Get Rid of That Guilt: Why Skipping a Workout is OK

9 Sep

This morning, I got up early and headed out to meet my friend at Starbucks for…wait for it…PUMPKIN SPICED LATTES! Yes, they are indeed back and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Not only do I love the flavor, but it makes me ecstatic for the fall season: pumpkins, running outside, not sweating in my 100+ degree apartment, kettle corn, hayrides, apple picking… Seriously, I could go on forever. 

Anyway, as we chatted over our absolutely delicious “fall in a cup” lattes in the park, my friend admitted to something: she felt guilty for skipping her morning run. “I woke up early so I could run before work and then just laid around the house and didn’t do it. Now I’m going to feel guilty the rest of the day.” As I took another sweet slurp of my latte, I reflected on how I’ve been there a million times in the past. Whether I wasn’t “in the mood” to go for a run or skipped a cardio class at the gym due to pure laziness, it’s hard not to feel a little guilty when you skip a workout. I remember in college if I didn’t go to the gym for an hour each day or missed out on my weekly cycling class, I’d completely beat myself up over it. I’m lazy. I’m fat. Now I’m going to gain weight. I may as well not eat for the rest of the day. I should have just gone to the gym. Negative thoughts would haunt me for the rest of the day. Therefore, I’d force myself to exercise on days my body wasn’t feeling it, and skip out on fun dates with friends in order to go to the gym. Looking back now, it’s completely pathetic that I put so much emphasis on my psychotic workout plan.

Now, my mindset has completely changed. I don’t let myself feel guilty anymore because if I decide not to work out, I don’t think of it as a bad thing. The phrases skipping or giving up have such negative connotations to them. It’s not like you gave up on eating healthy forever or decided to drop out of school. It’s one workout for Pete’s sake! Therefore now when I choose not to do a workout, I think of it as just that. This was my decision. My body wasn’t feeling it at the time. I’m going to go with what my body tells me to do, rather than meeting my expectations. 

Once you have this mindset, you’ll never feel guilty about missing a workout again. In fact, I decided to skip  opt out of my morning run yesterday, and ended up having the most fabulous, healthy day because of it. I was able to make a hearty breakfast, do 20 minutes of morning yoga, and go for a long walk with my friend later in the afternoon. Sure I didn’t sweat a bunch or torch hundreds of calories, but I felt good about it and made the right decision for that day. On the other hand, I will be going on a 5 mile run this evening and couldn’t be more excited about it. I’m excited to challenge my body, see what my time will be and run in this gorgeous fall weather. However, if I happened to not be feeling it at the time of my run, I’d chose to do something else and would move on with it. It’s all about listening to your body. 

After all, working out shouldn’t be a chore; you should feel motivated and inspired by it! Whenever friends complain about going to the gym or talk about “forcing” themselves to go, I tell them to stay home and do something else, or go for a long walk to sort things out. If you’re feeling miserable and dragging yourself to exercise, it’s NOT going to be a good workout. And let me tell you: 25 minutes on the elliptical at a slow “I-don’t-want-t0-be-here” pace is going to do nothing for your body or overall weight management efforts. Our bodies need a break once in a while after all. And if you’re someone who exercises nearly every day, the occasional rest day is more than OK; in fact it’s good for your health. We don’t want to overwork our bodies now, do we? 

So to wrap things up: next time you find yourself feeling guilty about “skipping” a workout, try to listen to your body and think about what’s right for you. If you really are just being lazy, give it a few minutes and see how you feel, or start by just going for a walk and begin running if you feel like it (not ’cause you HAVE to). However, if you really do just need a day of rest, take one guiltlessly. There is always tomorrow and one little missed workout is not going to make the slightest difference on your overall healthy lifestyle (I wish I had known this in college). Trust me. 


9 Responses to “Get Rid of That Guilt: Why Skipping a Workout is OK”

  1. trish August 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    All i did was google “is it bad to miss a workout” and I came across this.
    I had a little procedure done at the hospital today.. nothing even remotely big or dangerous, but it gave me enough stomach cramps to make the idea of “leg day” at the gym really daunting.
    your blog/article made me really excited about going to spend the next hour catching up on some reading instead of the usual motivated sweaty workout I do on Thursdays. And I’m not going to feel guilty at all… so thank you!

