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…