Going Easier On Myself

I blew off spinning tonight. Even though my favorite teacher was teaching, and even though I’m sure I would have felt great afterward.

Truth be told, I just wasn’t into it. I rarely give in to that feeling, but today I did. I hadn’t eaten much all day — my appetite has been M.I.A. lately — and I knew that pushing my body through 45 minutes of cardio was unnecessary and probably pretty stupid.

So I took a walk instead.

I walked east from my office, spending time catching up with friends on the phone and checking out puppies in Madison Square Park.

The Flatiron Building at dusk
Madison Square Park area

NYC at night is oddly soothing. Tonight I was surrounded by people, but the crowds never bothered me. I even wandered through Eataly, which was shockingly un-crowded. And of course, I took in the sights. I love the Chrysler Building.

See that pretty lady in the distance?

While I walked around, I realized how much I’ve changed over the past few months.

Back in November, I never would have let myself forgo the gym in favor of, well, nothing. I would have beaten myself up for skipping a workout, and I would have probably punished myself the next day.

I don’t know when this change happened. But I’m glad it did. Yes, I still make fitness a priority. Now I’m finding balance in my life though. It used to be “work out, go home, eat healthy dinner, go to bed.” Now I remember the importance of grabbing a drink with friends or taking some Ali Time.

I’m trying to give myself a break. I’ve been such a perfectionist my whole life, and now I’m trying to go easy on myself. If no one else cares that I don’t go to spinning, why should I care?

This change didn’t happen overnight, and I’m still not totally where I want to be. Most days I do some physical activity. Some days I work out twice. I’m getting better at listening to my body, though, and I’m working on controlling my negative thoughts toward not exercising. Like I said: If no one else is punishing me, how dare I punish myself? Not cool.

I fear that I have over-trained for the National 1/2 Marathon at the end of this month. My past two long runs (10 miles and 12 miles) have been killer, and I think that’s due largely in part to twice-a-day workouts that have pushed my limits. I even wrote recently about my struggle to give in to a total rest day. I know that I need to listen to my body more than ever this month in order to hit my sub-2 hour goal time in D.C.

I love working out. I love sweating. I don’t go to the gym or go for a run to lose weight. Sure, that’s a cool side effect, but I do it because I love it and it truly makes me happy. I am just now starting to further embrace the other things that make me happy, like spending more time with my fabulous friends. I don’t want to be obsessed with exercise. I know it’s not a healthy way to live. So I’m taking control!

And there it is. My little confession about my internal bout with exercise OCD.

TELL ME: I’m sure many of you have lots to share on this topic, and I’d love to hear it. Do you beat yourself up for missing a workout? Have you ever felt like you’re addicted to working out or dependent on endorphins?



0 Responses

  1. This is such a good post Ali. I love that you’re truly assessing the health and balance in your workout decisions. I am such a workout addict and I really struggle with taking a full rest day. But I’m getting much better about knowing what’s healthy and knowing when to listen to my body. I had a tough training weekend with a kick ass long run and I was still feeling it Monday. So I took the day TOTALLY off which definitely hasn’t happened in weeks. It’s important to remember that rest does as much good for making us stronger and faster as hard workouts do.

    Also, on the life balance issue. I think it’s so important to make friends/fun a priority. The other day I called my mom and even though my training volume is pretty high right now, she commented “Emily, I think your social life is the best it’s been since you moved to DC.” Also Emily Time? Is sacred.

    You can totally break 2 in DC! You’ll have to let me know what you’re wearing so I can cheer for you at the finish!

  2. I am so impressed by this open, honest post. Life is a constant balancing act, and finding that balance is no easy task (I think its possible to struggle with it for a long time), and I applaud you for trying to not be so hard on yourself as you find it. I think alot of us can learn from you and your example.

    [And, your walk sounds so lovely – long walks in the city are one of my favorite “cool down” activities]

  3. Isn’t redundancy the worst? Good for you for switching it up – it’s hard to break our routines, even when we know it’s for the best!

  4. I have been going through the same thing! My evening weekday routine is the same- work, gym, make dinner, sleep- so I never see anyone until it’s the weekend. I realized that I am being inefficient with my gym time so I have been trying to cut back. No mas 3 group fitness class marathons.

    I also totally skipped going to the gym today. I am really feeling last night’s Chisel and usually I would have still gone to spin or yoga but I really needed to rest. I took a long walk too after work! (Reading this post was super dejavu-y for me) I bought some groceries, came home and made dinner. I don’t really know what to do with all this extra time except to watch tv. I need to find some new activities and start interacting with people during the week.

    You will do awesome in DC. I know it.

  5. Great post! I love walking through the city, despite how crazy the city can be, it’s oddly soothing, as you said! I also think walking is really the best exercise there is!

  6. I loved this post too. I also wondered how you managed to do so many two-a-days. Rest is so important! Really happy you walked home tonight. Question – you said you don’t exercise for weight reasons, so I’m curious what exactly you had been beating yourself up over on days you skipped a workout? Of course if this is too personal no need to respond. Anyway, so happy for you for trying to find balance and recognize that there is more to do than lots of workouts.

    1. OH one more thing. Can I please bring you to my favorite Core Fusion Yoga class on a Tues night at 8pm? It is seriously the most healing hour of my week. I forget my troubles and come out feeling amazing.

      1. I would love to join you at Core Fusion Yoga sometime! Just let me know when. And I’ll gladly write a post sometime about the non-weight related reasons I work out.

  7. This is a great post. I was nodding the whole time I was reading it. I love what you said “If no one else is punishing me, how dare I punish myself?” I love that – it is so true.

