It’s been a while since I gave a personal update. I’ve been keeping up with working out, either going to the gym or doing at home workouts. I’ve also gotten much better at restricting my calories and keeping count. All that said, I still haven’t lost more than my initial few pounds. The optimistic side of me hopes that’s because I’ve been building some muscle, which I believe a bit because I actually have gone down a dress size and there’s a bit less around my stomach to grab onto.
I know I still have a way to go but I do feel better and I’m excited to keep working out and blogging.
Okay. My dad told me, too. Today I wanted to talk about the science behind rest days and also giving into your cravings. I’ve talked about it before but I have a tendency to dive head first into things, start to drown, and then never go back to that pool. But my dad’s right about the best approach and I have the science to not only back it up, but tell you the best way to do rest days.
In researching this post I found a great summary by Jonathan N. Mike, M.S. and Len Kravitz, Ph.D. with the University of New Mexico. Their article compiles a bunch of questions and answers about rest and recovery days, some of which I want to highlight here. There’s a few different kinds of recovery and while they focus on all of them, I’d like to actually talk about training recovery, which is what a lot of people are talking about when they think of rest days.
Basically, the amount of rest days really depends on the size of the workout. It’s absolutely logical. If you do a huge, full body workout, you may actually need up to two full rest days. However, if you’re primarily doing low impact, low cardio exercises like a yoga workout, you may not even need a full day off in between workouts. This is in part because of what happens during your workout. The Huff Post has an interesting article that talks about that here but to summarize, as you workout, your muscles are forming tears along the side. I had always heard that as a kid but I thought they meant the muscles are tearing in half or breaking when really, it’s more along the lines of how your skin forms stretch marks. It’s these tears that are causing your pain. Additionally, as you’re working out you’re changing the chemical composition inside those muscle groups. Your body converts oxygen to create the chemical ATP which gives your muscles the energy they need for your workout. In your recovery, you’re allowing your chemical balance to even out and improve oxygen levels.
Whew. That was a lot of science. What does it mean for your workout schedule? A lot. Basically, the more steady and manageable your workout is, the fewer rest days you’ll have to have. But even if it’s super low-impact, low-cardio workouts, you’ll still want to have a few of them a week to help your muscles work efficiently. If you’re really stubborn, you can rest one set of muscle groups and focus on a different set that day. But again, you still want full, actual rest days. Skipping your rest days can lead to fatigue and actually plateaus your progress.
The next thing I wanted to talk about was food cravings. In an interview with Glamour, dietitian Jesse Cording talks about how allowing ourselves to indulge in small amounts of our cravings every once in a while helps us to not feel like we’re being left out of our favorite foods. It’s easier to stick to a long term healthy diet if you’re not totally cutting out certain foods. While you definitely need to control portions, allowing yourself to have a donut once in a while means that you won’t want to quit your diet altogether AND, when you do give in, your body will be able to handle it a bit better as opposed to feeling like you’re trying to digest a rock.
These veggie pot stickers are easy, delicious, and come out to be about 200 calories per serving (about 6 pot stickers). Feel free to modify it to your favorite veggies!
Makes 12-16 pot stickers
1/4 head cabbage, chopped into ribbons
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1/2 squash, diced
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/4 onion, diced
1 tbsp ginger
1 handful cilantro diced
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
12 pot sticker wrappers (mine are 60 calories for 4 wrappers)
1/4 cup water
Prepare your veggies by dicing everything to be pretty small. You’re wanting to get an even mixture when you fill the wrappers.
Spray your pan, then add all of the veggies minus the cilantro. You can add your vinegar and soy sauce as well. You want your stove to be on a medium heat. You’re just trying to cook some of the water out of the mixture. Stir every few minutes.
Once your veggie mixture is about half the size it was, you can remove it from heat and add your cilantro. Give it a good stir, then set aside to cool.
When you’re ready to make your pot stickers, set your pan up on the stove on a medium heat with another spritz of cooking spray and about 1/4 cup water. As it heats up, add your filling to your wrappers, lining the sides with a bit more water, then pinching them closed. You can go for looks but the most important thing is that the dumpling is sealed completely.
Add all pot stickers to your pan at once and cover, letting them steam for about 5 minutes. If your pan is too hot, the bottoms will burn while the tops won’t be cooked enough. You may want to try a tester dumpling to start. sometimes I’ll flip my pot stickers halfway through if I’m in that kind of a mood but it’s optional based on how doughy you like yours.
You’re ready to eat! If you serve with 1/4 cup of white rice, tack on another 50 calories.
You know when you’re a kid learning to ride your bike? And you just. Keep. Falling. And every time you fall, it really, really sucks. Like, it hurts and it’s humiliating and awful. And you’re a kid so your whole world is pretty much riding this bike so it’s pretty much literally the worst thing to ever happen to you each time you fall down.
BUT. Here’s the thing. You (probably) know how to ride a bike now. Which means one thing. Every single time you fell, you got back up and kept riding. And you learned. You grew. You are better at riding a bike now.
That’s the kind of long-term thought you need. Because you’re not going to have lost all your weight by tomorrow. You’re not going to wake up tomorrow and suddenly be able to run a marathon. Setting expectations like that for yourself is just going to make you disappointed and guilty.
When you’re thinking about your goals, give yourself enough time to accomplish them. And when you’re working on them, make sure that you keep picking yourself off the ground. You will stumble. We are imperfect humans. But remember that in a few months, you’ll really know how to ride a bike.
