Rest Day with: Kelin Law
Welcome to the latest Flexiseq series, ‘Rest Day with…’. In preparation for the BodyPower event this month, we caught up with speakers and world-class educators to find out their top tips for taking a rest day.
Kelin Law began as a research scientist. With a first-class degree in biology and as a certified practitioner of psychotherapy, it should come as no surprise that Kelin is also a qualified personal trainer. Kelin’s approach to fitness combines her expertise in science and psychology and has led to her becoming the ultimate mind-body engineer.
1. Why is a rest day important for working out and how often should you take them?
Rest days should be thought of in terms of being ‘recovery and build days’. It is during this time that your body works very hard to recover immune function, overcome inflammation and re-calibrate itself when it comes to the likes of hormone levels, muscle glycogen levels and hydration. This period is also critical to protein synthesis for muscle repair and further development. So adequate rest is essential for maximising training outcome and optimally preparing the body for future sessions. In a nutshell: without sufficient rest the body will remain in a weakened state with inflammation running high, immunity running low, bone growth switched off, cortisol jacked up, meaning performance and health will eventually diminish.
What a rest day means and how often they should be taken will depend entirely upon the intensity and type of exercise involved. Those training at very high intensities will need much more of a ‘rest’ compared to those casually working out. You can also ‘rest’ particular muscles whilst training others, such as, dividing up a strength training plan into body-part splits.
2. What do you eat on rest days and why is that important for your overall performance diet?
Rest days should be nutritionally supported in a similar way to training days as muscle glycogen is thought to still be replenishing for the next 24-hrs following a workout, and protein synthesis and repair is often still occurring at 72-hrs post session. In addition, there is work needed to recoup homeostasis and immunity. As a result, our bodies need fueling with a good balance of micronutrients ( vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc., for overall vitality and immunity) proteins (for muscle repair and growth), fats (for optimal absorption of micronutrients, lubrication of joints and the reduction of inflammation) and carbohydrates (for muscle glycogen replenishment). Not that indulgences can’t be included in a well-balanced diet!
I personally eat intuitively, going on how I feel from day to day, but it does not change much from training to rest day at all. As I have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) my diet consists of lean meats, nuts, avocados, fruits, beans, pulses, eggs, vegan protein powder and tons of veggies. With the quantity of fruits, veggies and legumes I consume, I would not say I eat very low carb, but I certainly eat little in the way of starchy carbs or dairy as I need to keep my hormones in check and insulin requirements low.
3. Is there a nutritional difference in your diet when exercising in comparison to rest days and if so, what’s important from a nutritional perspective?
I may end up having an additional meal in the form of a post-exercise meal/snack/shake, or perhaps add salt to my meals to replenish lost sodium in the case of having completed a particularly sweaty session. I have really become very in tune with my body over the years though, so I do tend to go with how I ‘feel’.
4. Can you tell us what your ideal rest day involves?
As I spend a gazillion hours a day working at my laptop, my ideal rest day involves moving my body in a way in which promotes cortisol reduction and stretching out tight muscles. So a leisurely walk and yoga is ideal. And a good old massage certainly helps sooth the body and mind, too!
5. If you could give one tip for recovery days, what would it be?
Don’t starve yourself of the nutrients it needs to maximise the benefits of your rest day - feed the recovery and growth!
6. What is your guilty rest day pleasure? (e.g. pizza, Netflix binge, wine etc...)
It used to be pizza, chocolate and pick ’n’ mix, but since PCOS does not like this at all, I am far more likely to indulge in this on training days when my body is better primed to utilise those carbs as much as it can through its non-insulin requiring processes. So although it’s not perfect for my health, I’m more likely to indulge in cheese and red wine whilst watching Netflix on rest days. I really am a firm believer in the power of the mind, and living a balanced life which allows you to enjoy indulgences in moderation.
7. You are a mind and body engineer. How do you prepare for the post rest day and how do you motivate yourself to get back training?
Haha! The key for me is getting myself excited about ‘why’ I am doing it. When your ‘whys’ are bigger than your excuses, there is nothing that is going to stop you!
8. Is a rest day really an absolute rest day? Do you have any stretches or conditioning routines on a rest day? Or is it proper rest?
A rest day can simply be a complete day of doing whatever the heck you feel like with no pressure to have to go anywhere or do anything. However, if you have a pretty inactive job, then for both physical and mental health I genuinely feel better for moving in some way. I don’t have a set plan, I go on how I feel. I might play at the park with the kids, go on a bike ride, picnic, walk or do a yoga video on YouTube. Or, if my body and mind feel totally exhausted I might do absolutely nothing...
9. Do you have any tips for recovery for people who have arthritis? Osteo, rheumatoid or just everyday wear and tear.
We are what we eat and all of that, so following an anti-inflammatory diet is key in this instance, which is pretty much the way I eat. Masses of veggies and fruits, lean proteins, lots of omega 3’s and the likes of tumeric and ginger. I would also suggest lots of mobility work to keep the joints as strong as possible.
10. And finally, do you have any motivational quotes or thoughts that you live by?
I believe that our mind is the most powerful tool we have... That 'how' we perceive something determines the experience we have... and that our own personal mental story dictates our life's outcome. I believe that we literally have the power to change everything from the inside out. “Where the mind goes, the body follows”
Don’t miss Kelin speak at BodyPower 2018! Flexiseq will also be there at stand G32. Come say hi and watch out for the giant Flexiseq knee…