Do What You Can

in All Posts

I have several fitness philosophies:


  • You can do anything for 5 minutes:  Called upon when the going gets tough.
  • Don’t set yourself up to fail:  Don’t take on an insane training plan when you already have a busy schedule – i.e. don’t bite off more than you can chew – because you’ll just feel stressed and defeated.
  • Do what you can:  Don’t focus on what you used to be able to do if you are injured or busy.  Instead, focus on doing what you can because that means you’re doing your current BEST.


The “do what you can” lifestyle will definitely be employed on Healthy Tipping Point over the next few weeks as I’m insanely busy with travel, work, and moving to a new state (North Carolina).  I won’t realistically have to time to squeeze in LONG workouts (nor do I “need” to as I’m not setting myself up to fail by signing up for any long events in the immediate future).


This morning’s workout was a “do what you can” with my favorite workout buddies:  the Husband and James!


We accomplished:


  • 1 mile fast-paced walk
  • 10 25-meter suicide drills
  • 60 crunches
  • 10 push-ups
  • 30 walking lunges
  • 2 30-second planks


Afterwards, James was pretty tired and got back in bed.  :)  I did not stage this picture!


It was a great “do what you can” workout that got my heart pumping AND allowed me to spend time with the Husband before I leave for Pittsburgh.  It took me about 35 minutes in total.


Post-workout breakfast:


A yogurt mess that contained:


  • Chobani pineapple
  • 1/2 cup raw oatmeal
  • Strawberries
  • 1/2 a banana


What are your fitness philosophies and how do you apply them to your workouts?


PS – The winner of the Oral B giveaway is Shannon, who said: “One thing about my personality that other people admire is my ability to listen and give straight forward and honest advice.”



  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs May 27, 2010, 9:33 am

    I love that fitness philosophy!! I don’t think I really have any of my own yet, but that’s probably one I’d employ. I’m getting better as listening to my body though, and knowing when it needs an easy day – that’s a fitness philosophy 🙂

  • Mary May 27, 2010, 9:38 am

    I like your do what you can philosophy. because sometimes it’s utterly impossible to get in long work outs and things when you’re busy all of the time and working, etc. Life happens, you just have to roll with the punches 🙂

  • Angharad May 27, 2010, 9:39 am

    This is a great philosophy because it allows us to feel good about doing what we can – about doing anything at all! Which can be tough if you’re used to doing more.
    I don’t really have a philosophy as such but I rest when my body is asking me too and I try to sweat at least a couple times a week. Anything else is a bonus!

  • Therese May 27, 2010, 9:50 am

    After a lot of stress and guilt over the last year I’ve finally come to cut myself some slack sometimes with my exercising! Working full time, going to school part time, working out and generally being with friends and family sucks my time away and especially with school stress I find I can get easily overwhelmed. So I’ve come to a compromise, I have incorporated what I like to call my “Exam Taper” week, this allows me a free exercise pass for the week leading up to an exam and including the day after as I feel that I need more sleep than usual due to the stress of studying. This has helped TREMENDOUSLY!

    I also employ the “20 Minute Rule”, if I don’t feel like exercising, I do it for 20 minutes. If after 20 minutes I still don’t feel like it, I can stop (and I at least got 20 minutes in). But also, like you, if I just squeeze a walk in or something, I’m also good.

  • Ali @ Food, Fitness, Fashion May 27, 2010, 9:52 am

    I am also a “do what you can” person. I used to be an “all or nothing” person. I would plan a long-ish run and not have the time, so I would do nothing and then be miserable. I have started just doing when I can, when I can and find I am much happier. Great post. And- as always- I appreciate the pup pics!

  • allison @ livingoneday May 27, 2010, 9:53 am

    i love your philosophies. so true.

    mine is: there are 1,440 minutes in a day…you can exercise for 30 of them 🙂

  • Jessica @ How Sweet May 27, 2010, 9:53 am

    I love the ‘do what you can’ philosopy – I can’t run, so I don’t!

  • Samantha @ Food Edu May 27, 2010, 9:58 am

    So true Caitlin! I tend to really want to do more than I can during my busy times of the year and then I just get mad at myself if I can’t do something. Little things and doing what you can adds up!