Sometimes, I find Alexander and his Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day to be extremely relatable. Today I had planned to till the back yard. When I woke up, it was raining and even after it started drying up, the tiller wouldn’t start. Now I’m moody and I skipped my workout anticipating the yard work. So, what are we going to do about it?
Well, not working out is not really an option. Not for me anyway. Rest days are definitely good and you should have them. I just don’t really define rest days as days where I don’t do anything at all. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t sometimes skip your workout. We all have really bad days, get sick, are too busy, or have other reasons to just… skip it. But on days when I want something light or if I just don’t want to work out because I’m in a bad mood, this is a better option.
10 Minutes of Yoga
We’re going to start this lazy workout with some really good yoga. Now, don’t get me wrong, Yoga can get super intense and there are moves that have me on my booty after a few seconds of trying to hold the position. But it’s also easy to do the easy stuff! Yoga is great because anyone can do it and most of the basic stuff, you don’t even need any extra equipment. Here’s my lazy day yoga routine:
Minimum Effort Cardio
This is a bit harder but honestly, you should still get your heart rate up even if you’re not going for your usual run. You can go through this routine pretty quickly though:
10 Mountain Climber
30 Seconds Run in Place
20 Jumping Jacks
10 High Knees
30 Seconds of butt-kicks
30 Seconds of Jump Rope (optional)
Repeat this another two times to get a decent cardio workout on an off day!
No Equipment Strength Workout
I think a lot of these are good for at-home workouts anyway, even on normal days. Just increase or decrease your intensity or reps. I won’t give exact numbers on this, it’s just good ideas for what you want to include in your rest-day workout.
It’s been a bit over a week now that I’ve been consistently working out and honestly, I have a lot of thoughts.
The difference isn’t immediate
For one thing, it’s almost hard to say if I feel better or not. I always kind of figured that if I was working out consistently and eating better, I’d notice the difference right away. I will say that I think I have a bit more energy overall.
That goes for your weight too
I also thought that I’d see a bigger drop in my weight-loss right off the bat. A lot of people and blogs have said that there’s a big drop at the beginning and then it kind of plateaus. It’s possible that I just haven’t hit that point yet, but for right now, it just seems to be at a steady, healthy level of weight-loss. I’ve dropped about two pounds and am optimistic that I can lose a bit more soon.
Finding a good middle-ground
In the past I’ve gone into getting in shape really hard and with little to no build up. This time I think I’ve found a really good pace that is definitely pushing me, but it’s not pushing so hard that I can’t keep going. It’s one of the biggest problems I’ve had. Everyone’s middle-ground is going to be different too. Mine feels so low but I’ve worked up to running a mile and I’m starting to feel better about my basic routine.
Counting calories is so hard!
The most important thing starting off is to just LOG EVERYTHING. You really have to get into a good habit of recording everything you eat (and drink if it’s not water). It’s super tempting right off the bat to lie to your calorie counter. “I only ate 15 chocolate covered raisins, plus 10 you don’t need to know about” only hurts you in the long run. Your calorie counter couldn’t care less if you lie to it. It’s YOU who should care. Now that I’m starting to get into that good habit, the next step is actually cutting back on calories. That’s super hard too. The best advice I’ve seen for it is to change your mindset. Don’t focus on how much it sucks you can’t have ice cream or how it will make you skinny to skip that dessert. Instead focus on whether or not you’re hungry to begin with or if that food option is the one that’s going to make you feel best long term.
Find a rewards system
We are reward oriented. It’s so helpful to have a reward system set up for yourself so you can get through the day-to-day. Focusing long term can be super hard. Yes, long term your reward is feeling better and maybe something else you’ve promised yourself down the road. But it can make it easier if you also promise yourself small things like “If I stay below my calorie count this week, Friday I can have frozen yogurt!”
My Day 9 Mini Update
I want to see rewards so bad. Today was a rest day so I just did a mile at the gym. I’ve got a lot going on and I’m not sure when I’ll have time for everything. Just have to focus on moving one step in front of the other, I suppose.
It’s the first day of Week 2 in my health journey and I’m so excited to keep going. I had a super early run this morning and I still need to get in my HIIT workout for the day (if you guys are interested in seeing what I’m doing, you can find that workouthere). My biggest issue hasn’t actually been with keeping up my workouts, but more with counting my calories. It’s just so ingrained in me that I want to snack, it’s hard to resist in the name of weightloss.
As for what I’ve included in my second week workout and why, my bare minimum is to do cardio every day. Most days that means at least a mile on the treadmill, but I’ve included the stair climber and elliptical on one day to help me train for going on more hikes this summer. The end goal there is to not be panting on a 1 mile trail. Since the stairs are a bit higher impact I thought I’d split that day with a low impact elliptical run to finish it off.
The HIIT workouts are intense but a fun challenge and really push you to your limit. I’m still modifying the planks and burpees a bit, but we’re getting better. Later this week, I’ll post exactly what my arm, leg, and core day workouts look like so you can train with me if you’d like.
On a final note, I’m so happy to be a part of Amazon’s Affiliate program, especially because I get to share with you guys a special offer for Audible. I love listening to audio books when I workout, especially Harry Potter. And right now, if you guys sign up for a free trial through my link here, you get TWO free audio books. It’s such a great tool for your day, and you can help support this blog!