A quick cardio session typically gets me going in the morning. It does for me what coffee does for most people.
But it doesn’t always work.
Today I felt dispirited and out of sorts. I’ve been frustrated by the pace of my progress and my lower back was hurting. Although I know that doing strength training is the best cure for my aching back, I couldn’t find the willpower to force myself through my workout routine.
Instead, I went to a yoga class. Throughout my yoga practice, I felt bad about allowing myself to give in so easily.
Later, I messaged Carlos, my physical therapist and movement coach, to confess that I let frustration win today by skipping my exercises and going to yoga.
I mused that maybe I’d go later, but also wondered if I should rest. One of my biggest challenges is discerning when I’m just weaseling out and when I really need to rest.
Carlos, who has held space for the wide range of resistance I can bring to the process of change, responded with his typical compassion and non-judgment:
If you’re feeling worn down take a rest day. Usually your warmup should make you start to feel better. If you’re feeling worse after, it’s a good indicator that you should take a day off.
Carlos has lectured me extensively on the importance of rest and recovery in my training process.
His lectures have echoed everything that every coach, trainer, and healer has said to me over the years.
Training Like An Athlete Means Recovering Like One
I train like an athlete, but I don’t recover like one. Recovery is both physical and mental. It’s a crucial phase of muscle growth and regeneration, and important part of the process for the nervous system to adapt and recover.
The mixed signals that my nervous system sends my body regarding pain and danger are a major cause of my dysfunctional movement patterns.
A big part of my training with Carlos has been about retraining the nervous system: helping it see that it doesn’t have to live in fight-or-flight mode.
Yet even with the external permission, and even knowing that my body and mind need the rest, it’s still hard to give myself permission to rest.
The Practice of Rest
They say the thing you teach others is the thing you most need to learn.
Maybe that’s why I’m always drawn to write about rest.
Rest is my kryptonite. I know I’m not alone in this.
Because rest is where I struggle, rest is my practice.
Today, the first step in my practice was to reframe my self-judgment.
I did not let my frustration win; I let my inner wisdom win.
The body knows what it needs and tells us.
One piece of the practice of rest is to let the mind get out of the way.