Once you get in the habit of working out regularly, sometimes it can become a hard habit to break. (Stop laughing, it’s true.) That’s a good thing. Our bodies can learn to crave exercise. The problem comes when you stop listening to your body.

If you have a recurring pain when you do a certain exercise, always ask your instructor about it. Adjust the exercise so it doesn’t hurt or give your body a break and sit out one exercise.

It’s hard at every exercise level. Often beginners don’t want to skip an exercise because they want to know they can do it. Intermediate groups will push through an exercise to prove they can do it. We can all build up to doing any exercise at our level, but we’ll never get to that point if we don’t listen to our body when we need a break. A break doesn’t necessarily mean three months off from exercise, but it might mean a week off given a particular pain or injury. It also might mean an adjustment. A month ago, I pulled a pec muscle. I didn’t stop doing cardiovascular, but I took three weeks off from chest presses, while it completely healed. I even had to adjust how a do Pilates because certain exercises agrivated the muscle. Health and fitness is my livelihood, so I can’t risk letting an injury fester. Now that I’m lifting again, I’m slowly building back up to the weight I was working at. It’s a disappointment. It feels like I’ve taken steps back. But you can only force the body so far before it breaks.

Listen to what your body needs. Learn the difference between good pain and bad pain. Push yourself and challenge yourself when it comes to good pain, and give your body a break when it comes to bad pain. You’ll be more physically fit if you can make positive decisions for your health and wellness. Starting to exercise is one good decision. Learning what your body needs is another.