You are allowed to intentionally skip a day from exercising:
Believe it or not, but good things can come from taking time away from exercising.
A stretch session counts as working out.
15 minutes is a sufficient workout.
You have everything you need at. this. moment. to exercise.
My entire life I was a competitive athlete. I Irish Danced, played basketball, ran cross county, ran track, swam. On the days that I wasn't doing an organized sport, I went on runs with my dad, went to the gym (I had my first gym membership at 13... is that even legal anymore?), and played outside. I loved Jane Fonda on the weekends and Gilad on early weekday mornings. This wasn't obsessive or unhealthy, it was fun and relaxing for me.
I am so grateful that I grew up with these healthy habits.
It was after a couple of basketball injuries in late sophomore year of high school (dislocated shoulder, more than once, which resulted in surgery) that the movement habits started to disappear. Becoming a sudden couch potato left me completely lack luster and unmotivated to do a n y t h i n g. Every time I decided to try to get back in shape, I would start at the same strength and intensity that I had left off with as a consistent athlete. Hindsight is 20/20, so I now see clearly why I'd end up completely defeated. (If I wasn't defeated I was utterly depleted). During the time, however, I became riddled with self doubt, overwhelm, and disappointment.
Fast forward to being a new mom. From the get-go I wanted this tiny human to love the outdoors and movement as much as I did. I started going for walks with her in the stroller. Then I progressed to jogging, and then running. By that time, my confidence started growing again. I started home workout DVD programs. You know the ones, the 45-60 minute a day ones, that demanded 6 days a week. Couple of notable things: a) I was weeakkk. b) I was depleted. c) I became obsessive. d) If I missed a workout I became irritable, angry, discouraged, and usually felt the need to restart the program or double up on workouts the next day (and you can imagine the cycle that created if I missed two days in a row!)
Thank God that I found Pilates during this time. I loved Pilates so much that I would give myself permission to "count" a Pilates workout in place of the at home workouts. What resulted? I was getting better results with Pilates than I was with the intense workouts. Why? Well, I was significantly less stressed, I was energized, no longer depleted, no longer ravenous and I thoroughly enjoyed the workouts.
It was in this process that I started understanding the mentality behind working out. I say this with all of my conviction, it is the attitude that will get you the results you want. I promise. There's no perfect formula. You can hit your macros perfectly every day, but if the energy around hitting those macros is negative, it will never be sustainable. You can continue to increase the amount of time or resistance training, but if it becomes a chore or leaves you aching and exhausted , your training efforts won't be sustainable. If you're trading time with your loved ones for time at the gym and have a constant nagging guilt, you'll experience a lack of fulfillment.
It is over, and over, and over that I hear the same stories from women like me, who have fallen victim to an all or nothing mentality about fitness. Women who are clinging so tightly to their regimens that they forget that they actually love fitness. Women who think that missing a workout (or 6) will result in a need to completely rebuild from the bottom. Women who think that health = diet culture. Women who have become so accustomed to distrusting themselves that they've chained themselves to a routined and fruitless fitness pattern. Women who have let anxieties around fitness overcome their virtues of joy and grace and strength. I can only call these things out because I was everything described! I still fall into these same patterns, only now, I am able to recognize them sooner and act on them quicker. (And what I mean by 'act' is usually take an active or inactive recovery day (or three!))
If there is one major thing I would like to emphasize for you, whether you're starting your fitness journey or you're deep in it, is to give yourself permission to rest, recover, restore. You're exactly where you need to be right now in your journey, so start!