January Punch…

I Skipped A Month

I train with weights 3-4 days per week.  I commute by bicycle, 30 minutes each way, to and from work 6-7 days per week.  Despite this, once per week I do a 3-5 mile run in town or on my treadmill – to keep my running legs in shape.  On top of that, I join some of my like-minded beast friends every Sunday for a 4 mile trail hike/run up and down a very steep hill near town.

I do some form of intense exercise at least twice per day every day, and many days I get 3 or 4 rigorous workouts in.  I move a lot, and I love it.  I often say that exercise is the methadone of my existence.  I need this.  It keeps me from killing people.  I missed a few recently – workouts that is.  January punched me right in the mouth and I scarcely moved at all.

January 2 – January 8: In bed with the mother of all head colds.

January 16 – January 22:  Emergency trip to Las Vegas to visit ill father.

January 23 – January 29: In bed with the mother of all flus.

January 30 – February 3:  No workouts other than bike commute so I could make up for lost time with my business.

In all of January, I missed more scheduled exercise sessions than I have in the past three years combined.  A few years ago this would have sent me into a bottomless depression spelled by moments of profound rage.  But it’s all good.

Once Upon A Time In My Head

For most of my life I believed that those who loved me loved me for my biceps, my calves, my endurance, or for reasons related to my physical state of being.  I also knew that if I missed even a single workout I would lose all of those physical attributes – instantly.  Since I need to be loved, I worked non-stop at maintaining a high level of my physical being.  Missing workouts was never an option.   Sadly, I genuinely thought that way.  I have come to learn, decades too late, that isn’t really true.  Those who love me love me, those who hate me hate me, and that my look or my level of conditioning has had nothing to do with it.

Sick Call From A Friend

A friend on the other coast recently sent me an email asking my thoughts on working out sick.  This was my response:

“Hi Julie

An interesting day to have asked me this.  I’m home in bed with a bad flu.  I have been here all week.  Earlier this month I was in bed with a severe cold. Between these and an emergency trip to Vegas to see my Dad, I haven’t worked out much in January.  For me, that’s saying something.

There was a time when the workout (and progress from the workout) meant so much to me that unless I was dying, I would workout.  Even if I was too sick to work, I would make time to workout.  Though working out sick is always hard to initiate, when I have worked out sick I always felt better when I was done – like the sickness went away at least for a while.  I remember once in a severe flu, getting up at 6am, getting on my stair-stepper and crashing through a hard hour.  Felt great for the next few hours and then the flu had me down again until the next day.

Physiological perspective:  I don’t recommend whether people should or should not workout sick.  I only point out that exercise recovery divides the immune system and working out sick, though it may feel good, will likely cause the illness to linger longer and can have negative consequences.  This becomes an individual choice; a game of trade-offs.

These days if I’m lightly sick, I lightly workout.  If I’m heavily sick, I don’t workout at all.  Age and wisdom I suppose….

Hope this helps


Really, Think About It

In this obsessive arena we call “fitness” the consequences of a missed workout, or even a missed month of workouts, are not as substantial as we might believe.  Nobody ever died from a missed workout.  No relationship that ever mattered was affected by crunches not had.  Checks don’t bounce because a run, a ride, or a swim didn’t happen for a day or even for a month.  Continents won’t drift further apart for a lack of lunges, and world leaders aren’t overthrown due to a week of ice cream rather than a week of brown rice and broccoli.

Yes, I missed nearly a month of exercise and I ate like crap during that time.  Two weeks back in, I am right where I left off when January punched me in the mouth.  My daughter taunts me, my dog is still needy, my bills need to be paid, and my running and biking times and the amount of weight I lift are right back where they were 6 weeks ago.

Consistency in exercise is important whether one is seeking progress or maintenance.  Consistency should be among the highest priorities.  Life happens and sometimes consistency gets cut off.  But like the tail of some kinds of lizards, consistency can grow right back.  It’s not the end of the world.  It’s not the end of your life.  Get back up.  Shake it off.  Go for it again and grow some new consistency.  I did, and still am.  Be well.  rc

Please check back in two weeks to see what comes out when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from the Alabama Shakes.  Enjoy…

24 responses

  1. Roy, I’m really glad I asked you for your thoughts on this. I was feeling *really* lousy about “getting out of the groove”. I really appreciate your common sense and wisdom that comes through in your writing…and your reply did help. Thank you!

    I love that “but like the tail of some kinds of lizards, consistency can grow right back…..grow some new consistency” Happy to say I’m back at it this week, and it wasn’t all that bad jumping back into it.

    Glad you are feeling better!

  2. See…and I’ve never even seen you in person and I care about you. I don’t care whether you have muscles or not. I think sometimes our bodies just need an extended time out…and it will do whatever it can to take it (i.e. sick, injured etc). If I miss a workout – who cares? If I forget to pick my kid up from school…then THAT is a BFD. I think we all create our own insanity – especially when it comes to fitness. I’m trying very hard to keep off that merry-go-round for my own mental well being. *hugs*

    • Thanks Lori! Uhm, I did forget to pick up my kid from school once — and it was a BFD! Agree, so much of this is created in our heads. I sometimes wish I had been born without one 🙂

  3. Roy – what a month! So sorry for all of that but glad you are back to it! YES!!! I get this because I hate to miss my workouts. If I just have a cold & no fever & basically am feeling OK, I still work out. I have not been down for the count recently except for my teeth stuff which took me out for a week & drove me crazy & I have another week coming up again.

