Every Workout Counts

I have had a headache every day for the past 17 days. (At least, that’s when I started counting.)

The neurologist put me on a preventive medicine temporarily as well as a medicine specifically for the pain. Both the headaches and one of the meds cause fatigue—just as the depression-related fatigue was going away.

Yesterday, all of this put me in a really dark place of feeling like my mental health and my physical health can’t catch a break. I just want to be able to enjoy life in sunny Southern California, not watch everyone else enjoy life while my head (hey, I’m always fine from the neck down!) keeps me on the couch for one reason or another.

I really want to lose some weight, and there’s a class in Santa Monica called Circuit Works that’s similar to Orangetheory and walking distance from my apartment. I’d signed up for a class this morning but after I took Lucy out, even rolling over to get my coffee from my coffee table caused me to wince in pain and cancel the class.

I was so incredibly frustrated and had a little pity party for myself. (This is where I say I absolutely know it could be worse, but that doesn’t mean that feeling this way doesn’t also suck.)

I laid there thinking about what workout I could do and when I could fit it in today. It didn’t have to be high-intensity or nothing. My therapist and I are always working on less black-and-white thinking, since I am a very all-or-nothing person.

What could I do to still move and break a little sweat but that didn’t require a ton of energy? There’s a small gym at my building, and I settled on the elliptical, watching The Morning Show on my phone (anyone else watching it??)

I despise machines, especially the elliptical, but not every workout is going to be amazing—or needs to be the hardest workout. As I’m getting older, I’m beginning to truly worry about my health more—not just say I’m worried about my health but really mean I’m worried about my aesthetics—and really appreciate how important moving is.

I used to think anything less than 3 miles/30 minutes wasn’t a workout—I’d say “but whatever you can get in is great,” but didn’t buy that for myself. Even if I did only do a 15-minute workout, I felt bad about it. I’m working to redefine working out in a way that I still push myself but also in a way that I don’t negate some of its mental health benefits by beating myself up for it not being enough or not what I used to do.

tl;dr, not every workout needs to be The Hardest or The Best Workout Ever. I didn’t run a marathon today, I didn’t do a speed workout, but I moved.

Maybe this is a dumb post, I don’t know, but I’m trying to flex my writing muscle more because I have Big Writing Goals. Some of what I’ll write will suck, but I just want to work on getting myself out there more again and being comfortable with that.

26 comments on “Every Workout Counts

  1. Abby

    I don’t think this sucks! Quite the contrary. I think in a way, the healthy living blogs of the past have sort of glorified hard/intense workouts and made everything else seem unimportant. Any workout is great! Glad you got to move today. I never comment but I am a longtime reader and I hope you feel better!

  2. Andrea

    This totally resonates with me. I bought a treadmill with the purpose to sneaking in smaller walks/runs here and there but barely use it because I feel like I don’t have time to commit to a 30-45 min workout. Hope your headaches go away. 🙂

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      Omg you need to watch it!! Jennifer Aniston and I have the same birthday so I consider us soul sisters. (There must be some funny Nathan W. Pyle cartoon about two humans emerging on the same day on the calendar…)

  3. Beckett @ Birchwood Pie

    Ugh on one day of headaches let alone 17, hope that clears up soon. Totally not a dumb post, blogging is very much like working out in that the most important thing is that it happens and a lot of magic can happen in 15 minutes.

  4. Lisa

    Another longtime reader who never comments here. Like you I have struggled with my mental health in the last while, but was lucky enough to get through it and the last six months have been some of the most fulfilling in years and I was really feeling content. My fitness was also slowly getting back to a place I was happy with. Unfortunately, I was then blindsided with a diagnosis of multiple blood clots in both my lungs and am now in a place where i need to reset all my goals. My new fitness routine involves a lot more slow steady strolls and a lot less mile repeats and I’m working hard to be ok with that. Like you I also depend on activity to help with my mental health to a certain extent and/or to define who I am. Runner, boston qualifier, x:xx marathoner or whatever! It’s hard this in-between place but your writing is and always has resonated with me, so thank you!
    On the other hand I so want you to feel better soon and be able to take advantage of all that California sunshine!

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      So frustrating, but I’m glad to hear you’re OK <3

      Thankfully the meds seem to be working now—and my therapist and I talked about this cycle of me getting these tension headaches around stressful situations, and there's a big decision on my horizon, so this makes sense...and this, too, shall pass.

  5. Annie

    Neither your post nor your workout sucked!! I’m pregnant and waking up early and working out doesn’t come as naturally for me as it used to. I’m constantly reminding myself that my body is doing a lot right now and I can’t expect every workout to be 100% all out and wonderful. Your body is also doing a lot right now!! Keep moving and keep the blood flowing…those are the only things that matter. Sending lots of love!

