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Rest Day Guilt and Comparisons

by Courtney on June 24, 2011

Before going to bed last night, I made the decision to make today a rest day.

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I have sore muscles all over (in a good way, but still) and my entire body just felt run down. So today, my sneaks and exercise equipment have all been getting a little break.

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I was feeling totally okay with my decision to rest; but sure enough, the longer I read about so many killer workouts from other people this morning on Twitter, the inevitable happened…

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And as it turns out, I’m not alone…

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A bunch of my twitter buddies, like Lindsay, Samantha, Meg, & Jessica apparently feel the same way, which got me thinking a bit about fitness and comparisons.

I will admit…since starting my blog over a year ago, I have absolutely been able to hold myself more accountable for my workouts, because I post them for all to see. I know that I’m not an elite athlete that has the ability to break a major sweat seven days a week…

Nor do I want to be.

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I think it’s so important for all of us to listen to our bodies and pay attention to when it’s telling us we need to rest. Today, I knew I needed a rest. Yes, I was envious of seeing everyone else’s killer workouts, (especially Tina’s); but I also had to remember that I’ve already gotten a bunch of my own killer workouts this week.

Today was just not my day for one of them.

So the next time you’re feeling guilty about skipping a workout or taking a rest day (or three!)…just remember: We’re all different, we all have different capabilities and goals. You need to do what’s best for YOU!

*******

Alright, let’s talk lunch…because it was pretty awesome.

This morning, breakfast was actually a toss up; I ended up with the cereal, but an English muffin with peanut butter was coming in at a really close second. So I made the decision then and there to just have it for lunch. Crisis averted.

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I lightly toasted a Thomas’ Honey Wheat English Muffin and topped half with peanut butter, half with yesterday’s Low Fat Peanut Butter Raisin Spread, and both with banana slices and chia seeds.

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As usual, I ended up saving the half with the low fat PB for last; it was the top half and you all know how I feel about tops and bottoms of English muffins. Just look at that size difference. Winking smile

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Along with my English muffin, I had some quickly browning celery sticks and a pineapple flavored Chobani.

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Pretty darn delicious, I must say!

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This afternoon, I have to make a trip to Target…hopefully I can control myself from buying 5x the amount I really need!

Questions for the Afternoon:

Do you ever experience exercise guilt?

Have you ever dealt with comparing your exercises with others?

How do you deal?

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun June 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Get on with that rest, girl! It’s likely THE most important part of a fitness plan. Our bodies need it and won’t be able to challenge themselves without adequate rest. I will welcome my rest day with open arms on Sunday. Although, I do know what you mean on the workout comparisons. I have fallen victim before, but then I remember I work MY body and that is all that matters. Hugs and love!!!!

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2 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen June 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I do! It’s weird though b/c it’s not guilt in comparison to others, it’s only against myself. If I look at my workout log and see that I’ve either skipped or taken it “easy” too many days in one week I start getting down on myself. So it’s more internal for me.

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3 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey June 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm

We were on the same “rest day guilt” wave length in the last 24 hours! I just posted about it last night! I think it’s normal to have a twinge of guilt for rest days, as long as you don’t obsess over it!

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4 Courtney June 24, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Ahhhhh crap! Totally didn’t mean to do basically the SAME exact post. I’m a little behind on my Reader today…
But glad to see I’m not alone :)

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5 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey June 24, 2011 at 6:18 pm

haha! No it’s good! Now others can see just how common it really is to think about being guilty on rest days. It makes me feel closer to you. :)

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6 Courtney June 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Awwww ok, well I like that ;)

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7 Jamie aka "Sometimes Healthy" Girl June 24, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I completely relate to this post! I feel exercise guilt ALL the time. Usually, it’s self-imposed. Some days, to avoid the guilt, I’ll do a “lazy girl’s workout” where I watch tv and peddle leisurely on the elliptical. But other days, I REST. I know in the long run, if I push myself to workout too many times when I don’t feel like it, I’ll burn out. It took me a couple of years to realize this, but I finally get it. Light bulb yay!

General exercise wise, I don’t really compare myself with others. BUT, running, I do. When I started this blog, I was a three-time marathon runner. Now, I’m a girl with a chronic foot injury that allows me to run but flares up when I run too much or don’t do what the doctor says. So, I’m not the runner I once was. It’s been a real struggle for me to stop comparing myself to not only marathon Jamie, but also all of the other great runners out there. Still working through it BUT Hungry Runner Girl had a great post about this that really helped me out :-)

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8 Lindsay@ In Sweetness and In Health June 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Thanks for mentioning me :). I have those same New Balances! I definitely experience exercise guilt, but then I just remind myself that I will feel so much better after I rest and then I can get in an awesome workout with a fresh body the next day!