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman May 27, 2010, 9:58 am

    I actually laughed out loud when I saw that photo, and I love it even more that you didn’t pull the covers up over him. That’s HILARIOUS!

    I agree with the Do what you can mantra. I’m injured so I can’t run. If I did, I’d just be hurting myself more. I do the physical therapy I can and I get on with it.

  • Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks May 27, 2010, 9:59 am

    I just can’t stomach those raw oats, although your breakfast bowl does look appealing!

    I like your “do what you can” philosophy, I try to do that too when I don’t have time or energy for a regular workout. Yesterday when I walked my dog, every time he’d stop to sniff things I’d do lunges and squats. It wasn’t a hardcore workout but it was better than just bumbling along with my dog at a snail’s pace!

  • Kelly May 27, 2010, 9:59 am

    Hahaha how did he get underneath the covers so neatly! To cute!

    • caitlin May 27, 2010, 10:51 am

      he crawls up from the bottom and then puts his head on the pillow. it’s so cute.

  • Tracey @ TropicalHappiness May 27, 2010, 10:02 am

    Oh my gosh… your dog does sit ups and push ups? You MUST take a picture!!! (LOL, just kidding… you aid you went on a workout with your hubs and your dog and then listed what “we” accomplished… hee hee!)

    The pic of James in the bed is ADORABLE!!!! Maggie looks like she was trying to wake him up, and then got caught by her mom!

    • Caitlin May 27, 2010, 10:04 am

      Hahah I thought about clarifying that James didn’t do lunges but figured y’all knew what I meant!

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg May 27, 2010, 10:07 am

    I’ll be doing the “do what you can” method for much of this summer too. I’d rather enjoy our travels and do what I can, when I can, rather than obsess about fitting in “proper” workouts.

    Have fun in Pittsburgh! I’ll be waving from Altoona 🙂

    • Emily May 27, 2010, 11:36 am

      So random to see someone else from Altoona on here! Small world! 🙂

    • Emily May 27, 2010, 11:36 am

      So random to see someone else from Altoona on here! Small world! 🙂

  • Wei-Wei May 27, 2010, 10:07 am

    I try to fit in exercise in all forms in any way possible! 10 minutes walk here, few minutes stretching there… it adds up, in addition to my “formal” workout. I try to generally stay sort-of active (meh…) but ultimately I usually bribe myself with a pre-workout snack. 🙂


  • Erin May 27, 2010, 10:08 am

    Similar to “do what you can,” I believe more and more that you should “do what you WANT” when it comes to fitness. Sometimes I feel like others really push me to work out however works for them; but if I don’t like cycling (or whatever), I shouldn’t feel like I HAVE to do it. That’s not to say I shouldn’t try something hard or challenge myself, and of course I realize that there are benefits to all kinds of physical activity. But I need to do what I enjoy, because otherwise…I probably won’t do it.

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter May 27, 2010, 10:08 am

    My most definite fitness philosophy is to listen to my body! I used to push myself way over my limit and I would just get sick or injured.

  • jenn May 27, 2010, 10:08 am

    I had that exact same brekkie, only with peach chobani. No pineapple at my store this week. 🙁

    My workout philosophy is “you’ve done worse things for longer,”. I saw it on a sign at about mile 10 of a half-marathon and it pushed me through those last three miles.

    • caitlin May 27, 2010, 10:53 am

      during the century, i thought to myself many times “this is the hardest it will ever be” and it made me feel better.

  • Rachel May 27, 2010, 10:09 am

    My fitness philosophy is to do SOMETHING active, every day. If all you had time to do was take the stairs instead of the elevator, then that is okay!

    I’ve struggled with far too much guilt for far too long so I try to remind myself that as long as I’ve done something active today, I’m good!

  • Kellie May 27, 2010, 10:12 am

    I need to learn to roll with the punches more. I tend to feel that every workout has to be long or intense. I set myself up for disappointment this way.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday May 27, 2010, 10:12 am

    I’m not sure I can do EVERYTHING for 5 minutes. 20 seconds, maybe. 5 minutes, not really.