  6. Hillary

    I’m so glad that I’m not the first person to comment: this is not a dumb post. This is real and honest, and the reason that I keep reading you and feel so connected with you. if that’s weird, sorry? But not really.

    I really think that whole “blank and white” thinking could benefit me too., Like when I want to hole up and not be social, which seems like a lot of the time… well a small dinner could be okay. Or a walk with my friend vs. being stuck on the phone feels better. There is a lot of grey space that feels better and within reach most days. I realize this might not make sense, but as someone who teeters and struggles with social anxiety, this resonates with me.

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      It makes total sense!!! And I’m generally fine once I get somewhere but I definitely feel some social anxiety before I go, so I get that. And I’m so glad to hear you feel connected, that’s my only real goal here these days <3

  7. Katie

    Such a great post! Headaches are the worst. I started going to a chiropractor and it helped a ton. Also, Origins peace of mind. Hope you feel better! Any movement that makes ya feel better counts.

      1. Katie

        My headaches tend to be in the back of my head. The chiropractor said the tension from my tight shoulder blades just kept moving up from my shoulders into my neck and back of my head. I went every other week for 3 months and now every 6 weeks. I also started taking magnesium and that helped. I used to lay in bed with ice packs. Now, that rarely happens and if I get a headache, they are not as intense. Feel better!

  8. Katie Glendening

    Great post!

    1 – I too work with my therapist on black and white/dichotomous thinking. Learning to challenge it has been such a key role in learning to live.

    2 – Another thing that helped me is not discounting my feelings due to my privilege. Yes I had/have it better than some, but that doesn’t negate my feelings. Downing is drowning – 1 foot or 10. Plus, trauma is SO individual. What’s traumatic for one may be nothing to another.

    3 – The morning show that no one knows? That no one is talking about?

    4 – Thanks for keeping it real! I read you more consistently now than when I first found you after the 2010 Heathly Living Summit. You don’t know me from Adam, but I feel like you have grown so much, and I feel privileged to have watched it. *I promise it’s not as creepy as it sounds*

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      1. I’m really learning how little gray area I’ve had in my life and working hard on that.
      2. Another thing I’m working on! And shame around privilege—which my therapist reminds me helps nobody. Instead, I’m working on ways to use my privilege to help. But you’re right—and even a friend with cancer said she found this post helpful.
      3. I had to google that 🙂 Nope, the Apple TV+ one with Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carrell.
      4. Thank you <3 Man, when you put it that way, I guess I have grown a lot 🙂 Though I miss those halycon simpler days, too!!

      1. Katie Glendening

        Ugh, I think I’ll ALWAYS be working on shame around privilege. Thanks for bringing up working on ways to use privilege for good. I work on that too.

        Now I have to Google the Apple TV one. As an aside, RH’s work around intentionality was a game changer for me.

        You have grown SOO much. Honestly, I ALWAYS thought you were cool b/c you are a pretty, metropolitan, runner, but I couldn’t really relate. You’ll always be that, but your writing has grown to include so much depth and intersectionality. It’s about whole (mental, physical, spiritual) health. I thank you for continuing to share what I am sure is really hard to open up about. You ARE changing lives.

  9. T

    Nope, not dumb post at all. I feel the more we all share about our REAL daily feels/struggles the more we can understand we ALL go through seasons/struggle. And I think we forget HOW MUCH our mind can physically exhaust us (I am a BALL of fun Anxiety) So happy you were able to get up and get moving. My husband ALWAYS says ‘a body in motion’…… xoxoox

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      So true on how much our minds exhaust us, I was thinking that this morning! I have a lot on my mind right now but when the ketamine was working its best, my running was so awesome because a lot of that chatter was dampened.

  10. Heather E. (heatherunnergrl on Insta)

    Not a dumb post at all! I’m sorry you’ve had such a bad headache for so long. I appreciate your honesty in sharing about the feeling of it’s not an xx number of minute workout it doesn’t count. I often feel that way myself, for that reason I love hanging out with my friend Beth. She’s team #moveyourbody however you can.

    Hope you feel better soon!

  11. Kate

    This post totally connects with me! I’m also an all or nothing person, including workouts as I love endurance running and high intensity cardio. I haven’t worked out much in the last year due to miscarriage, another pregnancy, work stress, and now I’m 7 weeks postpartum. I’m not able to workout how I used to and I’m really out of shape so I’m trying to get used to the idea that even a 15 minute walk is better than nothing. It can be fun and helpful mentally, physically, and emotionally just to move. My best friend really inspires me. She’s a working mom of two. She goes to her crappy gym at work a few days a week to do 20 minutes on the eliptical. She says she doesn’t even break a sweat so she just wears the same workout clothes each time and then changes right back into her work clothes. She said it just feels good to move and it’s all she has time for.

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