How to Feel Less Guilty When You Skip Your Workout

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Skipping the gym sucks, whether it’s due to a scheduling conflict or simply deciding, “I’m not working out today.” Worse yet, it’s hard not to feel guilty when that happens. You put a lot of effort into training and keeping your body strong and that one missed session nags at you.

“As a personal trainer, I know the feeling all too well,” says Katie Dunlop, founder of Love Sweat and Fitness. “I also know that missing a single workout isn’t a total loss.” There are many ways you can make up for your missed session or be okay with skipping, while staying focused on keeping your body healthy and happy.

Move More During the Workday

You don’t have to be lifting weights or running on the treadmill to get your blood pumping and muscles working. You can still activate your major muscle groups and boost your burn during the day, even if you work at a desk job. “Often times while I’m waiting for the photocopier or the microwave I’ll do some small exercises like calf-raises, squats or lunges,” says Katie.

Katie also shared a few exercises you can do in the office without being conspicuous, and here are a few more ideas to keep in mind throughout the day:

  • Lunges down an empty hallway
  • Wall pushups in the bathroom stall
  • Squats in an empty bathroom
  • Calf raises while waiting for coffee
  • Quad squeezes (three seconds) and releases
  • Walking the stairs when you need a break
  • Box (stair) jumps

Boost the Intensity on Your Next Workout

Give yourself a little kick in the butt for skipping your workout by planning to boost the intensity on your next one. You’ll crush more calories and feel amazing when you’re done. Luckily, it’s easy to boost the intensity of any workout using a number of tactics.

“My favorite is timed intervals (i.e., 30 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest) to keep your heart rate up, or boost it during specific parts of your workout,” says Katie.

You can also add supersets to your strength training. This means performing two exercises, back-to-back (no rest in between). The goal is to push your muscles to work a little harder, for a little longer, boosting the burn and fatigue.

Eat Healthy All Day—No Exceptions

“I don’t like the idea of having ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods because it makes it seem like a punishment for eating something that may be considered ‘bad,'” says Katie.

You don’t have to eat a salad for lunch and dinner, or even forgo dessert if you have a sweet tooth. Focus on choosing foods that are good for your body, feel good while you’re eating them, and make you feel good after. If you love chicken and rice, have that with a side of veggies. If you love sandwiches, get the veggie supreme with whole grain bread.

Working out isn’t the only way to take care of your body, so showing it some love by eating good-for-you foods is a great option.

Give Yourself Grace

We know the feeling all too well, and when you start talking like that, it’s time to “give yourself grace.” This is a phrase my best friend and I use when we’re beating ourselves up over something and know that we shouldn’t.

You give your all at work, make time for friends, take care of your mind and keep your body active, and at some point, one thing or another is going to slip. And that’s okay.

“If you skip because you’re tired and stressed from a long day, perhaps your body is telling you it needs rest—part of health is listening to your body and giving it what it needs,” Katie says. “In this case, the gym may not have been the best option anyway.”

The same goes for skipping to spend time with friends or get more work done—priorities and needs change from day-to-day, and allowing for that flexibility can help reduce the guilt that comes with missing the gym. Next time you’re beating yourself up for skipping the gym, find a little grace and remember it’s okay.

Feeling less guilty about skipping the gym takes a mix of mental and physical training. If you want to work a little harder next time, take time on the day you skip to plan a high-intensity workout. If you know you need a little love, remember to give yourself grace. In the end, one missed workout won’t undo all your hard work, so don’t let yourself get too upset about it.