How to Not Fit Exercise into Your Pesach Plans
“Chametz free” signs, bags of groceries, freshly lined shelves, lots and lots and lots of egg, stark white tablecloth, pillows at each chair, ke’orahs awaiting their contents and a large kos for Eliyahu haNavi taking center stage on the dining room table.
Mixers are whirring, pots are bubbling, potato peels are raining, kids are chatting, giggling, bickering, hitting, music is playing as somewhere in the background the phone rings and a neighbour knocks on the door asking to borrow a cup of matzah meal.
Clothing is being returned from the cleaners, someone’s out picking up the Ami, Mishpacha, Binah and another case of seltzer, tears are falling thanks to the horseradish grating, Amazon Prime rings the bell and leaves an Intuitive Eating workbook, showers are running and hair is being cut for the last time before sefirah.
It’s like a scene of utter chaos and disarray while at the same time warm and inviting. It’s panic as so much remains to be done in so little time and peace with the acknowledgement that somehow it’ll work out. It’s a labor of freedom. It’s Pesach preparation.
And somehow, in all of that, well, craziness, you miss your workout. Which is frustrating.
It’s frustrating because you know you enjoy it, you know how much you want it, and you hate that because of all this, it seems like you’re failing.
I get it. I really do.
I can neither confirm nor deny whether I have glared at my coach and said with absolute kavanah “I hate you!” during a workout, nor can I confirm nor deny whether any of my clients have expressed said sentiment to me.
But overall, I love working out!
I love how I feel in the moment and I love how I feel after the fact.
Getting into a workout routine is no easy feat. Whether you exercise once a week, three times a week, or daily, maintaining a consistent routine is so much easier than starting a new one.
And that’s what makes yomim tovim particularly frustrating. Because we feel like we mess up when we lose that continuity. Like we just can’t maintain a schedule regardless of how many times we promise ourselves we will. And for some reason, we feel like we failed.
The funny thing about all this is that we have the same holidays every year. Thanks to Hillel, they’re marked down in our calendars and if you’re like me, you’ve got the Hebrew dates turned on in your Calendar app on your iPhone, so it’s really never a surprise when yom tov comes around.
So why is that every season without fail, as yom tov nears and things get hectic, I hear people freaking out about their gym expeditions – or lack thereof? Like, literally freaking out. Ok, figuratively, whatever.
Pesach falls out on the eve of the 15th of Nissan every year. Every year! And somehow, no matter how early you’ve turned over your kitchen, you’re still cooking and baking up until the very last minute.
And you can even predict it!
So again, I ask, if we know what’s coming, why do we still let this whole “I didn’t get a chance to work out” experience overwhelm us with disappointment?
What makes you think this holiday would be different?
If you’re honest with yourself, it’s probably an accurate assumption to assume that your work out schedule will simply not run as usual.
And here’s what I suggest: Plan it that way.
I always recommend that women schedule their workouts in their planners as appointments with themselves. We all know that if it’s not in there, it’s just not going to happen. And, just as with any other appointment, if something comes up (as could happen) and you need to cancel that gym appointment for whatever reason, that’s ok, but reschedule it right in that moment.
And the same way you put exercise into your routine on a weekly or daily basis during “regular” days, you should exclude exercise from your routine over yom tov.
To be clear, I’m not saying that if you have the opportunity to work out over the holiday, you shouldn’t.
What I am saying is that you know yourself. If you know that realistically speaking, you’re just not going to make it to the gym, then put that in your schedule. If you normally go three times a week and they are weekly appointments in your calendar, then take them out for the two weeks around Pesach. If you typically go every day and you know you’ll only have time to go twice, then tentatively book the two days that you think will most likely work out and delete (or erase) the other scheduled days.
If you plan to not go, then you can never miss it.
And so long as that does not become a long term habit, there is absolutely nothing wrong with not going to the gym for two week. I think all the standing on your feet as you meal prep and the sweating from the cleaning is workout enough.
And for the record, this can apply to any other holiday or even a business or leisure vacation. It’s not so much the “what you do,” but the “how you frame it.”
* Not going to the gym or missing a workout is never a “failure” anyway, but that’s for another article. This one is for those people who find that they do feel that way, and how to avoid it.