We cannot deny that part of loving ourselves fully comes with loving our bodies. We have already discussed the importance of appreciating what our bodies can do for us as well as avoiding the trap of idolizing them. How do all these thoughts and ideals play out in practice though? Exercise, if approached considerately, plays a significant role in helping us achieve self-love.
First of all, we need to take a closer look at what we classify as exercise. It does not only consist of running, taking intense fitness classes, doing yoga, or lifting weights. In my mind, exercise simply means movement of the body with a health benefit. So walking to and from work, dancing around your living room, chasing around your kids, strolling through a new city while sightseeing, hiking with friends, and so many other activities count as exercise. Just because we don’t visit a gym, a running trail, a yoga studio, or that area of our house marked off for our Insanity DVDs doesn’t negate our physical activity.
[hehe - source]
We must also keep a few other things in mind when discussing exercise. The number one reason to spend time “working on our fitness” (as Fergie would say) is simply that. To work on our fitness. Our health. The benefits it provides our bodies. We need to love our cardio workouts first and foremost for strengthening our cardiovascular systems. We need to love our lifting sessions for the extra bone density it builds and strength for everyday living. We need to love our yoga for the flexibility it provides our muscles to protect themselves and the ease of mind that reduces stress. We need to appreciate exercise for the endorphins to enjoy life, the appropriate hormonal levels to aid sleep and focus, and the additional strength at combating chronic diseases. Forget the smaller pants size and nicer arms. Exercise helps give you a better life to enjoy your body and all of its gifts! How could we even forget that?
Having fitness related goals also can spark motivation, determination, and strength in an individual. Working towards an exercise involved goal is not a bad thing. In fact, it can promote self-love by uplifting a person and helping display admirable characteristics he or she might otherwise have ignored. While we must always be cautious of letting any goal consume our lives, we should take pride in our fitness accomplishments. Find something you truly enjoy and let it help the awesomeness of you shine through. Take caution to keep fitness related goals fun and then reap the rewards.
As you can see, exercise has a lot of power to either strengthen us physically and mentally or wear us down in those ways as well. Our perspective and focus on exercise determine which happens to us. Do we take notice of all the fabulous things we do for our health physically? Can we appreciate them even if not in the traditional workout setting? Do we enjoy our fitness activities and goals? Do we refrain from losing focus on life as a whole in pursuit of those goals? Let exercise fulfill you, not control you.
Quotes to Reflect On
Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional, and mental states. ~Carol Welch
Exercise is a dirty word. Every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out with chocolate. ~Author Unknown (just because it made me laugh)
Has exercise ever controlled your life or defined you in a negative way? What ways can/do you pursue fitness for health and a stronger sense of self? I know when I trained for my fitness competition I allowed that goal to eclipse other areas of my life and lost respect of myself in the process. Realigning my focus to pursue fitness as something I love and to better my health made me feel strong and positive. I will always have fitness goals to give me something to be proud of, but will not allow them to overshadow myself as a whole.