The Importance of Rest Days and How to Make Them Actually Happen

These days, most of us feel like we need to constantly do more. We’re on the move, we take on more and more, and we push ourselves to our limits (and beyond). Whether we’re doing it in an effort to gain strength, be the best at what we do, prove something to ourselves, or give the best to the people around us, the results are the same. We’re not setting aside enough time for rest. Even when we get home after a long day to unwind, our brains are still wound up due to the extra time spent scrolling through Instagram and Facebook or refreshing our email.

It’s easy to think about a “rest day,” as simply a day without a workout. We use that phrase a lot when it comes to fitness. However, a rest day is really about recharging both the body AND the mind. Sometimes, skipping a boot camp or a training session isn’t enough to make us feel renewed; we might still wake up the next day feeling sluggish and tired, which makes it that much more important to look at the bigger picture.

What do you do to rest and recharge? Do you sleep in, meet a friend for coffee, take a bath, or turn off notifications? You might even opt to stay in your pajamas and not get off the couch -- no judgment! What’s restful for one person might not be for another. It’s all about listening to your body and doing what’s right for you.

Even if you’re the type to say there are never enough hours in the day (like me), you still need to find ways to prioritize actual rest for yourself. Here are a few reasons why rest is so important. 

Your Body

Burnout is a real thing that doesn’t only apply to people who exercise regularly, especially when other factors of daily living are thrown into the mix --  constant moving, stress, sleep deprivation, fueling your (our!!) days with caffeine. At some point, your body will suffer. You’ll either experience an injury, a plateau in your fitness, or an energy plummet overall. Your body will likely signal when it’s hit a wall, with clues like increased heart rate, dehydration, weakened immune system, and feelings of depression. Are you listening to what it’s telling you? It’s incredibly important to take care of your body so it has time to recover and repair. Just as important as your workout days are your rest days. Fuel it properly everyday with good nutrition and sleep, and make sure that some days are reserved for gentler, less demanding use. 

Your Mind

It’s not hard to figure out when your body needs rest because you can feel when your muscles are sore or stiff or you feel yourself physically dragging. But it’s just as important for your mind to rest as well. Your mind is working all day – while you’re exercising, keeping track of your/your kids’/your partner’s/your co-worker’s/your friend’s needs, problem solving, and remembering the thousands of things you need to keep organized in your head everyday. Plus, your brain controls your body, so prioritizing rest for both is essential to feeling your best. When your brain is in overdrive, you might experience forgetfulness, confusion, feeling like you’re overwhelmed, and irrational or even aggressive emotions. Irritability and brain fog? We’ve all been there. Remember, it’s hard to think straight when your brain is exhausted! Activities that help you relax, like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, are great, but don’t forget to power down your devices, too.

Need help making it a routine? Here are some tips.

Choose a Day, or Even Part of a Day

For most of us, Saturdays and Sundays are the easiest days to schedule as rest days. However, just because you’re not at work for eight hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the rest your body and mind need. While it’s great to schedule an activity with friends or loved ones, constantly making plans or running errands might be adding more stress and fatigue to your life. Tell yourself ahead of time that, even if you can’t take a whole day, at least a few hours of either Saturday or Sunday (or both!) is for you and you only. And stick with it. Treat it like an appointment that you need to keep…. Because you do.

Set Boundaries

Simply marking a day on the calendar or scheduling a rest day is just the first step. To ensure rest really happens, write down a few things you will and won’t do. Maybe you know you’ll go for a walk in the morning and won’t check or answer work emails. The list of things you “won’t do” might come a little easier to you at first, but once you figure out what helps you feel the most relaxed, you’ll be even more inclined to include them on your must-do list! And what about exercise on your rest day? That’s up to you. Maybe grant yourself permission to spend some long, luxurious time on stretching and mobility, maybe head out in the kayak or walk a gentle trail. A rest day doesn’t mean you can’t move your body, just move it gently and in a way that feels nourishing to you. You have plenty of time to deadlift and squat. Take the time to enjoy your body when it’s not working to capacity -- you’ll be amazed by how good it feels. 