    Last spring, I tore my meniscus in my right knee (picked up a box while moving and twisted the wrong way – such a LAME way to get injured). It wasn’t severe enough for surgery, but I did not stick to the PT and rest the way I should have. I should have listened to my body, rested, crossed trained AND nixed running the Chicago marathon in the fall. Instead, I only took 1 month off and started running way too soon. I kept thinking, “no pain, no gain”…. so wrong. I burnt out, physically and mentally. Because of the burnout, I half halfheartedly trained, but would beat myself up when I couldn’t finish my runs or hit my pace in training runs. Regardless, I stepped to the starting line for the race in October. I ended up getting sick (I blame the poorly mixed Gatorade syrup at mile 3ish) and dropped out when I saw my family around mile 18. I don’t think I’ve cried that hard in a long time (my non running friends thought I was crazy). It was then I realized I don’t HAVE to run a marathon every summer and/or I don’t HAVE to PR in every race to be complete or happy. I’ve gone easy with the running over the winter and listened to my knee, but it is a struggle not to lace up some mornings still. This year, I didn’t sign up for the marathon, instead, I’m going to volunteer to get my marathon fix. I know I will have the itch to be running that morning, but I keep telling myself this year off will allow me to come back even stronger next year. I try to tell myself that when I skip a workout during the week that a rest day/more sleep with make for a better workout tomorrow!

    Thank you for sharing this post, Ali. It is nice to read about others who are struggling with the same thing! Good luck at the half – you’ll rock it 🙂

  8. This is a fabulous post. I dealt with disordered exercising and eating in college and I’m glad to see you recognize that two-a-day workouts might not be what your body wants right now. Personally, my body and joints can’t handle running more than 3 days a week, so I incorporate cross training, yoga and (not as often as I should) strength training. And I’m definitely guilty of skipping the gym (semi) often for cocktails after work with friends and coworkers.

    Exercise is great, but there is a point where it becomes too much for our bodies. Sleep is just as, if not MORE, important, and socializing is pretty crucial, too! I used to beat myself up for skipping workouts ALL the time, but now I try to take a “big picture” approach to fitness and look at everything by weeks. It keeps me much saner and happier. Life’s too short to stress out over a few missed runs or gym classes! 🙂

  9. Great post and so true! I admit I saw a bit of myself in this whereby I kept going and going and going without taking that much needed “me” time. Now if I train for races I make sure I feel like running before I go out. If I don’t feel like running, I just try to do something else, even if its just walking around with my dog! Life is short, take advantage of every moment!

  10. You remind me of a younger version of myself. Reading all of your posts about all of your workouts takes me back to a time when I was obsessed/addicted to working out. Obviously working out is a huge part of my life, but I workout much less than I did 10 years ago and I’m much happier.

    And you are totally going to finish the race in under 2 hours! I look forward to reading about it!

  11. I had stuck to the same “run 6 to 8 miles a day, 5 days a week” routine for five years before I began training for the NYC Marathon last year, and I was initially skeptical about the number of “short” runs that my “first-time marathoner” training plan called for. I’d had the NYC Marathon on my list of life goals since I was 18 and I’m really glad that I was conscious about not overdoing it (with much flexibility to move scheduled mileage around when things like a Vegas business trip and moving day got in the way). In the end, I listened to my gut and my body, and ended up beating my goal time by more than 20 minutes.

    Be glad you’re taking the time to look at the big picture now. Relax when you need to, maybe get a little extra SLEEP, and I’m sure you’ll do great in DC! 🙂

  12. Totally agree with the two fabulous ladies who already commented. Such a great post – very honest, very real. And awesome that you are finding that balance – something that is VERY hard to achieve. I think we’d all be kidding ourselves if we said we were all “there” balance-wise. It’s a never-ending battle but you’ve shown that you can find it, and you are listening to your body which is just SO important. Total rest days are key. Two-a-days aren’t the ‘norm’ – sure they are great sometimes, but ALL the time is a little much…for the MOST part. I’m so glad you are finding your place, balance-wise and giving in to well…nothing, as you said about tonight’s missed spin class. Awesome. Enjoy your night, girl!

  13. This was such a great post, Ali. I love that you are being honest and fair to yourself. It is a wonderful thing to be able to self-reflect to see how far you have come and what you still want to work on. 🙂 Keep it up!!

  14. I love you and I love this post. You’re amazing and I’m glad you’re taking time for you. Walk your way to Boston 🙂

  15. Ali, I appreciate your honest. Sometimes it’s really difficult to be honest with ourselves and put those thoughts into writing. I think taking time to reflect on something your struggling with is a step in the right direction.

    When I began my journey towards better health and fitness, I had family and friends that kept me grounded. I try to focus on being my best each day. Sometimes my best is staying in bed. Sometimes it’s a long run. Today, your walk was the best. You took in New York, reflected, and connected with yourself. That’s an amazing thing!

  16. I am a reader, not often commenter, but have to say I LOVE this post. One of your best, most personal ever. I am actually very relieved to hear (or read) you say that you know the two-a-day workouts, every day, is just too much exercise. For awhile it sort of appeared on your blog that you were implying it was normal to run before work and do spin and weights after and it even had me questioning my own workout habits at one point. (Don’t worry, I’ve come to accept that I gotta “do me,” not take my cues from blogs, even ones I love.) I get that you LOVE to run and adore the gym and take so many positive things from it, but those positive things ARE still there when you do a run every other day, or spin 3x a week, etc. And just like you said, it leaves more room for other positive stuff in your life too. Plus I totally agree rest makes you a better runner… there is a lot of advice against piling on “junk miles” when training for a big race, instead focusing on quality work-outs. Please, please keep up the soul-searching because this seems like it is a very healthy direction for you to move in. Just my two cents as an outsider reading your blog. Thanks for sharing.

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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