Why something is better than nothing in fitness and my weekly workout recap

Hello, my friends! How are you? I’ve got to be honest, this past weekend had very little worth reporting. We hung out, we did some things, we ate food, and I didn’t take a lot of pictures of any of it. Sorry! So in spite of the little happenings in my weekend, I thought it would be a great time to talk about motivation, fitness and feeling like you’re doing enough.

Why something is better than nothing in fitness by A Lady Goes West

Why something is better than nothing in fitness

This post was inspired by two things: a sweet reader email, as well as a conversation in the A Lady Goes West Friends Facebook group, and so I know it’s something that will resonate with many of you. And we all need a little reminder. Here we go …

Find motivation and the right time to work out

Let me start with a little story … even though I LOVE to work out, and I love to teach group fitness classes, there are definitely days when I struggle with the motivation to actually do it. In fact, now that my schedule is more flexible (read this update here), I find that it’s even tougher. Why? Because when you have a very busy full-time job and a lot of places to be most of the day, you know that you have ONE window each day to exercise, which is usually first thing when you get up, or right after work. And because that’s part of your structured daily routine, you never miss it. There’s no need to worry about deciding when you will go, because it’s part of your process, and it’s built in. You hopefully do it on auto-pilot. (And if you haven’t gotten your workout routine on auto-pilot, you should. Pick that one window each day, schedule it in there, and be consistent — once you stick with it, it’ll become part of your day, even if some days you spend LESS time exercising than others.)

Well now that my days do NOT include driving to an office and commuting and spending nine hours at a desk working for the man, I don’t HAVE to work out at 6 a.m. or 6 p.m. In fact, I can go to the gym whenever I feel like it. And quite frankly, that’s not ideal. Because I may wake up thinking, I’ll put this off until later, and then later comes around and I have other things to get done. For many years, I’ve been a morning exerciser when I can, (unless I’m teaching an evening class, which is the case at least two days of the week), and morning exercise has amazing benefits, which you can read about here. But now, I find that I’m extra motivated to do writing/computer/blogging work in the morning, so I’ve been powering through that and waiting until a bit later, like mid-morning, lunch or mid-afternoon, to exercise. 

Then, when I take a break from the work, I find that I’m not quite as energized for the gym. For instance, last week, on Wednesday, I did a bunch of work on the computer, and then I couldn’t decide what I would do as exercise for the day. I thought about going to a class, but then realized I would be teaching TWO the next day, so I thought about doing nothing, but I didn’t want to do that. So I told myself — just get your heart-rate up for 20 minutes. And that seemed reasonable. I was already in workout clothes, so I grabbed my headphones, went to the gym, and did a little power-walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes. I did some loose intervals, sort’ve like this power-walking workout. I swung my arms. I listened to music. And when I was done, I felt GREAT. I sort’ve met myself in the middle, if that makes any sense, and it was way better than nothing. And YES, it was beneficial for my body. It not only burned calories, but it also got my blood pumping, and walking on incline is great for the legs and butt.

Meet yourself in the middle and just move

That being said … if you are struggling with the motivation to work out, remember that SOMETHING is better than nothing in the case of fitness. In other situations in life, you want to give it your all — but when it comes to your exercise routine, a little bit is more than not doing anything. If you don’t think you can handle a full one-hour group fitness class, then go on a power-walk with your dog. If you don’t want to leave your house because it’s raining, then find a 10-minute yoga class on YouTube (here’s one that I love from POPSUGAR), and do that in your pajamas in your living room. You will have moved, and you will have remained committed. Your workout does not need to be an hour every day, and it also doesn’t have to be hard either. Our bodies love a good low-intensity session that flushes the muscles out and still gets the heart pumping. Our bodies love varied degrees of intensity and varied degrees of duration in our workouts. They just do.

So today, this is my reminder, that you are NOT a failure if you skip a gym class and instead spend 15 minutes doing stairs in your apartment building or go on a 20-minute leisure bike ride with your friend. You did something. So props to you. And this is also my reminder that your workouts do NOT have a set time amount to be effective. In fact, there’s a ton of research that just four minutes of high-intensity tabata (a format in which you do 8 rounds of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off of exercising, for a total of four minutes) a few times each week can up your fitness as much as hours of slow cardio. If you are committed to healthy living (and by committed, I mean knowing that it’s important for you, and knowing that being perfect is not the key to healthy), then when you struggle to go hard, it’s no big deal. You’re human, you’ll make up for it another time. Do what you can and keep on, keepin’ on. You hear me? 

More motivational fitness reading 

For a little bit more insight: here’s why every workout you do doesn’t have to be so hard, which explains why you shouldn’t push too hard every single day. And also, here’s why it’s okay if you don’t love fitness and what you can do about it, for some tips on how to teach yourself and your body to crave that healthy post-workout feeling.


