Once A Couch Potato / by India Choquette

Sometimes I am too tired to workout. Or I am too sore. That’s what happened to me yesterday: I’m in the middle of a grueling work month, and while I usually go in on the same weeknight (one of my two nights off during the week) to train, I was very much not feeling it. And even though I go in every single week at this same time slot, I decided to skip it this once. Because I was tired. Plus it was sunny outside so I thought I might as well go for a run.

While I was not working out, I got a call from a friend who happens to be an old client of mine. She moved a couple of months ago, and in the middle of all the chaos, she got an injury. Then, when she finally healed, she struggled to find a place where she actually wanted to train. The gym at her work was filled with grunting bros, and the fitness studio with classes was so packed that each athlete was confined to a postage stamp size of real estate.  She shopped around at several places. Finally, she found a place that had classes she liked, so she went ahead with signing up.

Our conversation was about how she felt like she had fallen off the wagon. Which I found interesting. Because, to me, shopping around at studios, trying out gyms, and healing from an injury sound like the activities of someone very much on the fitness wagon.

We sometimes see ourselves as fake fitness people. When we are in this mode, any lapse or change in training is perceived as evidence that we are reverting to our “true” couch potato identity. But this isn’t the case. At some point (at any point really), you have to shift your vision: inactivity isn’t who you are anymore. Being INACTIVE is the temporary. That leads to the conclusion that ACTIVE is the permanent. If you miss a day or week of month of training, you are going to go back to it. Because that’s who you are.

It is a powerful mind shift. You aren’t an inactive person pretending to be healthy, you are a fit person who is taking a break because life is getting in the way of your identity at the moment. You aren’t going to lose drive, and don’t get down on yourself. Don’t use changes in training as evidence to back up an old identity. Sometimes when I come back from a vacation, one of my clients, who didn’t workout while I was gone, will say, “See? The second you are gone I’m back to being lazy.” Don’t tell yourself that! It isn’t helpful and it gets in the way of transformation. Life isn’t linear and it is impossible to adhere to the same schedule and progress forever. But if you understand yourself to be someone who is intrinsically active rather than inactive, every twist and turn becomes a short detour rather than an expression of your roots.

Active is the natural. Inactive isn’t who you are anymore. Breaks are fine. Changes are fine. Because you are always going to find a way to move.