You guys don’t know this, but I’ve been conducting a secret experiment behind the scenes at BEXLIFE™. What would happen if I took a break from the gym? If I didn’t hit the yoga mat daily? If I didn’t work out AT ALL for an entire month?
SPOILER ALERT - the world won’t end
I get questions about many different health and fitness topics, but there are a few that I get a lot more than others – “How do I lose weight fast?” “How do I lose my belly pooch?” “How do I get rid of love handles – belly fat – big thighs – flabby arms?” On at least a weekly basis, someone asks me, “How do I work out with an injury?” My typical response is to give them a list of exercises or activities that would exclude that specific body part or not aggravate that particular condition, but what I really want to say is, “TAKE A BREAK!”
Take a freaking break, and stop obsessing over your workout routine!
Now I’m not saying that everyone who works out vigorously on a daily basis is obsessed or that tracking your calories and logging your workouts is disordered thinking, but when I look through my instagram feed at picture after picture of beet red sweaty heads coupled with watch faces displaying their calories burned/miles run/fat cells destroyed, I get a little exhausted. It overwhelms me to think about how much time must be spent counting and logging and worrying about whether or not you’ve made some number goal. What overwhelms me even more is thinking about how defeated you must feel when you haven’t hit your goal.
Bex says RELAX
And I’ve been there. I worked my ass off in the gym and followed an impeccable diet for an entire year to look like I do now. But that was years ago, and I’m still doing ok without following some crazy routine. I’m not saying for a second that a clean diet and exercise isn’t crucial to living a healthy life. What I AM saying is that working out isn’t. Working out gets you thin, it gets you strong, it carves out your muscles, and it can make you feel amazing. But exercise is what you need – every day – to be healthy. Take a walk, ride your bike around town, play WITH your kids outside, clean your house the old fashioned way (scrubbing on your hands and knees, ladies… that’s a hella awesome calorie-burner). Through in some simple bodyweight exercises – lunges, squats, pushups, planks – and you’re golden.
So for two weeks (the Color Run 5K on September 1 was my last bit of “working out”), I’ve been eating clean and just doing what I do. Cleaning chicken coops, running after the baby, taking walks with the husband… I haven’t gained a pound, I could run 5 miles tomorrow, and my biceps look the same as they did in my last workout video. Remember Booty Pow? Yeah, it’s been a while.
The point that I want to get across to you is that it’s OK to take a break. I’m not talking about your regular “rest day” or that day when you feel too exhausted to get your workout in, so you just chalk it up to a loss. I’m saying that once you’ve hit your big goals and proven that you’re awesome and strong and FIT, take it easy on yourself. Forcing your body beyond its limits on a constant basis is not sustainable. To me, it feels a little cruel. KINDNESS is sustainable. BALANCE is what nourishes your body and soul.
Do you know what I do when I have an injury? I chill out on my couch with the baby and watch the Real Housewives and bad 80s movies. And I’ve only been injured twice since starting my fitness journey, so most of the time I’m doing it just because… just because it’s good for me. Do you know how I know if I’ve worked out hard enough? I’m really sweaty and tired and my muscles are burning. (And I’m craving Mexican food and ice cream.) I don’t use any sort of machine (or scale) to tell me that I’ve done a good job.
ahhh, memories from my ugly fitness days
I really want to know what you think about what I’ve said here. What’s your workout style? Do you belong to a gym (and do you actually go)? Do you track your calories or keep a food diary? Do you own fitness gadgets like heart rate monitors? WHY do you work out? Is it about the physical benefits? The mental or emotional? Do you ever feel like you work out too much? Let’s discuss. xo
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