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Learn How Giving Yourself Breaks Will Help Your Fitness

A lot of people find it intimidating to think of working out and eating right as something they have to do their entire life. While it's true that you should be aiming to develop a healthy lifestyle, that doesn't mean you cannot take little breaks here and there.

Unfortunately, most of us push ourselves too hard at times and then end up taking a break whether we want to or not because we burn out. How about planning to work hard for say, a couple of weeks, then rewarding yourself with a few days' break? Or, working hard for a month then giving yourself a whole week break? The idea is not as crazy as it sounds. Most likely you will work harder during your 'working' time and you won't tend to go off the deep end as bad when you allow yourself the break.

One reason having a tangible goal such a road race to train for or a vacation you are going on tends to work so well is because that break is naturally built in. Even if you don't have anything specific coming up, schedule in your own breaks. Your break might involve not keeping your food diary, or not worrying about getting to the gym, or allowing yourself foods in moderate portions that you don't normally have. It doesn't mean you eat everything in sight as fast as you can, or that you sit on your couch without moving for days on end. It's a pressure release, not an unhealthy bender!

Still skeptical? Think about it this way. Say you are trying to lose 20 lbs. by summer and you have four months to do it. If you took the first three and a half weeks each month to lose 5 pounds (not even 2 lbs. a week) and then the last week of each month took a break where you didn't lose but didn't gain, you could easily reach your goal. It's much easier to maintain weight than to lose, so just maintaining would definitely feel like a break. You could even plan it if you wanted to allow for a 1 lb. weight gain that week if you took off 6 lbs. during the 3 and a half weeks.

On the exercise front, quite often our bodies build strength the best when we are resting rather than when we are working out. The strategy is to push hard for three weeks or so and take the fourth week either off completely or at a much reduced training schedule.

It's amazing how much more focused you can be for shorter periods of time. You may even need to think in shorter cycles, like 4 days on, 2 days off. Sometimes that pressure release is just what we need to come back recharged and ready to go. You won't slip back nearly as much as you think by giving yourself a little break. And being in control of what you do is truly where the healthy lifestyle has been achieved--because you will feel much more successful when you able to follow through on what you set out to do.

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