I recently took a month-long break from working out. It was towards the end of my winter semester at school and things were just getting crazy. I felt little direction from my professor on my final project and other things had begun to spin off wildly as they pertain to various aspects of my life.

Now, I’ve been working out regularly, three times a week, for 13 years. In August, it’ll be 14 years. Some might call this an obsession. Others may call it a distraction. Still others may say what a good habit to have developed.

Anyway, it was a much needed break. It seems so much of my life is automatic, and that’s not always a bad thing per se. Routine saves your brain a lot of energy and you take control of time – it doesn’t control you. You can get a lot accomplished (oh, boy, there’s the voice of my mother!).

BUT, I get into the habit of things, even if it is good, and I forget to take a break to look around and observe things. Sometimes I get mired in the small details of life and fail to see the bigger picture.

The month off was great. I didn’t feel rushed to hurry home after work to fit in a workout. I went to the library after work to find some good books. I had dinner with friends. I unloaded the dishwasher and cleaned up. I cleaned my house, which is workout enough. I moved more towards spiritual conditioning versus physical conditioning

Even though I’ve taken up my exercise routine again, I allow myself days that if I don’t feel like working out, I don’t work out. I go outdoors and go for a peaceful walk. I practice yoga rather than pumping iron and huffing and puffing on my step.

Plus, I’ve actually been noticing myself. Sounds strange, but it’s true. I think when we become obsessed with improving ourselves, we don’t stop and take a look at who we actually are.

Part of me says, I don’t need to do anymore improving. I’m fine as I am. I don’t need to be perfect. I’ll settle for being human.

OK, so I’ll be contradictory to my blog title, “In protest of self-improvement.” Yes, I definitely think there’s always room for improvement. But there’s a strong argument to be made for stopping, exhaling, ridding yourself of the sometimes rigid pursuit of excellence and just accepting yourself for who you are.

Try it. You’ll like it!