Lemme Work It…Kinda (Or, How I Stopped Working Out Without Becoming Unhealthy)

by Rachel on July 26, 2011

Last week, I alluded to the fact that I don’t do workout/meal posts like I used to because I don’t really work out like I used to. I definitely don’t work out like I used to but I also haven’t gained weight and I don’t feel unhealthy. Today I wanted to share a bit more of how I went from being a cardio queen to…well…not.


All my excuses? Are just classic offenders.

Money — Moving in April was expensive and I decided to sacrifice my pricey Define membership so I could afford it. Even though I could make the sacrifice now, it’s kind of a drive, and I don’t feel like I want to make the commitment.

Motivation — Without my preferred way of working out (and without an expensive membership), my motivation plummeted.

Time — The two puppies started taking up a lot of my free time.

Shit happening — The month leading up to my infection, I felt miserable and in pain a lot and couldn’t work out even when I was motivated. Then there was the week spent with Eric in the hospital…and then my family arrived for two weeks. And I like going outside to workout, but it’s truly too hot outside. Blah blah blah.

Hair — I don’t feel like washing it. (See also “Time.”)


Part of the reason I wasn’t motivated is because I didn’t miss working out. The benefits I associate with working out, like energy, confidence, happiness, stress relief, and weight maintenance/loss were still extremely present in my life. Here is how I’ve been doing it.

Cooking and doing the dishes* — Eric and I grocery shop weekly and I cook a lot. Not only does this help me stay in shape because I’m eating healthier, but cooking? Isn’t exactly done sitting down. Neither are dishes. Some days when I’m in the kitchen, I feel like I’m in an aerobics class! Stir the pot, grab the salt, put it back, scrub that dish…now repeat three times a day! Work it!! Seriously, cooking from scratch is tiring! The days when I don’t cook are kind of like how I used to feel about rest days from working out. These days, I enjoy going out for dinner like I used to enjoy a day out of the gym; instead of being too tired to do more reps, I’m too tired to do more dishes.

Cleaning* — I like my space to look nice, and that means I’m not content to see smudges on my dining room table. (I don’t know why, but it gets the worst smudges and I have to clean it with Febreze wood cleaner daily. I do laundry throughout the week — the dog’s beds, the place mats, the sheets, my clothes — and vacuum.

Chasing the puppies* — Once I’m done cooking and cleaning and think about sitting down, then I realize I can’t…the puppies are up and at it! I don’t get to sit in one place for too long. Now that they are fully vaccinated and can go outside for walks (!!!) I get more down time in the apartment, but I’m making up for it taking them on walks throughout the day. In either case, I’m getting a lot of exercise from exercising them — and mainly from stalking them when they look like they are going to have accidents, cleaning up after them, vacuuming up the mess it makes when they start destroying their bed, feeding them, cleaning their crate, etc. Seriously, it’s great cardio.

(Side note: I used to get so pissed off when celebs say, “I just chase my kids to stay in shape!” Like, no, Kelly Ripa, I think we all know it takes more than that to make your fucking clavicle and ribcage stand out like it does, and you have a nanny and a housekeeper so you don’t really “chase” your kids…but I do think that actual child/animal-rearing might have some truth to it!)

Eating healthy — I’m finding it pretty easy these days to cook healthy foods and eat them and enjoy unhealthy foods without being ridiculous. Maybe it’s the lack of cardio, my general happiness, or my fixed schedule/routine…or maybe it’s just getting older and changing my relationship with food. I could probably expand on this a lot more, but for now, the short fact is this: I’m not having trouble eating what I enjoy and fitting into my jeans.

Hormones — Going off the Pill and getting an IUD knocked a few pounds off my “relatively easy to maintain” weight.

All of the above means I feel in shape and look healthy and fit. Still, I enjoy working out…on occasion. All I do is strength train though (via Core Fusion/YogaVibes or the occasional class at Define); cardio is just a waste of time for me when I feel so active (and so exhausted at the end of the day!) and I really don’t feel like washing my hair a lot. I know that will change as the weather gets cooler and the puppies get older, but right now, I just don’t care.

