Putting Things in Perspective

Yesterday, I heard two coworkers outside of the bathroom talking.

“I went to the gym three times last week! I’m so proud of myself.”

I listened to them and smiled. Three workouts a week, I thought to myself. That’s a “bad” workout week for me–now. My base workout goal is to work out at least four times a week–work out more often than not. My realistic goal is to work out five days, and I would consider working out six days an awesome workout week.

Three years ago, I would have been really excited with three workouts in a week, too. I mean, then, I was super happy if I made it to the gym once or even twice a week.

Then I changed my life and started working out at least five times a week to meet my goals. I started loving to run races and I’ve spent most of the past two years training for race or another.

I currently have about a bajillion races on my schedule in the next few months. My current plan for that, by the way, is a sort of non-plan–continue the next few weeks trying to focus on strength and not be on a plan yet, do an 8-week training plan for the sprint tri that would start in late May, and then do a 16-week training plan for the NYC Marathon starting in July and just readjust some of the running parts of the sprint tri plan.

Sure, working out 5-6 days a week is great and awesome and healthier for you and what the experts recommend, but really, working out at all is better than not working out. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop giving a fuck. Sure, some people may work out twice a day, but that doesn’t mean you’re any better or worse or healthier or unhealthier than them. (And yes, I write this to remind myself, too.)

I like exercising to maintain my weight, to stay healthy, to look good, to stay sane. But I also REALLY like sitting on my couch. And hanging out with my friends. Sometimes I really have no desire to work out almost every day–and that’s okay.

Be proud of what you have done, not what you haven’t done.

I mean. I ran a freaking marathon. (And no. I will never get tired of saying that.) I lost 50 pounds.

So, just out of curiosity, how many days a week do you work out? And what healthy accomplishments are you proud of?

25 comments on “Putting Things in Perspective

  1. liz

    i try to do some sorta of physical fitness activity every day, hard core working out 5 days a week! its tough but i just recently started a run/walk program and am working towards running a 5k in june! good luck in july!

  2. Leslie

    Thank you for this post!!! I usually work out 7 days a week. I do a little yoga, walking or kenpo on my “off” days, but I rarely take any REAL days off, unless it is the day after a big race. When I don’t work out, I automatically feel guilty and lazy. It’s all in my head, I KNOW this, so it’s nice to put things into perspective. 🙂

  3. Amber from Girl with the Red Hair

    I completely agree. A 3 workout week is a “bad” workout week for me. I like to try and get in 5-6 workouts per week and I often like to double on workouts (run at lunch, strength training in the evening).

    But three is better than nothing, so I try to remind myself of that on the insane weeks where 3 workouts is all I can really squeeze in!

  4. Rachel

    Honestly? Right now I don’t workout at all. Zero times a week and I know it is bad. I plan on starting to get into the groove again once the semester ends, so next week. For me, I am an all or nothing person for exercise. I will get in the groove and workout 5 or so times a week and keep that up for a few months (usually!) and then I will go on a non-working out kick for a few months

  5. Britney

    I work out about 6 days a week, and I try to do something active on the 7th day (like walk somewhere instead of taking a bus or the train. I’m trying to walk more in general). My roommate considers going to the gym three times a week a big deal. Some of my work out days I do two different active things, like an easy run and a yoga class.

    I used to spend so much time on my butt, and sometimes I miss all the time I spent reading and watching TV. I still do both, but not as much as I used to.

    I’m super proud of my half marathon on Sunday! I finished in 2:48:14 – yes, only 100 people finished after me but we all finished.

  6. Leticia Mosqueda

    I work out 5 days a week. I use to work out six when I in the middle of my weight loss journey. I’m close to my goal, so I’ve scaled it down a bit because this body is TIRED!

    90 lbs gone!!! I can run for a long time and am training for my 1st half marathon! And I can keep up with my spin instructor (most days) at SOUL CYCLE.

  7. Amy

    LOVE this. It is all about perspective and doing whats right for you. For me, I aim for 5 workouts a week, but I’m learning not to beat myself up when things don’t go as planned because I need balance. Having said that, my biggest “healthy” accomplishment to date was training for, and running my first 10k, and doing it injury free. I didn’t care about time, but i did care that I could still be OK to run a few days after, too. And I know that If i had pushed *too hard (I pushed plenty hard…but still wouldn’t run every day…) I may not have been able to say that, so, the balance and pulling back a bit was worth it in my book.

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Amy: Agreed. I’d much rather take some days off when I need to than go completely balls to the wall and get hurt.

  8. Cait @ Beyond Bananas

    All that you have accomplishes is SO awesome! You should be extremly proud of yourself.
    I am proud of all that I have done in the last year – including landing a great teaching job in a really tough job market.. purchased a condo with my boyfriend.. and have kept my healthy lifestyle going!

  9. Jordan

    Ideally, I would love to get in 6 days of exercise a week. I usually hit between 4 to 5 a week though. Sometimes, I beat myself up over the weeks where I’m less than stellar (2-3/wk) but I need to learn to feel that it’s ok as long as I don’t stop working out completely. Loved this post – exactly what I needed right now.

