So, why do YOU exercise?
Do you exercise to burn calories and tone up your ‘bingo wings’ or ‘love handles’?
Do you go to the gym because you feel you ‘should’ rather than because you actually enjoy it?
Do you really want to get a ‘better’ body before summer? Maybe lose a few pounds so you feel more confident on the beach?
Do you secretly dread certain fitness classes but push yourself to go anyway?
If you answered yes to any of these, STOP… pause and breathe.
Exercise is a celebration of what you can do, not a punishment……
…for what you ate! At Hello Fitness Brighton (and BoPoFitCo), we’re all about women being kind to themselves and to that end, I feel any exercise programme should be approached with self compassion rather than self flagellation or punishment.
This is NOT to say that you shouldn’t push it to your limits especially if you enjoy the ‘burn’, but when your workouts cross over from ‘sparking joy’ (what did we ever do before Marie Kondo 😊) to physical exhaustion and accompanying low mood, that’s the time to perhaps rethink your exercise regime.
Body Positive Fitness – Setting Fitness Goals that are NOT looks based
I LOVE exercise and moving my body but I too have been guilty in the past of pushing it beyond my limits to perhaps lose a little weight for an event, or to look more like a fitness instructor ‘should‘.
This changed for me quite a while ago, when I discovered the body positive fitness movement where women and men are encouraged to find movement they enjoy and to set goals for themselves that have NOTHING to do with weight loss or the aesthetic and everything to do with physical fitness and how they feel!
People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.
As Lena Dunham writes:
“I know it’s mad annoying when people tell you to exercise, and it took me about 16 medicated years to listen. I’m glad I did. It ain’t about the ass, it’s about the brain”.
Change the Conversation around Exercise
Firstly, bringing it back to ‘moving your body’ rather than ‘exercising’ can be useful – especially given the negative feelings of drudgery and hard work that the term ‘exercise’ often invokes.
So what do I do on the days that I just don’t feel like exercising?
Sometimes I DO decide to sit on the sofa, and binge watch Netflix boxsets but on other days, when I feel that mentally I may benefit from moving my body, I ask myself what I need.
Great options are getting outdoors; going for a walk or a run (look at Run Talk Run* if you’d like to meet like minded people in your area); meeting a friend for a coffee; doing some gentle stretches; going to a yoga class; doing a Youtube fitness video; sweating it out; doing some meditation, jumping in the sea …..the list is endless! Find something you love doing and derive real pleasure from, and you’ll find it SO much easier to motivate yourself day to day. As Dory would say:
“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming………..”
*Run Talk Run is a Running Mental Health Support Group. They are a physical & virtual running community committed to supporting each other and being open about mental health