I’m on a flight on my way to San Francisco right now to spend the week with the Facebook team, learning about how Facebook and Instagram can help grow your small business!
I’m so excited to be part of this select group of business owners, and I can’t wait to see the Facebook HQ!
Since I had some extra time on the flight, I wanted to really dive deep into today’s #livinginspiralized feature. I’m talking about exercise guilt.
What I Ate Today, April 4, 2017
Another day, another oatmeal bowl with Wild Friends sunflower butter, sliced bananas, blueberries and chia seeds.
I had more of my raw nut mix. Raw cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts, and raisins.
My videographer was over to film some new cooking videos, so I was eating min-portions of everything. The largest portion I had (so I guess, ‘lunch’) was a bowl of my bikini bolognese (just the sauce).
I snacked on some raspberries, straight out of the fridge and these “Figgy Pops” (unbaked organic energy balls in ‘Tart Cherry Fig’) from Made In Nature, which I’ve been obsessed with. I have two (that’s a serving) and those tiny little… well, balls… are surprisingly filling – and eventually energizing!
Dinner was a “I’m going on a trip, let’s eat all these vegetables so they don’t get wasted.” I had heirloom rainbow carrots, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower and served it over quinoa, along with two fried eggs for Lu.
My favorite Daily Harvest smoothie aka chocolate milkshake. It literally takes like a milkshake, but better! It’s refreshing, nourishing, and the perfect amount of sweet. It’s the Cacao+Avocado flavor and whenever I need something sweet after dinner, it satisfies the craving – and I always get Lu to split it with me. You can get 3 free smoothies by entering code “inspiralized” on checkout at Daily Harvest.
Overcoming Exercise Guilt
Let me first preface by saying that this post was inspired by the lovely Davida from The Healthy Maven. She wrote a piece on her once unhealthy relationship with exercise and I realized that the topic needs to be covered more by those of us in the healthy blogging space. Many of us have been tormented by exercise obsession and I wanted to share my experience and my advice, as someone who has overcome exercise guilt in the hopes of opening up the conversation and perhaps, helping someone who is currently struggling with this. The more we talk about the uncomfortable, controversial issues, the more comfortable we’ll be with seeking help and getting better.
Exercise guilt. It’s 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.
Well, you’re not alone. And to be frank with you, for most of my 20s, that’s exactly how I felt. Every single day, I felt exercise guilt. It was debilitating and caused this unbalanced, unhappy feeling with fitness and health. Even when I did make a workout, I’d always compare it to other days and judge myself if I worked harder the previous day.
While I’ve never had an eating disorder, exercise guilt is probably the closest I’ve ever come to one, because it caused me to binge eat a lot when I’d miss those workouts.
So how did I beat it? How did I rid myself of the exercise guilt?
Diet > Exercise
In terms of weight loss, I finally realized that diet was more important than exercise. If you focus primarily on your diet (eating clean foods and fueling yourself properly), then the weight will peel off much more quickly than if you make 7 workouts in a row. Exercising only 3-4 days a week and eating a very clean diet is just as effective in weight loss as exercising 7 days a week and eating a mildly healthy diet. What would you rather do? Feel good 7 days a week or feel sub-par 7 days a week and feel chained to the gym?
Since working out 6-7 days a week is pretty difficult to maintain, you’re liable to experience fatigue, apathy, and other symptoms that lead you to skip the gym and grab that bag of chips at lunch instead of the apple. When I miss a workout, I don’t binge eat. I simply don’t have dessert. Or, I eat a big salad instead of a big sandwich for lunch. Or, I skip the 3pm snack. Now that I’m pregnant, my goals have changed, of course, but this is how I overcame the exercise guilt.
Stopping the social media spiral
Stopped following fitness stars on social media. This is HUGE. Just like real life models, Instagram fitness models and accounts make their living off of looking fit. They feel an immense pressure to keep fit, toned, and thin. They spend hours at the gym, eat extremely strict diets, and most likely, have disordered eating. Actually, the pressure is so real, that they’re now trying to relieve some of that pressure and show that they’re “real people” by doing fake before and afters where they show what they actually really look like without the posing on Instagram (example here.)
Long story short, why are you following these types of people? Instead of following super thin fashion bloggers with thigh gaps or fitness stars with abs and sleek arms, why not follow more women who live a more balanced life? Perhaps female entrepreneurs who are also healthy, not necessarily ripped and always in sports bras and spandex? Or a woman who may not have abs, but is changing the world? OR, find someone on Instagram who has a healthy approach to diet and exercise, one that’s relatable and attainable. If you need some fitspo (shameless plug coming), follow me on my fitness account, @getinspiralized.
When you scroll through your feed, you won’t feel bad about yourself for not having abs or a protruding clavicle. Instead, you’ll be motivated to work hard and achieve bigger, more important goals. If you think about it, every time you see an unattainable body, you think, “Ugh, I wish I could have that discipline!” and it rarely makes you feel good about yourself.
Commit to a workout schedule that fits your schedule
I’ve found that working out in the morning has kept be sane. On days when I’m just too tired to get out of bed, I don’t. But mostly, I’m able to wake up and make my workout. This helps me from feeling that all day torment of, “Should I go to the gym?” or that end-of-the-day guilt of, “Ugh, I really should get to the gym, but it was such a long day!”
If you workout in the morning, there’s none of that. Your workout is done before most people brush their teeth in the morning, and you feel great all day, thanks to the endorphins.
So, if you’re someone who knows making a post 5pm workout is difficult and you’re likely to feel shameful over it, then commit to a better schedule. Maybe it’s the morning, maybe it’s a 20 minute HIIT workout on your phone at lunchtime. Whatever it is, make it fit your schedule, and be honest with yourself.
Switch up your workout routine
The less you stick to a strict regime (ie running 6 days a week for 45 minutes) and the more you switch it up, the less likely you are to compare yourself to previous fitness days, because no two workouts are the same! Also, your body won’t get as burnt out or tired, and you’re more likely to healthfully commit.
What helped me the most was trying less aggressive forms of exercise. Around my 29th birthday last year, I was about 80% over the exercise guilt. I still had “relapses”, because I was trying to shed a couple more pounds and thought the way to do that was through consistent exercise (even though I was finally realizing that diet was what was going to get me there.)
That day, I had a private yoga lesson with Lu (I had never done yoga before that point!) scheduled in the evening. So what did I do? I worked out early in the morning, because I knew I wasn’t going to get a “good enough workout” that day with just yoga.
There’s no such thing as a bad workout – all workouts are good. They get your heart rate pumping, they strengthen your cardiovascular health, and they help build strong bones and muscles, and exercise releases endorphins, making you happier!
Now, I do yoga once a week and I look forward to how different of a workout it is than my other weekday workouts which are more high intensity, like spinning, running and HIIT.
Also, on days when I don’t “feel” like working out but I have the energy, I go to the gym, because I know it’s good for my body, and I do a lighter workout, but I don’t feel any guilt. I feel accomplished, instead. Even if it’s just 20 minutes of walking on the treadmill.
On the days that I don’t want to work out because I don’t have the energy, guess what? I don’t. And the most liberating thing is that I feel zero guilt. I know I have my healthy diet to fall back on, so I’m not going to gain weight.
Do I have abs? Do I have a little extra pudge on my hips and my arms? 100%. But you know what I DON’T have? Guilt. Fatigue. Mental torment.
I’ll take a little extra pudge for a happier me.