We’ve all been there. Waking up the morning after an indulgent night out or going to bed after yet another missed workout, even though you swore today would be the day that you’d actually get started. For most of us, guilt is a given when it comes to living a healthy life. Guilt shows up when we skip workouts, rears its ugly head when we eat that extra piece of cake and won’t seem to leave us alone when we think of all the things we could or should be doing.


Sometimes we feel guilty for no reason at all. As women, we are bombarded with images and ideals that are impossible to live up to. It’s no wonder that we’ve come to believe that guilt is normal and necessary.

Far too often we use guilt as a form of motivation. We think that if we can get to the point where we feel bad enough about our choices and our bodies we’ll finally have the motivation to change once and for all.

But nothing could be further from the truth.  Guilt does not work. Guilt is defeating. Guilt is indulgent. Guilt is a lie that stands in the way of self-acceptance, freedom and the opportunity to live our best lives.

Guilt gets in the way of healthy living by creating an “all or nothing” mentality. When we mess up, we have internal conversations that lead to guilt and shame. Over time this pattern erodes our self-confidence and leads us to believe that we aren’t capable of making the changes we want to make. Ultimately, guilt turns exercise or healthy food choices into punishment for what we did or didn’t do the day before.

What if we decided to live a healthy life … to love our body rather than to punish it?

Guilt does not have to play a role in our path to healthy living. Instead, we can choose to treat our bodies with grace. We can accept our imperfection and acknowledge that there will be ups and downs along the way. As in all areas of life, there is a natural ebb and flow that can and should be embraced, especially when it comes to an active lifestyle. We can choose to exercise and eat well in an effort to nourish our bodies and nurture the unique bodies we have been given. It takes time and effort to break the pattern of guilt and shame, but there is freedom on the other side.

So together, let’s choose grace over guilt. Let’s build each other up and embrace the fact that some days will be healthier than others, some seasons will allow for more time to exercise and ultimately we can embrace a life of healthy balance knowing that we’re doing the best we can; free from guilt, free from shame.

Do you struggle with guilt in this area? What are some ways you’ve learned to overcome it?

Image via Juliana Silva 


  1. Robin, your words resonate with me, and with so many others, I am sure! Darling continues to inspire me every time I open one of the magazines or peruse the online blog. I enjoy visiting the site weekly to learn about unique causes, individuals, or topics are featured. I felt compelled to share how this article speaks to me because I know so many women – myself included – who have struggled (and continue to struggle) with disordered relationships with body image, exercise, food and weight loss. I especially love this excerpt: “Guilt does not work. Guilt is defeating. Guilt is indulgent. Guilt is a lie that stands in the way of self-acceptance, freedom and the opportunity to live our best lives.” I agree that it is not about the all-or-nothing mentality; it’s about balance! I love your concept of choosing “grace over guilt” to live a more authentic and fulfilling life! If we could live like this, imagine what we could accomplish and embody…Thank you!

  2. Thank you for this post! It’s always encouraging to know that as a woman I am not alone in my struggle with guilt over slow mornings and missed runs…

    Encouraging articles like this prompt me to change my thinking. It was just what I needed this morning, a prompt to speak truth to myself, bolster my spirit and even blog a little of my own…

  3. This is such a pertinent and beautifully presented approach to self-image. The subtle yet intentional changes from guilt to grace rearranges our internal worldview. Appreciation as opposed to deprecation is both empowering and motivating. It becomes a call to action instead of restricting rules.


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