The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity: "Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."
If you are a reader of The Sweat Life, that likely means you are already someone who puts some stake into your healthy living (or you are related to me). While we are all clearly aware of the health benefits of eating well and staying active, too seldomly do we talk about or give enough weight to the importance of rest and recovery — which is just as essential to our health. When life moves a million miles an hour, as it so often tends to do, and we already struggle to find the time to stay active and eat right, it can be just as difficult, if not more so, to find the time for proper rest and recovery. However, is this a matter of lack of time, or is it that we simply don’t place enough importance on making sure we get enough rest or recover properly from an injury or life event? Does taking time to rest or recover make us feel like we are somehow giving into weakness?
While I am most certainly not the perfect role model when it comes to getting enough sleep or taking the time to recover, I have never been more aware of its importance than over the past few months. In a year when I have lost my mother to cancer, lost a dear friend also to cancer, gone through a major breakup, and am hustling 24/7 to grow a brand and a company while also being the face of that brand — a role that requires me to push myself both physically and mentally on a daily basis — if I am being completely honest, I am deeply burnt out. And like so many of us, it took a physical injury to finally get me to wake up and realize maybe it was time to slow down a little. So, naturally, I signed up for a 200 mile Ragnar Relay race from San Francisco to Napa!
However, this is my point. Even I, who am lucky enough to be a “voice” in health, so often lose sight of the importance of slowing down and being okay with taking a breath on a regular basis. While I did rest through my latest injury, and was actually healthy by the time I headed to Ragnar — I will admit I have not done a very good job of giving myself the time to emotionally recover from the happenings in my life over the last year. This is just as, if not more, important than recovering from a physical injury.
We live in a society, and I live in a city, where we thrive on working hard, achieving our lofty goals, and being “strong.” However, we are actually only weakening ourselves by running ourselves into the ground and ignoring the fact that we ALL need rest, we all need time to recover and recharge, and in no way does this make us weak. It is a common saying that we are not defined by what happens to us in life, but instead, by how we react. I think so many of us feel that reaction must always lead with action, strength, and the willingness to forge ahead. I, too, am a believer in the fact that life goes in one direction — and that’s forward — but we need to recognize that stepping back to recharge, regroup, and recover does not go against that notion in any way.
In fact, recovery doesn’t always mean just doing nothing (although that is so often needed, especially when it involves your couch and Netflix). Instead, I have come to appreciate the term “active recovery" through my work with Bespoke Treatments, our featured episode this week. When I hurt my back last month, rest was most certainly prescribed. However, what was an even larger focus was working on strengthening the weaknesses that led to my injury in the first place. At first I almost felt defensive, as if somehow a weakness of mine had caused me to get injured. However, I quickly realized that in my body, just as in my life, an injury or any hardship is just that — a perfect time to step back and assess our weak spots and take the time to get stronger. So this week, whether you are recovering from the NYC Marathon, Halloween weekend, an injury, a hardship in life, or perhaps just a bad week, this week on The Sweat Life is for you.
TCS 2015 NYC Marathon runner Ryan Winiarski allowed himself the time to recover from his testicular cancer surgery and chemotherapy while also chasing his dream to run a full 26.2 in NYC (you did it!); Strala Yoga instructor Rae Broderick encourages us to take the time to nourish and take care of our bodies with her morning smoothie recipes; yoga-inspired natural beauty line YUNI offers up healing solutions to common winter ailments like stress and dry winter skin; and the team from Bespoke gives us 6 recovery items we can keep at home to allow our bodies some TLC after our workouts.
This week, keep in mind that we are all constant works in progress. If we don’t take the time to step back every once and a while to check in, recharge, and recover, we will never grow, we will never live life to the fullest, and we will never get stronger. This is something I definitely need to work on — realizing it’s okay to just stop for a minute — and as you will see in the upcoming months, I plan on doing just that. Who is with me?
Until next week,
Founder, CEO, and Host
The Sweat Life