  10. Lizzy @ Food to Run For

    When I’m not training- prob only 3-4 days. When I am training 4-5. But yes, just getting out there to the gym is the most important thing : ) I’m insanely jealous of people who can work out twice a day. With my commute and job I just can’t strike that balance of working out more.

  11. Raych

    I’m a dancer, so I work out almost every day. Most of my workouts consist of dance, but I try to go to the gym at least 3 times a week as well.

    You should be extremely proud of your accomplishments and I’m glad that you recognize that this isn’t a competition and that we should all be doing what we can, not what we see other people doing. Some people need to work out 3 times a week to maintain, some people need to work out 5-6 and some people have speedy metabolisms (those people we all hate, haha). But, awesome post =]

  12. Beth @ Beth's Journey

    Great post! I think I have very similar goals to you. 3 times a week is a “bad” workout week for me, my real goal is 4-5 times, and if i do 6 times, I am thrilled. I’m proud of losing 80 lbs, and in terms of fitness achievements, I’ve PRed at 5 races in the last 6 weeks!!

  13. Kate

    THANK YOU for this! I work out 5-6 days a week, but ususally 2 of those days are “easy” recovery days where I do low impact cardio (walking, bike, or elliptical) with light weights. It drives me CRAZY when co-workers (1) dog me for taking a day or two off or (2) dog me for working out so much. It’s what works for me that counts (just needed to type that to remind myself).

  14. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine

    I work out 6 days a week usually, and it’s funny because growing up I HATED exercise, but now it’s one of my favorite parts of the day. My mom used to force me to swim and play tennis and stuff, and I think that sucked all the joy out of it…I started to fall in love with it when I realized that it’s something I do for ME, not for anyone else. But yeah, I like my couch too. Exercise days are awesome, but so are the rest ones when I can just sit around and watch bad TV. Or sleep 🙂

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine: I’m sort of the opposite! I was the one asking my mom to let me sign up for all kinds of sports/activities growing up. When that wasn’t so easy in college and I only though exercise was at the gym is when I started to dislike exercise. I obviously like exercise a LOT more now, but still look for things like running, biking and yoga that don’t FEEL like exercise.

      And I truly heart my bed and couch. Or wherever Bailey is snuggling 🙂

  15. Lin

    4x a week on average.
    What clinked in you that made you decide to change your life & lose weight? Anything in particular that gave you the motivation to do it? (I’m trying to shed some excess weight and am really struggling with getting my head in the game)
    P.S. love the blog 🙂

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Lin: A friend was getting married in Aruba and I didn’t want to go there and be unhappy with how I looked any more. Having such a specific, time-sensitive goal REALLY helped. To be honest, I never thought I’d keep up with it this much after I lost all the weight!

  16. Kimra

    I go through these cycles of exercising every! single! day! ever! and then getting busy or burned out and dropping down to a day or two of living room yoga. But I think that over a year, I average out to 4-5 days a week, and more like 5-6 when I have something specific to train for. (Except for right now. Writing a thesis is exercise, right?) Fear of injury keeps me from running more than 3x a week, so it’s really about how much cross-training I can fit in and what I want to do and if I have a partner for rock climbing, etc.

    I’m proud that I like to exercise! I remember when I first lived on my own I had a calendar in my kitchen and I’d give myself a sticker for every day that I went to the gym … and I did pretty well, but I always HATED going to the gym the way I did in those days. So I’m happy that I kept trying different forms of exercise until I found things I liked. I try to pick one crazy goal a year and push toward it, so those are the specific things I tend to be proudest of (the Avon Walk, hiking up Half Dome, my first half-marathon). But the answer that popped to mind first was finishing a 5.11A in the climbing gym. As much as I love running, and I do, the rush I get from climbing well is like nothing else.

  17. Alison

    For years I was an every day girl. I would miss a day or two a month, but I really found it was best for me to make it a daily thing. For some reason I just need the momentum! I found when I took a day off, the next day I really wanted to take another day off.

    For the past year I have been experimenting with other training plans (um, zero times per week), and I’m excited to get back to my more regular routine. I’m starting to work on training for races and running a lot more, and I know I won’t be able to do that daily…but I know that I really feel best when I’m active in some way just about every day.

    But don’t worry — I definitely exercise my lazy bone regularly, too! I love my couch and some trash TV!

  18. Cassidy Hogan

    Thank you for this post. I tend to compare myself to others so this was a great reminder for me…to just not care, do what is best FOR ME and MY GOALS. I work out 6 times/week and feel great about that!

  19. Kim

    I think I’m addicted, but I only leave room for one rest day a week – max. Somedays, I just use my rest day for a cross-training day, because I don’t feel completely normal if I don’t break a sweat. During the summer, I try to go to the gym twice a day during the work week, and in this case, I try to give myself Friday night as my resting period. I’m the same way as you though – it used to be a huge accomplishment to get to the gym one to three times a week, but now I’ve upped the ante with myself.

  20. Jayson James

    I always try to find time for myself to go to the gym or wake up early in the morning to jog. The minimum number of times that I usually go to the gym is twice a week and I know that it’s not good at all. But to compensate it, I always watch I eat and drink. Keep things in balance can help you a lot in losing weight.


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