When you’re working out regularly, it becomes more than just part of your schedule, it becomes part of who you are. For better or worse, being that guy or girl in your office that leaves for your lunch break in sweats and comes back with a half-drank shaker full of chocolate protein chalk informs the way people perceive you, but more importantly, it informs the way you see yourself.

But then something happens — you get hurt, you have a family emergency, you have a baby or start a new job and, like it or not, fitness falls by the wayside in favor of working your way through whatever obstacle arose. Days turn to weeks, and then seemingly all of a sudden, you spot yourself in the mirror and realize that it’s been six months since you put an honest hour in under the weights, on the trail, or on the mats and, worst of all, you don’t look like you anymore.

I’ve got a whole folder of “before and after” pictures. If I were always on my game — I’d really only have one.

Fitness, at its heart, is about improving your life — but after a few months of trading the bench for yourthose couch, getting back at it doesn’t feel like it would improve anything. Sure, you want to get that gut in check, but there are a million things you’d like to improve about your life, and spending an hour drenched in sweat and trying not to throw up doesn’t sound like that much fun — especially if you have very little time to set aside for yourself.

When you’re working out, taking a day off makes you feel crappy, but when you’re not working out, getting back into the swing of things can sound downright awful. I’ll admit it — I may love the gym, but there are number of things I love more at times: sleep, tacos, decent vodka in cheap glasses … none of which require a wardrobe change or a babysitter (depending on how much of that vodka I drink).