I wanted to re-post this article by Michael Harris about active rest (I copied and pasted it below) and share my active rest experience. There are many posts and threads on this forum which have helped me and inspired me and encouraged me. It is my desire to give something back.
I finished my first challenge a week and a half ago and am nearing the end of my two weeks of active rest. I followed the advice given in the article by Michael Harris and I am glad I did. I have lost 5 more pounds and this morning when I put on my belt it slid all the way back to the final notch. When my six pack arrives (I am so close) I am going to need a new, and smaller, belt.
However, the truly amazing changes are taking place within me. I firmly believe as you train your body you train your mind. All through the last 12 weeks, as my body transformed, I was waiting for my mind to follow suit. But it never did, or at least I never noticed it. That is until my active rest. During the last week I have spent many hours in introspection and discovered I have reconnected with a part of me I have long neglected. Somewhere along the way, the fire I allowed to be extinguished has been rekindled! I have a clarity and a lucidity I have not known for years. I can envision the man I want to be and the life I want to live. I have renewed vigor and tenacity. I am filled with hope and optimism. Business ideas and creativity are overflowing and I am constantly grateful for life and health and opportunities. I feel alive.
Body for Life is more than a weight loss program or a muscle building program. It is a way to bust through the dank, grey walls that old, self-destructive habits construct around our lives. It is a way to freedom and self-disocvery and the realization each and every one of us have the power to change, to transform our lives and start living to the fullest.
I won't prattle on. What I wanted to share is I feel active rest between challenges is vital for both the body and the mind. Take some time between challenges. You will not regret it.
Enjoy the article below.
Getting the Most out of Your Time Between Transformation Challenges
by: Michael Harris 3/18/2007
Are you planning another challenge after finishing the one you’re in now? If so, the material that follows should be of some interest and some help to you. It seems like roughly one-half of those who start and complete a 12 week transformation challenge are planning on going into another one in order to get into the shape that they want.
The first thing I want to ask you--actually I’m begging you--is to NOT GO IMMEDIATELY from one challenge right into the next one without a break. Here’s why. Whether you really feel like it or not, a transformation challenge takes a toll on you. The early rising, strenuous exercising and relatively strict dieting are good for you--but over 12 weeks time they can also wear you out. You deserve AND NEED a week or more of rest before you get back into the gym. Think about this: If you go right from one challenge to another, what you’re really doing is taking a 24 week challenge. That’s nearly 6 months, and it’s longer than most should be doing. Most second and subsequent challenges that occur without a break between tend to be very unproductive and unhappy experiences. They also tend to be more often plagued by injuries, illnesses and overtraining effects.
My favorite fitness author, Albuquerque attorney Clarence Bass, coined the phrase "active rest." That’s what you need to do between challenges. What you need to do, for at least one week and preferably two, is to stay clear out of the gym and away from the weight lifting routine entirely. And don’t worry about losing muscle mass, you won’t. The phenomenon called muscle memory will put you right back into the groove very quickly once you are rested. In fact, you might actually pick up some muscle mass due to the well-deserved rest. Your joints will thank you for it too.
Instead of lifting weights, do one or two of your favorite non-resistance training types of exercises. I do lots of calisthenics such as pushups, pullups, and squat jumps. I also do some bike riding or stair climbing. I take very long walks with my dog. Others enjoy things like swimming, mountain climbing, hiking, or even chopping wood and heavy gardening activity. This gets you out of the old groove, works different areas of your body, and still gives you plenty of fat-burning and fitness forming activity.
As for the diet, stick with the six meals a day. But, add in a bit of red meat if you are inclined, and experiment with some non-typical foods. This might be a good time to try a little of that natural peanut butter you’ve been craving. I eat a fair amount of non-tropical fruits and berries as carb portions during my rest periods. And I eat some lean red meat which has lots of creatine in it. Don’t make your two weeks off a two week free day or you’ll regret it.
Consider your two weeks active rest a working vacation. You’ll be amazed at your renewed strength, your enthusiastic outlook, and your youthful appearance following your time off. If you don’t do it, you’ll feel like you’re dragging a 100 pound anchor around with you for the next twelve weeks. Which one sounds like the best bet to you?
Very well said Orrin. Congratulations on the new you! LOVE THAT!!
Thanks Legs C3.
Now that's an awesome post Orrin!! It's that very commitment to yourself that will take you on the "for life" journey of fitness. Congratulations to you!!
Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right ~ Henry Ford
Michelle Simpson ~2009 Body-for-LIFE Champion 46+ Catagory
I am really glad I read this post Orrin thanks very much I recently completed my first challenge and went immediately into my second but a few days in something and I honestly don't know what told me that I needed to take a week off.
It was Tuesday night and my lower body workout was the next day and I must say I got very little sleep as my mind jumped back and forth between me feeling like I was quitting before I got the results that I am ultimately aiming for and would run the risk of back sliding into a bad life style.
