Dear Cassey: How do I stop feeling guilty about taking a rest day?

Dear Cassey,
How do I not feel guilty for skipping a workout?
I have never been able to break free from a mindset of guilt if I eat badly or don’t work out. I know my body needs it so I feel guilty if I don’t give it what it needs all the time but that can feel so restricting!
My Own Worst Critic
comfy dog laying in bed resting

Hey My Own Worst Critic!

I’m so happy you’re bringing this up because most of us are our own worst critics! There is such a fine line between staying dedicated and allowing yourself some balance and it can be sooooo frustrating! It’s something that has seriously taken me YEARS of practice, trial and error, and grace.

You’re so committed to taking care of yourself, which is amazing! Finding that kind of motivation isn’t easy. But at the same time, you’re totally right. You can’t go hard all the time.

Rest is just as important for our bodies as the actual workout. Without a rest day every now and then, there’s no time to fully recover from the workouts you’re doing. All of those muscle fibers that you’re breaking down during a workout need to recover and rebuild so you can get stronger and see progress. Without that rest, you’re probably not going to progress as quickly. As weird as that sounds, it’s true!

If you’re someone who just feels “off” if you’re not active (ME TOO), try a much lower impact workout for your rest day. Things like walking, yoga, or stretching can be great active recovery options. You will still get your body moving so you feel good, but your body will have a chance to recover. And we could ALL use a good stretch day in our routines.

If the guilt happens because life gets in the way and you just can’t fit in the workout you want for a day or two, try to remember that the big picture is most important. One day won’t set you back. It’s all about how consistent you are over time 🙂

Same thing for eating! I don’t think regularly planned “cheat meals” are always helpful, but I absolutely believe in eating what feels good. That includes indulging when you feel like it! Trust me, I know that is easier said than done! But again – BIG PICTURE. When you look at your diet as a whole and see that healthy foods take up the majority of it, you can allow yourself a little more freedom to eat the “other stuff.” Those foods might not nourish you as well, but there’s something to be said about food giving you joy as opposed to feeling restricted. Gotta take care of your mental health too!

I hope this advice helps you shift your mindset a bit. I know it’s really easy to go “all in” to the point of feeling like you’re failing every time you get off track a little. But remember you’re human and perfection isn’t the key to a healthy lifestyle. If it helps, keep a journal so you can physically see how little a missed workout or a “less healthy” meal is affecting you. And if resting or giving in to a craving makes you feel good, I see ZERO reasons to feel guilty 🙂

You’re doing an AMAZING job!!

PS – If you have a burning question you want to ask me, I’m taking questions via text at 510-692-4556. Currently this only works for US and Canada. If you’re outside of those countries, you can leave a question below.

23 thoughts on “Dear Cassey: How do I stop feeling guilty about taking a rest day?”

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  1. Kb says:

    I still feel guilty. I get that what You’re saying makes sense but I still feel weird about taking a break like it’ll stop my progress or something I don’t what to do.

  2. Steph says:

    Hi Cassey!!! I have abdominal injuries from years of surgery. How can I safely push through the pain both during and after the workout to help fix my damaged core? I feel so fat and useless, and it’s really depressing me.

  3. Doris says:

    Communicating to family seems like the hardest to explain to. Not necessarily unhealthy foods, but rather portions. On average my extended Asian family has two bowls of rice per meal. On my last visit back home, I was shamed so hard for eating only one or less than that because I had decided to focus to balance out my meals having more veg than carbs. T-T I left the table in tears.

    1. blogilates says:

      Oh no!!! I’m so sorry to hear this! I feel this, though!

  4. CuriousCat says:

    Dear Cassey,
    This is a question I’ve been trying to find the answer to for a long time. How long should I actually work out in a day? Some people say that working out for too long is unhealthy and can cause damage to your muscles, but what exactly is considered as “too much”?


  5. Sydney says:

    Can you please do one on self control because if there is something like chocolate in the house I eat it and then I feel so guilty and sometimes it’s really bad and I don’t know how to stop myself from saying no to something

  6. Silvia.verno says:

    This is much needed, I often feel like if one thing puts me off for the day, then it’s like a spiral and I won’t complete the workout, will snack too many times and eat the wrong things… But that’s part of life, so I just need to realise what can help me to be a better version of myself….

  7. Serena says:

    Great advice! Resting, looking at the big picture, and making small progress on an off day can be applied to a lot of areas of life I feel.

  8. Claire says:

    Hi! 🙂 How often should you take a rest day? I know everyone’s body is different, but as a general guideline? I like to stretch at least 30 minutes a day, and though it’s low impact should one take rest days from fairly intense stretching too?
    Hope everyone is happy is healthy!

  9. Yael says:

    Excellent advice Cassie! Your response is spot on. Here’s to loving/accepting ourselves through this fitness journey…

  10. What’s everyone’s rest day of the week? Mine is Sunday! I usually spend some more time walking and doing yoga that day, meeting people, journaling / planning for the week, and meal prepping!

