What’s worse than Catholic Guilt?
…well, nothing probably. But gym guilt is pretty bad, too. Let me explain: Gym guilt is the obsessive, rampant guilt you feel when you skip workouts, or, even worse, full days or weeks at the gym. Maybe it’s because you’re busy, you have evening events, or you’re traveling – but normally, you find ways to work out. Pushups and squats in your hotel room, a quick run before your dinner; whatever it takes, you make it happen, because you NEED to feel that familiar, delicious cocktail of lactic acid buildup and endorphins that keep you alive and happy and ripped. You’re as addicted to this feeling as other people are addicted to junk food, or tobacco, or cocaine. It makes you feel strong and fit and healthy (and superior?) and hey, there are worse vices to have, right? The gym is awesome.
That is, until you miss it for three days straight and suddenly feel like a weak, soft slob with no motivation and what good are you anyway? You can’t make it to the gym all week? You’re obviously not trying hard enough. If you look closely, you can actually watch your biceps shrinking; you gaze in horror as your defined abs recede slowly behind a wall of soft flesh. You feel tired. You feel like eating all the chips. How can you go from superstar to sad sack in such a short period of time? Because you didn’t get your fix, that’s why. Ugh, what a self-pitying weakling you are.
If you can’t tell, I’m talking about myself. I know it’s irrational and silly, but when going to the gym is your hobby and the way in which you determine your focus and your happiness, missing out on it can be tough. And when one positive routine gets interrupted, it’s a sad, slippery slope into ice cream binging and sweatpants. We crave routine for a reason.
So here’s what I’ll do: I will schedule breaks INTO my routine. I will take pre-planned rest periods where I, guilt-free, will wallow in laziness and maybe some baklava. Your body, in order to get strong and stay healthy, requires proper rest and recovery more even than it requires pushups. I will tell myself that three or five or even ten days off really doesn’t make much of a difference in my overall fitness, and in fact can help me come back more rested and strong. And you should tell yourself that too. Go to the gym, and go hard – but when it’s time to rest, do that too. Don’t feel guilty; guilt is for the weak. Just don’t get too comfortable in those sweatpants.