And I don’t care that I don’t care! At first, I kinda felt lazy about the fact that my sneakers were gathering dust, but then I realized…Wow, it’s really nice to get to a point when you get your ass moving enough in your daily life that you don’t have to go to a gym to get your heart rate up! And I like that there are more important things in life to me right now than losing five pounds or taking lots of new classes. (Though I can’t say that will always be the case!)

So for now, when I talk about “working out,” I’m really just talking about the above!

*It may be clear at this point that I do a lot of housework and it may seem like I shouldn’t be spending so much time on it because I should have a willing partner to help share the work. My partner is…semi-willing. He’s content to live in a messier house than I am, but he will do whatever I ask (begrudgingly). But the thing is, even if he does more cooking/cleaning/puppying, that means I’ll just spend that free time…working out. And faced with those two options, I’d rather just do the housework because it doesn’t mess up my hair.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MelissaNibbles July 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I think this goes along with that book “French Women Don’t Get Fat” where she just tells you to be active, eat well with the occasional indulgence and the rest will fall in place.

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2 Rachel July 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Oh, absolutely! I read it more than a year ago, but I finally feel like I’m putting it into practice!

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3 Bree July 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm

My problem is whenever I try this, I lose my ass and am less happy with how my arms look. I wind up a little lighter when I don’t formally work out (spoiled brat problems) but way less happy with my body. On the other hand, I have the world’s worst T-rex syndrome so may be an extreme case.

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4 Dori July 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm

You are absolutely active enough! Of course your clothes still fit, you’re running around all day doing all these things and eating delicious foods with ingredients you recognize that you prepare yourself. I love this post and hope this inspires other women to embrace their daily lives and not worry quite so much about getting on the elliptical (which I believe to be a waste of time unless you have a lot of weight to lose). Sorry to hear you gave up your Define membership, but glad to hear you’re still doing Core Fusion at home! And jealous that you don’t have to deal with your hair. Very, very jealous.

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5 Rachel July 26, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I actually think there is a misconception that to lose a lot of weight, the elliptical (or any machine) is your best way to do i! I feel pretty confident that I burn a similar amount of calories this way without the crazy amounts of hunger lots of cardio can cause — hunger that just makes it harder to lose weight.

I will go back to Define eventually! Right now, it’s just not good timing but believe me, I do miss it!!

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6 Laura Georgina July 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

This post makes me incredibly happy–because you sound SO happy with the changes in your life these days.

PS–you’re so right in how exhausting stalking your own dogs can be. It cost me three pricey library books to develop the habit when I got my dog years ago… and your health and pocketbook will thank you for doing it.

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7 Brandi July 26, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I completely get the hair thing…I’m currently walking around with a baby half-fro because it’s relaxer time, I don’t have time to sit at the salon for three hours, AND I’m always working out. I had to take 6 weeks off from an injury recently….I had 6 weeks of awesome hair days.

As long as you’re happy, healthy, and your clothes fit, who cares if you make it to the gym. It’s nice when life provides all the “working out” that you need.

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8 Alli July 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm

You completely hit the nail on the head re: cleaning — I’m in the same boat (the bf is “willing” to help but is also willing to live in a messier space than I am) and one weekend when he was out of town, I spent 6 hours cleaning out closets and doing insane things like scrubbing the walls (I know). The next day, my thighs and arms were as sore as the after-effects of a Body Pump class — it was awesome!

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9 Beth (Well I'll Be) July 26, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Well this is at least good motivation for me to clean my house. I feel like I’m at the gym so much after work, I hardly have time to cook dinner, much less clean my house.

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10 Melissa July 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm

I love this. I’ve cut back almost completely on the cardio besides walking (I live in New York), and I have just begun to cook in earnest in an attempt to get healthier and cut down on unnecessary sugars and processing in food. I truly think that’s where most people need to improve, not in overtraining. I do Core Fusion and yoga for strength and flexibility. I do like Core Fusion Cardio but don’t make it as frequently as I’d like.

