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Exercise, illness and guilt..

Do all these 3 ever go together for you? For me at the moment they all feature prominently in my life, obviously exercise as I am a PT but also because as you may know I exercise ALOT due to my training, illness because I have been ill off and on for a couple of weeks and I am not the only one in the family to have been struck down by the dreaded lurgy - we do like to be generous in our family and share the germs around! The last one is the guilt I feel when a) I have to miss a session through illness and b) going on my rowing machine whilst I have a poorly child at home. Obviously both of these ‘guilt’ reasons are at different ends to the spectrum and most people looking at it objectively would dismiss them as not valid reasons as you can’t help being ill and if the child is well cared for, comfortable and can reach you if they need you where’s the problem?

The exercising whilst ill is a funny one, I see some people getting on the rowing machine and trying to ‘bang’ out a really high intensity session whilst still reeling from a virus/chest infection. These sessions should not be attempted if there is any symptoms that are below the neck, such as fever, shivering, cough, stomach pain, sickness etc. All these symptoms can turn nasty for you if you proceed with the same intensity that you would do whilst feeling normal. Your body is already trying to fight an infection of some kind, why put it under anymore undue pressure? Now it's all very well for me to say this but sometimes I really find it hard to practice what I preach! As my training is so intensive I really stress when my sessions are missed, thankfully I am never really that ill to miss them altogether. The way you can get around sickness is to train a little smarter, so with me I will look at the session of the day and see what intensity it is and swap it for a lower intensity, maybe a hr lead one so I can keep the movement and how hard I work under close scrutiny!

Illness is really bugger for me now, gone are the days where I relished a ‘sick day / duvet day’, sick pay isn’t there and to be honest I don’t have time to banish myself to bed all that often! I have had my tooth out this week and I felt a little wobble afterwards so I’d cleared my diary for that day and got home and went to bed for a lie down. Well I managed an hour of not doing anything then I was sat there twiddling my thumbs! After having kids I find it extremely hard to just sit and relax especially during the day, there is always something to do and now I am more active throughout the whole of my life, its become a habit to just keep moving! Maybe that’s why I don’t feel the pressure when I look at my busy training diary. I enjoy the training, the moving and also the feeling I get after I finish. I think people (including myself) have just got to be sensible exercising whilst ill, in the grand scheme of things taking a couple of days off to recuperate isn’t going to break the habit you have formed, so don’t let the guilt cloud your judgement. If your poorly, rest, end of!

Guilt is one of those feelings that gets stronger when you have children, I always say that you are continually feeling some guilt everyday. Exercising when the kids are in bed helps to stop the guilt but I feel unable to produce the needed energy to complete my sessions at 8pm at night, especially after getting up at 6am. The normal exercise window for me is mid-morning to early afternoon and weights early evening feels ok too. This is all ok during the week and in term time but holidays and weekends brings that guilt rolling in, in waves! Luckily with the help of Microsoft and Apple I can just about stave off most of the boredom (what did we ever do without them!). I do try to get the sessions done earlier in the morning so then I have the rest of the day to give to the kids which most of the time works, but it does feel more stressful trying to fit it all in with the added pressure of organising something ‘cool’ to do with the kids as a thank you for being good whilst mummy was finishing her session! Exercising and finding the time isn’t just a parent problem and we all lead such busy lives that any small window of free time makes us feel pressured to do something with it.

My advice to you is to get your exercise in your diary, make it a ‘date’ every time. This way it won’t be seen as a chore but something else to put your focus on other than work or family commitments. Make it something you look forward to, so if your doing a slower low intensity session organise a new playlist on Spotify or a new book to listen to on Audible both of these are great ways to motivate and keep the habit going! If your not feeling 100% ask yourself if a couple of missed sessions to recover is really going to make your fitness come crashing down - not really. If you train smart you will progress and see the results your aiming for, if you don’t train smart illness will be become a recurrence for you.

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