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) May 27, 2010, 10:18 am

    i would agree with your philosophy…doing what you can and doing SOMETHING are better options than being lazy 🙂

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers May 27, 2010, 10:22 am

    I use the do what you can philosophy a little too much haha. You’re going to love NC!!!

  • jassy May 27, 2010, 10:22 am

    don’t have any fitness philosophy first…but maybe, to exercise is to love your body=)

  • Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow May 27, 2010, 10:25 am

    By far my favorite pup pic!!!! 🙂 That can make your day!

    My fitness philosophy used to be all about calorie burn, clothing size and masking what I didn’t like about my body.

    Now…my philosophy is to be inspired, to feel strong, to do what I love and to dream big! Your century ride and my first year of no back pain has inspired me to do a century ride in 2011! I never dreamed that could be a goal of mine!

  • Rachel (Suburban Yogini) May 27, 2010, 10:25 am

    You can do sun salutations anywhere – you don’t even need mat.

    Walk whenever you can.

    And my own personal one that doesn’t work for everyone but works for me is – no car. Get on your bike! 😉

  • ActiveEggplant May 27, 2010, 10:29 am

    I think that’s a wonderful fitness philosophy! So many of us get caught up in the “well, I SHOULD have done this” and don’t focus on or consider the positive things we ARE doing.

    And love that James gets under the covers – my Dottie does the same thing! (She also LOVES warm shirts right out of the dryer – she gets one from every load!) Must be something about dachshunds “burrowing”…

  • Olivia @ Blissful Runner May 27, 2010, 10:31 am

    My fitness philosophy is to simply remember that what I accomplish each and every day, whether I met my goal or not, is more than most people even imagine being capable of. Heck, two years ago, I didn’t think I was capable of it either!

  • Marieke May 27, 2010, 10:34 am

    Haha your dogs are awesome! My dog is the same, she sleeps under the cover on her back with her face sticking out in between us. I have no problem with having my dog in the bed 🙂

  • Scargosun May 27, 2010, 10:39 am

    I use the ‘You can do anything for ‘ when the going gets tough. I did it this morning on the elliptical. 🙂

  • emptynutjar May 27, 2010, 10:39 am

    Nice post.
    I used to be a varsity athlete and a fitness enthusiast. Health stuff (for the past year) has made it impossible. Sometimes walking is even agonizing. Its tough cause I remember the old me.
    But every day you have to think ” I start from here”…then, if i do a 30 minute walk — its okay again.

  • Julie May 27, 2010, 10:43 am

    OMG that is the CUTEST picture ever!!!! How funny is it that James got under the covers??! Love it! Have a great day!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing May 27, 2010, 10:45 am

    That picture of James is PRECIOUS!! Bless 🙂
    My philosophy is the same.. you do what you can and that’s all you can do.

  • Tina May 27, 2010, 10:47 am

    That is my approach to goals as well. Right now, since I’m in my first trimester of pregnancy, ever day is up in the air as to how I’ll feel. So I just do what I can (and eat what I can actually stomach) each day and know I’m doing my current best. Eventually I will feel better and be able to do healthier things more consistently, but right now doing my best is enough. Great mindset to have!

  • Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) May 27, 2010, 10:52 am

    “Do what you can.”

    LOVE this! I focus on this a lot right now, with my knees being injured. At first I was frustrated that I couldn’t run the mileage like I used to. Now I’m just focusing on what I *can* do and feeling proud of my current accomplishments. It keeps me sane! 😀

    Thanks for such great tips!

    • caitlin May 27, 2010, 11:08 am

      when i had hurt knees, i did a LOT of push ups (and ended up looking jacked). it was all i could really do but i did it well and it was awesome!

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople May 27, 2010, 10:54 am

    I absolutely love your fitness philosophy. I don’t think I actually have one of my own, but now I think I’m going to develop one!

  • Jenn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) May 27, 2010, 10:54 am

    That’s exactly what I believe in: Do what you can and focus on what you can have instead of what you can’t do and can’t have. 😀


  • adrienmelaine May 27, 2010, 10:56 am

    I love your breakfast- I would never think about eating raw oats in a yog mess- how very Swiss of you! haha

    I’m on the same boat as you with the anything for five, three or two minutes idea. Or just getting it done will be faster than just thinking about it and standing there!

