I have been regularly exercising since my 30s so for about 15 years. I am quite relaxed about taking breaks over holidays as I know my fitness and strength levels don’t really drop that much in two weeks. Any longer and I notice it negatively affects my wellbeing and my mood. However I recently took a two month holiday from the gym which was a first.
If I have had an injury or niggle I have always been able to change my routine and work around it. However this time I was tired and weary. Which sounds a bit of a pathetic excuse, and I have heard a lot of excuses when I worked as a PT! However, if you’re a women in your 40s and your hormones are also going a bit funky you’ll know what I mean. This is also known as the Peri-menopause
Tiredness crept up slowly, my summer holidays wasn’t as rejuvenating as usual and I came back feeling like I had never been away. I also had a successful few months at the gym where I was making great progress with the weights programme I was following. So if a little is good, a lot is better right! I added in an extra day of training which in retrospect meant it was a day’s less rest. Which probably would have be fine 10 years ago.
Rest days are important as our bodies are in a constant state of repair and regrowth. There is a fine balance between rest and training days. Too little training and we will not see any benefits, too much training will put a strain and stress on the body. Sleeping well plays a big part in our general wellbeing. The physical repair when we sleep happens sleep 10pm-2am. Psychological repairs occur between 2pm and whenever we wake up.
Getting to bed early and having a good night sleep it top priority!
We are used to charging our phones etc when we see the batteries are getting low, but we are generally not so great at doing that ourselves. We do have biofeedback information from our bodies that tell us we need to slow down but we often ignore it and keep going. Often PMS symptoms increase, for some they become hungry all the time. Things that used to be a joy are now a chore.
Listen to what your body is telling you rather than fire fighting the symptoms. Sometimes we need to just stop and listen for a while.
Instead of exercising I have been moving more. Most days I include long walks often in a park with lots of greenery which is very good for relaxing and reducing stress levels. I attend a weekly Pilates class which also includes a 30 mins walk each way.
I know my fitness level will have dropped but interestingly my shape has not changed. Which I’m delighted about this means I have adapted my eating to accommodate the fact that I’m have not been exercising and have therefore needed less calories.
It wasn’t a conscious decision to take two month off, that’s just how long I felt I needed. I have slept in until 7am rather than getting up early to go to the gym. The fact that the clocks changed so it is still dark at 7am mightily helped!
I am taking my time to get back into the gym, starting with exercise I find easy and enjoy and writing a new exercise programme rather than amending the one I had when I stopped. December is usually a quiet time in the gym before the January rush so it’s a good time to start up and I’ll probably get the gym to myself!
Are you adding in when you need to be taking away. We are coming into one of the busiest times of the year. How can you make life less stressful. Decide, ditch or delegate!
Samantha Valand is the author of “The Menopause Diaries: A practical guide to healthy eating and exercising in your menopausal years”.
You can find out more about her book here.