I went on vacation a few weeks ago with great plans for exercising on the trip. I’d researched local gyms, and had found one nearby that offered a 1-week membership plan – perfect! I’d packed my workout clothes and shoes, along with written details of the strength-training workouts that I’d recently been doing with my trainer at my local gym – carefully noting my current weights and reps for each exercise. I planned to take long walks by the beach, maybe even rent a bike and go for a long (10 miles or so?) bike ride.
And you know what? I didn’t do any of it. Nope, nyet, nada – me, who rarely misses a workout! For a whole week, I barely moved a muscle. And you know what, it was fantastic! Thankfully, I recognized that my body, as well as my mind, needed a complete rest – lots of sleep, repose, gentle treatment, and healthy food. I spent much of the time reclining on the patio with a good book, listening to the sound of the ocean and enjoying the ocean breeze.
I constantly come across articles about how to be a “road warrior” – that is, how to keep up your workouts while traveling. In the past, I’ve worried about losing my edge if I take too much down time, but experience has shown me that this simply doesn’t happen – at least not if my down time is no more than a week or two. I came back, took a day or two to catch up with everything, and got right back to it, without missing a beat. Wow, was that a surprise!
Now the thing I never abandon is healthy eating. I don’t throw caution to the wind when it comes to what I’m putting into my body. Eating right is, for me, an act of self-love, not an act of deprivation. And when I’m not exercising, and (again) listening carefully to my body, I find that my appetite is less than when I’m keeping up my usual exercise routine. I simply don’t need the same amount of food. So if I avoid eating by the clock, or based on habit, but instead I let myself be guided by my internal hunger and satiety signals, then I’m naturally going to be eating less when I’m burning up fewer calories.
It takes more than a week of rest to undo the hard work we do at the gym, so if you feel you need a little time off – go right ahead. Taking an occasional week off can in fact help us make fitness progress in the long run, according to the author of one article. We retain muscle memory for weeks, and so short breaks are unlikely to set us back very far, according to the author of another article.
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Doreen Lerner, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Lifelong Weight Management
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The Institute for Lifelong Weight Management provides education and training. The Full Mind Weigh® is strictly an educational program and is not a substitute for medical or psychological evaluation or treatment. If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, please consult with a qualified mental health professional who is trained to evaluate and treat eating disorders.