When Not to Exercise – Reflections on Social Media Pressure, Excuses, and Listening to Your Body

Categories Fitness

It’s a big step to decide that fitness is a priority in your life. For me, it involved getting rid of indulgences and making a commitment. Over the years, that commitment has been in flux, but it gets more regimented with each day. I take a lot of pride in that. The scale may not move, I may not be the fastest, but I damn well can keep a schedule. This alone keeps me going.

So what happens when I can’t work out? Some people would say, “why would you not work out? Are you severely injured? Are you very sick?”

In an age where everyone is posting their fitness progress to social media, myself included, peer pressure can be very real. That’s not to say that motivation is not important. It’s a powerful tool that can flip the switch from couch to burpee. Though sometimes, it can have a negative effect. Seeing others working so hard can make you feel lazy, even when you have a legitimate reason for sitting out.

Before I started running, I would make excuses to avoid exercise
“I don’t have time.”
“I move around a lot already.”
“I don’t have a way to get to the gym.”

When I finally decided to stop making excuses and make exercise a priority, I inadvertently applied that logic to every excuse. Because of that, I now find it difficult to decide not to workout. Even if I would be laid up in bed, I would feel an extreme amount of guilt for not making the effort to get to the gym.

While that way of thinking has gotten me through many unwanted workouts, it is not healthy. Blaming yourself for injury and fatigue is unhealthy. This morning I had to make that decision.

Over the weekend I lead a boot camp class. For some reason it put more strain on my glutes than it usually does. As a result, Sunday was spent hobbling around the house and avoiding stairs. Regardless of that fact, I unfairly assumed that by this morning I would be better. Despite pain, I would make it to the gym.

At 5:00 AM, my husband woke me up to get ready. I noticed I was better, but still extremely stiff. I decided to sit this one out. After he left I started to feel guilty, but quickly decided that I was not going down that road.

My fitness journey has been a commitment to my health. Looking good and being strong are only two aspects of that commitment. Not hurting yourself is another and it’s pretty important. Today, I will honor that decision. Though tomorrow better watch out, because I’m coming for it.

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