There’s something about that feeling you get when you walk out of the gym, or even just step off your yoga mat in your own house. It’s a feeling of satisfaction, accomplishment, and maybe even a hint of smugness that you did something healthy today. I know, because I used to thrive on that feeling – and that feeling alone. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with feeling proud of yourself for exercising or chasing after those endorphins. They make you feel great for a reason! But there’s a flip side to this story. If you feel satisfied and proud when you do complete your workout, does that mean you have to feel guilty and lazy if you skip it that day?
What if you just don’t finish? Where does that leave you?
Why The “Just Do It” Logic Is Flawed
Contrary to what Nike and countless fitspo images would lead you to believe, there are times when you shouldn’t just do it (your workout or exercises, that is). But since I don’t like speaking in terms of “shoulds” and “should nots” lets make it even simpler. There are times when you flat out don’t want to finish that last set of reps or run one more mile. Do you make yourself do it anyway most of the time? All of the time? Last question: Are you being compelled to finish your workout by the joy of the activity or by the anxiety of what not finishing might mean?
A few months ago, I introduced you to the self love strategy that will take your workouts to the next level. The gist of it was that in order to have stellar workouts, you have to develop a loving relationship with your body. And part of having a healthy relationship with your body entails actually listening to it when your muscles are signaling that they’d like to stop please. We don’t live in a black and white world, so of course, there are exceptions. There are times that you can “push past the pain” and cash in that check for endorphins. And if you choose to go that route, power to you. What I want is for you to know that you don’t have to keep going if you want to stop. You don’t have to just do it. The world will not stop spinning on its axis if you choose to walk away from a workout and save it for a time you’re feeling more physically or mentally capable of it.
Try This At Home
It’s far too easy to get sucked into diet talk, food shaming, and exercising one-upping. One of your friends makes a comment about something “so bad” that she ate and another responds by saying “I haven’t been to the gym in forever” with a self-degrading sigh. We’re conditioned to believe that exercise somehow makes us better people or more worthy of love. Let me be clear: exercise has health benefits. But your health has absolutely nothing to do with your value as a person. I encourage you to practice walking away from a workout before you had planned on finishing, if only to show yourself that you can. If you’re following a specific workout regimen, try modifying it. If you feel exhausted and really need a nap more than you need to push out five more reps, take the nap.
The first few times you walk away from a workout it may feel awkward, uncomfortable even. But practice being flexible (in more than the literal sense). The gym will always be there. How you feel about your exercise matters, and it should be enjoyable most of the time. Be patient with yourself, understanding when you’re not able to give it your all. You can always come back at it tomorrow.
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