Find happiness in moving your body instead of using exercise as a tool for weight loss
What motivates you to exercise? Is it because you should or is it because you want to exercise?
Are you exercising because you want to "burn off a cookie" or because it helps you destress? Are you exercising because you want to look good in a bathing suit or because you want to have energy to get through the day without a nap?
There are many reasons why people exercise, but not all of those reasons create a positive attitude towards moving your body or give you a healthy perspective of exercise.
It's easy to be motivated by the external benefits of exercise (like how you look in the mirror) as opposed to how exercise makes you feel. It's common for someone to start a new exercise routine with expectations of changing their body. When those expectations don't happen exactly as planned, it's easy to get discouraged and quit.
Instead of thinking of exercise as a tool for weight loss, use exercise as a tool for so much more. Move your body independent of the benefits you see in a mirror.
Tips for Enjoying Exercise
Moving your body is a healthy habit not a chore
There are so many benefits for moving your body! Some of my favorites are... more energy, better sleep habits, relaxation, decrease stress, clear your head, boosts productivity, inspires creativity, and can even be a form of meditation.
Create meaningful moments of movement in your life.
These meaningful movement moments don't have to be designated as "exercise." They can include a range of activities.
Here are some of my favorites: Taking a quick walk when you start to feel that afternoon slump set in instead of taking a nap, grabbing a sugary snack or another cup of coffee. Standing up and doing a quick stretch after sitting for an hour. Parking at the end of the parking lot to get in a few extra steps at the grocery store. Walking your errands instead of driving everywhere. Walking your dog an extra block than normal.
If looking at your calendar makes you want to cry because you feel overwhelmed, don't skip exercise. Do something for 5 or 10 minutes. You might not even break a sweat, but that's not the point. The point is to get you body moving by creating those meaningful movement moments in your everyday life.
Meaningful movement moments can be anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes or however long your schedule allows. You'd be surprised at how these simple little tweaks to your day really improve your energy levels & posture and potentially help relieve some of those nagging aches & pains.
Avoid making exercise another item on your to-do list.
Instead of making exercise another check box on your to-do list, try building it into your day. In fact, it is more beneficial to move often throughout the day as opposed to exercising for one hour then sitting for the remainder of the day.
Instead of worrying about the pounds you lose, think about all the great aspects that really motivate you to go. It's tempting to let go of an exercise routine when it becomes a chore or something that you have to do. Focus on moving your body because it feels natural.
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Focus on the benefits of how exercise makes you feel
Exercise is not a means to an end. Exercise should be an enjoyable process. Exercise is going to help you feel stronger, help improve your balance, increase your endurance. But it is not a magic pill.
Focus on the internal benefits like reduced stress and improved sleep. Instead of worrying about pounds on the scale or inches on a measuring tape, use exercise as a tool for improving your health, not losing weight/inches. Yes, exercise can tone your body but weight loss should not be the end goal of exercise. Improved health and wellbeing should be the end goal of exercise.
Exercise is a privilege
There are so many people who would give anything to be able to move their body. Don't take advantage of your body. You might not be 100% happy with the size of you legs, but you have legs that work and that's awesome. Celebrate those legs (and any other body part)!
Think about exercise as something you get to do. In fact, when I'm feeling extra lazy or overwhelmed with all the things I need to do (and feel like I don't have time to exercise), I think about how I am lucky enough to be able to move my body. That really motivates me to get moving.
The perspective shift from using exercise to lose weight to making exercise apart of your healthy lifestyle is major. Once you are able to decouple exercise from weight loss, you will find the happiness in movement. You'll want to exercise. You'll crave exercise, and your body will thank you for it!
What encourages you to move you body? Write down your top 3-5 reasons that you exercise, but try to avoid the "to fit into my jeans" or "to eat more" reasons. Find the ones that are powerful enough to motivate you for that 7am exercise class or that after-work run.
Before you go, come up with a few of your favorite activities that involve moving your body, and schedule time to do them during the week. Find something that rejuvenates you instead of exhausts you, is enjoyable, enhances your connection to your body, and helps alleviate stress.
Tell me: What are your favorite reasons for exercising?