So, you missed a workout....

After the last couple of number-heavy blogs, this one gives you some food for thought on your perception of missing a workout or eating a bad meal, and why you shouldn’t feel bad for it.

In these strange and restrictive times, your 'workout' could be a walk, an online yoga class, a home workout, or if you're lucky enough to have access to one - a home gym. 

There is nearly always a good reason that you missed your workout or had a slip up. As long as a reason doesn’t become a regular excuse* and you are, on the whole, adhering to whatever exercise plan and nutritional regime you have set yourself, or been set.

I will be using the example of missing a workout moving forward, but perception of a situation could in theory apply to a lot of things.

Why did you miss that workout?

This is where you can start to rationalise what has happened. I need to be clear; you do not need to justify missing a workout to anyone, but if it helps you gain perspective, it’s a valuable question to ask. So, was it because…..

  • You were busy doing something important and therefore did not have enough time, or missed the opportunity to workout?

This is very normal for most people. They ran late at work, a family situation came up or they chose to help someone with a problem. All valid reasons, and things that will probably benefit your life in more ways than a single workout would.

  • You were ill or injured?

I’m talking illness in the sense of more than a sniffle, and injury in the sense of more than a bruise on the shin from walking into the coffee table! I touched on this in the second part of my training in sports blog. If you are legitimately ill or injured, you need to realise the workout you miss is likely to help speed up recovery. Whilst feeling guilty about not going and making yourself push through it, is likely to mean recovery time is prolonged, or even worse; your illness or injury could get worse, putting you out of action for even longer.

In these situations, looking at the bigger picture is vital. Short term guilt, although a powerful feeling, will rob you of long term, sustainable progress.

  • You simply didn’t want to do it?

Often if you don’t want to do something, you will say you 'couldn’t be bothered' or were 'being a lazy bastard'. But why couldn’t you be bothered? This is a question of motivation. Have you lost focus on the larger goal and are seeing the workout as an obligation rather than something that helps with the long term plan?

*A genuine reason, even if it’s more than once is fine. But if you use those genuine reasons to get out of something you don’t want to do, you need to look at your goals and why you’re doing it.

Consider your overall goal, did missing one workout actually affect it?

The short answer to that question is, no. No it didn’t.

The slightly longer answer with a bit more context is that progression is not linear. Missing one workout does not necessarily equate to dropping one step further back down the path. As long as you are consistent overall, you will be moving in the right direction.

Asking if missing one workout is detrimental in the long run, is like asking if conceding a 90th minute goal when you’re down 5-0 will affect the result of the game. Just don’t get into the habit of letting in last minute goals……too many will have a negative impact on the season.

In a practical sense, missing an occasional workout will not in any noticeable way;

  • Reduce overall fitness
  • Lead to a decrease in muscle mass
  • Drastically impact skill levels

But what if I want to redress the balance?

This is the guilt talking again, which is a hard demon to battle, I’ve fought it many times.

Like I’ve mentioned, missing one session….having one bad meal…..having the occasional ‘lazy’ day, will not take away from the overall, long term goal. As long as the majority of the time you are able to stick to the plan, you will still be progressing towards the goal.

Whatever you do, don’t use one missed session or bad moment as an excuse to throw the towel in and give up. If you applied the same logic to a relationship; you’d be filing for divorce after your first argument about what to watch on Netflix.

If you just want to make yourself feel better after missing a session or overeating, try simple fixes such as;

  • Make sure you drink enough water to stay hydrated
  • Try some light activity such as walking, yoga or stretching
  • Remind yourself of the bigger picture and long term goal
  • Do not try to compensate the next day by doing two sessions or eating half the calories, this can lead to a binge-restrict cycle……just get back on plan

If you’re frequently struggling because of any of the reasons we’ve talked about here, it may be time to amend the plan or seek advice from someone who helps people reach their goals for a living. Professional trainers and nutritionists will talk through all the potential barriers with you and figure out a way for you to reach your goals in a realistic way.

Unfortunately, self-perception often leads to blurred vision.

It can be extremely hard to manage the feeling of missing something you think you should have been present for……that does not apply to just a missed workout.

The way you look at a situation will affect how you feel about it and interact with it. Which means your perception of something can change how you respond to things.  

I hope this blog has given you the ability to rationalise things a bit, for yourself. And to help you see that focusing on a small negative aspect is not as important as appreciating the larger positive aspect.

Something to remember is that;

‘Your perception of a situation dictates how you respond to that situation.’

‘Your perception of a principal dictates how you live.’

Your perception of a principal has a much bigger effect on your life than how you view the workout you missed, or the bad day of eating you’ve just had.

The bigger picture in this example, and the principal that goes with it is that the majority of the time, you need to look after yourself in regards of nutrition and exercise, rather than fixating on the one, small, bad element.

One bad workout or meal won’t break you, just like one good workout or meal, won’t make you. In terms of goals and where we end up; we are what we do consistently!