Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I'm Sick and I Don't Want to Admit It: When to Take a Day OFF
Even though we may be past the worst of 'cold and flu season' the weather is still crummy and there are plenty of people hacking and sniffling away! As they say, "We aren't out of the woods yet," and to prove just that both Amanda and I were struck with a bug. I'm going out on a limb here and inviting karma to kick me in the butt once again, but I am pretty lucky in that I don't get sick all too often and probably do take that for granted. (To be fair I'm completely OCD about washing my hands and I'm also the one you laugh at who uses paper towels to open the doors of public restrooms!)
Now, I'm equally neurotic about getting in my workout no matter what. Some people have the opposite problem, I know, but for me recognizing when to take a day off is the challenge. (For this, it is a case of do as I say, not as I do because it's actually much better to take at least one day off a week to allow the body to recover and regroup!) Yet last week it hit me; it wasn't a slow decline of energy and lapse into sickness, but rather a full sledge hammer bodyslam. There was no way I was getting my workout in...much less doing more than get out of bed, my body made the decision for me.
As antsy as I was and irritated that I was sick, which meant no workout, I knew that the best thing to do was REST. Funny, because that was the hardest medicine to swallow. Plowing onward when you clearly need a break will always backfire in that eventually that will catch up to you and it will do so exponentially. The longer you refuse to acknowledge you're overly tired the longer you'll string out your recovery. Knowing when to decide if you're okay to train through a sickness or sluggish feeling and when you need to pull back is hard to do. Some people are OCD like me and have trouble taking the time off and others are at the opposite end of the spectrum and use a hangnail as an excuse to get out of the gym. Finding the balance is the key and you do that by not only being in tune with your body but then actually listening to it.
While I hunkered down in the bed and cursed the heavens above for the bug, I knew that it was more a mental trial than anything else and I also knew that even though I didn't want to admit it I needed a break and I should treat my body with the rest it needed. What also helped get me through it is that in giving myself that rest I'd be getting over the cold faster and *ta-da* I'd be back to my regularly scheduled workouts sooner! Ironically, while over in Oregon the day after my bedrest I got a call from Amanda in New York and she was complaining of the exact same malady...we were both sick and more than being frustrated about catching a cold we were miffed we weren't able to get our sweat sessions in!
So, people, yes we should all love fitness, but in being fit individuals I think we tend to be more in tune with our bodies than the average folk...but that means we need to listen to those cues it gives us. For those who struggle with backing off, know it's okay to admit we need to rest sometimes. Okay now, but for those who tend to be on the other side of the spectrum I'll offer some tough love and say, "If it's a hangnail put a band-aid on it and suck it up!" :)