Of course you want to push yourself -- in the gym and everywhere else -- to be your best and feel accomplished. That’s great! That’s part of why I like you :) Don’t lose that part of yourself. Just remember that in order to let that side of you shine, you really do need to take care of yourself. You have to let off the gas… otherwise you’ll run the tank dry. So stop and refuel however feels right for you. You can continue down the road tomorrow.

Why Running Isn't Enough

So you’re a regular runner, skier or biker. You’re fit and active, you feel good and move well - that’s awesome! But are you doing all you can to maintain your muscle strength, stay balanced and maintain your overall fitness? Probably not - unless you are taking part in a regular strength training program that is addressing your weak areas and helping to keep you balanced in strength and all planes of movement. If you only run (or bike, or walk, or ski) you are primarily working your body in the sagittal plane (front to back movements - what you do if you are doing any of those activities). You also need to be strong in the transverse (rotational or twisting movements) and frontal (side to side movements) planes of motion. Visit this link describing the planes of motion if you’d like to geek out on them a little more!

By balancing out your strength and working in the multi-dimensional planes that our body is meant you move in, you can actually become a better, stronger runner! Think faster miles, improved PR’s, and most important (in my opinion) less prone to injury as well as faster recovery.

So, how do you go about doing that? Well, first off, it means you need to spend some of your workout time NOT running, but doing other focused strength and mobility work. This can include lunges and squats, which are great for strengthening the main leg muscles for running, but also things that get you moving laterally - jumping jacks and skaters - or stepping laterally with a mini-band around the ankles is a great way to get the outer hip muscles firing - which is important for stabilizing the knee. Adding a torso twist or rotation to a lunge or squat is a great way to work into the transverse plane...and you can also do this with focused core work that includes the russian twist or a side plank with rotation.

There are lots of great (and some not so great) programs available in magazines or online - here's a pretty decent one, but there’s nothing like in-person coaching. Check out a bootcamp at Movement Evolved to get a great total body workout that will move you through the different planes of motion, keep your strength balanced and keep you challenged - which will improve your game as a runner, skier or biker! Not to mention that it’s a ton of fun! The coaches at Movement Evolved will make sure you are performing every movement safely and effectively to get the most out of your workout.

Group class at Movement Evolved.

Group class at Movement Evolved.

If group classes aren’t your thing - have no fear! We can meet with you individually to discuss your goals, take you through a Functional Movement Screening to uncover any areas of weakness, asymmetry or tightness - and use that information to build you a personalized program to help make you bulletproof! Well, maybe not quite bulletproof, but it will balance out your strength and help you prevent injury while you keep doing the sports activities you most enjoy! Give us a call at 802-565-8627, check us out on our website at, or on FB and Instagram.

My Perspective on the Fitness-Sobriety Connection

Though it isn’t something I talk about all the time, many of you know that I have been sober for a good long time.  Seventeen years as of today, May 8th. I can’t say it’s all been pretty, nor can I say I’ve always been gracious, but I do have a great deal of respect for my limits and boundaries as a sober person. I don’t go to bars for any reason (birthday gatherings, music, high school reunions, etc), I travel with kombucha, strong black coffee (a girl’s gotta have ONE vice, right?) and/or water wherever I go, and I’ve gotten extremely good at refusing a drink in a way that’s respectful but doesn’t leave any room for negotiation. But beyond preparing myself for how and where I move about in the world, it’s really the mental piece that’s the most important.

On a day-to-day basis, the things that keep me happy and sober are my deep commitment to physical and mental health, both of which have a strong foothold in the fitness and friendships I’m privileged to cultivate here in the gym. For me, being at the gym is more than just getting my sweat on – it keeps me grounded and helps foster my daily commitment to myself in my healthiest form. How?

