It seems so simple right? You hit the gym day after day and maybe you’ve seen some great results. You love that you’re finally getting healthy, something you have wanted for so long. This is when you need to step back and ask yourself, do you love yourself?
For countless men and women, this is actually a huge challenge. Many of us find ourselves lacing up our shoes and heading to trails or the gym for all the wrong reasons. People think “I am so fat,” “I need to look good for spring break,” and so on.
We all begin working out with a variety of reasons behind it. It could be a personal choice, a hobby, a living, and a variety of other reasons. While I cannot argue regular exercise is damaging, but I do argue that there is a lot of self-hate behind why people choose to join a gym or buy that exercise tape.
There are many extremes to this age old question so let me just share a personal anecdote to explain. I’ve been working out since I was eleven (so just over eleven years). Though the act of working out was a very healthy life decision, the mind set behind it was quite the contrary.
I think as women, we find ourselves hating what we see in the mirror. With the hate, many of us become motivated to lose weight. Often times weight loss can be a very healthy fitness journey and other times it may not. Many, many people, myself included, can get lost in this.
I started working out not to get “healthy.” I was not motivated to nourish myself. I was not motivated to love the person I was seeing in the mirror.
I was motivated to change the number in the scale. I’d see myself and think “I’m so fat and I still have SO FAR to go.”
So far to go, so far to go, so so so far to go.
I believed that once I lost the weight, once I reached that “goal number,” once I wore that size I would be pretty. I equated that weight loss with my beauty and my beauty with my worth.
After each workout, I’d look in the mirror and suck in my stomach. I’d poke what I saw as imperfections. I’d take measurements of my body. I’d weigh myself. Above all, I’d hate on myself.
Never during this journey did I feed my mind with positivity. I was exercising so much commitment. I’d make it to the gym 5-6 times a week for 2-3 hours a day. I was obtaining my goals, faster than I imagined. I was growing stronger.
None of that mattered because it was never enough because I was never enough.
My sophomore year of college I returned to the gym after my 5 years of running cross country and track came to a close. One day while I was on the elliptical, I came to this realization that though I had unstoppable commitment in my past, it was for all the wrong reasons.
From that day forward I knew it was time to make a change. It was time to change my thinking.
It begins with goal setting. We set goals to give us something to work for. This is something that persists throughout all aspects of our lives. While setting a goal weight can be a very good thing, you cannot allow that number to become you. You are so much more than that number. The person you are should not be defined by the weight you are now or the weight you want to be.
Along with goal setting, you cannot let media misrepresentations be your motivation. This is something I struggle with. When all you see is beautifully thin women, you begin to get it in your head that to be a beautiful woman, you must also be thin.
Thin does not equate strong. It does not make you healthy. Thin is beautiful and women who are naturally thin should not be ashamed of what they were born with, but you should not be the sole motivator behind a weight loss journey. I’ve been there.
When I was motivated by being thin, I hated myself. When I shifted my focus to getting healthier, I began to learn to love myself.
Instead of thinking “how far I have to go” you should reward your efforts towards a healthier life. Think about “how far you have come.” Each day you make it to the gym, or you put in exercise, you did it. It should be a feeling of accomplishment.
While pinterest may be full of motivating graphics, some of these “motivating graphics” shame the fat, shame the thick, and shame the thin. These may motivate you to get off your booty, but don’t let them run your life.
All in all, if you’re out there working out and a journey to get fit (or whatever your reasons may be) you should be proud.
You’re actively making steps towards a healthier you. When you feed your body, you’re also feeding your mind. When you feed yourself with positivity on a consistent basis, you will slowly begin to believe it. Your mind, body, and soul equal you.