There's a reason the first two letters in the acronym RRARF stand for "Rehabilitative Rest." There's not a person I've met in the last few years that isn't overworked, over-scheduled, stressed and just plain exhausted to some extent or another.
While bed rest isn't necessary on RRARF (though some of us could use it!), this is a time to take a break from taxing yourself mentally and physically. Mental and physical stress screws around with your cortisol levels, increases inflammation and generally just throws off the whole balance of your body. (I've talked about this in length before in part one and part two of a short series devoted to stress.)
Matt Stone has taken a particularly strong stance about the power cortisol levels exert over the body's many functions, including energy, digestion, allergies, immunity, fat storage, body temperature and much more. Balancing cortisol may very well be the most important key in metabolic rehabilitation. Here are some of Matt's recommendations for rest and recovery from his free e-book on RRARF:
"Take it easy on yourself. Nourish yourself well and start cutting back your exercise to low-exertion activities like walking and stretching. Go to bed earlier if you can. Take naps if you are tired. Don’t fight yourself. Just listen and obey – more so than you ever have before. Your body knows what it needs. It is not a lazy pile of junk that sabotages itself. No more jogging or heavy duty weightlifting. Save that for when you have recovered. Just chill. Every day is spa day."
Every day is spa day! How can you not love this guy? He's giving me permission to pamper myself and take it easy. Tell me, Matt, does this mean I can hire a maid during RRARF? Because that would be cool... but I'm not sure my budget would agree.
"But exercise is healthy. Not exercising is just plain lazy!"
Obviously exercise is healthy in general. There's no argument there. But the amount and type of exercise that is healthy for an individual has to be based on their specific metabolic state, not some blanket recommendation.
If you fear taking a break from athletic endeavors for 30 days will have a seriously negative impact on your health, then it's probably time to take a step back and evaluate your dependency on exercise. I personally feel like forced exercise is probably one of the major contributors to metabolic imbalance. So just as we want to learn to listen to the body's cues for hunger and satiation, we also want to obey the body's individual needs for rest and activity.
I stopped over exercising a long time ago. Gone are the days when I pedal away on the elliptical machine purely based on how many calories the annoying little monitor tells me I'm burning. But I'm still trying to disconnect my association between exercise and fat loss (and association that is over-exaggerated to a great extent). When considering exercise, you should always be viewing it in light of its impact on metabolic health, not the number of calories it burns.
So this month during RRARF I'm only doing activities that bring me great enjoyment (and probably a lot of stress relief as well): light yoga and walking outdoors. I can't help but look forward to that!
The Importance of Sleep on RRARF
Sleep is a time when the body puts its energy into repairing and rebuilding every system of the body. When we're sleep-deprived, our bodies simply don't have the opportunity to heal. Sleep is directly associated with healthy cortisol levels and even weight (read more about that here). It aids in adrenal repair, prevents junk food cravings, and mood stability. Sleep is essential for health. Period.
Good sleep habits are something I've been working on for two years. I've come a long way from restless nights spent staring into the blackness wondering how I was going to scrape up the energy to function the next day. These days I get 7-8 hours of sleep almost every night. And on the rare night I only get a few short hours, it doesn't completely wipe me out.
So during RRARF I'm just going to take it to the next level and give sleep a special priority. Cat naps will be encouraged. Sleeping in... well, it will be attempted but I have to admit I'm not particularly good at sleeping in. But going to bed early a few nights a week is definitely on the menu.
In general, I'm also just going to try and take it easy, not worry too much about getting it all done, and find excuses to play and be generally goofy. Because it's hard to be stressed out when you're not taking life too seriously.
Other RRARF Posts:
Day 1 on RRARF: What is RRARF?
Day 2 on RRARF: Why I'm Doing It
Day 3 on RRARF: Rest and Relaxation
Day 7 on RRARF: Benefits Already!
Day 8 on RRARF: Eat the Food!
Day 9 on RRARF: Adieu, Le Sucre!
Day 21 on RRARF: Deprivation is Dieting
Day 23 on RRARF: Life Without the Scale
RRARF vs. The Milk Diet
If you're interested in hearing more about the research behind Matt's work, you can check out his free RRARF e-book. He's also put together a really neat video presentation you can find here. If you think RRARF sounds crazy, you'll think twice after hearing what he has to say.
This post is part of Fight Back Friday hosted by Food Renegade.