    Saying that, you are a bog guy & can get back to yourself easier than little people like me. I I did not work out & ate like crap – well, it would be at least a month for me to get back to where I was…. BUT we should never sacrifice our health for workouts.

    When I can’t work out, I adjust my food accordingly – food is 80% of it!

    Stay well – no more of that Roy! 🙂

    • Thanks Jody. Ya, that’s where I really blew it was with the food. The week I had the flu I ate slmost nothing, but the week and I had the cold and the week I was in Las Vegas I didn’t do so hot.

    • I appreciate that Jules. Again, be careful using the word “wisdom” in reference to me. I have just put my hand on a lot of burners in life and eventually even I can learn not to touch the burners 🙂

  4. Such an important message that a few missed workouts, a serious illness, or just too many commitments may interfere with our workout consistency, but doesn’t have to kill it long term. I’m glad you are feeling better – it sounds like it was a hard month.

  5. It’s like my cousin told me, when I fell off the horse I was trying to learn to ride & was afraid to try again, “Get back up on that pony & ride it!”

    I’ve also felt not loved because of my appearance but not because I was fit & muscular, just the oppisite. I went to great lengths to lose weight & spent most of my early adult life thinking I was fat when I really wasn’t. Worrying about guys not being interested in me because I didn’t look like Barbie, having people judge me because of my waist size, not for the size of my heart. Even thinking that some of the reason my marriage ended was because I had gained so much weight. I’m working out now and taking care of myself because I know that’s healthy for me. I’ve lost a lot of weight & learned to appreciate my curves. I want to live a long time so I can do some of the things I would have never gotten to do in my rotten marriage. I want to go out screaming Yeeehaaa! as I hike or swim or something, not the way I was headed out…on the sofa in front of the t.v. So when I miss workouts, I don’t obsess about it, I just remember…get back up on that pony & ride it.

    • Thanks Deb! I does my heart well to read mindful comments like this. I wish people could wear their hearts on the outside so everyone’s could be seen ahead of their bodies. I saw your instantly which is why I struck up that conversation to begin with, and I’m so glad I did! Curves are good. I never met a Barbie I could talk about religion or philosophy with. Or blues guitar players for that matter! Glad you’re taking care of yourself, and glad you’re running! Keep it up. You know where to find me if you need any advice or motivation!!!

  6. Sorry about the kick my friend but its positive you’ve come so far. I hear this lesson recounted by other fit peeps and there is a reason for it… Letting training be our identity is rather common. Letting our bodies identify us is also common. I was sick in bed and couldn’t eat much last week, losing weight when I did NOT want to. I’ve got a decent perspective and didn’t get too stressed, but will admit that I did obsess a bit about losing muscle (not to mention the missed workouts). Simply having that awareness that I have the potential to use training/my body as my identity is very helpful in times like those.

    • Understood Miss Suzanne! It’s going to get even harder for you now that training is how you make your living. You’ll come to believe, as I did, that people have even higher expectations of your physicality as a fitness professional. Here’s a secret it took me years too long to learn; your client’s expectations of you aren’t going to be that high at all — they just want trust, honesty, and a good workout!

  7. I guess you expect this, but I’ve never missed running for being sick. With the little things like a cold it was no problem, but several years ago with the flu it was quite different. Interesting thing was, while I was running and maybe a short time after, and when I was sleeping, were the only times with the flu that I felt almost all right 🙂

    I don’t doubt that sooner or later that streak will come to an end, but not today, that’s all I know for now. I never recommend or expect anyone else to do it as I have.

    If it doesn’t kill us, it makes us stronger…or not.

    • Dr. J., In the book I recommended to you, What I talk About When I Talk About Running, the author devotes several paragraphs throughout the book about how he was never sick, and never missed a run due to illness — for decades. Until he missed a marathon due to illness. I hope your streak lasts decades more. In a song title you and I have shared between us several times, Long May You Run!

  8. and further proof… I felt really strong during my first workout coming back after Roy’s “absence”. Ok, so I won’t feel bad about missing a workout because I will gain 6 ounces or lose strength…. but I will feel bad simply because working out makes me feel good and I know what I’m missing out on!

  9. Sometimes when I’m coming down with a cold, I actually have a ton of energy for exercise! Then it hits me several hours later… this past week I had a minor cold that is lingering on for days but I did my exercise anyway and felt better because it clears the sinuses lol. If I miss a workout or even take a day off I never feel guilty. I just go back to it when I feel like it.

    I hope February is treating you a little better! 🙂

  10. Roy, this has been my life since I met you…

    My end result became less of an obsession (thinking my weight loss could save a marriage – it didn’t), and more of an intentional desire to just maintain something healthy. It didn’t have to look like a size 8 anymore, I proved I could get there. Now I just want to put my best effort in to having some daily activity at least 5 days a week, eat moderately healthy to maintain happy insides, and I continue to just look at myself the way God does – take care of what you have and be thankful for what you can do. I haven’t had a scale in over two years, but I’m healthy. I’ve shown good habits to my son, and I set a good example to others for just putting my best foot forward despite what the last few years have brought.

    No, you couldn’t make me not like you. You could put on 50 lbs, not shave and wear hippie clothes and the real you would still be inside. That’s what matters. That’s what lasts.

    -Be good,

  11. Well said. Your comments apply to all of us. We all ride the roller coaster of life. Sometimes we are up and sometimes we are down. “I pick my self up and get back in the race, that’s life”

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