work out guilt

These are the kinds of rewards a software company gets when they meet sales goals. Good thing there’s endless seltzer water for me!

Guilt. It’s a word and emotion that has nasty connotations and isn’t exactly uplifting, yet many of us experience it somewhat regularly, sometimes daily. Did I work out hard enough today? Should I have gone longer on my run? Should I really have grabbed that cookie in my meeting? What if I can’t get in any fitness after work because of something coming up? These questions creep into our minds on the guilt superhighway and it can be hard to fend them off if you’re unprepared. I found that upon retiring from professional running that guilt was going to be a regular issue in my life if I let it become one, so I had to find a way to shift my mindset to allow me to find a balance of my new schedule and my former super-fit life.

Almost immediately when I started working in an office I felt a little twitchy, like I should be outside hammering away the miles or at the gym lifting. The reality was that I didn’t have to be out there 2.5 hours per day and that I wasn’t supposed to be. My new career didn’t parallel the habits of the old and I had to come to terms with the fact that it was alright not to run twice per day (um, it’s also not normal to the general population.) and that under sleeping was likely going to happen more often now, given my new schedule. I still wanted to eat well to fortify my body, especially considering I work at a software company where fitness isn’t exactly priority #1 (or 2, or 3…), and treats abound daily. I like feeling fit but I knew that being supremely fit was no longer an option and that I was going to have to adjust to a workplace that didn’t exist solely on the trails or along a canal.

work out guilt 2

Get it, girl! Don’t mind the stares from people poking their heads in to see who the heck is lifting at 3pm.

What did I do to become alright with no longer physically killing it on the regular? I cut myself some slack. Sure, slack can be a nasty word, too, but not if you use it in moderation. Given that I work in an office but still have an overwhelming urge to run, for me it’s about reconciling the day’s duties and affording myself some flexibility with my schedule. If I get pulled into a late-in-the-day meeting, it just means that I’m going to be heading out for my fitness a bit later than planned, but it doesn’t mean I won’t be able to get in my workout at all. If I know that the sun’s setting earlier and earlier, I make it a point to get to the office earlier in the morning so I can leave with enough time to run while there’s still daylight.

What if something comes up after work when I planned on hitting the gym? Well, I’m lucky to have free weights, mats, physio balls and a bench at my office, so I’ll head in there for a quick 3-sets-of-6 free weight exercises and/or core. So what if I’m in my (casual) work clothes? If I’ve got decent footwear- which I always keep under my desk, along with a sports bra, shorts, a shirt and socks- I’m good to get my lift on, which helps me feel like I’m doing good for my body by keeping up my strength and not scrapping an entire day of fitness.

Soon after my retirement, I would have balked at the idea of only doing weights without a run or an hour of biking, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I don’t have that fierce control over my own schedule anymore. I have responsibilities to others and my company, but I still feel that (good) obligation to myself, my health and my well-being, so sometimes I have to cut myself some slack. Yeah, I might still experience a twinge of guilt, but that doesn’t mean I’m down and out if I miss a day of fitness. It’s called slack for a reason; if your resolve and dedication to fitness is always loose, you won’t get anywhere. Tighten up that rope but always leave a little something in the reserves for those days “you just can’t.” It’s ok. You’ll be back to it tomorrow!