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11 Holly July 26, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Two thumbs up for this post! I recently moved within walking distance of my work and have gone through a similar transition. I walk about 35 to 40 mins each way and am active throughout the day (walks/grocery shopping on lunch, running to the printer and back all day). It’s been lifechanging and amazing! I lost a few pounds after the move and don’t seem to have a problem keeping them off even with some nachos with the bf on a lazy night or a piece of cake in the evening. The best part is, I have more time to spend with my friends :o) (not to mention looking bangin’ in my new swimsuit and the $$ saved on a gym membership!)

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12 Rachel July 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Yes, I am amazed how I can eat treats and not have to worry! I will be able to start making the 45 minute walk to work each day come November once the weather cools off…def looking forward to that extra bit of exercise!

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13 Phoebe July 26, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I can SO relate. Since moving I haven’t found a gym I liked and it is way too hot to exercise outdoors (um, if I pretend that I ever liked exercising outdoors). Even the pool in our apartment complex is hot. But surprisingly enough, it’s not as big a deal as I thought it would be. I actually do miss working out because it was a huge part of my life and how I defined myself, and I loved going to the gym. I’m looking forward to finding a new gym eventually (I may have to go back to school, because what I miss most about college is how great the athletic facilities were) but I’m not too bothered now. Plus, the hair thing.

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14 Debbie July 26, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I agree that a busy lifestyle is a pretty good substitute for mindless cardio. I have six dogs, so I get the chasin’, walkin’, playin’ thing (although two of my dogs insist on running!). I think that some kind of strength training is important, though, whether is is core fusion, yoga, some kind of class, or regular weight training.

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15 Marissa July 26, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I’ve been reading your blog for about a year and a half, and I just wanted to thank you because the overarching contentedness with life and self image and everything that you’ve achieved (and congrats by the way, your life looks pretty great).. I think I’ve gotten there too and I honestly think a lot of that was from reading your blog. Learning to take care of myself (eat healthily, exercise, DBR) and then being happier with who I am, I honestly have you to thank for a lot of that. I know I sound like a cheese ball, but I just wanted to say thanks. And this post inspired that, I guess :)

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16 Rachel July 26, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Awww…thanks, lady! It’s so great to hear that you’ve been feeling better and taking care of yourself and I really appreciate you taking the time to leave the comment! Cheese ball away, it means a lot to me!

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17 jenna k July 26, 2011 at 5:38 pm

hey, life happens. as long as you’re still getting physical activity in, it doesn’t really matter if it’s through chasing puppies or going to the gym! and i’m totally down for anything that won’t make me to need to wash my hair!

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18 FoodCents July 26, 2011 at 5:46 pm

You appear to be happier than you have ever been, since I met you on the corner. Finding ones place is the world (on so many levels) helps bring about finding a better inner peace, which we so often search for in the gym/via exercise.

Cleaning is a great workout & often makes a person feel better, it’s all about the multitasking !!!

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19 [SMASH] at Sweat. Style. Swoon. July 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Kudos to you. I hope that at some time I can get to this point. Cleaning and cooking are great cardio. Especially cleaning. I swear I had a nice, toned back after cleaning the shower walls!

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20 Alexia (Dimple Snatcher) July 26, 2011 at 7:00 pm

But I totally think you’re working out! Working out doesn’t have to involve a gym or a fitness class!

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21 Rachel July 26, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Rach, I love this post and how honest you are throughout (with your usual sense of humor, of course!) I can totally agree with this, and actually just had a BIG convo with a friend recently about it. I really do feel that nutrition and eating right (feeding your body with REAL, wholesome food) is 90% of the battle.

Workout out is just the extra, and nice for the mind and toning of course ; ) I too LOVE core fusion and YOU are the one who got me into it Miss Rachel! You seem to be in such a happy, fun, comfortable place in your life right now – enjoy it!

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22 Phoebe July 26, 2011 at 7:28 pm

By the way, I would love to read a post on the intricacies of negotiating housework after moving in with someone. I’m sure a lot of us can relate to the “not unwilling to help upon specific request, but totally willing to live in a messier space than I am” issue.

