Mental Health · Nutrition · Workouts

Why resting is as important as the workout

So in writing all of these blog posts, I’ve realized I failed to mention something somewhat important to me and my fitness journey: I’m dating a personal trainer.

To be clear, I’m not doing this blog because of him — I’m doing it for me. I’m incredibly lucky to have him supporting and motivating me, offering me tips and, yes, sometimes training me. I’ll admit that sometimes I get self-conscious when comparing my athleticism to his but I also know that I bring other things to the table (I’m a mad oboe player, y’all).

I bring this up because my boyfriend has really helped re-frame the idea of workout recoveries for me. Some myths I used to believe about post-workout recovery:

  • Being sore is the goal forever and always
  • When you workout, you can veg as much as you want the rest of the time
  • Eat what ever want post-workout
  • If you feel fine, you don’t need to recover

For fitness newbies like myself, it’s hard enough getting to the gym in the first place. But having to think about what happens after? Why does that matter if I already did the hard work?

Well as it happens and is the general consensus, the post-workout recovery time is when your muscles actually start to grow. So resting is just as important as the workout. Aha, my laziness finally comes in handy!

Well, sort of. I’ve learned from my boyfriend* that recovering doesn’t just mean an excuse to munch on some Ruffles in front of your favorite movie (not ashamed to admit my favorite movie is “The Sound of Music.”).

But resting and refueling is important, especially after an intense workout. And how you recover will all depend on the type of workout you do and how new you are to it. When I first started weightlifting, my muscles hurt so badly that sitting on the toilet was an exercise in torture. Now? I can sit on the toilet no problem! Take rest days for as long as your body is telling you to (but seriously, don’t use that as an excuse to rest indefinitely).

If you’re totally new to working out, take it easy and rest well. I’m good at that. But I’ve been working out long enough that my body feels fine engaging in active recovery like a nice hike, a ballet class, some body weight workouts, or chasing my cats around the yard.

And obviously crucial to the rest period is sleep. I’m an occasional sufferer of insomnia sometimes due to stress and anxiety, sometimes because I can’t tear myself away from my phone, and sometimes because Mercury was in retrograde and sleep just wasn’t in my cards. But sleep is so important to your mental and physical health, so please ignore all advice that you should squeeze that workout in and sacrifice an hour of sleep. And to get a good night’s sleep, don’t workout too close to bed time. 

Eating the right foods before and after working out is important too. There are a million zillion blogs out there with recipes of what to eat before and after and when, so I’m not gonna go there. But the general consensus, again, is to get some protein and complex carbs into your system to both fuel your energy and help you maximize recovery. It seems like silly, obvious advice — don’t forget to eat! — but something I often forget. Just the other day I skipped a meal before some tough cardio and man, I felt awful afterward. Don’t do that.

Lastly, take your recovery seriously! I know that I used to treat the time between workouts as my “reward” for being active and an excuse to be lazy. And on the flip side, gym addicts might see rest time as unproductive and being lazy. But seriously, take it seriously!

Looking for other advice on post-workout recovery (or anything about fitness)? Checkout my new Pinterest board:

I’ve also started a new YouTube channel with videos of my workouts and, *special bonus,* videos of my adorable, temperamental cats:


*Disclaimer: In case you’re wondering the validity of my boyfriend’s advice don’t worry, I triple fact-check everything he says. As a former reporter, he’s used to my incessant questioning like “Do you have data or research to backup that claim?”




4 thoughts on “Why resting is as important as the workout

  1. #CS5711 Hi Heather, thanks for the article, I also like your title to your blog. It is the reason that I chose to take a look at it. It’s nice to have your boyfriend as a personal trainer, talk about free training you can take advantage of. Getting rest is crucial to working out but also in life. Recovery time allows the body to adapt to the stress of the exercise and allows it to replenish the energy. I also have insomnia and don’t sleep much, so I understand the pressure it puts on your body. Great article, and well written.


  2. Heather, I like this article a lot as sleeping is my favorite part of being physically active. Working out makes sleeping, eating, and living so much better and I am glad that the importance of rest is being underlined by physical trainers today. I personally recommend protein for weight lifting as it seems to give me the boost I need to power through sets and reps of lifting, and I eat carbs before cardio as it seems to boost my energy in the sort term. Everyone is different but I like to try different techniques to see if I stumble on something that works better for me.



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