What I concluded some time in the morning hours was that all of the transformation that had occurred in me over the past 12 weeks started on the inside and begun with the faithful decision to change and that covenant I made with myself would not be easily broken.
I still felt like I stole something after around 9am that day long after my workout would have taken place and frankly that first day off was miserable, this is day two and I feel like I have not exercised in about a week in a strange way ( it has become such an interval part of my life) but the wisdom of the AR is so clear to me today.
Still have been eating clean ( now and forever period) and taking all of my vitamins and supplements (another one of those things that have profoundly changed about me) but it was a great blessing to check the forum and receive conformation in this post.
BTW my details were/are I'm 36 yrs old 5'10"
Started the challenge:
34.4% body fat
Finished the challenge #1:
29% body fat
6-8% body fat
Before pics to follow on my profile. Thanks for all the quite support folks!
"Winning is not easy and those who constantly win follow an abnormal path"
DDC - Disciple, Dedication, Commitment
One other thing to keep in mind is that challenge one is like having a crush. All of the excitment carries you through. Challenge two is like marriage, commitment is required along with daily work to make it successful.
Moose - Congrats on a successful first challenge! You are doing the right thing: take some time off, eat clean and focus on your new goals. You will accomplish them!
Michelle - Thanks for the crush/marriage comparison. It was exactly what I needed to hear today.
Thanks for this perspective! I had a question about "active rest' whould it only be no more than 2 weeks? I am looking to do my challenge #2 beginning middle of Sept. and ending right about Thanksgiving. I figure challenge #3 will begin after the holidays. But will that be too long of a stretch or am I being realistic that I would be setting myself up for failure trying to get to the gym and eat really clean during the holidays?
Thanks for being here - it's really made a difference having those who have gone before give some insight on what to expect.
For me it was about my goals. It honestly took me two months to really get the hang of BFL eating and exercise. My final four weeks, however, were incredible. Even though I saw great progress I wasn't quite where I wanted to be. I felt as though I had momentum and didn't want to stop. I am glad I did though.
I have read numerous posts on this forum from people who finished a challenge years ago then took a week off which turned into two which turned into a month then into years. Active rest is a true test and a real test. The structure of the challenge gives focus. Take that structure away and some will fall apart. Others, in their new found bodies and positive mindsets will continue forward stronger than ever. I guess the "danger" of a prolonged active rest is slowly slipping back to old ways. All of the sudden a hundred "just this once" pile up and the weight is back on or the muscle is gone. It would be all too easy to tell yourself "I'll burn this off in my next challenge.
This is just my opinion, but I would say if you are going to take one, two or however many, weeks off in between challenges make sure you continue to eat right every day. Don't change that part. Keep your goals front and center in your mind, set a start date for your next challenge and stick to it.
Hope this helps
Hi Orrin. I was just reading your first post on this forum and I have to say, what your put in about your inner transformation is very much how I feel. I finished my first challenge a couple of weeks ago, took off two weeks "active rest" and have just started my second challenge. People I haven't seen lately have commented about how I look, (which is much better!). But I have been trying to tell them that it's more than how I look. It's how I feel from the inside out. I truley feel like I am a new person.
I lost 17 pounds this summer, and yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. I feel like I am starting all over again, just as I did 17 years ago when we got married.
I am also at a crossroads in my life as far as my career, and I feel like having done this BFL challenge, I can now think more clearly about what the next phase will be. One thing I know now is that it's never to late to change! Thanks for putting it so well.
Thumbs up on the AR approach post-challenge! It sounds like it brings the mind to full realization that the body is now ready for things both old (from your youth) and new (things you've never done but always wished you could).
I'm glad the healthier eating plan is retained during AR. Surely it takes more than 12 weeks for healthy eating to become totally established, or second nature. I know at some point in time I became 100% converted - I can't remember if it was at 6, 9, 12? months. It's the point at which cravings are for the healthy foods, and the thought of unhealthy ones makes you somewhat queasy. It seems the mind is now better linked with the body - so the mind directs the food choices to those that enable higher levels of activity in the body, rather than huge quantities of junk that overfill and promote lethargy.
Thanks again for sharing this, as the amount of post-challenge guidance is infinitesimal compared to the "getting started" variety.
Once I discovered the joys of weight training, all other passions were transcended.
Jacium, Orrin, Champster and everyone else...
I agree more needs to be said about post-challenge. I am starting week 12 of my C1- I have a plan for my active rest and I have already set a schedule for my C2. I am very excited about the next stage of this game. The Coffee Crew thread is amazingly helpful with lots of finishers and those who have completed numerous challenges (I know you know this, I am just saying it for everyone's sake) and I will continue to check in there, but lurking for more post-challenge info yields little results.
I do not plan to officially enter the contest. I doubt I ever will, nor do I plan to post public photos. I did this for me alone and that accomplishment is truly enough for me. But I believe this is my new lifestyle and I am committed to it.
