Exercise Guilt. The Verdict is in

Not exercising and taking a respite day is something I still struggle with. I am the first to preach about, “listening to your body and rest being an essential part of training,” but I don’t often listen to my own advice. I understand that you should not work the same body part consecutively, and I don’t. It is when I miss a scheduled session that I experience the guilt. Not for illness. I do not encourage going to the gym when sick to compromise your recovery and spread your germs. The guilt is due to other reasons, such as feeling lethargic and not going or situations that may come up suddenly that prevent me from gym time.

Andy is “just wonderful” at calling me out on this. He will say, “You tell me to rest when I over-do-it. Maybe you should listen to yourself.” The thing is, when I begin to see changes in my body, it makes me motivated, driven and of course, happy. I want to see more! If I am not weight training, I try to justify going to the gym by thinking that I at least should be doing some form of cardio, if I haven’t already done my scheduled two days for the week. I always envision my thighs becoming slimmer and toned, or my endurance improving if I just fit in a run. On the negative, I envision two evil little saddlebag twins. Blobs of fat with mischievous faces, giggling sinisterly and finding their way back to my thighs.  Take for instance last Saturday. I was supposed to do a 5k with Mary and Leslie through the park, but was not able to join them. I had gone to my first Pilates class called core and glute strengthening the night before and I woke up feeling extremely sore. Andy advised me to take it easy. I made the right decision and told the ladies that I was in too sore to run, but mentally I did not like it. I was antsy all day for missing the run. I tried to come up with instant solutions, such as, I’ll take an aspirin to alleviate the soreness, take a nap and then I should be able to run. That is when I told myself, enough! I worked hard on Friday night, tried something new and challenging and my body needed recovery. That was that. Andy and I went out for breakfast and I put exercise out of my mind for the rest of the day.

This is how the evil saddlebag twins look, Flopsem and Blobsem: ( yes, they have names.)

IMG_1241Why do I suffer the guilt? Well, I have come so far in physical gains, especially in strength, that I feel if I miss my workout, I may lose what I have worked so hard for. I am so close to doing an unassisted pull-up, I can taste it. I am afraid of becoming like the image on this t-shirt again:


Love the T-shirt and plan on buying it naturally, but that is truly what I looked like a year ago under the weight of just the Olympic bar. I fear the pear! This is what I think to overcome my exercise guilt:

1. Things come up and life happens. My car break lights may go on en route to the gym, or more importantly loved ones may need me unexpectedly. The people in my life are my priority, not an unassisted pull-up. They come before the gym.

2. My body is sore for a reason. I don’t want to jeopardize my training long-term by working out and hurting myself when I need recovery time.

3. I won’t lose mass, endurance or strength from missing one or two workouts. The evil saddlebag twins won’t return from missing a cardio session or two. Such factors happen over a prolonged period of missing workouts and over indulging too often.

4. Who cares if I miss a gym session? I’m setting these goals for myself, for my own personal best. I’m not planning on entering a contest. Even those who are training for a competition have to miss the odd gym session, I’m sure.

5. I exercise to feel internal wellness and energy. It is not simply about body transformation….but still keep away from me, Flopsem and Blobsem. I mean it!

The verdict is in. Guilty on one charge of exercise guilt, but with time served. Time to think, reflect, and yes at times regress on this whole journey.

T-Rex t-shirt information/source: Designed by UnicornTees.


14 thoughts on “Exercise Guilt. The Verdict is in

  1. So many things running through my mind about working out while sore or tired. I could go on and on about it and many people disagree with my philosophy on this so I don’t like to go into too much detail on other people’s pages. Hopefully when I get settled in Florida next year I will have more time to delve into it on my own page. I do hint at it from time to time on some of my L&S articles though.

    What I WILL say is this. 1) It takes a very long time to understand your body fully and know the difference between you NEED to rest, and your body is tired or sore. There is a big difference, make sure you get that figured out. I’m on year 5 of this and I just recently did myself. 2) Life is a balance, and we are all finding ours. It sounds like you still deal with making sure fitness fits your life and not your life fits into fitness, that’s good IMO. I liked your #1. 3) You definitely (as you’ve already mentioned) won’t lose progress from missing a day, breath easy. As long as you are still committed you are good. Physical transformation is a very long process!

    1. Hi Colin. I agree, it is a long process. A lot of these thoughts are truly bad habits, and feeling as though I will set myself back somehow. . I would love to hear more about your thoughts on exercise during soreness. I really like your thoughts on #2. Spot on!

      1. Basically I think most people are so afraid of overtraining that they in fact are undertrained. Our bodies are very adaptable and sometimes the best gains are made by pushing through when you are feeling beat up. It may suck for a while but your body will adapt. Our bodies don’t change unless you give them a reason to, and if you never push through when things get tough will your body think it will need to improve to handle the load next time? Just like construction workers or anyone with a very physical job. When they first start they will be sore as hell after the first day or two, but they can’t exactly call in with sore muscles. They keep going and doing the same thing and their bodies adapt to the point where they don’t get sore anymore.

        You just have to be careful because overtraining does exist, but it’s usually going to take a very long time to get there and usually it has more to do with under-recovering (not getting enough sleep, poor nutrition, etc.) than it is too much training. As long as you deload when you do get to the point where you are consistently extremely fatigued and don’t feel like working out (biggest signs of overtraining) then you’ll be fine. If you still want to work out bad but your are sore, you aren’t anywhere near that point most likely.

        That’s my opinion anyway.

      2. Thanks for the great feedback. It’s really helpful, especially since you have been training for a long time. You’ve made an important point regarding the construction workers, and I do feel that our bodies are resilient. I felt just how hard I worked after that Pilates class, and I’m sure it would only get easier as time passes. Our bodies are amazing, aren’t they?

  2. I feel like so many of us suffer from exercise guilt. I find I always feel less bad if I am active. Like if I’m too sore to do the planned workout, I’ll go for a walk. The walk makes me feel better and I was active. PLUS it actually helps me recover more quickly.

    Your points are also totally correct. One day isn’t going to make a difference if we aren’t just making up excuses to constantly miss. And taking one day off especially when worn down can actually help us reach our goals more quickly! LOVE THIS POST! Covers such a great topic that bothers so many people!

    1. Thanks very much. I really like that idea of taking a walk if needing to slow things down. These thoughts are such a mental battle or me, that I have to keep remembering these points. Yes, a lot of people suffer from this form of guilt. I’ve heard it at my gym, giving me the idea to write this post.

  3. I can definitely relate to this! When I miss a workout, I try to remind myself that this is a lifestyle and I might need to miss a workout here or there. It’s tough.

    I love the names of the saddlebag twins! Too funny!! You are working so hard that I’m sure they won’t return. Good luck on your unassited pull-up too! That’s awesome.

    1. Yes, it is so tough, but you’re right. This is a lifestyle that requires a commitment. That’s a great way to keep it in perspective. It should be another tip.

      Those twins can be very sneaky, too many treats and missing too many workouts and I can hear them giggling as they find their way back. Lol!

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