“I’m not comfortable whenever I have to set my alarm clock for an hour that I can display on a single hand.” Kristen said that to me when I met her at 6 am for a run one morning. And for the most part, I totally agree. I’m not comfortable, but I still do it. Because, well, it’s important to get out of our comfort zones, test our limits, shit like that.
Note: “warmish” was 20something degrees. Love you, Chicago. Also, I don’t often follow proper grammar rules or use real words in texts before 7 am, because exhaustion.
There’s a reason why I make plans to run in the morning with other people. First, it gets me out of bed. Second, it gives me someone to talk to about how idiotic it is to wake up so early to run around outside in the cold.
When it’s just me, the conversation often goes something like this:
Other lines I feed myself in the morning include, but are not limited to:
“I did a strength workout yesterday and I read on the internet that strength workouts burn calories the next day too, so it’s basically like I’m working out from bed RIGHT. NOW. Getting up and working out again would just make me an overachiever. Seems unnecessary.”
“I think I’m getting sick. I know I don’t really feel sick yet and I don’t have any real symptoms, but it’s probably best I just rest this out just incase.”
“I can make up for this over the weekend on a long run, right?”
“I’ll just eat something with kale in it today instead.”
“This class cost me $20. Which is like two lunches. Or a tank top. Or 4 overpriced coffee drinks. Or an impulse Groupon purchase that I would inevitably let expire. If I don’t go, it will be okay. Think of all the classes I’ve tried at a discount or for free. I’m just giving back. The $20 is basically a donation. I’m pretty much just being a charitable person by not showing up and giving them my money. Yeah.”
Getting in a workout vs. getting a little more shuteye is a constant life struggle for me. While I acknowledge the importance of rest days and taking it easy, I feel so much internal pressure to improve myself. I don’t know why this pressure exists or who put it there in the first place, but it lingers around, ready to pounce the moment I want to throw in the towel. The steady presence of external pressure goes without having to mention; my mobile phone is a constant, portable reminder to me about how I can eat cleaner and why I should probably be running/lifting/putting my body in uncomfortable pretzel-esque positions more. I mindlessly thumb through my instagram feed of people getting #furtherfasterforever and #swoll and quietly berate myself for skipping the gym that morning. The “just do it” mantra repeats itself over and over in my brain like an echo stuck in a deep cave.
In a society of “no excuses”, I am perpetually reminded that I am not as good as I can be tomorrow. As much as all of this motivates me, I worry that it also gradually tears me down. The guilt I feel some days for choosing sleep over a workout is potent.
The guilt tells me that if I don’t get up NOW and GO, GO, GO, I will never get that PR I so desperately want. I will never look like that fashion blogger in those leggings. The guilt tells me I need an attitude adjustment, and I whimper back that I’m not usually like this. My guilt takes the same sayings that usually inspire me (“It’s not easy but it’s worth it!”/“Wake up with determination, go to bed with satisfaction!”/“Sore today, strong tomorrow!”) and flips them against me instead.
But I’m here to stand up to the guilt.
Guilt, I deserve a break once in a while. You might not know me very well, but for the most part, I work my ass off. I try to be conscious about what I eat, but I’m not going to let you pry away the joy of an occasional slice of pizza from me (OK, maybe more than occasional). I try my best to attend new fitness classes, I embarrass myself in yoga and I run around in freezing temperatures. But SOMETIMES I also choose sleep. Sometimes is not ALL THE TIME, it is not NEVER, it is sometimes. And I need you to accept that I’m trying to be the best I can, but I also realize that I can’t be 100% if I don’t extend myself the generosity of some R&R every so often.
The lines between striving for self-improvement and self-acceptance get blurry. I’m here to tell you what I have to tell myself sometimes:
Work out a little bit more if you want to, but also rest a little bit more if you feel like it. Make sure you push yourself on occasion because it’s good for you – both physically and mentally. But listen – it’s OK to hit the snooze button. It’s OK to have a donut. It’s OK to give into the exhaustion. It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK. We all deserve a break. So don’t beat yourself up about it, OK?