I've always maintained that no workout should be a regret, often telling people who are hedging on whether to go to the gym that, "I have never regretted working out, but I have always regretted skipping it."
But I can't say that anymore! I definitely regret yesterday's cardio.
Yesterday just didn't go my way. I woke up to run, but it was raining. I should have gotten on my elliptical, but I didn't. I messed around on Facebook instead, thinking I would just head to the gym at lunch and knock out an hour of cardio. But as the day progressed I had some appointments shift around that required me to work through lunch, forcing my cardio to either after work or not at all. Since I have my March goal of earning a star sticker for every day of the month, skipping my cardio was a last-resort option. That would mean forfeiting my rest day on Thursday to make up for it, and I really have grown to love my rest day. So that left after-work cardio.
I didn't want to do it. I love exercise, but evening exercise is just a chore to me. By 4:30 in the afternoon I am ready for my jammies and downtime with my husband and son. I selfishly guard my time at home and very rarely accept invitations to after-work functions or meetings because with as little time as I have with my family as it is, they come first.
But yesterday, I justified it. I figured I'm a five-minute walk from the gym. If I changed at my office, was on the treadmill by 5:10, and did a quick 50 minutes of cardio I could get to my "burn goal," earn my sticker, and even avoid the rush-hour traffic, cutting my drive time in half and getting me home a mere 15 minutes after my menfolk. Everyone wins!
Well you can guess it didn't happen that way. Everything took longer than I thought, and my no-traffic time-saver was cancelled out by semi truck holding up traffic by trying to back into a parking lot and a charter bus that was seemingly on a tour of every nook and cranny between the gym and my house.
Needless to say, I arrived home 15 minutes before bathtime to learn that in my absence, they had gone out for pizza and window shopped, enjoyed the weather in the backyard, and were now happily playing firetrucks/volcanoes/Ghostbuster/pirates. I was left to cook some lonely egg whites alone and try to make lame conversation while I kicked myself for skipping out on my favorite part of the day just so I could make up for being a slacker in the morning. I won't get that time back, and I seriously regretted being so focused on reaching a goal that I completely threw away an opportunity to be with the people who make me the happiest.
I never shook that feeling. All night long it nagged me until I finally had to forgive myself and promise to not make the same choice again. I put my star sticker on my calendar with a twinge of guilt because while I had earned it honestly, I would have rather taken a hit on my goal then feel the way I did last night.
There is no shortage of mommy-guilt out there; we all deal with it in our own ways. Some is easily shaken and some gets carried around for eternity. It's no new phenomenon that for a parent who is also a full-time employee, volunteer, spouse, and fill-in-the-blank-here, there never seems to be enough time for everyone or everything that needs or wants our attention. And should we fulfill the expectation that there would be?
Making time for my workouts is not negotiable and never will be. They are mine, I own them, and I will defend that time set aside for myself. But, they take place in the wee hours of the morning when the rest of my life is asleep. That's when I can think, plan, dream, and center myself. I am sure there will be another day when my alarm doesn't ring, meetings invade my lunch hour, and fate otherwise conspires against me...and I'll throw my own little temper tantrum about missing my best-laid workout plans. But I don't plan to attempt another post-workday workout.
No amount of gold stars or endorphins can replace my other non-negotiable: time for playing firetruck/pirates in my jammies.