When you can’t work out

I’m going to start this with a little disclaimer – I was afraid to post a piece about exercise on a food-focused blog. I was feeling wary about this post because in my life, both as a fitness instructor and as a functioning member of society, I try SO HARD to emphasize that food and exercise are not as related as the media makes them seem. While yes, you may feel hungry after working out, it does not mean that you directly worked off the chili cheese dog you ate earlier. You didn’t need to work it off – it was already fueling your daily activities like breathing and walking to class.

That being said, this blog isn’t just about food. It’s about living with allergies and about going to college and most importantly, about dealing with life. And sometimes dealing with life means dealing with working out. Or, in my case this week, not. Right as finals began, I got a terrible cold/sinus infection/pre-pneumonia situation that knocked me the hell out. My asthma has come back in full force, and after years of not feeling a wheeze (unless I was reacting, but that’s another story), I’m sucking on my inhaler like it’s a crack pipe. Just kidding…I think. So my about 4x weekly workouts are definitely a no go, and to be honest, it’s been more difficult than I expected.

A while ago I really worked to shift the focus of my workouts from weight loss or calorie burning to more important things, like becoming strong enough to support my body throughout the day and the happy endorphins that come with a workout. It has made my relationship with fitness so much better, and I’ve actually started to really enjoy the time I spend on fitness classes, walking, running and, of course, dancing. And it’s come with so many better results. I can actually run on a treadmill without feeling like I’m going to pass out, and I do tuck jumps like nobody’s business. You better believe I’m proud of this. Not because I look rad in a bikini (though I totally think I do, stretch marks and all!), and not because I feel like I’m being “good” when I work out, but because I’ve worked hard at appreciating my body for what it can do, rather than how it looks.

The running shoes that get me through it all.

The running shoes that get me through it all.

But what happens when you can’t appreciate your body in these ways? When you’re sick, these methods of appreciation sort of go away, not just because you can’t work out, but also because your body kind of turns into a blob. Well at least mine does. Maybe you’re a glamorous sick person. In that case, teach me your ways!

When I was sick and focusing so much on when I could get back to the gym, I realized these thoughts were a little nuts. My body is my body, in sickness and in health. I need to understand that it’s not always going to feel like a machine, pumping out crunches or sit ups at the gym. Yes my body is strong, but my body is beautiful in different ways. It’s hardworking, even when I feel like it isn’t. It can fight off infection. It can fight off allergens (kinda…). And what about that brain growing in my head? It can still work pretty hard, even when my body can’t. Is the way my body can move the only way I want to value myself? What about how my mind thinks, or how my organs work?

It’s important to remember, even if you can’t work out, that your body is strong. And it’s important to accept, even if you can’t work out, that your body is beautiful. Accept your body how it comes to you. After all, it’s never going to be exactly the same twice!

How do you deal when you can’t work out? In what ways do you show your own body some love?

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