personal trainer. My days were hectic. I’d wake up and do cardio with nothing in my stomach but black coffee. I’d rush to auditions during the day and then weight train in the afternoon. My evenings were filled with networking and going out with friends. In the beginning I was running on adrenaline and excitement, but eventually I hit a wall. It felt like my body was starting to shut down.
My training no longer energized me, rather it left me feeling sore and tired. My muscle soreness was on a level 9 out of 10. I felt like I had maxed out, but I noticed that I wasn’t really building or maintaining any muscle. My body was very lean from burning more calories than I was consuming, but I was also holding onto body fat around my sides and lower abdomen. The stressful and busy life I was living wasn’t allowing for good sleep and it was wreaking havoc on my digestion. Once my symptoms became too apparent to ignore, I started doing research on why I was feeling so awful.
I was only 25 but I had extreme adrenal fatigue, and my cortisol levels were through the roof. My hormones were messed up and I just felt off. My libido felt nonexistent and after more research, I understood that cortisol and testosterone fight over hormone receptors. Therefore, if your cortisol is too high it will beat testosterone to the receptor. Thus, leaving the male master hormone obsolete. I had basically tanked my own hormones because I wasn’t willing to slow down and let my body do what it wanted - recover. My body was begging for rest.
I tell this story to provide some personal insight into why it’s so important for myself to concentrate on recovery any chance I get. Self-care has become a very big part of my life and I love experimenting with different recovery bio-hacks. On my day off, I enjoy doing a variety of recovery modalities. One of my favorites is hot and cold contrast therapy between an infrared sauna and ice bath. Whatever kinks and muscle soreness I may have been experiencing usually go away after a couple rounds of this. It also helps with my mental clarity as well. Another recovery method I enjoy doing throughout the week is soaking in a magnesium bath with Epsom salt. This really loosens up tight muscles and allows me to fully relax and reset.
Self-care and recovery are intertwined with my daily diet. I am very conscious about getting enough protein, eating easily digestible carbohydrates such as fruits and root vegetables, focusing on high antioxidant foods and staying away from food that causes inflammation. After all my workouts I have a protein shake that includes coconut water and the amino acids glutamine and glycine. This combination helps push my body into recovery mode.
If you’re a coffee drinker, try switching to matcha on your recovery days for a less acidic and antioxidant rich energy boost. Matcha contains a potent antioxidant called catechin, particularly gallate (EGCG). EGCG is linked to numerous health benefits. These benefits include reducing inflammation, supporting heart health, and boosting the immune system. The amino acid L-theanine is present in matcha, which has a calming affect on the immune system.
Lakanto has a delicious matcha latte mix that is ready to mix and go. All you have to do is add a scoop to hot water or your milk of choice. I like making a bulletproof style matcha out of it using grass-fed butter and collagen. It’s so good! Head to this link to try it out!
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