wellness

'You have no excuse.' The messages around fitness no one needs right now.

It’s a time of uncertainty — an unprecedented time, as we hear every five minutes. We’re all learning, day by day, how to best navigate and reshape the way we once lived because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Most of us (who are lucky enough to work remotely) are working from home. Non-essential businesses have shut down. Our children’s schools and universities across the world have either extended their breaks or moved into online classes.

Things are happening all at once and changing just as fast. And during this time, we’re getting a lot of messages about what to do and what not to do.

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Do look on the bright side.

Don’t watch the news.

Do video-call your friends and family.

Don’t scroll Facebook.

Do get some fresh air.

And the most common that I’ve preached to myself and others:

Get some exercise.

I am a regular gym-goer. Exercising at the gym is (was) the most essential part of my daily routine in life pre-coronavirus. Over the last few years, going to the gym five to six times a week has become a sanctuary for me — a form of therapy. My daily workouts really have become my key ingredient for a productive, happy, confident me.

When the gyms first started closing down because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, I panicked. How am I going to keep myself from going crazy without the gym, I wondered.

Without the gym, I was already feeling lost on day one of quarantine. But because we live in an age of advanced technology, we have plenty of at-home workouts and fitness influencers to keep us accountable.

I downloaded the Peloton app on my phone and I began following Instagram trainers who posted at-home workouts so I could keep up.

It was then that I realised how harmful some of the “healthy” messages I was hearing were.

“Just because we’re on home lockdown doesn’t mean we should stop working out,” one fitness influencer said in a post.

A personal trainer asked his 1.3 million followers, “Summer is still coming, with or without corona — will your summer body be ready for it?”

I heard that, and my heart dropped.

This is not regular life everyone.

And for that, I’m really disappointed with the messages we’re receiving.

Yes, physical activity is crucial right now. The benefits of exercising are endless, and as a regular gym-goer I know how absolutely uplifted and positive I feel after a great sweat session.

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Still, I don’t need more people reminding me of how much time I have on my hands and how I should be using it to stay in shape. I certainly don’t need to hear the word lazy being thrown around to describe someone who isn’t exercising during the quarantine.

I don’t need people making me feel guilty about not working out right now.

This isn’t a vacation — people are losing their lives and loved ones to this virus, and still, many people aren’t taking this seriously. I’m waking up stressed about money, and I’m falling asleep stressed about money. I’m not the only one who is heartbroken at the loss/instability of their income.

There are so many external factors going on all at once that I’m overwhelmed during almost every waking hour, yet I’m expected to “maintain and build muscle for my summer body”? How is that a thing when we’re coping with trauma, exhaustion, and over-stimulation every day?

Yes, I know my physical health is important and crucial to overall well-being — but my mental health is suffering from the pressure of keeping myself “balanced” in the middle of a global pandemic.

These are strange, hard, stressful times. I don’t need to feel guilty for wanting to take a nap in the middle of the day. I don’t need another fitness trainer on Instagram yelling at me for “making excuses”.

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I’m closing in on day 13 of self-quarantine.

While I’ve gotten some amazing hiking trails done with my pup during this time, I’ve also had days where I’ve completely ignored my inner voice telling me, “Today should be leg day”. Instead, I’ve taken out my Animal Crossing video game and played along with its soothing music.

And that’s okay.

Again, this is not a vacation. We’re in the middle of a health and economic crisis and it’s only normal to feel a million emotions. So many emotions, in fact, that we feel unmotivated to work out. And that’s alright.

We don’t need another person telling us to “look on the bright side” and be productive during this time.

What we need right now is compassion. We need to be reminded that it’s okay to be sad, anxious, stressed. It’s okay to skip workouts until you’re ready.

It’s okay to go for a short walk with your pup and call it a night. It’s okay to have a glass of wine and go to bed scared.

This situation is not permanent, we will get through this together. Please, be extra kind to yourselves during this time. It’s okay to feel your feelings. I needed to remind myself that today — and I hope I reminded you, too.

Feature Image: Getty.

This post originally appeared on Medium and has been republished with full permission.

The current situation around COVID-19 might be making you feel scared or uncertain. It’s okay to feel this way, but it’s also important to learn how to manage feelings of anxiety during this time. To download the free PDF: Anxiety & Coronavirus – How to Manage Feelings of Anxiety click here.

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