Self-Love Reflections: Exercise

Posted: March 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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24 Comments to “Self-Love Reflections: Exercise”
  1. Love this post Tina! I think we can all admit to letting our focus on exercise get a little out of control. For me, when I saw a huge difference in the way I looked…I got addicted to that high and satisfaction of seeing results. Once I realized that I wasn’t really seeing what others were seeing (a huge weight loss), I decided to take a step back from it. All I really want is to be healthy and feel good. It’s hard sometimes, because I do have limitations and that is so frustrating. I feel like I am too young to not be able to do everything I want to do, but I realize too that I need to be strong and that means physically and mentally. So, I stopped beating myself up over the things I can’t do and now I feel much stronger for it!

    It was great seeing you last night. Hopefully it won’t be so long until the next time!

    • Tina says:

      Yes! Perhaps we should all go ahead and pick a date for late April or early May to be sure its no more than a couple months. :)

  2. I have let exercise control me in the past — it was a way to punish myself, to reward myself, etc. It wasn’t good. Now I use it to feel my best!

    I can tell that I have a healthier attitude towards exercise — I was able to take a week off and I didn’t get upset — and I take 100% rest days now (at least 2 per week) — I never used to do that before!

  3. I have experienced exercise as a controlling and stressful factor in my life in the past, but now I do it because I want to be fit and I like how it makes me feel. I am empowered by weight training and yoga classes. It is also a huge stress reliever for me!

  4. Jolene says:

    ‘working on your fitness’ – such a great way of putting it. Putting it in that context really helps me, because I tend to get a little too focused on the side benefits, weight loss etc, and that’s when it gets to be a bit more obsessive, for me (not for everyone). I love this healthy outlook and after my post last Sunday on my self-image issues, this is what I needed to read! Our bodies are powerful and meant to be strong. Not to be beat upon endlessly.

  5. exercise, for me, has thankfully always been a positive thing. Something I look forward to. Something that makes me feel better, gives me more energy and gives me more confidence. Not to be a cheeseball but I love it!!

  6. Amy Lauren says:

    I love this post :) . Last year, I trained for a 10K. It was my first 10K so I was pretty worried. I ran more than I should have and probably OVERTRAINED for it, didn’t take enough days off or really cross train. Plus I definitely worried too much about it. My body just couldn’t handle it, and I wound up getting sick, getting anemic, and having to take an entire month off of running!

    In November, I ran another 10k, where I didn’t train as hard and just wanted to have fun… and I actually did better than the first one! Just always remember no one is paying us to exercise or making us, it’s our choice not a job or obligation- so I try not to make it seem like one.

  7. I am so happy I can honor my body with exercise these days rather than punish it like I have in the past!!!

  8. lindsay says:

    perfect timing for this post. I just posted about something similiar with running. Seeing it as privelege, a passion, and joy! A self love expression, amen!
    LC

  9. I’ve certainly taken on a better attitude with workouts in the past year or two — I workout because it makes me feel healthier and stronger. And I’ve realized it’s okay to take a day off :)

  10. Stacy says:

    Great meeting you last night, Tina! Thanks for including me in the meetup. This post has a great message. Thankfully I’ve never had too much exercise to cause a bad thing, but I have definitely been at a place when I didn’t get enough exercise. Now I’m happy to have a healthier lifestyle again and a stronger sense of self!

  11. Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states. ~Carol Welch

    I believe in this so much. I feel so good when I exercise, it helps me appreciate my body and my life SO much more!

  12. It was so nice to meet you! I can’t wait to do it again soon. Thanks for helping organize!

    Love this post! Exercise… clearly, I’m a little crazy. :) Kidding! I look at it as a challenge. I like to push the limit with extreme sports, so I have to keep up my fitness to be able to hang. It gives me such a sense of accomplishment.

    The key – for me – is knowing when you body needs a rest and not beating yourself up over a missed day (or two… or a week..).

  13. Samantha says:

    Lots of great points in this post Tina. I have only recently been making exercise goals, only because it helps make my workouts purposeful. I love running for running, but I also love the cardio base that it gives me to pursue other summer activities like kayaking, hiking, wakeboarding, etc.

  14. Amy says:

    What an inspiring post Tina! I know I also tend to get too caught up on what I can get out of my exercise. Although today I actually used a quick elliptical workout — just to clear my head!

  15. Stephanie says:

    Exercise for me is enjoyment and pleasure. Sometimes certain forms just don’t bring that joy that running and dancing have brought to me, but often times it all depends on where I’m at mentally. Sometimes there’s no greater exercise than the stuff that happens spontaneously (like a game of chase at the park). :)

  16. Stephanie says:

    PS…I nominated you for an award on my latest post. No requirements…just wanted to share the love for your blog. :)

  17. Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

    This was a great post. I used to have a really bad relationship with exercise, and my body, but now I only workout if my body feels up to it, and I allow myself a couple days of a break. I also do workouts that I actually enjoy, and not just stuff that people say “will work”. This makes all the difference in the world!

  18. Kara says:

    Exercise has always been a positive thing for me. I think it’s because I see it as a way to challenge myself and not just burn calories or whatever :)

  19. Missy says:

    Exercise certainly had it’s grip on me for a while…funny thing is, now I am healthier and I can work out better because I have more energy. I probably get as much done in 1/2 hour than I did in 2 before when I was dragging.

    • Tina says:

      That’s so true! Never thought about the intensity before but it does make such a difference when you’re healthy.

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