  11. Michelle says:

    I almost wrote this same question! I always feel a little conflicted on Fridays since I want to fill up the “Move” ring on my Apple Watch but the stretching workouts don’t get me there, so I end up adding some dance cardio and a walk. So then I’m mentally satisfied, but I’m not sure if I’m giving my body adequate rest. I also just finished eating a large amount of snacks right before reading this and was feeling the same sort of guilt. It’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one struggling!

  12. LexyA says:

    This is a brilliant response. Just what I needed to hear from you right now, Cassey. And I am so happy to hear you say that mental health boost from eating food you enjoy is important too. Too right! And now to do my Friday calendar rest day stretches… xxx

  13. Liz says:

    These are the words that I need to hear. Thank you! 🙂

  14. Kass says:

    Hey Cassey, I have taken to committing to my health both mentally and physically. I definitely feel guilty about one cheat meal or snack even though 90% of my diet is healthy. The problem is my partner can eat whatever he wants and never seems to have a problem with weight. He puts on 5 pounds he loses 12, it’s so frustrating when I am fighting tooth and nail for the 1lbs mark. And his diet wouldn’t be as healthy as mine, and his mindset is, I eat what I want when I want and burn it off later. What can I do that I don’t resent him, and also that I’m not so hard on myself?

  15. Maëlle says:

    Dear Cassey, I hope you see this. If not, i know your helping with someone else’s question.
    I am trying to work out to get healthy. I want to lose weight to something better for my height, build muscle to be stronger, and just wake up in the morning feeling less lethargic and exhausted. To be a healthier me.
    It’s hard though. I can feel the extra weight when I run or do any other activity, however. My thights and tummy jiggle, and just being exhausted by simple moves I could do so easily before. It really bums me out, and makes me want to stop so that at least I won’t feel bad about myself for being so out of shape during a work out. Does that make sense?

    Any tips?
    Big fan! Of your videos and the pop pilates community. Have a great day!

    1. Vander Haeghen Sandy says:

      Professionals say it takes 2 rounds 8weeks of more intense workouts to get to being less exhausted and a better recuperation health condition ( a better lung capacity) .. so the trick would be once a week do an intenser workout and next week do 2 intenser workouts and keep building up while you are doing less time on the workouts make some more intense…like 1 st of 3 weeks 1 intense hiit routine, 2nd round of 3 weeks 2 intense+ rest = moderate intense workouts, next round is 3 intense workouts a week …
      So in the end you could do very intense 15 or 20 hiit cardio routines easily / with more ease…. as for your condition consistency is really important rather do an intense 10 min. Routine than none at all….

  16. Danielle says:

    Dear Cassey,
    How do I stop letting the scale rule my life??

    I work out frequently and try to eat as healthy as possible amongst my very busy schedule. Although I do see changes in my physique, the scale undermines all the work I’m putting in and makes me feel extremely frustrated with myself.

    Is this normal?

    A Curious Student

    1. Yukie says:

      Hi Danielle,

      I have been through somewhat similar situation like yours! Working out hard and tried hard to eat clean most of the time but the scale is just not moving down and sometimes it moves up instead!Ughh! So I realized that I tend to eat more when I’m working out hard, justifying that i need more food to fuel my body which is definitely not working for me. So, in July, I started to tone down my workout intensity (walking instead of running, i walk 3 miles everyday) and add in some tone up youtube video, lift 2 days a week and counting calories!! I had to calculate how much calories my body needs to lose weight and stay within that range without adjusting for the amount of workout I do in a week. I have definitely seeing results and moving towards my goal and it feels sustainable as well. Some thing i realized when figuring out how much calories and exercise i need to lose weight per week, it shook me that exercise only make up of 20% of the calories deficit. Most of my calories deficit is actually from lower calories intake. Which was something I failed to do when working out at a higher intensity (Insanity workout, marathon training etc). I hope this help you in your journey as well! Keep focusing on your goal and be patience and eventually you will get there…

  17. Caroline Souza says:

    Hi, Cassey. How are you? Hope you’re doing great. I simply love your work. Makes me feel motivated and inspired.
    Well, last year I realized I was really fat and my eating habits were bad as well. Then I’ve decided to change my habits and start working out too. I clearly see differences in my body but my weight doesn’t change at all. I even though my scale was broken. I’m really confused with what’s going on and I would like to know if it’s something alarming or if it’s all fine and I just should keep going. Thanks a lot.

    Kisses from Brazil

  18. Lori says:

    Currently struggling with this, thanks for the blog post☺

    1. Jen says:

      This post came to me at the perfect time. I was about to go sleep while feeling guilty about that extra snack I had but here we are. Big picture, consistency, and self care. Always. Thank you for this! ❤️

  19. Shing says:

    Dear Cassey,
    Is intermittent fasting with low carb diet good for the health?