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I skipped the gym for a week. And guess what?? The world didn’t implode! Want to know what actually happened during my break? Read on!
Last week I was unwell and decided to take a rest from exercise for the entire week. That’s right – no gym, no barre classes, no long walks. This can be totally daunting for some of us so I thought I’d share with you what actually happened as a result of my break.
But maybe I should start with what DIDN’T happen…
- I didn’t put on 5kg, or any weight for that matter
- I didn’t eat McDonald’s every day or suddenly lose interest in living a healthy life
- I didn’t wither away or lose strength
- I didn’t lose my motivation to ever go to the gym again
- I didn’t get to read my new book because I always read on the treadmill a few times a week
So, what did happen?
- I recovered completely
- I slept in every day
- I spent the extra time I had one morning making banana maple steel cut oats. This was a great life decision
- I ate a little less than usual naturally, because without physical exercise I found I wasn’t as hungry as usual
- I felt guilty for not going to the gym
It’s the last point about feeling guilty that I want to talk about today. From the two lists above you can see that there weren’t any real negative effects of me skipping the gym for a week (ok, except for not getting to read my book). And yet for the first few days I couldn’t help but feel guilty or bad for not working out. Like I was lazy for taking some time to rest when my body was telling me to stop. Like I had some kind of choice in the matter.
On the fourth day I gave myself a tough talk. You know the ones – the quit being ridiculous and get over it kind of talks. I reminded myself that working out or not working out in no way defines who I am as a person. I reminded myself to be kind, to accept that my body needs rest and to even try and enjoy this little break. And I resolved to not feel any guilt about it for the rest of the week.
I think the best way to cure this exercise guilt is to call it out for what it is – an unnecessary and unhealthy pressure. Exercise should be something we do as part of a healthy lifestyle, and training whilst sick or injured is about as unhealthy as it gets. I don’t want to subscribe to this unhealthy behaviour any longer and in future I’m going to skip the gym guilt-free.
I know I’m not alone in putting too much pressure on myself and feeling exercise guilt over missed workouts. So next time you are injured or sick, and tossing up over whether you should train, take a break. And while you’re at it, give yourself a break from worrying about it too. Your body and your mind will thank you!