My weekly workout recap

Speaking of fitness, here are all of the ways I’ve been moving lately. And as a reminder: It wasn’t super easy to get motivated to do every single one of these sessions — some of them I got paid for, and some of them were shorter than others, but I did them all. So there …

Weekly workouts

  • Monday: Took a one-hour BODYPUMP class, 10 a.m.
  • Tuesday: Took a one-hour POP Pilates class, 4:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday: Did 20 minutes of power walking on a treadmill, 11 a.m.
  • Thursday: Taught a one-hour BODYPUMP class, 8:30 a.m. and taught a one-hour Bootybarre class, 5:30 p.m.
  • Friday: Taught a one-hour Bootybarre class, 4 p.m. 
  • Saturday: Practiced 25 minutes of BODYPUMP at home, 11 a.m.
  • Sunday: Rest day

Overview of the week of workouts

This past week was pretty full. Now that I’ve upped my teaching schedule to three classes a week, I’ve got a couple more workouts happening, and I love it. I’ve complemented the additional workouts with a full rest day and a couple of lighter days, as well, so I don’t do too much. And two of those lighter days took place because I just wasn’t feeling an intense workout that day. It happens! I would definitely say that POP Pilates and Bootybarre gave me some flexibility training and cardio, while all of the BODYPUMP gave me some resistance training, so it was a pretty good and balanced week, and I felt great. Ideally, I would have turned that last BODYPUMP practice session into a solo weights workout to work some more single-side movements, but I’ll save that for next week, when I don’t need to learn a new BODYPUMP release to debut in class in just a few days. (I’m launching BODYPUMP 101 on Thursday, by the way.)

My friends, be good to yourself. And have a WONDERFUL start to your week!

Why something is better than nothing in #fitness, according to trainer @apstyle ... Click To Tweet

P.S. Thanks to Meghan for today’s “Week in Review” link-up. And if you missed it, head on over for your chance to win a foam roller here.

(Photo credit: Tamalyn Matney Photography)

Questions of the day

How was your weekend?

What type of things do you have trouble getting motivated to do?

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22 Comments

    1. Hi Heather!! 20 minutes is totally the magic number for telling yourself to do SOMETHING for that amount of time, right? And hey, when it comes to focusing on one area of the body – 20 is TOTALLY good enough. Nice job for completing that, and Happy Monday! ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. I get behind on my strength training. I used to love it, but then running took over, and I just crave that piece. I’m hoping that at least the little bit that I am doing now will keep me going until I get the love back for it!

    1. So funny — I used to LOVE running, but then strength training took over, and I don’t ever run heheh. And it’s great you are still doing at least a little bit of strength — because that helps for sure. Hope your weekend was RESTFUL, my friend! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. So true that you don’t need to set a time limit to have a great workout. When I used to workout after work I was always finding myself with only 20-30 minutes and loved doing tabata or intervals on the treadmill. And I have a hard time getting motivated to fold laundry, uh I hate it, lol.

    1. ahhaha me too! I hate doing laundry, and between Dave and I — we have a lot. Tabata is TOTALY effective, and you don’t need to do it very long. Looks like you had a BEAUTIFUL weekend, my friend! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Totally agree with you here. I used to be all or nothing when it came to working out, which would result in those ‘F it’ days where I didn’t do anything. Now, I have a MUCH better mindset. I just tell myself to do a quick 20 minute HIIT workout and see how I feel. If I want to keep going, I can, but if not, then I still got in a great workout and I feel proud about it!

    1. Hi Carrie! Well 20 minutes of HIIT is DEFINITELY a full-fledged workout! I’m glad that as an industry, HIIT and shorter workouts are becoming more the norm — for people who are strapped for time. Although they are so darn intense, that at times, I think that can scare people too. But I’m so glad you are no longer an all or nothing gal. We live and we learn! ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Monday!

  4. Great post! I have trouble motivating myself to do “adulting” tasks but always feel so accomplished when i knock them out.
    A trip to the bank, doing taxes, and errands seems bland and boring but boy does it feel good to have it all done once it’s over!

    1. Hi Heather! Agreed — I put those tasks off too. Adulting is hard. hehhe ๐Ÿ™‚ And you are soon to be an adult in charge of another person hehehe

  5. Exactly why I still get up at 5 am everyday to workout! I lose all motivation and sense of time later in the day. And I couldn’t agree with you more about doing what you can when you can. I don’t know why, but it’s easy for people to have an all or nothing mentality when it comes to exercise or food. It certainly doesn’t have to be that way.

    1. So true — same with food — it’s never all or nothing. You make the best choices you can in that moment, and sometimes that’s the less-unhealthy option hehe. That’s awesome you are sticking to your 5 a.m. workouts! Nice job being consistent, Megan! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. You said it – it’s about being healthy however that looks for you on that particular day. And I always believe in a good stroll outside to clear your head. Happy Monday, Meghan! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Congrats on your job move! I’m so behind in life (haha), so I catch up on my blogs when I can! Anyways, it sounds like a perfect set up for you! And yes, there are some days more often than not, I only have a 30 minute window! I’m thankful for HIIT workouts and youtube- haha!
    I’m starting to get back into running and while I don’t have a hard time getting out to run but I’m not as motivated to get past that 6 mile mark. Maybe signing up for a race soon will get my butt in gear! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Marielle!! I hope you are doing well! ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s awesome you are starting to get back into running. A race may be a great goal for you. And thanks for the kind words — the new job set-up is perfect for me! Hope you had a nice weekend!

  7. I know this post has been published for a couple of years now, but I’m glad I found it now. I’m pretty committed most of the time to my workouts, but some days I will let more than a day or two go by without purposely being active and I have to remind myself that it’s okay and just start again. Even if it’s just 5-10 minutes, moving my body feels great and I mentally feel better knowing that I did something to make myself feel good.

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