Did you know that “exercise guilt” is a real thing? Yup, it is. Exercise guilt is the guilt you feel when you miss a workout. You may feel worthless, lazy, and even depressed. Why do you feel guilty? You feel guilty because you know you could’ve made the gym that day but you didn’t push yourself to get there and that makes you feel ‘guilty’. You could have and you didn’t. You failed. Actually, you can even feel exercise guilt when there literally wasn’t enough time in the day (unless you woke up at 4am to workout) to fit it in.
You also may feel guilty, because you feel like a missed session at the gym, a run, or whatever is a missed opportunity at reaching your weight loss goals. You think that missing a workout, or two, or a few is going to derail your goals. You may even compare your days. You may say, “Well, I ran for 30 minutes yesterday, so now I can’t eat as much today because then I’ll have consumed more calories than today and I’ll gain weight.” THEN, you may feel so poorly, that you end up over-eating or indulging in a bag of chips or ice cream, because your guilt turned into self-digust.
Are you reading this right now thinking, “Ohmigod, this is ME.”? You are definitely not alone. And here’s the good news: you don’t have to feel this way. For some of us, this is our motivator… and we love the “edge” that the guilty feelings give us, because it keeps us focused on getting our sweat sessions in. That’s fine. Exercise guilt isn’t a problem for everyone… and it’s only a problem if it truly consumes you, and affects your daily life to a point where its a negative impact.
So, if you feel like your exercise guilt borders on unhealthy workout obsession, let’s talk about a few ways to dial it back a notch.
Focus on your “why.” Remember, you are doing this for you… so break it down: are you devoting this time and energy to regular gym sessions because you’re trying to lose weight? You’re committed to living a healthier life? A good sweat is a great stress reliever? Do you look forward to your workouts, like it’s something that makes you feel genuinely good about yourself and it brings out the best in you? There aren’t enough hours in the day for anyone… so, if you’re going to take the time out of your busy life and devote it to exercising on the reg, make sure you find a positive motivator to be your reason behind it. Your health is important, and so is your outlook on life. Make your workouts a positive part of your life, and leave it at that. Remind yourself of why this is important to you, when you start to feel guilty… and take note of whether your mindset is negative or positive.
Commit to a workout schedule that fits your schedule. Some people are morning people. Some people are not. Some people like to get up and shock their bodies with their hard workouts, before their brain has woken up enough to realize what it is you’re doing… and then they coast on the endorphins all day. Others need that sweat session after work, to help decompress and focus their frustration and stress on something healthy, instead of their family/friends/significant other. Whatever you prefer, be true to you. And cut yourself some slack! If you’re too tired one morning, allow yourself the luxury of sleeping in! Know that your guilt is just around the corner, so don’t make it a habit, but give yourself a break every now and then! Listen to your body… and be honest with yourself. Bonus: Burst has classes at all hours, so finding something that fits in your schedule is a breeze.
Keep it fresh. There is nothing that kills a workout vibe, turning your gym time into a chore, and allowing the guilt to creep in like redundancy. We live in a fast-paced, ever-changing world. We are preconditioned to have short attention spans, so why would you stick to the same thing day in and day out for your workouts? Also, if you are adding variety to your routine, you are much less likely to compare your efforts from one day to the next… automatically eliminating one easy way for those guilty feelings to start creeping in. And if you’re feeling a little lackluster, perhaps this is a good opportunity to do work in something a little slower paced, like yoga. Acknowledge with yourself that you are still making your health and fitness a priority, but you’re also keeping your body guessing but keeping your workouts fresh.
Let go of the guilt, fatigue, and mental torment. Life is too short to spend it obsessing over body measurements and unattainable goals. It’s OK to to be committed, it’s OK to want to push your body past the limits it knows… but it’s also OK to love yourself as you are, and love your body for what it can already do. Stay happy, healthy and sane, friends.