  • Ali @ Redhead Reports May 27, 2010, 11:05 am

    I love your fitness philosophies – especially “You can do anything for 5 minutes”.

    Right now I’m in kind of a rut and don’t seem to be able to get motivated to do anything very strenuous, but I like to keep in mind that “it’s just 5 minutes” and then maybe stretch it into more time after I’ve gotten started!!

  • Jenny May 27, 2010, 11:13 am

    My fitness motto, as with a lot of other things, is do the best of you can with what you’ve got… it applies to a lot of other aspects of life, too!

  • Erin May 27, 2010, 11:14 am

    I totally agree with that. Not everyone can go outside and run 10 miles today. Not everyone can go outside and run ONE mile today.

    I say, it’s better to be moving than sitting still. Even if you’re going slowly, it’s still fantastic.

  • Hedda May 27, 2010, 11:19 am

    Oh, I am in love with Maggie and James.
    If they ever want to see Norway, they are more than welcome to spend some time here with my dog ;p

    My “fitness” philosophy is : Love your body for what it allows you to do as long as you treat it well when it comes to food and relaxation.
    Right now I only walk my dog, but it is such a pleasure to move around without thinking about burning calories- just enjoy the time out in the nature in great company.
    I think my dogs philosophy would be : never excercise so hard that you do not get the time to sniff around.

  • Krystina May 27, 2010, 11:25 am

    I adhere to the 5 minute rule. If after 5 minutes, my mind and body aren’t feeling a work out, I stop. Usually I end up pushing myself to finish because I can work through it.

    Also, if I feel good after a work out then I know it’s successful. If I feel stretched or rejuvenated after yoga, or am sweating and spent after running, then I know I worked my body hard enough.

  • Emmanuelle May 27, 2010, 11:33 am

    Love that fitness philosophy! I came across a great line in an text on yoga when I visited my parents a few months ago (which meant more food, less work out), and I am reading it now as the last few weeks have been crazy and my schedule will get back to “normal” only around mid-June: “Simply let go of what you think you should do and embrace what you can do”.

    I’ll just squeeze in what I can until my evening classes and exams are over, but I won’t beat myself up if I choose to get some extra sleep or study, that’s the way it is for now, and it won’t last for a lifetime 🙂

  • Lauren @ Health on the Run May 27, 2010, 11:33 am

    I love this philosophy!It’s so much better to focus on what you CAN do instead of getting stressed out about what you can’t. Sometimes I get trapped in this negative way of thinking and it just backfires: “Oh, i can’t run for an hour like I wanted…then I won’t go at all.” Obviously this is not rational, and I’m worse off in the end.

    And I love Maggie and James! That picture of James with his head on the pillow is too cute 🙂

  • Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope May 27, 2010, 11:39 am

    Whenever I don’t really “feel like” working out, I always think, “I never regret doing it, but will regret NOT doing it..”

  • Lisa May 27, 2010, 11:51 am

    One of mine (for running) is: A 12 minute mile sure beats sitting on the couch for 12 minutes!

    And my main one is the slogan for Life is Good: “Do what you love, love what you do.” Because for me, being active IS my hobby and my stress relief!

    As a reader in Pittsburgh, I’m wondering if you are planning any blogger meetups while you’re in the ‘burgh? I am a huge fan of yours and was so excited to learn that you graduated from Pitt! (I finished at Duquesne 2 years ago).

    • caitlin May 27, 2010, 11:52 am

      aww thank you!

      i would love to meet up any other weekend, but its my BFF’s bachelorette party so i’ll be busy with girlfriends. maybe another trip back to the burgh! GO PITT.