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23 Casey @ Pocket Full of Sunshine July 26, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Well said, Rachel…I’m kinda in the same boat! Working out less, cooking more, caring less about not working out as much. And I feel you on that whole hair-washing thing. :)

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24 Lindsay July 26, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I’m sort of going through something similar. I just moved to NYC, and walking around the city (especially getting lost and sightseeing) has given me so much more daily exercise. I sleep better and have more energy, as is the case when you have an active life, and it’s funny to me that it’s just me going about my normal life. I want to take some group exercise classes for fun, but I’m not worried about it too much because I know I’m getting plenty of activity in.

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25 Jessica July 27, 2011 at 9:12 am

I am so glad I read this last night as I was about to set my alarm for my early morning workout (that would be the workout for the morning – short, was planning an afternoon short workout too). I have been struggling to fit in all of my desired workouts with my odd work schedule so I find I work out for 20-30 minutes here and there with rest days sprinkled in. ANYWAYS (this has become a long tangent)… I was not looking forward to it at all. I hate working out in the morning, I would rather just walk the dog and be done with it.

Your article made me think back to this time a year ago when I was in the midst of planning my October wedding. I worked out a fraction of what I do now (if at all if we are being honest) and yet I weighed exactly the same as I do now and I have been KILLING myself lately to get all my workouts done in hopes of losing that final 20lbs. I got to thinking I need to do what I enjoy and being busy and active is really a huge component of it. Maybe if I don’t overwork my workouts I will stop stuffing my face so much and thus repeating the cycle:)

Thanks for the reminder:)

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26 Rachel July 27, 2011 at 9:57 am

Aw, this put such a smile on my face this morning! Good luck with your goals…I hope the more laid-back approach works for you! You will have to keep us posted!!

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27 Kailey (SnackFace) July 27, 2011 at 10:11 am

Isn’t it fascinating how being so ill you physically cannot work out affects how you later view exercise? In November, right after Thanksgiving, I had a terrible stomach flu that had me bedridden for days, and then left my appetite completely screwed up for over a month. Because I generally didn’t feel right, I stopped working out for a month or so. When I finally did return to it, I didn’t have the hour-long cardio sessions I once had. I started focusing more on weight training. I also worried less when I only made it to the gym one or two times a week. I was spending a lot of time with friends and new coworkers after work, and that benefited me in more ways than the gym ever would have! Besides, all that running around town should be considered physical activity…even driving. My ’99 Saab is a BEEZY to steer.

What I’m saying is that it helped me see that “healthy” doesn’t mean not missing a workout or having perfectly sculpted arms. It means having the ability to be flexible, happy, joyful and truly present when around others instead of worrying about a skipped workout. Anyway, thanks for sharing this with us!

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28 Lauren Roady July 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm

LOL i thought i was the only woman who didn’t workout because she didn’t want to redo her hair… right there with you sister!!!

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29 Melinda R. August 1, 2011 at 8:54 pm

I so get this article! I use to be the queen of cardio, turned queen of working out 6 days a week, 2 hours a day (yeah, what was I thinking)? I was in my twenties then, now in my early thirties, 4 days of working out is plenty for me…but I do feel when there is balance in life, it’s more than just working out that makes a person look healthy (plenty of rest, good healthy foods, not forgetting the occasional birthday cake ;-). I, too have been slacking on my workouts…actually for 6 weeks now (I’m pregnant, if I haven’t said it enough times already); however, I do miss it but, this time has given me a chance to think about my goals and what I want to accomplish next, not only in workouts but, in my personal life as well. And, I am loving life…I don’t think working out has to be the focus of life but, it helps in sooo many ways too!

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30 Katie @ peacebeme August 5, 2011 at 9:28 pm

LOVE this post! I totally agree, I think that when you just do what you feel like, your mindset often gets healthier and more balanced choices with eating and activity follow. I can’t run anymore due to a nerve disease, but I find that I weigh almost exactly the same just doing lighter workouts and listening to myself more with eating.

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31 Taylor @ Delish World August 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm

I def needed to read this post. So many times I get the guilt bc I’m not up at the crack of dawn and running 10 miles, like so many bloggers do. I have also taken some time off from the gym and have struggled to be ok with it. Mainly, I have the same reasons as you – full time job, lots of cooking and cleaning round the house, a new kitten, etc. Also, I think I got a little burned out. I am trying to enjoy working out again. Thanks for writing this!

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