When to leave the workout routine at home

04.13.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

AP Photo

By Becky Johnson, Certified Personal Trainer (ACE); IBNFC Certified Nutrition Coach

Do vacation and exercise go together?

The answer is up for debate.

As I was on vacation this past week, I had an internal battle going on in my head. I know I should be relaxing and enjoying the time away with my family. But in the back of my mind, I felt like I needed to keep up with my workouts. I went to the gym and ran as I would have at home. It got me thinking about how obsessed or consumed I am by my exercise routine and how it plays such a big part in my life, my schedule and my moods.

As a trainer, I’m always telling my clients that it’s okay to take a break once in a while. There is a very real risk of overtraining that can lead to injury or weight loss plateaus. Neither of which is something you want after working so hard!

So, why couldn’t I take my own advice? Trainer, train thyself!

I came up with four questions that may be useful to ask myself in order to understand why:

1. Do you willingly take a break from exercise? Or does it have to be forced? To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever willingly taken a break from exercise. I’ve had to when I’ve had my many injuries but seemed to find a way to still do lat pull downs and push ups with a broken finger. Listening to your body and being proactive to avoid an injury or an overuse issue can be much healthier.

2. Does it feel good to take a break or does it make you feel panicky? When I had surgery last November, I had no choice but to rest and recover for three weeks. It was very hard for me. I was so used to being active everyday that I actually felt guilty about sitting around and resting. I really did get panicky! How crazy is that?! But I realized that my body needed to heal and that was so much more important than anything else. I needed the rest for my body to get stronger. Haven’t I said something like that about recovering after lifting weights in another blog? Your body needs to repair the muscles in order for it to get stronger.

3. If you panic, what are you afraid of? Well, the first fear is gaining back the weight or losing the muscle and strength that you’ve worked so hard for. If you don’t use it, will you lose it? In a week of vacation, you most likely will not lose your strength or cardiovascular fitness. Any longer than two to three weeks of time off and you will start to see a decline and deconditioning start. But have no fear. Once you start back to your routine, you gain back what you had fairly quickly.

4. Have your feelings of “time off” changed over the years? I know mine have. In my younger days, I had no problem taking time away from fitness - I was glad to! Now that I’m older, I know I have to keep up my workouts and be diligent with my nutrition because pre-menopause is a cruel, unrelenting and persistent foe.

So what I have learned from this?

To actually take a full, real vacation.

If I want to exercise by doing fun things with my family or if it’s to go on a run, that is okay. But I’m not going to let it dictate how my time is spent. I know my body and if I really listened to it, it was telling me to slow down and take a break.

We go on vacations to rewind and recuperate from our crazy, busy lives, not to continue at the same breakneck pace! When you take your next holiday, be more mindful of where you are and who you’re with and only think about how wonderful and rich your life is!

Stay Fit and Healthy,

Have fitness questions for Becky? Leave them below and she'll answer them in an upcoming post!

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