  • Mary @ What's Cookin' with Mary May 27, 2010, 12:00 pm

    That’s a great phil. Caitlin. I totally, whole heartesly agree! I tend to put too much on my plate and then get stressed and bummed when I can’t do it all… I’ve been working REALLY hard these last few months at not doing that to myself and it has really helped me to be less moody and frazzled! 🙂

  • Rika May 27, 2010, 12:02 pm

    hi caitlin! i just stumbled up a “how-to” on roasted artichoke and i remember you having difficulties with it; so here’s the link!!+Mail

    • caitlin May 27, 2010, 12:13 pm

      hahah wait you mean roasted artichoke isnt suppose to look like a dead bird?!

  • Lisa May 27, 2010, 12:10 pm

    Good advice. When people ask me for advice I tell them to take baby steps. They aren’t going to run a marathon after a week. So don’t beat yourself up if you have to walk a little during runs!

  • Catherine May 27, 2010, 12:16 pm

    I always say to myself “Even on days when I feel awful and am running on no sleep, skipping work is not an option, so why should exercise be an option?”

  • Sarah (GF vegan) May 27, 2010, 12:33 pm

    This is such a great philosophy and I try to do the same when things get busy. It’s funny because I’m good at being realistic about the amount and type of exercise I can fit into my schedule but I’m awful when it comes to setting standards about my diet. I’m often unrealistic, setting myself up for a fall and get more stressed out which results in emotional eating and IBS issues. Does my gabbling on make sense even?! I think what I’m trying to say is that the busier and more stressed I get, the more unrealistic my food/diet goals are which end up being counter-productive and worsening matters. Phew. Sorry! x

  • Lisa May 27, 2010, 12:39 pm

    I had a post 2 days ago about how I was frustrated about not being in as good of shape as I was during the winter. Today’s post was totally uplifting. I def have to change me attitude and be more positive!! This is the best I am now. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Lauren May 27, 2010, 12:40 pm

    This mentality is so important to maintain because so many people have the “all or nothing” which causes them to fall off the wagon. Let’s face it, we absolutely can’t go all out every single day of our lives.

    Your breakfast looks like a healthy banana split! 🙂

    Caitlin- how long will you be in Pitt?

    • caitlin May 27, 2010, 1:00 pm

      until Sunday but I’ll be too busy with friends for a meet up… it’s too bad!

  • Katie@peacebeme May 27, 2010, 12:46 pm

    It really inspired me today.
    I used to beat myself up so much or get So annoyed if I could only squeeze in a walk one day when traveling. I would whine about when I was going to get to do my run and it was never enough. Now I am disabled and would give ANYTHING to just go for a walk. I focus on that a lot though, that I can’t walk. But I can swim lightly and I am just going to work on that, doing what I can and enjoying the swimming and walking around my house that I can do, despite the pain.

    Thank you!

  • Erika May 27, 2010, 12:49 pm

    I’ve been noticing you are eating more raw oats….is it weird eating them not cooked? I know it sounds silly, but I never realize you could eat them without cooking them, lol… you miss the hot cooked oats at all? Love the suicide drills – we used to have to do those before every tennis practice. Now as a PT I get to make patients do them 🙂 Hee hee….

  • Erin May 27, 2010, 12:57 pm

    James was pooped! That’s adorable!!!

  • *Andrea* May 27, 2010, 12:59 pm

    great advice! last week i had senior week and graduation at college and had like zero time to workout or go to yoga classes etc. instead of freaking out that my routine was gone i tried to squeeze in longer walks around campus, always took the stairs even for like 10 flights and did some crunches.

    cute pic of the pups!!

  • Fit Lizzio May 27, 2010, 1:57 pm

    haha that picture really isn’t staged??! HILARIUOS!! dogs are so funny!

  • Kacy May 27, 2010, 2:15 pm

    That is the most epic dog photo ever.

    Totally agree with the “do what you can” philosophy. I live and breathe it.

