I wasn’t jogging because I was in a rush, but because for the first time in a very long while, I just wanted to. This was shortly after I left Green Mountain. I vividly recall the excitement and pride that I felt for moving my body not out of necessity, but out of desire. I had forgotten what that felt like for so long.
In that moment I wasn’t expending extra energy for any fitness-related reason. I was just moving because that’s what bodies are meant to do.
Fitness For Weight Loss
When fitness for weight loss is our only goal, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. It may be time to stop forcing ourselves to exercise for weight loss and encouraging our bodies to move because it feels so good. I know it’s cliché, but a body in motion truly does stay in motion. There are times now when I can almost forget the mirror and just feel the movement.
It wasn’t an easy step, and that’s what makes this victory even sweeter.
Don’t get me wrong, there was a time, not too long ago, when I would have cocked my head sideways and said, “You’re full of sh*t,” to anyone who tried to convince me that walking was more fun than sitting or that pushups could be exhilarating. This transitions back to my all-or-nothing thinking pattern – if I wasn’t practicing fitness for weight loss, meeting goals, and seeing definite results…why was I bothering?
I slowly learned that if the only reason we make ourselves move is to lose weight, resentment is inevitable. Why me? Why do I HAVE to go exercise to lose weight? Achieving a certain fitness level shouldn’t be about “having” to do anything. But when body image, dieting, and weight loss are all we’ve ever associated with fitness – how can we not think this way?
Sometimes, if I’m at the gym after a long day of work and I see someone that I perceive as “thinner” or “fitter” than I am, my ugly green horns of jealousy appear. My thoughts start spiraling: Why is she here? She doesn’t need to lose weight! Then I remind myself that I don’t know her story. Just like she doesn’t know mine. If you let your own predictions, assumptions, and negative thoughts get in your way, you’ll only limit yourself.
The only person who can stop you…is you.
The Gym Isn’t Your Only Option
If the gym isn’t for you, forcing yourself to go is pointless torture. Maybe you aren’t a fan of the crowds or the all-consuming smell of salty sweat. Or maybe the pressure of getting there and completing a strict workout routine five days a week just isn’t your thing. That’s okay! You’ve learned what doesn’t work for you…but now it’s time to figure out what does.
If crowds aren’t the problem, maybe Zumba sounds better to your body than lifting free weights. If the smell doesn’t phase you, maybe the time of day you’ve allotted for your workout doesn’t fit your body. If a calculated routine triggers all-or-nothing thinking, maybe switching it up with one afternoon of kickboxing, one day of walking, and one night of yoga sounds more appealing.
The gym is an option. It’s not the only option.
If you only associate the gym with fitness for weight loss, you may forget to integrate the confusing, but exciting, concept of “fitness for fun”. Stay with me now…
How I’ve Made Fitness Fun
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Intrinsic Exercise: Learning to Love Physical Activity
I’m lucky enough right now to be working close to home, so my boyfriend is often able to stop by work for 20 minutes on my lunch break and go for a walk with me. I don’t think of this as “mandatory mid-day fitness”. I think of it as my happy time. Instead of taking a break from sitting…to do more sitting…I get up and I move. The pace isn’t fast and when I’m lucky enough to have company, I cherish it even more. But even when I’m on my on my own, I throw on my sneakers, get outside, and enjoy some movement.
I’ve also found a recent love for hiking. It turns out – I’m an outdoors kinda girl! Something about the combination of physical activity and sunshine makes me forget that fitness was a part of the plan at all.
As far as the gym is concerned… there’s a love-hate relationship that’s been brewing between us for years. I despise doing cardio at the gym. I get bored and lazy. So I choose to do my cardio outside whenever possible. But when it comes to lifting weights, the gym and I are more than compatible. At the end of the day, I channel any built up negativity and frustration and this fuels my ambition to become stronger.
Moving Beyond Fitness For Weight Loss
Now that I’m familiar with the feeling of “strong,” I don’t want to give it up. I’ve earned it. Whether I’m lifting weights or carrying too many grocery bags because I think I’m coordinated enough to make it in one trip…I feel strong. And that strength gives me a sense of pride that I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to find, until recently.
No matter your ultimate goal (weight loss, strength, agility, flexibility, speed, etc.) fitness is important for everybody and every body. Whether you dance around the kitchen while you’re making dinner or climb the stairs instead of riding the elevator, you’re showing your body that you appreciate everything it does for you.
Find which movements intrigue your mind and free your body. After all, there’s only one wrong way to go about moving your body…and that’s by not moving it at all.
Until next time,