Dang! I missed my workout – again!

62 pounds lost so farI’m crashed on the couch, and it’s not the good kind of crash.  The cushions lack that indulgent give I enjoy after a tough workout.  Instead, the weak squish reminds me of the laziness I sense inside.  I’ve fought to avoid this feeling most my life.  This limpness of will saps my energy.  I’m too tired to exercise but too desperate to be OK with it.  I want a rest, from both my lethargy and the guilt of missing yet another workout.

Fact:  I don’t always feel like exercising
“I’m just too tired today,” I tell myself as I roll onto my other side to quiet the gnaw at my lower back.  My exhaustion makes sense.  Forty years have escorted me to the other shore of life, and I’m ramping down into peri-menopause.  Hormones are ebbing.  Energy is waning.  Plus, since I manage Bi-Polar disorder, it’s taken a few months to recalibrate my meds.  Another “guinea pig” phase.  I haven’t located that sweet spot again.  It occurs to me — while becoming part of the couch – that, although I’ve adjusted my meds, I haven’t adjusted my thinking.  I still hold the same exercise expectations I had when I was twenty.  Those ideals loom far from my new reality.  Honoring them has actually backfired by creating too much space between who I am today and the healthy, happy woman who has always lived inside.  In reaching for my goals, I’ve actually pushed myself farther from her.  No wonder I don’t feel like myself.

Fact:  my reactions don’t usually help
Whenever I miss a workout, I usually react in one of two ways:  do more or do nothing.  Doubling tomorrow’s workout seems a reasonable reaction.  I won’t lose anything, and I can rest easy today.   When I’m too tired tomorrow, however, then I’ve got three workouts to do the day after.  Not likely to happen.  Double-up discipline usually leads to quitting.  I call it the “Bible in a Year” Syndrome.  You know the ideal:  read x number of pages every day, and by day 366, you can say you’ve read the entire Bible in one year.  Good intentions; faulty plan.  After getting bored with Deuteronomy — and tacking on yesterday’s readings for the third day in a row – I’m up to 30 pages and hundreds of “begats” to sludge through.  Too much expectation guarantees give up.

Fact:  I still want an active life
My other reaction involves a hefty dose of guilt.  Guilt loves to hang with me on the couch.  It maintains power because, honestly, I love being active, and I don’t like it when I’m not.  Guilt puts me on the stand and cross-examines my resolve, so I have to prove my loyalty over and over again.  Consequently, I walk around half-heartedly threatened, like I’m only one missed workout away from a remote control lodged between my fat rolls.

Fact:  I’m ready to think different
I want to get creative and figure out what it would take to avoid this moment the next time (‘Cuz I know there’s going to be a next time.)  I need new tenets which allow me to be who I am today and encourage me to move, without doubling expectation or feeding guilt.  After some thought, I’ve got an idea:  fitness tiers.

Using fitness tiers is like moving among floors of a house.  The top tier can be for more energized, “power” days; the second tier for medium “recovery” days, and the third tier (or ground floor) for easy “incubator” days.  When I’ve got lots of energy for a challenge, I could take the stairs to the upper floor and clock a sweaty workout.  When I’m dragging a bit, I accept my lower energy level, move to the second floor and enter my “recovery” space.  Here, my day’s goals are framed around maintaining my fitness, no pressure to improve.  When energy drops to couch-worthy, I’ll call for room service on the ground floor and retreat into “incubator” time.  I’ll still move for a short bit, just to stick a bookmark in my psyche, but I’m giving myself permission to rest until energy returns.

Once my levels are established, then I can envision the kind of movement I want within each tier.  For example, this is how I’m defining my tiers so far:

  • Power Day:  move 60 to 100 minutes and include some extra-challenging intervals (I’ve worked up to this level, after starting out moving just 10 minutes each day.)
  • Recovery Day:  cut my time in half, move 30 to 60 minutes
  • Incubator Day:  move 10 minutes, doesn’t matter how, just move

I bet fitness tiers could help remove other exercise obstacles besides energy level, like limited time or inconsistent travel.  If time keeps me from exercising, then I might define three different tiers of availability.  If travel nixes my options, then how about three different tiers defined by modes of travel?

Fitness tiers are less about the intensity of moving and more about keeping me motivated.  Still, that doesn’t mean I’m settling.  I’m disciplined, but I answer to me, not the workout.  I bet, after using my fitness tiers for several weeks, I’ll actually move more.  Without trapping myself in expectation or guilt, I just might finish more workouts.  I may have a couch moment, but you can bet I’ll be flexing my core or doing some leg raises while I’m there.

Take Home Tip

Fitness tiers are less about the intensity of moving and more about keeping me motivated.

Explore It More By Following the Links BelowSave Me from Myself: a Freakonomics podcast which explores
how a commitment device forces you to be the person you really want to be.
What could possibly go wrong? 

Guilt Free Fitness with Fitness TiersCheck out more fun vision boards about Shelby’s journey at her Pinterest page.

100 Pounds in 1 Year

100 Pounds in 1 Year


Filed under Exercise, Principles

4 responses to “Dang! I missed my workout – again!

  1. Reblogged this on Richard Health Freak | Supplement Addict and commented:
    Come on man a day leads to a week to a fortnight and so on


  2. I’m actually trying to start a low key 30 day challenge for November if you’d be interested. It basically involves exercising and blogging, it just includes more people haha. I feel like that’s something you may like after reading this


    • Hi Katy,

      What a cool, inventive idea. I would love to participate. Put me on the list!

      Will you be replying back with instructions for our next step (I got the gist on your blog with the points and such.)

      Shelby Humphreys 4850 Mallard Way Missoula, MT 59808 406.529.5488 outta_d_box@yahoo.com Shelby writes about health, weight loss, and being true to ourselves at her two blogs: 100poundsin1year and Radically Authentic.


      • That’s amazing and I’m so psyched that you’d like to participate! Would you mind sending me an email with all of that information to healthyhappyhello@yahoo.com because I’m trying to compile a list of the people interested. If you’d also like to share the challenge that’d be great and we could get more people interested and feeling supported 🙂


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