Eating during rest days.

One of the things I’ve been trying to do more of since starting spring break (which is almost over 😦 ) is exercise. During the last semester I’ve been falling sadly short in this area. I did get out running a handful of times, did a room workout once or twice and did some yoga, but I really struggled to find time and balance it in with the rest of my life.

Since coming home I have definitely been exercising more, but unfortunately not as much as I would have liked to. Being busy, travelling, extreme cold and feeling under the weather means I’ve only been doing a real “workout” about 3 times a week. I know that this is enough to be healthy, but it has highlighted another struggle that I’m facing, that I’m sure some of you are familiar with.

Eating on rest days. Some days it comes easy (particularly if you’re so busy you hardly have time to eat), but there are days when you are simply ravenous and can’t/shouldn’t work out for some reason or another. This is where ED thought generally come in particularly strongly, telling you to restrict, monitor your calorie intake because you don’t “need the food”.

What I’ve come to realize though, is that this is total bogus. It’s not like building muscles is the only thing your body needs fuel for. Every single moment of every single day your body is burning energy just to keep itself running. It’s repairing tissue, keeping you awake and warm, strengthening your immune system. If you deprive your body of the right amount of fuel it needs to keep running, it suffers, and you suffer as a result. So if you’re on a rest day and you’re extra hungry, it’s not a sign you’re being greedy or gluttenous – it’s a sign that your body is doing something to repair/strengthen itself and listening to your hunger cues is probably the wisest thing you can do.

I know this is probably obvious for many of you, but it’s taking me a while to get this to hit home. I tend to simple ignore my bodies signals on rest days, because I feel that whatever “extra” I’m eating will be stored away into fat (yes,  I know, definite ED mentality there), but there are so many other things your body needs the fuel for, and here’s a quick reminder of some of them:

Protein

Protein helps to maintain and replace the tissues in your body, and it’s found in almost every living cell and fluid. Your muscles, organs and many of your hormones are made up of protein, and it is also used in the manufacture of hemoglobin, the red blood cells that carry oxygen to your body. Protein is also used to manufacture antibodies that fight infection and disease and is integral to your body’s blood clotting ability. Both children and adults need plenty of protein to grow and develop. Protein is a part of every cell in your body, and no other nutrient plays as many different roles in keeping you alive and healthy. The importance of protein for the growth and repair of your muscles, bones, skin, tendons, ligaments, hair, eyes and other tissues is proven since a very long time. Without it, you would lack the enzymes and hormones you need for metabolism, digestion and other important processes.

In short even if you’re not doing strength training, your body STILL needs and adequate amount of protein to keep repairing and building itself. It’s your bodies most basic building block.Try restricting that, and your health will suffer in a major way.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrate-rich foods are the primary source of energy for all body functions. Your body breaks down carbohydrates, or carbs, into fuel for use by your cells and muscles – that’s why eating a moderate amount of carbohydrates is necessary for most people. There are two types of carbs – sugars and starches. Sugars are simple carbohydrates that can be easily digested by your body and include foods like cake, soda, candy, jellies and fruits. Starches are complex carbohydrates that take longer to be digested and include foods such as breads, grains, pasta, tortillas, noodles, fruits and vegetables.

Carbs get a really bad reputation in todays world, particularly if you’re not doing any form of cardio to “balance out your intake”. However, I know from personal experience that when I’ve tried to restrict my carb intake I’ve found myself drowsy, with no concentration or motivation to do anything. So even if you’re doing sendetary work, like studying for instance, you need those carbs (sugars in particular) to keep those brain cells running.

Fat

Fat is the body’s major energy storage system. When the energy from the food you eat and drink can’t be used by your body, the body may turn it into fat for later use. Your body uses fat from foods for energy, to cushion organs and bones, and to make hormones and regulate blood pressure. Some fat is also necessary to maintain healthy skin, hair and nails, so you shouldn’t cut fat out of your diet.

If carbs got a bad name, fat gets a REALLY bad name in some circles. Most people think that if you eat something with a substantial amount of fat, it inevitably gets stored away somewhere on your body. I’ve found that a serving fat is necessary for long term satiation and keeping energy levels stable, Cutting it out from your diet (and I’ve found this out the hard way) results in dry skin, lackluster hair, cracking nails and very low blood pressure. It’s also necessary for the absorption of some very vital vitamins and minerals. So even if you’re not “burning off fat” by exercising, there are still some very important things your body need it for, that won’t make you any “rounder”.

I’m using this as a reminder to myself (more then anyone else) that our body is a precious and delicate machine. By neglecting to take care of it properly we are doing damage that might not been seen today, or even tomorrow, but in the long run it will have an affect on our health and well being. So even if eating on rest days isn’t easy, it’s important to push through those negative thoughts and realize what total lies they are. Because we are worth it!

Do you occasionally struggle with eating on rest days? What reasoning do you use to push back those negative thoughts and “do the right thing?”

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10 comments

  1. Such a great post– our bodies deserve tons of respect and honor for the hard work they do everyday, even when exercise isn’t involved. I sometimes get those guilty feelings of eating more on rest days, but to suppress those thoughts, I just have to keep telling myself what you mention–that food is fuel for repair. 🙂
    Hope you have a wonderful week girl!

  2. This is similar to a post I read and Tessa’s blog and I completely agree with what you’re saying. Our bodies do need nutrition not just for energy but for keeping your organs healthy and repairing itself. The brain carries on developing throughout your teens and by depriving it of nutrition we can do ourselves serious damage! I think that our bodies are great at letting us know what they need, if we learn to interpret the signs properly 🙂 I can understand why it can be difficult but I think you’re doing an amazing job!

  3. I used to struggle with this as well but then realised how stupid I was being because I was really hungry on rest days due to not allowing myself more food if I wanted it. I’m glad that you’re realising it 🙂

    xxx

  4. I struggle with it but I don’t have a say over what I eat on rest days because I’m usually with my boyfriend who just feeds me whenever I even allude to the fact that I am hungry. Guess that’s a good thing.

  5. This is a great reminder, I struggle with rest days. But i realize its just stupid ed thoughts wanting me to restrict. Our bodies need fuel no matter what!

  6. Exactly – our bodies are hard at work all the time, even when we’re sleeping! It’s crucial to keep them running on a constant supply of fuel so that they have the energy and the reserves to climb whatever hill or tackle whatever challenge we ask them to.

  7. This is such an amazing post. I do sometimes get those feeling to eat less on those days that I don’t workout hard, but I just have to remind myself that my body needs the fuel to rebuild muscle and become stronger. Thank you so much for everything you do!!! You are an inspiration to me, Beautiful! 😀

  8. i know this is an old post, but i just have to comment. i found out today the pain i’ve been having in one foot is the result of a cracked bone–which is the result of too much exercise. So now i’m in a cast for at 5-6 weeks, so no running for a while. all the way back to work from the doctor’s office, i was beating myself up for this and thinking of how i cannot eat much now because i’m not able to exercise. then i remembered scanning this old post and managed to find it on your blog! so…a big big thank you for writing this. i am realizing how much exercise, particularly running, is playing a role in what/how much i eat and also in it being THE way i can relax. i guess it’s time to try to find other ways to relax that don’t result in a cracked bone. argh! anyway, thank you for writing this and for making me recognize our bodies need fuel for more than just muscle-repair; they need fuel for just life…


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