IMG_0570The other day I was working out from home and my 4 going on 15 year old daughter, Zoe, was watching me.  (I’ve got one of those cool sets of dumbbells that allow you to adjust the weight. You know the kind, and you know you’re jealous)

After a particularly difficult set, Zoe looked at me with that questioning look on her face and said, “Um… Daddy?”  “Why do you keep… like… stopping?”

Part of me was instantly offended.  “I stopped cause it’s heavy!  You try curling 10 pounds! PER HAND!”

After I got over my initial hurt feelings, I tried to explain.

(Side Note: Yes my four year old sometimes hurts my feelings and no, your judgment doesn’t help.)

I told Zoe that sometimes we have to take breaks.  As I tried and failed to explaine this concept it became apparent to me that the idea of rest was foreign to my 4 year old.  She has unlimited energy and she never gets tired, especially at bed time.  When she wants something, she throws everything she’s got at it; physically, emotionally, and mentally.  No holds barred, no barbie left undressed!

This is great when it comes to learning new things.  She attacks new problems with vigor and determination.  Mind, body, spirit: every part of her is in it. 

There are two things that I learned from my daughter that day about fitness.

1) When you are going… GO!  Her total dedication is inspiring.  She doesn’t do anything half way, and we could all learn from that.  Though her passion is less than pleasant when she wants to stay up after bedtime there is something to be said for her all or nothing approach.  Her whole being fights rest!  She physically squirms, emotionally breaks down and cries, and mentally plans the perfect time to remember that she needs a glass of water.  It’s poetry in motion… constant motion.

But it’s not all gogurt and apple juice for my determined little girl.

2) Her energy runs out, and when it does, she crashes… hard. Don’t believe me… Check out this video of her falling asleep trying to eat a cupcake.

Zoe taught me two things about fitness but that video should have taught you two things about life.   First, my daughter is hands down, way cuter than yours and it wasn’t even close.

Second, WE ALL NEED REST!

The reality of life is that we can’t go forever.  Nobody has unlimited amounts of energy and everybody eventually runs out.  When kids run out, it’s cute and they drop their cupcakes, but when you and I run out, we drop our kids, we get sued by CPS, we lose our job, spidermonkeys take over the world, and bananas start getting traded on the stock exchange.  Don’t let bananas be traded on the stock exchange.  Learn how to rest.

The problems that you and I face are a bit more complicated than those that Zoe faces, as are the goals that we’ve set for ourselves.  For us, rest is vital and it has to be planned.

When a kid misses a nap, bad stuff happens.  Ask any young parent.  When you fail to rest, worse stuff happens. Ask your kids. Ask your spouse.

You will burn out if you go balls to the wall 24/7.  You need to take breaks.

This is true in fitness, but it’s also true in business and personal life.  We need to rest.

Now, just like anything in life, balance is important.  If we rest too much we become lazy, If we work too hard for too long, we get burnt out. 

But for a lot of us, rest has become very ineffective.  We make it to the weekend but are no less rejuvinated come monday morning.  We go on vacation only to come back more exhausted than when we left.  We sit and watch TV while we think about work and call that “rest”.

IT’S NOT! 

Rest is not a passive action.  At the gym, in between sets, I don’t sit and stare at the wall, I focus on breathing and stretch the muscles that I just worked so they will be ready for the next set.  Rest is active.

Rest involves actively turning work off but that’s only the first step.  After we actively turn work OFF we have to actively turn rest ON.  Rest is actively focusing on family or a good book or a great movie. If our mind is consumed with these things, there is no room for work or stress.

The unique ability to shut off one part of your brain and turn on another, is not a skill that you will learn overnight.  It will take some time and some patience, but as you train your mind, much like you train your body, your ability to turn off and/or turn on different parts of your brain will grow.  This will allow you to actually rest.

 What do you do, to actively rest from work?  Maybe you read, maybe you write, take your kid to the park, eat gelato and sip wine at a coffee shop called ground control?  (okay that last one is mine.)  

Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to like, subscribe and check back on Friday.

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4 thoughts on “2 fitness secrets that my 4 year old taught me

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