For those who are "finished" with official challenges, what do you do? What is maintenance like? Still 6 days a week of workouts? Obviously the eating plan works...I am sure that's hugely important to stick to. What about Free Days? Are they free meals only? Are they every week or only as needed? I am just curious about what's next and what to expect in Jan 2011 which is when I believe I will have achieved the results I want with official challenges. I never used any supplements, except the occasional protein shake or bar if I couldn't make a whole food meal. Maybe I should explore supplements? Don't know if I really feel the need.
Thanks for any input. I love the community of people on this site. You are all so genuine.
If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten!
My FOURTH Challenge: May 23-Aug. 14, 2011. Began First BFL Challenge on June 21, 2010
How one moves forward (I don't believe in maintenance - another subject for another day) after C1 and AR is of course highly individual. One approach would be to reflect on the experience during the AR, and decide if there are new goals. My starting point was to go back to the beginning, stand in front of the mirror in my swimsuit, same as for C1, and ask myself those questions like, "Do I like what I see? Is this what I want?". Turns out it wasn't, so I continued on with pretty much what I had done for 12 weeks on C1, informally, and about a year later did C2. It sounds like you already know the answer you seek - you want to continue on, but you're looking for ideas on how? Remember how you felt the 1st week of C1? Were you a little lost? Did you learn a lot from C1 as you progressed? I bet you did. Now is the fun part - you've learned how to learn, and apply what you learn, and you can get creative!
On the practical side: I only used an elliptical for cardio during C1, so one new goal was to work in the treadmill. With stronger legs, and better agility, I'm able to do that. I'm not a very good runner, so two goals were to better my time in mile run and complete a 5K run. Started taking creatine daily, and drinking Myoplex shakes after nearly every UB/LB workout. You should get some expert advice on the supplements - you might find them helpful now, depending on your new goals.
I use a set of marker board calenders to track workouts, abbreviations for tracking, and printed a set of workout logs to plan and track. I still use a workout plan and record it for each UBWO & LBWO - but simplify things by using both the "plan" and "actual" columns and just check things off. Looking back, there was a period last winter when my calenders show 34 consecutive workouts...which isn't recommended for anyone, but felt right to me. I get a strong urge to go excercise if I've missed a day or two - likely the enjoyment of the relaxation and / or "runner's high" / endorphin release. "Free Days" are no longer a conscious decision for me. I prefer to eat well, but if circumstances dictate, like business travel or a special occasion, three or four days off aren't going to leave a lasting impact. One key is to minimize the damage during the period I'm off my regular meal plan, and as soon as possible go back to it.
All these things are now possible, I'd like to believe from the success and confidence of completing C1. Sometimes I wonder if we are more motivated by the rewards and positives from the C1 experience, or whether the motivation stems from fear - fear of sliding down that slippery slope. In the end it doesn't really matter which motivates us, probably a little of both, so - just do it!
p.s. reward yourself with something special for finishing C1, maybe a new workout outfit that highlights the new you?
Clare: Conratulations on a successful first challenge!! You are so right, and it is so wonderful to hear, the real change is on the inside. And what a beautiful change it can be! As you head into your second challenge you will be glad you took two weeks of active rest. I started week 9 of my second challenge today and I can say, without a doubt, if I had not taken time for active rest I would not be able to finish C2. Or I would finish with lackluster results.
Jacium: Great post on moving forward. Looking forward to hearing your take on maintenence.
Jen: Week 12!!! Way to go! You must feel amazing! When I did my first challenge I, like you, told myself it was just for me. However, I truly regret not taking pics or measurments. Near the end of C1 I took advice from Bill Phillips and the Success Journal and started connecting on this forum. When I signed up for the forum I somehow downloaded the entry kit. I looked at it for at least a week and thought why wouldn't I? What am I afraid of? What do I have to lose? It became a challenge unto itself. I wasn't about to back down. I took before pics (and I am scared to death of posting them but I will when C2 is done). I booked an appointment with a professional photographer and I am four weeks away from the end of C2. I am not trying to second guess your choice to do it for yourself. But, for me, facing my fears and stretching my comfort zone, has been as benificial and rewarding as my gains on the treadmill and in the gym. I like what Jacium said (he has a lot of good things to say) stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself if you like what you see. I knew I wasn't done after C1 so I had to take it to a whole new level.
As for after C2. Honestly I am not totally sure what will happen. I plan on eating the same but giving myself more time for other activites. A challenge takes a lot of foucs and dedication. I am going to do more golfing, yoga, martial arts and hiking. I am still going to lift weights and run but I plan on trying different exercises and experimenting a little. If, in a few months I am not happy I will buckle down and do another challenge.
I hope this is helpful and I haven't prattled on
All the best
Thank you, Orrin and Jacium, for taking the time to post your thoughts. I am starting Week 10 of C1 and am looking forward to "what comes next." I appreciate your insights and am inspired to keep progressing. Thanks!
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