In the past, I have already written here in length about my journey with exercising. See, for most of my life, I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with exercise. I couldn’t stand it. There were quite a few reasons why. But mostly, it was because I felt like it was a requirement, a must-do dictated by others. Also, I always felt like I wasn’t any “good” at it. I used to loath PE classes back in school as I felt compared to my classmates. Unfortunately, these feelings followed me into adulthood.
Even as a young adult, I hated going to the gym or fitness classes because I didn’t want people to see how “bad” I was at working out. In addition, I had my fair share of issues with food, which resulted in a twisted mindset regarding exercise. I inherently looked at exercise as a way to counter the food I consumed during the day or what I saw in the mirror. It took me a long time and many adjustments to change my outlook on working out – to not see it as disciplinary or a way to embarrass myself but as something that makes me feel good.
I remember I saw a shift in my outlook when a trainer once told me that exercise is meant to help our body reach its full potential – exercise is a celebration of what our body can do. We always think that exercise is for changing our body, not honoring how it is right now. I spent years thinking I was never “good enough” when it came to exercise, that exercise isn’t for me. But what if I were to look at exercise as a way to celebrate what my own body could do? Even if that changes every day.
Once I adopted that mindset, everything started to change. It helps on those days when I’m looking at fitness as a dreadful obligation rather than a choice. Of course, an affirmation can only take you so far. You also need to put it into practice. Here are some lessons and advice that I learned through my journey. First, take time to discover the movement that is right for you. This is another thing that I have opened up about here before. It took me time to find the exercise that is best suited for me and my body. Find something that you enjoy doing and stick with it. For me it was pilates and tennis, for my mother it was yoga, and you should find the one that is right for you.
With that being said, don’t hesitate to change up your workout routine. It’s perfectly fine to switch up your routine. In fact, it’s highly encouraged. There are days that I and periods of time in which I love and crave running, and there are other times in which it’s the last thing I want to do. Another piece of advice is to not turn to exercise when you’re feeling bad about what you ate. I had a habit of telling myself I had to sign up for a workout class or go for a run after eating a big meal. Turning to exercise when I felt guilty about what I ate or how I looked made fitness a penalty rather than a priority. Plus, it is a toxic mentality that is damaging to your relationship with food. To have a healthy relationship with fitness, it needs to be unlinked from food and appearance – it’s about self-care. It’s perfectly fine to move your body how you want to move it and when you want to move it. Exercise shouldn’t be a punishment.