It’s been a long day and that workout class you booked this morning when you were full of energy is looking real exhausting right about now.
We all have times when we feel like heading home instead of committing to the gym — especially this time of year when it’s cold and the sun sets long before many of us clock out. The excuses can quickly pile up against heading to the gym, and you may reason with yourself that if you do go, it won’t even be a good workout since your heart isn’t in it.
However, even though, deep down you probably already know, there is benefit in still heading to that workout when you’re not feeling it, says Aubrey Whitehorn, a physical trainer and fitness manager at Texas Health Fitness Center Dallas.*
“Something is always better than nothing,” she says. “Simply not going is a sense of giving up. But if you push yourself and find the willpower to go, you’ll be trying — and trying is the first step when overcoming a hurdle.”
Whitehorn adds that it’s not always about hitting your personal best every single time you work out.
“Even if you don’t perform at your best, you’ll be making a positive step towards your health,” she says. “You may even end up surprising yourself and performing better than expected, resulting in feeling accomplished and in a better mood.”
Asking Yourself Why
As we noted earlier, there are some times when the last thing you want to do is work out — which is totally acceptable — but Whitehorn insists that before you write it off, you should ask yourself why exactly you want to opt-out of your workout.
“If it’s evident that coming up with excuses is preventing you from reaching your goal, you must understand why you are creating those excuses, then ask yourself how you can get past it,” she says. “If we can rephrase some of the excusing thoughts such as, ‘I’m too tired’ or ‘I don’t have time’ and turn them around into something positive and encouraging, you’ll have a greater chance of breaking through that cycle.”
Some examples of re-phrasing those excuses, can be, “I’m tired but what counts is me showing up and putting in some kind of work”, or “working out is not a waste of my time, but being unhealthy and unfit will feel like a waste of my life.”
Honoring Your Body
That being said, Whitehorn acknowledges there are instances in which you should listen to your body and give it the rest it’s asking for. If you’re feeling rundown because you could possibly be getting sick, sitting out this workout can give you the rest and time your body needs to repair and recover.
“Giving the body time to recover, especially when starting to get sick, not only helps it regain the energy needed to fight off infection, but it will also be able to easily adapt to stress and even help prevent future injuries,” she says.
Another thing to keep in mind is that resting is a part of the recovery process essential to exercising. If you’ve been hitting the gym hard lately and haven’t really allowed yourself any time to rest, this may be your body’s way of letting know it needs some downtime.
“Our muscles and joints tend to progress when we are at rest,” Whitehorn explains. “When you allow your body to be at its best, it won’t have to make the extra efforts to focus on fighting off whatever sickness it has and can focus on the task at hand which would be the structured workout routine and its natural stress responses.”
Mind Over Matter
If you feel like that voice telling you you’re too tired to work out is more of a mind-over-matter-thing and less about your body telling you it needs some rest, Whitehorn says it may help to rethink your physical activity.
“There are many ways one can integrate some sort of movement into their day without explicitly labeling it a ‘workout,” Whitehorn says. “Some examples consist of going for a 30-minute walk when you get home from work, walking your dog an extra 20 minutes, or something as automatic as walking from point A to point B wherever you are. This might be just enough to get those endorphins flowing and make you feel good about still getting active.”
Taking a break from working out can be a necessary part of staying healthy and isn’t a bad thing. However, if you find yourself in a constant pattern of finding excuses to not work out, Whitehorn says you may need to dig a little deeper.
“Why do you feel you need to work out in the first place? Is it health related? Is it to help you feel better about yourself physically and/or mentally? What is your story behind it all and how does it make you feel,” she questions. “Exercise has so many benefits including burning more calories to help us lose weight (if needed), and improves daily activities such as doing chores, carrying groceries, or even getting out of bed.
“Working out gives us clarity, reduces stress, prevents pain, and aches, and improves our overall quality of life to allow us to spend more time with our families,” Whitehorn adds. “If you can find the reason behind it, you’ll be more inclined to do something about it. Even if you take small steps, that is a step toward the right direction resulting in a successful workout leaving you feeling accomplished and better about yourself, which is always a win.”
*FX Well is a managing entity for the Texas Health fitness centers.
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