Exercise and I have had a difficult relationship, and I know I’m not alone in this.
Through my childhood and teen years, I hated gym class. I did participate in things like martial arts and I played basketball until half way through high school. When I started university, I had no desire to move my body so I didn’t.
Due to a combination of things, like severe anxiety and recovering from a toxic relationship, I gained weight. My body had grown and it was unfamiliar to me. The first thing the people close to me said was that I needed to hurry up and lose the weight. This led me to getting a gym membership for the first time.
When I was first starting at the gym, I did a lot of cardio. I hated cardio. But in
my pursuit of thinness, I felt like its what I had to do. I continued to push myself to move my body in ways that I did not enjoy, solely because I did not like what I saw in the mirror.
Fast forward nearly a decade, more life experience, and a lot more self love, and I am finally in a healthy place with my relationship with movement. But it took completely changing my relationship with exercise to get here. I’ve since learned how I like to move my body and how important it is to my self love journey. I’ve also learned how important movement is to my well-being – both physically and mentally.
While changing the way I think about exercise, here’s some of things I have found to be most important:
- Find a way to move your body that you enjoy doing. If you hate running, maybe you prefer HIIT or weight lifting. If you don’t like solo workouts, maybe you’d thrive in group classes. Don’t be afraid to try new things until you find something you like to do.
Don’t make weight loss your focus. Growing up, I believed that the only reason to move my body was to lose weight. Even as recent as a few years ago, that’s why I went to the gym. By focusing on self-love and learning to accept my body as it is, I no longer believe this. There are so many benefits to exercise that have nothing to do with changing how you look.
- Moving your body can impact so many other aspects of your life. Personally, I have noticed improvements in things like sleep, mental health, self-esteem and confidence, energy levels, stress, and sex drive.
- Try to not compare yourself to others. This is easier said than done but there will always be someone who is stronger, or faster, or better in some way. Your self-love and fitness journeys are your own and cannot be compared.
- Exercise doesn’t have to be long. If you only have 15 minutes to move your body, that’s fine. A workout doesn’t have to be an hour (or whatever length of time) for it to count and make a difference. Do what you can and what fits into your life.
- Don’t overcomplicate it. If the only movement you like doing is walking your dog, that’s great! It’s not necessary to have a gym membership or fancy equipment at home. There’s lot of things you can do for free and that are super simple.
- You don’t have to work out. While I love moving my body and will always talk about the benefits, I think its important to note that working out isn’t the end all be all. If you can’t or don’t want to move your body, I do not judge. Having an exercise routine doesn’t make you better than someone who doesn’t.
If you are struggling with your relationship with movement and want to work on it, see if doing some of these things can help. And remember that no matter what choices you make in regards to moving (or not moving) your body, you are enough.
Hayley Noelle - Hayley is a content creator based in Northern BC, where she resides with her husband and her miniature schnauzer. While she loves talking about a variety of things, her main focuses are on self love, mid-plus size fashion, and makeup looks. Her goal is to inspire others to feel good in their skin and learn to love themselves.
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