There are times when, for one reason or another, you need to take a break from your training regime. It is only over the last few years that I’ve given myself permission to take time out, and it is in learning to pause that I’ve understood how best to move forward. December is always a month of irregularities for me. As a result of my birthday earlier this week, I was reminded of the immense pleasure of dessert – and have face planted perhaps one too many brownies since.
In just over two weeks I’ll be returning home for the holidays, and between now and then I’ll be enjoying several champagne-fuelled parties. When I am back in Canada for Christmas, I’ll replace my intense gym workouts and studio classes with sledging up and down a snowy hill and clipping into my skis. There will be big dinners, with chocolates for afters. In search of quiet time away from the Christmas hustle, there will be Starbucks Toffee Nut Lattes. And there will be snacking while Christmas films play on the television – white chocolate popcorn and my Grandma’s homemade trail mix smothered in the sweet and spicy seasoning no one else can get just right.
The point I’m trying to make is that it’s OK to take a break. In fact, it’s advisable to give your body a rest every once in a while, to mix up your routine and allow yourself to experiment with new foods, new hobbies. As long as you get a healthy amount of activity into your day, and look forward to your next big challenge – be it improving your barre technique, finally nailing that headstand in yoga or running a half marathon – your body will thank you for it.
As an added bonus, you’ll probably notice bigger and faster changes when you do get back into training. The latest science tells us that you’ll plateau by doing too much of the same exercise, so shocking your body back into action can supercharge the benefits of your workouts.
Yes, the countdown to Christmas is here (take a quick scan through the newly decorated trees on Facebook if you don’t believe me). So go on and enjoy it. Just make me one promise – spend some quality time off the sofa every day. Just last night I had the opportunity to watch in angst as Eddie Redmayne played Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, motor neuron disease swiftly stripping him of the physical capabilities he’d enjoyed across the first two decades of his life. It made me cry. It left me feeling inspired by the infinite possibility of humankind. It made me want to use my body for good and shovel someone’s walkway – then build a snowman out of the fluffy white mounds. (It’s out in the UK on New Year’s Day. Watch it if you need extra motivation to transform your New Year’s resolutions into a reality). Don’t take those small yet beautiful actions for granted.