Working out. We know we need it.
Whether it’s in the form of taking a walk, going for a bike ride, cardio at home, or lifting heavy in the gym, we all know that working out should be a decent part of our lives. But sometimes, we hate it.
Fitness was a part of my life from a young age. By the age of 10, I was a competitive swimmer and a gymnast. I played soccer, did tae kwon do, ran 5ks, and whatever else I could get into. Maintaining an active lifestyle was all I knew. This lasted up until my freshman year of college, it was just something I did and never needed to think too much about…until I stopped.
Once I slowed down, as people do when they get older and take on more sedentary roles at work and school, I started to gain a bit of weight here and there. That weight gain combined with “grown woman” weight, combined with the slowing of my metabolism took me for a ride emotionally and I started to look for ways to lose it, fast. I never did anything drastic, but I did workout, a lot.
I ran a lot. Lifted a lot. And ran a lot more. It worked for me, but I started to hate it. I hated going to the gym. I hated running. I hated working out. In addition to all of that, I started to hate my body for being the way it was and putting me through this. Even though in theory I was getting physically healthier, I was developing a bad relationship with working out and with my body in general. Eventually, I got burned out and quit altogether.
Maybe that’s you, or maybe you’re not quite there but for some reason, you can’t find yourself committing to a fitness routine for more than a month or two. You start out rocking and ready to go but once your initial high and excitement is gone, you’re dragging your feet…again.
So what’s the deal? Why isn’t working out working for you? Why wasn’t it working for me?
I can’t exactly speak for you, but I can tell you what my deal was.
I was working out to change myself. I was doing what everyone out there was telling me to do, “Don’t like something about yourself? Change it.” So I tried and tried hard.
Here’s the thing about working out purely because you hate your body: body hatred doesn’t simply go away when you lose weight, when your butt gets bigger or when your stomach is flat. We’re human, and as humans, when we’re always focused on what’s next, we risk never being content and finding joy in the present moment and with our present selves.
Today I love working out. I love going for walks or jogs. I’m always excited to head out to rollerblade or work up an intense sweat in my living room. I’ve been this way for a while too, and it’s not changing. So, what changed?
I’ve found that I enjoy working out more when I’m not focused on losing weight but when I’m focused on using working out as one of my many tools to help me feel good. To help me be well. As soon as I stopped trying to change my body because I hated it, I started to love taking care of my body—in all aspects. I loved getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, getting the proper nutrients in my food, using healthy products on my skin, and working out as a means to keep my body happy.
I believe, that when you decide to love your body, the way it is now, for what it does now, you’ll find that doing the things to help heal your body come easier and that they’re more enjoyable.
Here’s an exercise you can do:
Even though where you’re at now may not be your “ideal look” you can still appreciate your body for what it is and what it can do and does every day. We talk a lot about the positive self-talk here on this blog and this post will be no different, I want to encourage those of you that may be having trouble with your body right now to take a moment to write out things about your body that you appreciate.
They don’t have to be physical things necessarily (though that is also encouraged); they can be things like “I appreciate you carrying my babies and keeping them safe” or “I appreciate your strength and resilience” and even “I appreciate the way you tell me what you need”. Whatever it is take a moment to write them down, once that’s done, practice telling yourself these things daily. With such practices, we begin our days at an advantage—You set up a positive tone for your nutrition choices, and for the ways you decide to move your body.
Healing and helping your body needs to come from a positive place, and this is how we get that started.
You got this!