Fitness walks a fine line between exercising for health and exercising for appearance. And that is fine, as I don’t feel either one is either wrong or right. In fact, I exercise for both!
But I know sometimes it doesn’t always feel so balanced. Sometimes I think we feel a deep need to use exercise as a control mechanism because we feel if we look a certain way it will validate our worthiness to be accepted by others.
We feel as if we just control what we eat, how we workout, and follow a rigid schedule we will be ok. Every time we start fresh, we feel *this* is the time it will be different. If we reach a certain look then we will be more confident/accepted/worthy.
From my personal experience I found that the more I exercised the less things changed.
Well a few things changed.
I got hungrier and more cravings.
I felt exhausted and stressed all the time.
I felt exhausted, frustrated, and the validation I had in myself lessened.
I wondered why everyone else seemed to have it together and here I was silently and miserably stressing over every minute of exercise and every bite of food.
I needed to be smaller. I needed to be fitter. I needed to have more definition in my muscles.
It is an interesting concept to consider though, the more we focus on fitness, exercise, and working out as a way strictly to get smaller, leaner, more toned, or more accepted, the less successful we will be.
Behind every aesthetic goal, there is a reasoning that goes much deeper and has greater meaning.
The reason behind the goal is more than just about how you look.
Success comes in so many different shapes and forms and can mean one thing to one person and something to something else. Behind every goal there is a “why.” There is a reason we want to fit into our jeans better, have a flatter stomach, lose weight and get stronger.
There is a reason we want to add another plate to the squat rack, run that marathon, or learn that new skill. When you reach one of your goals it is not because you reached it, it is because of what it represents. It is not so much you reach the goal itself but the feeling of accomplishment. Emotion drives action.
Even if your goal is to get in the best shape of your life, note the “why” behind it.
If you want to lose 30 lbs just because you think you should to be healthier, you may not be as motivated as you would if you define the why in it entirety. I want to lose 30 lbs to be able to keep up with my kids when we play and to be able to move better on a day to day basis.
I want to lift heavier weight because when I am stronger I feel more confident and what I am more confident I am more productive/successful in life.
When you achieve something you never have before, you open the door to so many other things.
Testing our physical capabilities is highly underrated in terms of motivation. And accomplishing a physical challenge fuels the need for one of greatest needs outside survival. Growth. Progress. The need to improve in some area of our lives.
The first time I did a full pull up, I was in shock. I never had done one before and I really did not ever think I would. I would hang on the bar and try to pull and barely get half way up.
But after months of practice I was able to do one. I took a chin up grip on the bar, still not convinced in my head, and just started pulling. And I kept pulling all the way over the bar.
I couldn’t believe I just did a pull up! If I just did one, could I do 2? If I can do pull ups, what else can I do in life?
Being strong and moving well are crucial to our everyday function.
I am a huge advocate of weight lifting and strength training, but I get that not everyone shares that enthusiasm. While other forms of activity can help you get healthier increase muscle there is no better complete method than lifting weights, IMO.
Being strong and moving well are critical to our everyday functioning. Whether you are gardening in your backyard, picking your child up, carrying in groceries, you want to be strong, able and independent.
I know this sounds boring, unexciting and not nearly as sexy as other aesthetic benefits but when you focus on your own why and what your body is capable of you will find your own sense of power and self-worth that goes beyond having what is deemed as the perfect body.
Weight training can also improve mobility, endurance, and boost our metabolism all in one session. If you are limited on time, choose weight training.
Competency builds confidence.
Sometimes it is tough to get started. Even as a trainer, if I go try a workout at a new gym, I get intimidated. It is a new space, with new people. What if I don’t know their protocols or how to use a new machine?
But you know what? Learning new things only builds confidence.
And the great thing is, the cycle will repeat itself. When you try new things or make progress on something, that confidence boost allows encourages you to take on your next sets of challenges and learning (competency) that goes with it.
I don’t care if it is trying a new workout class, wearing an outfit your normally wouldn’t or striking up a conversation with a stranger. Try something new.
It becomes part of your life and tribe.
Have you ever heard the quote that you are the most like the 5 people you spend the most time with? Think about the people you surround yourself with and if they embody and encourage the kind of values, priorities, and kind of life you want to live.
Find people who are interested in taking care of themselves and prioritize health. This type of accountability and encouragement is essential.
Your tribe holds you accountable. Your tribe keeps things important to you in the forefront of your mind. Your tribe essentially resembles and reflects you. I feel way more powerful, enthusiastic and engaged in life when I am surround by people like this.
The bottom line is that life is so much more about the way we look. Fitness and health IS crucial and important to our emotional and physical well-being but it’s outcomes do not define who we are or if we are worthy.
It is never too late to start your journey or redirect it to the path you desire.