These Three Rs Will Get You Better Results

“Go, go, go!” sums up a lot of my fitness advice. If you want to feel your best, look your best—be your best—it’s important to get off the couch and start movin’ that thang!

That said, staying healthy is all about balance. It’s great when you’re motivated and taking care of business, but sometimes you need to give yourself a break. That’s why today’s fitness tip is “Stop, stop, stop!”

If you don’t take downtime, sooner or later you’re going to crash. That’s why in my new book The Big Picture: 11 Laws That Will Change Your Life, law #11 is all about my three Rs: Recharge, Recover, and Relax. Whether your goals include a firmer butt, world domination, or just keeping your kids from blowing up the house, these three Rs will help you accomplish them.

This basically means sleep. Sleeping serves a number of functions. It “reboots” your brain, making room for more knowledge. It facilitates healing—and that includes your sore abs from that killer Yoga X session. And it balances hormones like ghrelin and leptin, two chemicals that help regulate hunger.

Shoot for at least seven or eight hours a night—more if you need it—and make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Keep it dark, cozy, comfortable, and free of unnecessary electronics and blinking LED lights. (Unless you live in an air traffic control tower, then the lights are okay.)

Let yourself heal! Exercise creates microtrauma in muscles—little tears in the fibers. Recovery allows them not just to heal, but also to grow back stronger. There’s a reason P90X, P90X2, and P90X3 all feature recovery weeks. But it’s up to you to explore other options beyond light workouts if you want to make the most of your downtime. Massages, stretching, and mineral baths are all worth considering.

And if all that recovery isn’t doing the trick, don’t be afraid to consult a specialist such as a physical therapist who can assess potential injuries and help you develop a proper recovery program.

Kick back, dude! We’re living through one of the most stress-inducing points in human history. Thanks to smartphones and other assorted Internet goodies, it seems like the 40-hour workweek has turned into the 24-hour workday.

Sometimes you just need to put that phone in silent mode, hide it in the back of your closet, and relax. Watch a movie, listen to some music, or curl up with a good book (mine, for example). Not only does it feel great, but giving your brain a break from all the Internet chatter can help you untangle the day’s issues and solve problems from angles that might not have occurred to you otherwise.

So don’t be afraid to take five. (Heck, take ten if you need it.) If you’re fighting the good fight the rest of the time, some quality downtime will do you good.