I used to think my special talent was finding any excuse I could to not exercise. It’s not that I don’t appreciate how good it is for me or that I feel better from it but rather I found too many other things that needed me, conveniently at the time I was going to workout. It seems impractical to interrupt my busy day to spend 30 minutes to an hour “just” exercising. That “just” makes it sound like a luxury that if I had more time maybe I would enjoy it more or dare I say it look forward to it? Enjoyment might be pushing it to exaggeration but I could go with not being distracted from it and not feeling guilty by doing it over something else that needs to be done.
When all travel stopped last year my work life changed. For the first time in many years I was actually at home every day. I felt like a pirate who had just come to land after many years at sea and was staggering at the awkward motion of trying to walk on stable land. Work was still happening but now it was different. I had my evenings with my family instead of a hotel room. My closet held my clothes instead of my suitcase and my time expanded. I could do things I once never had time for like playing in my flower beds, watching movies with my family or cooking weeknight meals. For many those may sound like regular chores but to me it was a refreshing change. A slower pace and my body was excited for the exiting stress.
After a while of being home I remembered we had a room of gym equipment. My husband and I started using the treadmill and weight machine more often. I found myself gravitating towards this room looking for a way to burn off some energy and feel my body move. I even went so far as to sign up for a personal trainer program my work was offering virtually. Maybe this time I would stick with it. I blamed years past where I would need to travel for work as the reason I couldn’t stay with a program so now I could really focus on making progress.
It became a habit to do a little workout after I finished work. Sometimes only 15 minutes and sometimes longer but I was intentional about keeping up with it. The problem came when I felt guilty doing this over other things that bothered me. At times the guilt won out so I would do laundry or pick up the house instead or working out. I couldn’t walk pass the living room and not pick up and straighten things. If I did, then I would only get irritated about it while trying to do push ups and squats. It was fruitless to try to workout when I knew there was laundry waiting for me afterwards.
What I realized was my mind had to be aligned with my body to have a chance at keeping up at working out consistently. When I was thinking about the things that needed my attention around the house I knew I wasn’t going to give it my all in the workout. So I skipped a workout and dealt with those things. At first I was irritated at my family for not taking of things and respecting my time to do things like working out. It wasn’t their fault per se because I did have the choice to ignore it for awhile but the problem was I couldn’t. It was so programmed in me that mom and employee things had to be done before I could take care of myself.
So rather than continue to get irritated about it, I let it go and focused on what was in front of me to do. I picked up the house, ran the vac, emptied the sink of dishes and swept the floor. I felt better afterwards. The guilt of missing a workout was replaced with the feeling I had made the right choice for me. The next night after work I gave my all to my workout without guilt. I realized there are going to be nights I need to miss working out and there was no shame in that. I still managed to get some steps in pushing the vac anyway.
The luxury of working out for me is when I can focus on it and feel my mind and body engaged. The distractions of work, household chores, what to make for dinner and more are things that sometimes overtake my mind and prevent me from getting to my workout. I have stopped seeing them as excuses though. Instead I have begun to realize that sometimes these other things need my attention and other times I need to push back on them to get my workout done. The ability to do that has become a skill I’m working to improve on and quite honestly I consider much like building up the muscles in my body.
In working with my virtual personal trainer I have also realized it is ok to skip a workout. Sometimes I need to go to bed earlier because I’m really tired from the day. Sometimes I need to do something mentally freeing like watching a movie with the family. The luxury of working out is also knowing when not to because our body and mind need something else. It is not an excuse but rather learning to listen to our own needs instead of forcing ourselves through something because we need to, ought to, and should do it. We have enough of our day filled with those types of need to do things, sometimes it’s ok to do what you need to do.
The difference for me in thinking like this is I actually look forward to working out now. Just saying those words tells me I’ve made significant progress in being consistent working out and finding ways to make it fun. I respect myself on the days I don’t workout too by not beating myself up over it. I’ve come to learn that a large part of working on your health is learning to listen to our mind and body and acting on those needs. There is no need for guilt or forgiveness because I’m doing what is right for me when I need it.
A large part of living naturally is learning to recognize our own needs and giving ourselves support to those things. It is finding that release from obligations that we think we should be doing and acting more from a place of what is right for our own life. What I have found is the excuses fade away and I actually want to do healthier things for myself. There is a luxury that comes with this change that feels good to us. We feel in control and find the time to do what is right for us. That includes working out, making healthier meals and doing things that support our well-being.
I have also come to deeply appreciate the hot shower afterwards with the special treat of using some good essential oils afterwards to ease the soreness. It feels like a day well lived and I sleep better knowing I honored my own needs as part of it. It is true I may not be in my health yet but I see the path of it being a custom experience that includes all of what I need to achieve it. It is a lot of working out and learning to love myself in all stages of being.
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