  2. Arby September 4, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    LOL me too! All I did was google “is it okay to skip a workout today” and came to this post. I actually had to laugh a little when you described how opting out if a workout made you feel like you’re fat or lazy and going to gain all this weight back. That is totally how I felt right before clicking the link to get here. In fact, I felt guilty for even googling it to try and justify missing a day. But now that I think about it, I think if I went, I would give a crappy effort and it would probably leve me feeling more frustrated anyway.

    Thank you so much for doing this post!

  3. GymDude January 7, 2017 at 10:50 am #

    I am a guy and I found this very helpful. I know it seems to be a women’s site, but men can use this mentality as well. I am a 290 pound guy – strong up top (bench 260 and curl 45 pound dumbells), but I have that 40-year old belly that no matter what I do, will not go away. My wife loves me anyways! Haha. She tells me that I look like a normal guy my age and I know the intention is to make me feel better. I grew up in the 80s, so I remember when the fitness craze started. Little by little, it got more and more intense until washboard abs have become virtually a requirement for employment in some companies. I feel like I do not want to try and keep up. When I was 25 in graduate school, I did my work so fast that I was going to the gym twice per day. I weighed 175 pounds and could run a 5.5 min mile. I was in ridiculously good shape. Sometimes I miss those days, but now, we have a kid, I run a company I started with 25 employees and I still go to the gym, but only 2 or 3 days per week – and it’s for maintenance only. I hired a 23-year old trainer. He is the man, but on our first two workouts, he was acting like I was trying out for the Olympics. I had to calm down his natural enthusiasm and communicate my needs and wants as the paying client. He got it quickly and we moved on to work very well together. He’s the one who helped me get my core strong and upper body strong, despite having a spare tire. I suppose all of this is too much to fret over in the long run. I remember the comedian George Carlin who was famed for saying that we should not focus too much on our “numbers” in life. He meant that we should not obsess over how much money we have in the bank, our zip code, our kids’ school’s zip code, the number of model car we drive, our height, and, of course, our weight. I like Carlin’s philosophy. I am 40 and maybe have 40 years left on Earth – hopefully more. I do not smoke, do drugs, drink only occasionally, do not gamble, or stay up past 10PM 99% of the nights. My doctor says despite some extra weight, I am in perfect health. And I feel good. One of the revelations I’ve had since turning 40 is that many, many people around me love to focus on weight and mention it frequently – not just comments on my waistline, but on theirs and everyone elses. Sometimes, it gets really frustrating to listen to the constant comments. It’s like the weather – it’s just another repetitive subject that people use to fill time, but unlike the weather, discussing someone’s weight can really embarrass them. I have a friend from childhood who has turned into a gorgeous woman. She works out like no other. She is probably the most in-shape person I know. She runs these PX-90 groups. They do “fun runs” and Paleo dieting and she is always asking me to join and I am always politely deferring, despite her friendly cajoling and encouragement. I’ve known her since I was 14 – 26 years – otherwise I would probably hit her with a wet noodle. Salespeople gotta know when to quit. 🙂 Anyways, I saw your site and noticed a lot of the ladies commented, so I wanted to offer a dude’s perspective on this issue. I wouldn’t be surprised that if you polled guys, you would find that many of us feel just like you do about this issue. And I agree with the OP. She is 100% right. It is A-OK to miss a workout. We do have to listen to our bodies and it is OK to ignore the norms of a culture that has, we must admit, become pretty obsessed with working out. Thanks for reading my post and have a nice weekend.

  4. Duane Tergesen January 29, 2017 at 12:11 pm #

    Wow thank you. For letting me see the light I was going through that too feeling guilty I’ve lost over 50 pounds and I’m afraid if I miss one day that I’m going to put on pounds I’m on a good protein low carb diet and it’s been working for me along with my workouts I was 320 I’m down to 270 it’s all up in my head LOL thanks again for the article

  5. Lissy February 14, 2017 at 2:02 pm #

    Is it ok to skip for 2 days When menstruating?…but I did do some weight workout this morning followed. By push-ups and planks

  6. Chuck April 4, 2017 at 1:26 pm #

    I came upon this site after starting my workout then stopping. I just didn’t feel like it, in fact, I didn’t want to do it anymore, so I didn’t. Then the guilt came in. I’m learning that the most important thing is to do what’s right for you, not what other people tell you is right or what society views as right. I took today off as it’s my Birthday (I’m an old man now!) and I’m going to enjoy it doing what I love doing, playing videogames, and hiking (if I feel like it).


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