What if I told you that the best thing you could do for your health and weight is something that’s enjoyable? Would that be motivating?

Most of us have a long list of improvements we would like to make in our lives. Eating less junk food and more vegetables or lying around less and getting more exercise often top the list. But those seem hard, and we’re busy, tired, and stressed.

Under these circumstances it’s logical that motivation goes out the window and the “what the heck” response kicks in. You aren’t going to eat better or exercise so what the heck, you might as well have a pint of ice cream you may think.

More vegetables and more active movement are definitely good for you but there’s something else that’s even better. And that’s rest. Yes, rest as in rest for your body in the form of sleep or relaxing and rest for your mind in the form of play, hobbies, and fun.

Rest, according to Alex Soojung-Kim Pang the author of the excellent book by the same name, is work’s partner. You can only work as productively as you rest he says, and that’s been validated by research.

Our nervous system has two primary modes – stress physiology and relaxation physiology. When you are in the activated mode your body is tightly focused on what will help you fight or flee danger, and thus all other body functions are shut down including those related to digestion, immunity, and energy replenishment. Relaxation and rest are when the body recovers. Thus without optimal rest, even a perfect diet will be wasted as the body won’t be able to optimally metabolize the nutrients or put them to use . Body tissues won’t be repaired, and energy will suffer. This all conspires to create conditions for pain, illness, and even emotional overload to take root.

Adding more stressful tasks on top of an already stressed system is not the recipe for health. Being tired blocks access to your higher problem solving skills, your creativity, and even to your willpower. It makes everything a struggle. And research shows that the stress hormone cortisol significantly affects weight.

That’s why the first and most important step toward better health is to slow down and rest. After getting enough passive rest (sleep and lying around) you will find active rest (engaging hobbies and fun activities) more attractive. This provides natural motivation to replenish your body with good food and pleasurable movement.

So don’t wait until you’re so exhausted or sick you can’t get out of bed to take some time lying around or “wasting” time in mindless pursuits. It’s actually the best thing you can do for your health and weight. Think of it as the basic fuel for a healthy productive life.



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This book referenced above is Rest – Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. I guarantee you’ll feel better after you read it, but won’t make it far before taking a break for a nap.

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