  • mmclaughlin May 27, 2010, 2:28 pm

    I love the picture of James in bed!! My dogs do that too, and I always think it’s so cute and funny, but whenever I try to grab a camera they jump up. 🙂

  • Cassie @ A Very Busy Mind May 27, 2010, 2:30 pm

    I definitely like (and use) the “you can do anything for X minutes” thing (I tailor it to however many minutes I need it to fit). 🙂 Also, I like to tell myself “there’s nothing to dread” when I’m not feeling working out. I seem to forget that I can ALTER my routine if I need to. If I’m dreading a particularly tough workout, I tell myself to just get going and do what I can (ha another of yours)…that way, there’s nothing to dread because I don’t *have* to do anything. Nine times out of ten, I do the full workout. 🙂

  • kate May 27, 2010, 3:34 pm

    Dogs sleeping like they are humans must be a Dachshund thing. I always wake up in the middle of the night and Ollie is resting with his head on my pillow and gazing into my eyes. Such a bed hog!

  • Helen May 27, 2010, 3:56 pm

    Awww James looks so cute! My fitness philosophy is that if I don’t feel like working out it’s not a bad thing and I shouldn’t feel guily. I can’t push my body to do more than it can. I also fit in 10 mins of exercise as soon as I get up – sit ups, light weights and stretches – to wake me up and get my heart pumping.

  • Julia @ May 27, 2010, 4:15 pm

    Oh my gosh. James is soooo cute. Just fuelling my need for A PET! I WANT A PET!


  • Heather May 27, 2010, 6:04 pm

    i have been in do what you can mode or a week or so now trying to wrap up the school year with my students. end of the year parties, field day, moving classrooms, etc. i am so beat when i get home!

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) May 27, 2010, 9:36 pm

    I love that James picture! I have one like that of Leo. Dogs are so cute.

    My fitness philosophies are:
    – Get out the door: That’s the hardest part some time.
    – I never regret a workout but I regret not working out: enough said.
    – You can do it for 10 minutes: if after 10 minutes I’m not into it then I can stop.

  • Steve May 27, 2010, 10:46 pm

    i have been in do what you can mode or a week or so now trying to wrap up the school year with my students. end of the year parties, field day, moving classrooms, etc. i am so beat when i get home!

  • Carolyn May 28, 2010, 4:54 am

    After dedicating so much of your life to training for several endurance events, did you/do you have a hard time scaling back the workouts and “letting go” of that ultra fitness level? Or after the event do you feel pretty darn ready to take it easy for a while? I find that I get mentally and emotionally stuck quite easily in terms of exercise; if I run XX minutes one day, I have a hard time being okay with running less on future days. On the flip side, if I miss a few days or weeks, I find it extremely tough to get back on the horse. Totally destructive “all or nothing” thinking, I know… I took the last few months of winter off of running, and really lamented the loss in my fitness level. I’m now finding it hard to get motivated to get back into any kind of plan, because I feel discouraged by having to start from scratch. Any advice for getting past the emotional/mental attachment of a fitness level you worked really hard for?

    • caitlin May 28, 2010, 9:19 am

      No I’m pretty OK with taking it easy, but this is a good question. First of all, I don’t feel like TONS of cardio are necessarily condusive to keeping my weight at my happy weight (every long event I’ve trained for, I’ve put on extra body fat towards the end of the training). I really think most people’s bodies response BETTER to 30 – 1 hour of cardio 4 or 5 times a week plus strength training. It’s hard to find physical and emotional balance when you’re always exercising 2 – 4 hours a day.

      Also I think I just put a positive spin on ‘restarting’ when I decide to take on a new training plan. I like the challenge of getting fit again. It’s fun to work hard! 🙂

  • Luna May 28, 2010, 6:11 am

    james is uber cute 🙂 i want to go to bed NOW!!And suicide drills, i used to do them a lot… but I’ve always thought that our track instructor was calling them “suicide” to make fun of us!!!

  • Ariel May 29, 2010, 8:51 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. It could not have come at a better time for me. I am also starting a super crazy month which also culminates with a move to North Carolina. I just quit my job and my gym membership runs out at the end of the month. Next week I am traveling to visit my parents, then I have two weeks to pack and prepare to move, and then I’m driving to North Carolina from Los Angeles. I am a little worried about what will happen with my fitness routine, but I am determined to do what I can and fit in exercise when possible. Thank you for setting such a positive example!

  • John May 31, 2010, 5:49 pm

    MY fitness phiosophy is if you’re not injured you can work out 🙂 I’m adding in marathon training on top of 2 triathlons and another HM 🙂

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point