How I’m learning to take rest days and not feel bad about it


We all have those days when we just can’t be bothered to exercise and go to the gym. We pressures ourselves into going, step into that gym and sometimes it’s the best workout, and other days you can barely do ten press ups.

When I started taking my fitness more seriously last year, I had my regular twice weekly PT sessions and an outside bootcamp once a week and that was all I ever did. After the bootcamp closed down, I started to go with my friend to the gym more regularly, but still only going 3-4 times a week. I never went solo as I didn’t feel confident at all in going to the scary, male dominant weights area or in what exercises I was doing. I was worried that people would look at me and be saying in their heads “What is she doing?”; of course they aren’t but that feeling is still there and I just have to be confident in my knowledge. Around six months ago, after my gym buddy injured herself, I knew I had to go it alone. I walked into the gym, up to the platforms and smashed out the deadlifts. I texted my PT to let him know I’d finally taken the plunge and he sent motivational messages back telling me I knew what I was doing, to be confident and remember that they scary men are only looking at themselves (this is so so true!).

Once I felt that confidence, I then wanted to go all the time. Going from 3-4 times a week to 5-6 times. Sometimes, on a rare occasion, even going twice a day. I was exhausted all the time, everything hurt. But I felt that if I didn’t go then I wouldn’t tone up, I couldn’t justify that Friday night out and I would never progress with my goals. As I became more toned and defined, I became more obsessed with maintaining the aesthetic quality that comes with lifting weights and worried that a weeks holiday would make me into a wobbly mess and the last years worth of work would disappear. All this worry meant that as a result I got three bad colds in three months. Every illness knocked me back a week and my worries got worse and worse. I’d think I was better, go back to the gym and then be ill again a week later. I also injured my hip and it’s taken six months to finally fix it and get back on form; turns out it was cycling which aggravates it which is annoying.

Other elements of my life started to also affect me in the gym. The stress of a very busy job was affecting my training and being single meant in the evenings I didn’t want to be home alone. I wanted to be doing something and around people and so I went to the gym. The illness, the injuries and the stress all resulted in poor performance at the gym and a lack of motivation to continue when I wasn’t progressing.

It was only after my third cold that my best friend shouted at me and banned me from the gym until I was better; even my PT told me off! I started to listen to my body; was a tired that day and did I want to train? Would I enjoy it or should I see friends or go to the cinema instead? I stopped worrying about losing definition because you know what, missing a week doesn’t make any difference! I added in more rest days and took up yoga to help with the aches and pains (it really does help with stretching and stress and is so much harder than it looks!). I started to not worry if I ate carbs but time them around my workouts. I’m still trying to drink less but I like to be sociable! My workouts are still 5-6 times a week but if it’s less than I don’t punish myself; this week I left my current job and rather than obsessing about my free time and going to the gym, I’ve just gone when I wanted to. I now feel much better in myself and I actually look more toned than before (still no six pack but that’s not everything!). I’m also smashing those PBs, something I’ve not done in a long time.

I’ve learnt that if you just chill out, not put so much pressure on yourself then that’s when you really progress.




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