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9 Liv @ The Salty n' Sweet June 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm

I’ve definitely felt exercise guilt before, especially if I can’t fit a great workout in for days in a row. Since moving back to the US, not having and gym and starting a new job has really got in the way of my old reliable workout routine. But now, instead of feeling like I’m hungry all the time, I’ve developed lighter exercise habits and better eating habits too! So I realized that my body doesn’t NEED to exercise as much as I think. I just need to do any kind of activity to stay healthy :)

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10 Lindsey June 24, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Great advice! I tend to have my rest days on days I am busy so that then the guilt feeling is less. But I still get it too. And you are right our bodies deserve that day off they work hard for us and we just need to remind ourselves of that.

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11 Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles June 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I try to just get excited about the next day’s workout and concentrate on how much better my body will feel while doing that exercise if I give it a time to rest.

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12 Joanna June 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Great post! it’s a relief to know that I’m not the only crazy person who needs to talk myself into taking a rest day. My body has been craving a rest day all week & I finally listened by pretty much forcing myself not to work out today. I think it’s so hard for me to take a rest day because I know how good I will feel after a tough workout, but when i find myself dragging through workouts several days in a row, I know I’m overdue for a day off. What keeps me from going back on my decision is to remind myself how refreshed & stronger I will feel tomorrow.

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13 Erica @ For the Sake of Cake June 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I took a rest day today too after feeling “under the weather” all week! I think knowing when my next workout will be prevents me from feeling guilty… I’m hitting BodyPump first thing tomorrow! :-)

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14 Khushboo June 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I was just telling a friend that I want to replace one workout with an extra rest day as they really improve the quality of my workouts! However I can’t help to sometimes feel anxious when I do but I am getting better at embracing them. Occupying my ‘workout time’ with another hobby like baking defo helps minimise the guilt!

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15 Ericka Andersen June 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I definitely get this but…then I remember how AWESOME my next workout feels. After you take a day or two, your first workout back in the game is SO much better than what it would have been. You feel excited and ready to bust some workout butt and come away better for it when it’s all said and done. If you are feeling guilty on “off” days, I’ve found the best thing to is walk a couple miles or at least do some stretching. The stretching really helps me feel like I’m not being totally lazy and its good for ya!

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16 Whitney June 24, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I have rest day guilt all the time but am soon reminded when I do my long run after a rest day how thankful I am of the rest because my runs are ALWAYS better and the legs feel like they can go for days! :)

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17 Cait @ Urban Fencepost June 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm

A lot of times my rest days end up being because I just don’t feel like working out those days. Those days I feel a little guilty because I think I’m just being lazy, but maybe that laziness is actually my body telling me it needs a break!

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18 Morgan @ Endorphaholic June 24, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I’m really competitive, so taking rest days are generally difficult for me. It’s hard to remember that taking time off is actually really good for me.

However, I’m having surgery on Tuesday, so I’ll be off of exercise for about a month (off running for 3. That is going to be killer. I’m not sure how to deal with that.

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19 Jenny & Love Eat Run June 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Your Target comment made me laugh because my afternoon post today talks about Target/CVS and how they suck me in!!

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20 Cynthia (It All Changes) June 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Exercise guilt is hard for me. I get injured easily and am not able to do everything I want. So when I take a rest day I feel even more guilty.

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21 Leanne (Bride to Mrs.) June 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I definitely get exercise guilt… I also get anxious about taking a day off sometimes because I’m worried 1 day will turn into 2 days and 2 days will turn into a week, etc.

I think if you’re worried about taking a day off, just go on a walk or do light yoga or something thats active but not strenuous!

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22 Colleen June 24, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I just got back from a week off of structured exercise while on a work trip, and it was a great challenge for me. I had been struggling with worries of getting enough exercise, the right variety of workouts, and fitting in my activity, and I really needed the reminder that exercise should make me less anxious, not more! Now I’m rested, refocused, and ready to get back in action. Rest days can be great teachers! :)

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23 Melissa June 24, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I try to think of rest days as just as important as workouts. Your body needs the chance to recharge, so let it! I try not to make comparisons because I know I take great care of myself. Someday, I’m sure I’m having a great workout and someone else is resting. No sense in comparing. Everything balances out. Hope you’re feeling rested today! :)

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24 Courtney June 24, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Thanks, Melis! I definitely am :)

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25 Mary @ Bites and Bliss June 24, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I definitely stuggle with the same guilt on my rest days, too. But then I remember how horrible I used to feel when I overworked my body back in the day and the resting actually helps us stay fit more than overexercising does. We have to care for our bodies!

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26 Angela @ Pinching and Packing June 24, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I really don’t compare myself to others that often. My real life friends aren’t workout junkies like me and I am cool with that, and you fitness bloggers just inspire me! But, I am really hard on myself if I want to take a rest day. Today was an example of that. I am really sore from my boot camp class last night and was gonna take a break, but all morning I kept sitting around thinking about how I had no good reason not to go to the gym. I went and had a great bike/run so I guess it worked out. But, I wish I could be a little easier on myself sometimes and let myself relax.

