Exercise guilt is sacrificing your sanity for the sake of a workout.

Exercise guilt is sacrificing your sanity for the sake of a workout. Always remember to approach exercise with a mindset of love and respect for your body.


Exercise is touted as a wonderful stress relief tool, and it can be! But when the pressure to do it is too much or the workout intensity is too high, it may backfire and actually lead to exercise guilt.

Many aren’t alone in this mindset.

After all, when it comes to creating a better relationship with yourself, food and exercise go hand in hand. But with full and busy schedules, some folks with perfectionist tendencies may aim to still do it all (literally) even at times when it is least realistic.

Unless you are consciously making an effort to quiet that part of yourself, exercise always happens because it otherwise leaves you feeling guilty when you can’t do everything.

So how can you let go of that exercise guilt? Here are a few ways to cope:

1. Get comfortable in your own body.

Let go of the expectation of how your body should look, or used to look. Start listening to your body, and be open to trying new gentler workouts that can uplift your mental well-being. You don’t always need to go hard to be healthy!

2. Remember that sleep is just as important.

It’s wonderful that you want to be active! But if you’re sacrificing sleep in order to get in that work out while maintaining a packed schedule, you’re sacrificing one part of your health for another. You are not losing out by not exercise; rather, you are gaining sleep to improve your health.

3. You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone.

Perfectionist tendencies may creep in without you noticing. When that happens, ask yourself: who do you feel the need to prove to that you can do everything? You already work full-time, spend time with family, have a social life, eat well, and move your body consistently most days of the week. Give yourself a break!

4. Recognize our daily activities also create movement for the day.

Do you walk your dog daily, or clean your house every week? Those all count as movement! The goal is 30 minutes of movement a day, and you don’t always need to be a sweaty mess to get there. Take the stairs at work, park further away, and walk to or around a store for errands. And some days, do nothing – that’s perfect OK.

At the end of the day, commit to exercise in a way that still allows you to have meaningful goals for your life that have nothing to do with how your body looks. If that means removing exercise from the top of my priority list, than so be it. By doing so, you are committing to decreasing stress in your life,

And taking the time to listen and respect your body and mind.

Adapted from the original article.

Courtney Ferreira, MS, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian based in Baltimore, MD with a passion for helping individuals reach their health and wellness through flavorful whole foods and freedom from counting calories, fat, and minutes on a treadmill. For more insightful tips on living your healthiest life, visit Courtney at the RealFoodCourt.