For the past year and a half, I’ve been attending a women’s only boot-camp at 6am on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. When I would tell people this, they’d look at me like I was crazy: “6am?! How do you keep up with that??”  I’d cheerfully reply: “It’s not that bad if you go to bed on time. You get used to it!” I started the boot-camp about a year and a half ago, in hopes of trimming down and getting super fit for the wedding (mistake #1 but that’s a whole different blog post). 

For a year and a half, I woke up three times a week, diligently mind you, at 5:30 in the morning. I drank my pre-workout drink and ate my half a banana and drove half asleep to my workout, hoping my pre-workout drink would kick into gear by the time I got there. 

The exercises themselves were fine: some cardio with strength training. I enjoyed lifting weights and feeling how strong I was getting. However, as soon as I’d come home from bootcamp, I’d crash on the couch for an hour or so before I had to get up and shower quickly before starting work. To get enough sleep, I’d have to be in bed by 9:30pm and asleep by 10pm. I could never get to sleep on time and usually fell asleep around 11:30, which meant I was only getting 5-6 hours a night. Going to bed early enough meant sacrificing time with my husband, who’s a night owl. He told me once that “I have bootcamp tomorrow morning” was his most-hated phrase of mine. 

I recently read the book Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield (highly recommend!) and she has an entire chapter on sleep. It’s recommended that adults get a full 8 hours of sleep to function properly. Reading this, I realized that I’ve been living off 5-6 hours of sleep for over a year. No wonder I’m exhausted all the time. Rebecca mentions in her book that sleep deprivation can cause cravings, especially for carbohydrates (people who were sleep deprived in a study ate 45% more carbohydrates the next day!). On bootcamp days, I would notice I’d eat way past my fullness point just because my body was craving energy it wasn’t getting from sleep. 

My recent journey in this new intuitive eating world has been changing my view on EVERYTHING I do. I came across this article as I was listening to a recent Food Psych podcast: Learning to Love Exercise Not On a Diet. It really got me thinking.

When the revelation hit me that what I was doing with both my eating and my exercising was not first and foremost fun or pleasurable, I had to take pause.

I realized that I was so committed to bootcamp because it was something I felt I had to do to keep my weight “in check”. Even thought I really liked my trainer and my group of women I trained with, I realized that I no longer felt the exercise enjoyable. For the longest time, I made myself go three times a week so I could get in shape for my wedding. Now that the wedding has passed, and I’ve gained all the weight back that I lost for the wedding, I realized that I just no longer enjoyed the style of workout anymore. 

After realizing this, I sent my trainer a text I thought I would never send: that I was quitting bootcamp. It was sad to end something that I’ve been doing for so long, but I know in the long run it was the best decision I could have made for me. I could no longer continue to force myself to do something my body was telling me it didn’t enjoy. 

I was sleep deprived, missing out on time with my husband, overeating to compensate for being exhausted, and kept hurting my shoulder. Time to listen to my body and time for something different. 

We could call it Intuitive Exercising. It reminds me how we move as children. No kid ever played hide and seek and then wondered after how many calories she burned.

Exercise should NEVER be something you force yourself to do just because you think you have to. Why should we force ourselves to spend hours per week running on the dreadmill or elliptical? Or lifting weights, getting up early, or whatever else your body tells you it doesn’t like? Unless running or the elliptical is truly enjoyable for you, which by all means, go for it! 

It’s time to start choosing activity because you LOVE it. And it’s fun. And you enjoy it. 

I practiced yoga all throughout my late high school and college years and absolutely loved it. I’m not sure why I stopped going, but now I have this strong urge to get back into a yoga practice. I’ve been attending classes here in Fort Worth at 3 Tree Yoga downtown.  It’s different, it’s gentle, and it’s at a slower pace. I’ve also been doing some at-home classes with the website Yoga Glo, which is great. 

I’ve been catching up on my sleep too– now that I no longer have to get up at the crack of dawn, I can go to bed at a later time and still get 8 hours. There’s been a big difference in my energy levels since I stopped about three weeks ago. Allowing myself to do yoga and go for a walk whenever I want, not on a strict schedule, has helped relax my attitude towards being physically active. 

Are you stuck in an exercise routine that you deep down don’t really enjoy? Take a look at what you’re asking your body to do on a daily basis. 


  1. This is a wonderful post, Emily! Sounds like the class was actually taking away from your physical and mental health more than it was contributing to it. I’ve had my own struggles with figuring out what style of exercise is best for me. Recently I discovered Yoga With Adriene on YouTube. She does free videos, including month-long daily programs. She is laid-back and encouraging and it’s been a wonderful addition to my life. I’ve also started doing some strength training DVDs at home and still do occasional runs in the neighborhood while listening to my favorite podcasts. I enjoy all of those activities, I feel great after I do them, and I don’t dread them–so to me, that’s success. I hope you find something that works for you as well!

    1. Thanks, Sally! I’m so glad you found an exercise program that you enjoy. Yoga seems to be the most gentle and enjoyable exercise for many people!!

  2. This post hits so close to home! I started a new job with longer hours (but I get one day off a week which helps). Still, I’ve always struggled to workout anytime after 6pm, but with the new job I have to choose: workout when I get home from work after 6 despite being tired and hungry or wake up at 5:00 and go to bed early. Like you, my husband stays up late so going to bed early meant less time with him. I cannot tell you how much this stressed me out in the beginning until I realized like you did that I was letting exercise control my life rather than enhance it. I’ve now gotten into a routine of alternating working out in the morning, after work, and just not at all if my body is telling me to rest. Lovely post that I think many people will related to :)

    1. Love what you said about not letting exercise control our lives!

  3. I can totally relate to this post!!! I’ve recently dramatically cut down on my super intense dance cardio classes and have actually felt better, have more energy, less cravings, and more in touch with my hunger/satiety cues! SO CRAZY!

    1. That’s great! I know it seems like more is better when it comes to exercise, but we need days off and recovery time!

  4. im so glad i was not the only one who dragged myself to TIU super early..right now, im just doing some home yoga and walks and its been incredible.

    1. Haha yes, walking and yoga are my go-to’s right now! So relaxing and you still get physical benefit.

  5. Great post! This class was just not the class for you, and I’m so glad you recognized it! I am like the opposite of you. I am sleepy by 8pm, in bed by 8:30 or 9pm and fast asleep almost as soon as I hit the pillow…just about every night (with the exception of weekends!). I thrive in the morning and really feel ready to GO, so morning workouts really help me stay sane and happy. Listening to our bodies is SO important, and I am thankful for that reminder in this post because even though I am a total morning gal and LOVE the gym…there are days when sleeping in sounds nice too :)

    1. To each their own. :) I’m glad you are listening to your body to know when you need to sleep in!

  6. Been getting up at 6am to work out six days a week for the last 3 years. Has never bothered me since i started doing it, and I love it. Only get six hours sleep too.

    Sound like your body is different than mine though :) So probably good that you quit when you did with so many negatives for you.

  7. […] auf Girls Gone Strong, wie sie Frieden mit ihrem Körper gefunden hat und Emily beschreibt auf Zen & Spice wieso sie keine Bootcamp Workouts mehr macht. Beides sehr lesenswert. Ein ähnliches Thema wurde bei […]

  8. Sleep is so important and most of us dont even come close to getting enough. I am only getting around 4 a night!

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