1.     Physical honesty leads to emotional honesty. Have I cried in the gym when I have been physically unable to accomplish what I’ve wanted/expected of myself? Absolutely. Have I had to take stock of what is realistic for my body to do? Yup. Have I been humbled by my limitations? More times than I’d probably care to admit. Each and every time I’ve had to take stock of the fact that limits are okay, asking for a different way to do something is okay, that asking for advice, guidance, and additional tools is okay. I can’t always do it all alone. 

2.     Being strong and feeling good in my body lead me to feel confident – and confidence armors me against choices that come from a place of self-doubt or low self-esteem. Why would I want to do something to set myself back when I have goals that need daily attention… and also I’m a badass? :)

3.     The sense of camaraderie I feel here, whether I’m coaching or participating in a class can’t be undersold. This is place where we lift each other up, cheer each other on, and often complain in unison/struggle to get through together. There’s true beauty in that, and probably more than anything else, this is the piece that means the most to me at the end of the day.

4.     Being here gives me daily opportunities to be proud of what I can accomplish, whether it’s through coaching someone to reaching his/her/their own PR or getting one myself. I’m proud of what I do here. It feels good, and it makes me thankful everyday that I’m able to be fully present and open to the experience.

5.     Depression/stress management. Whether you’re in recovery or not, the benefits of exercise for depression and/or stress are real. You already know this, and hopefully you’re using the exercise strategy to make your life better, too.

What’s the upshot of all of this? This place and the people in it (that’s you!) are the backbone of the things that hold me up, keep me accountable, and allow me to do work I love while caring for myself in the most fundamental ways possible. Thank you.

Obviously, to say that fitness and this place are the only things keeping my sobriety afloat would be a dishonest. There are other huge rocks in the foundation of my recovery: My daily commitment to being the best mother I can be, my relationship with an amazing man who somehow manages to lift me up while standing by my side, my steadfast family and friend circles (who feel like family without shared blood), my commitment to place… and I’d be remiss not to single out my two business partners at Movement Evolved who are as close to sisters as I’ll ever have.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I know what’s helps keep me on track and what’s helped me through hard times, but everyone is on his/her/their own journey. I will say that I have a heightened baseline of happiness when I feel good in my body and in my own skin. This alone doesn’t catapult me over every obstacle, but it does give me a level of confidence that I rely on. Every damn day.  Thank you for being part of this community and for holding me close as we support one another through our workouts and our lives. Cheers to seventeen years and counting.

Healthy Ways to Ease Cravings

Cravings. We all have them.

Food cravings are a common response to what we’re going through and can cause the desire to munch on foods we wouldn’t normally eat, such as salty potato chips or sweet chocolate brownies. Studies have shown that cravings for certain foods come from a variety of reasons, including memories, emotions, weather, and stress.

Ignoring that voice inside your head calling for a sweet isn’t always easy!  It can be especially hard to quiet that voice and stay in tune with your body when it seems like every house and office has treats up for grabs. In the moment, getting a sugar fix might feel like it will satisfy your needs, but giving into processed sweets often leads to further cravings and overindulging.

Before diving head first into the pool of cravings, try these suggestions to help you navigate them mindfully:

Deconstruct your craving

Are you craving candy or are you actually hungry or thirsty? Is it just a momentary desire? Are you lacking something in your life and filling the void with food? Instead of immediately giving in and reaching for a sweet, deconstruct what your body is truly telling you and decide what will fulfill it. Emotions can lead to crave something your body doesn’t actually want or need – maybe you’re misinterpreting what you really crave. Try some water, a protein snack, or even a long hug. It can make a world of difference.