If I really, really need a rest I just take a shower and do my hair. There is no way I want to do my hair 2 times in one day!

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27 Jillian @ sprinkle massacre June 24, 2011 at 3:55 pm

The last two Friday’s I have actually taken rest days on top of my usual Sunday rest day. I just felt the same way you explained, sore, tired, etc. I also read about everyone elses workouts and feel a little guilty. As much as I say that I am okay with it, I can’t help but feel guilty because the whole day I feel tired and have no energy and it reminds me that I could have just gotten up and done a quick workout, if anything! But at the end of the day, it is not going to make you gain 10 lbs for missing one day, it is not going to throw off your whole routine. I just focus on the next thing: eating a healthy lunch that day, or pushing myself extra hard the next day if I am feeling up to it! The feeling goes away as soon as I get in the next day’s workout, and I try to remember that the next time I decide to take a rest day!

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28 Cait's Plate June 24, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I definitely used to suffer with exercise guilt but since I injured and am FORCED to take it easy/slow I definitely don’t anymore.

That breakfast looks so good!

And haha, I totally hear you about the Target thing. I ALWAYS leave with way more than I need!

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29 Andrea (Run. Learn. Repeat.) June 24, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I’m the same way. I have a really hard time taking rest days even when I need them because I always feel so guilty! Until recently, I hadn’t compared my workouts much to others, but I’m new to this fitness blogging world, so now that I read about what other people are doing I have started comparing myself a little bit. Sometimes it’s good because it’s motivating, and other times it just makes me feel guilty. I just keep reminding myself moderation and balance in all things. :)

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30 Niki (Life's a Payne) June 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm

I think it is so great that you talked about rest days. They are SO important but I am sure we all feel a little “bad” about taking them. I like taking my dogs for walks on those days, they like it too!

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31 Shayla June 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Yes I’ve definitely felt the comparison trap before…it’s hard not to feel that way but I totally go by your motto and feel that it’s always best to listen to your body and it will reward you in the end :)
Btw, I just wanted to let you know that I got my blog up and running! Thank you again for your help and advice…and if you have time I’d love for you to stop by and check it out :)

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32 Lindsey @ Cardio Pizza June 24, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Honestly, I don’t feel any exercise guilt anymore. Since I made the decision to love and respect myself, I don’t get caught up in those feelings because I know it’s for the better. Exercise is only a part of my life, so I don’t get bent out of shape when I can’t get a workout in or when I take days off.

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33 Courtney June 24, 2011 at 7:34 pm

That’s such a great outlook on things…I love it!

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34 Jess@atasteofconfidence June 24, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I’ve been sick these past few days and I’m having a really hard time not working out. I need to remember to rest my body to get better!

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35 Audrey June 24, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Until recently, I was too sick to excercise, but last month I finally (after a LONG year of NO excercise) got clearance to do some light excersice, 1 mile of walking followed by two miles of biking. I remember my first day at the gym feeling completely out-of-shape; my muscles had completely atropheated and I went from having this get in shape body to having this stick-figure body. But I kept going, totally worn out each time and felt stronger everyday. But this week I haven’t gone once (dental work has left me looking like a chipmunk and I’m a little self conscious), and I definitely feel the guilt. But I also know that need take it slow, and not push myself beyond my limits-even if the person next to me does excercise longer, harder and more frequently than me. I have to do what’s right for me.

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36 Kristen June 24, 2011 at 7:49 pm

good luck at target! I know I always end up with a cart full of stuff, and I only went for toothpaste haha

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37 Samantha June 24, 2011 at 8:24 pm

I have a bunch of friends on Facebook that formed a running group – we all chat privately in there all the time. The problem is – 90% of them run harder and faster than me! I always feel like I need to push myself to run like them, then I realize – they’ve been at this a lot longer than me.

I still long to be as fast as them though…I constantly compare my runs to theirs. I guess, if anything, it pushed me to workout harder!

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38 Sarah June 25, 2011 at 9:32 am

Exercise guilt definitely happens a LOT, but then I remember my body truly needs rest. I over exercised for years and now I have awful tendonitis and can hardly run anymore. It’s a shame, but now I appreciate the exercise I’m able to do.

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39 Crista June 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I usually feel a bit of guilt about a rest day, but then my next workout after a rest day is normally the best of the week! Last week, because of scheduling, I had to take two rest days in a row… but that next workout was AMAZING!!! It’s not always working hard, it’s working smart that allows your body to do and feel it’s best! kudos for listening to what your muscles have to say :)

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40 Jessica @ Bake a Little June 27, 2011 at 1:43 pm

This raisin spread looks amazing! does it keep well? Can I make it this week and it will keep through the long weekend?

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41 Courtney June 27, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I just had some this morning and it was A-ok! :)

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42 sherice@foodieluvsfitness May 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I LOVE Pineapple Chobani.. well I love all chobani, but the pineapple tastes like dessert!

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