There's a common misconception that healthy people love working out six times a week and eating salad for every meal of the day. Although I tried the latter just for fun (I use that term loosely), as a resident "healthy person", I can confirm this isn't true. When I first started my fitness journey nearly two years ago, I bought into all of the stereotypes and myths. Cardio? It's king. Strength training? You'll get too bulky. Carbs? They're the devil incarnate. 

I went on like this for a decent amount of time, before realizing that I hated running and loved lifting weights. So, I switched to doing strength training four times a week and HIIT once a week. And by golly, even if a plague of locusts descended upon the Earth, I refused to miss a work out session. 

Social Media's Influence

When your Insta feed is constantly filled with well-meaning, yet ill-advised #fitspo photos, it's easy to let fitness consume you. I would scroll through photo after photo of someone's post-sweat sesh glamour shot and instantly feel the need to do an extra set of burpees. At the time, I thought I was being healthy. After all, how could exercise be detrimental? What I didn't realize is that I was compromising my mental health for the sake of what I believed to be improvements to my physical health.

Yet when I forced myself through a workout even when I was absolutely exhausted and ready to collapse, I always felt worse afterwards. I then grew to hate exercising. I viewed it as a punishment for eating a cupcake over the weekend, rather than an enjoyable stress-reliever. I bought into the hype that said "the only bad workout is the one that didn't happen." However, in reality, the only bad workout is the one that makes you feel unhappy.

Changing My Routine Wasn't Easy

I distinctly remember one day in which I was still recovering from a cold and forced myself to go on a jog because I hadn't worked out in three days. Needless to say, my nose ended up running more than I did and I had to turn back around and go home. It took awhile for me to accept that skipping a workout didn't make me an unhealthy person. I think it's easy to associate exercise with being healthy, but if you're pushing yourself until you're blue in the face, there's a problem.

When you view exercise as something optional instead of mandatory, you don't dread it so much. In fact, you look forward to it, because you know that you have freedom in making a choice.

The the truth is, one skipped workout won't make you gain twenty pounds, and one extra workout won't make you into Hulk Hogan. Becoming healthy is a long, complex process. And you know what? Even if you did gain twenty pounds, that's not the end of the world. Each day brings in the opportunity for a fresh start.

How I Am Today   

Brooke Daly

Last week, I only worked out twice. If the past version of myself heard that, she probably would've gasped in horror. But last week I had activities after school every day, felt under the weather, and wasn't in the greatest mindset. So, I decided to take a few days off of exercise to let my mind and body recuperate. Then on Saturday and Sunday I did strength training and loved every minute. 

Now, I know what you're all wondering: am I now an overweight, disillusioned fool? I can confidently say that I am not. In fact, I actually love how I look more now than I did a year ago. Since I mainly do strength training, I have a lot more muscle tone. Although, I love myself more not because of how I look, but because of how I feel. I'm proud to say that I enjoy every work out I do. I'm proud to proclaim that I exercise for however long I want and when I want. I'm proud that I'm in control of my fitness, and happier every day because of it.

So please, next time you miss a work out, don't let your mind linger on it. That moment has already passed. Instead, focus your energy on making yourself both mentally and physically healthy.