Take a step back

Seeing the grocery store shelves stocked with colorful bags of candy that remind you of childhood can cause your brain to think it’s something you want. But in reality, before you walked down that aisle, you had no desire for candy at all. Take a moment to be mindful about what you are yearning for and to understand your craving before you grab that big bag of sugar. Maybe take another loop around the store before wandering back down the candy aisle – how do you feel now? Typically, when you take the time to reassess what your mind and body are telling you, you’ll have a better understanding of what you really want.

Opt for naturally sweet foods

Instead of tearing open a candy bar or taking a cookie (or two) that your coworker shared, soothe your cravings with more wholesome options. If you know you have a sweet tooth and a hard time resisting a craving, keep fruit or dark chocolate made with 80% cacao or more on hand. This way, it’ll be easier to make the better choice towards a healthy sweet snack. Sweets come in all forms, and those that are made from real ingredients can often help satiate those cravings while still keeping your blood sugar under control.

And finally… Enjoy it – in moderation

If you have a continuous craving for something but have been resisting it, allow yourself to enjoy it in moderation. If a craving is constantly ignored, it can lead to giving in and over-consuming! Listen to your body and know that it’s okay to enjoy something you’re craving without overindulging.

Remember, too, that every habit can be changed but that a wholesale revamp all at once is less likely to stick than small changes integrated thoughtfully over time. We can help you sort out your priorities and come up with a reasonable plan to get your cravings and habits in line with your goals. Both Sarah and Kristen are trained and certified health and wellness coaches – if you need help, they’re here for you

Resolutions vs Goals

Well, here we are on day 92 of 2019...that’s about ¼  of the way through the year. How ya doing with your New Year’s Resolutions? Sticking with them? Or like most people - did they fly out the window by February (or earlier!)?

The problem with most “resolutions” is that they tend to be too vague - “I’m going to lose X pounds this year (be it 10, 25, or 50)” or “I’m going to eat healthier this year” and “I’m going to exercise more this year”. These type of resolutions are inherently flawed. In addition to being vague, they are often too lofty or not clearly defined. You chose a goal, but have no plan in place on how to get there. How can you do this in a way that will help you be more successful?

Instead of Resolutions - Set some SMART Goals

What is a SMART goal?

Specific - clear and unambiguous - stating specifically what is going to be accomplished

Measurable - be able to measure it so you know if you are making progress

Attainable - realistic to attain, achieving a goal helps make you encouraged and want to do more

Relevant - applicable to what you are trying to accomplish

Time-Bound - including a timeline for completion helps keep track progress towards goals

Let’s upgrade one of the resolutions from above to make it a SMART goal - instead of “I’m going to eat healthier this year”, it could look something like this - “I will eat a veggie-filled salad for lunch every day for the month of April”. This is specific, as it states exactly what is going to be done. It is measurable - if a salad is not eaten for lunch one day, then the goal is not met for that day. It’s attainable, as long as the person setting the goal feels that having access to the necessary foods to make a salad every day is possible. It’s relevant, because part of eating healthier is including more vegetables in one’s diet. Finally, it is time-bound as it is for the month of April. The hope would then be that this becomes a habit that sticks, and after the end of April the person who set this goal will continue with eating a salad most days for lunch, and they can then focus on another goal moving forward. This is how we truly accomplish big change -  making small adjustments to our habits, one at a time, over time - they add together and result in significant change.

Goals should be also adjustable - the objective is success, in some form...not total abandonment of the goal. So if the person who set the above goal does happen to miss having a salad for lunch, say, on April 10th, the plan would be to get right back to it on April 11th, not just throw in the towel and say “Well, I missed it yesterday, so I’ve failed.” I wouldn’t call having a salad for lunch 9 days in a row a failure! It’s important to plan ahead for obstacles, and know how you will tackle them. As the saying goes - we don’t plan to fail, we just fail to plan.


If you’re wanting to set some goals, but not sure where to start, reach out to us! Both Kristen and Sarah hold certifications in nutrition and health coaching. Set up an appointment with one of us to get started on your health and fitness journey, or to help refocus your efforts to achieve even greater results!