Tis the season to get in shape! Usually at the beginning of every year, countless people resolve to lose weight/get healthy/ improve their body. And, unfortunately, most of those people don’t follow through with pursuing their goals. Life can get in the way or, more often than not, they just get discouraged by their slow progress, or lack thereof.
I’ve been a personal trainer for almost 15 years, and though I am by no means am expert on motivation and sports psychology, through my experience, I have seen tendencies and trends with a lot of people in the arena of health and weight loss. What I’ve seen is that most people begin their health journey out of a negative relationship to their body–they don’t like their body, they don’t like how they look, and it makes them feel negatively about themselves. So they try to lose weight to feel better. Well, this is a very negative view on fitness–it seeks to subtract from your life (deprive yourself of food, reduce your weight, shrink your body, etc…) as opposed to adding to it. People use this negative mental state as motivation to change their body. But this motivation only lasts as long as they are in that unhealthy/negative headspace. As soon as they get in a healthier mental state, that motivation to improve their physical disappears.
Then so begins a toxic cycle of self loathing, wanting to get healthy, getting healthy, and then losing the motivation to be healthy. It can be followed by physical regression, which results in self loathing, yet again. I’ve seen the cycle repeat itself over and over again in people and it gets them nowhere. If you are interested in a video where I speak about this very topic, motivation and fitness, you can check out this YouTube channel run by my good friend Misti. If you’re looking for videos on manifestation and positivity, definitely check out her videos!! She is an incredibly inspiring individual who helps people every day bring positive thinking into their lives.
I often hear people referring to working out as a punishment for the unhealthy food they ate over the weekend, or for being too busy to work out the week before. That can be a very negative frame of mind with which to approach exercise. Moving and weight training should be a positive journey, whether you’re trying to make yourself stronger, faster, or for more endurance. It should be a discovery of what your body is capable of accomplishing day in, and day out. I’m not a competitive powerlifter, but I can deadlift 315 (conventional, not sumo, for those keeping track), and I’m very intentional in never training, lifting, or eating healthy as a punishment to my body. I’ve gotten very strong out of celebration of my body and out of curiosity. I celebrate when my body can do a certain amount of work, and then I get curious…let’s see what else it can do? I’ve trained many women over the years and within a month I have them pushing and pulling weights that they never thought they would do. They became more capable than they imagined they would and it made all the hard work fun! With that, losing weight and losing inches came as a bonus!
It’s very easy to get caught up in the aesthetic aspects of working out, even for veterans in the gym. I think that social media is responsible for a lot of the pressure we face in recent days to look a certain way or maintain a certain lifestyle. There’s more pressure than ever to look perfect and look like you have your life together. But that’s not reality, is it? Perfection can never be attained. Using that for motivation is futile and only leads to an unhealthy view of yourself and others. The pressure that you put on yourself to look a certain way can be very toxic. There are a myriad of different body types, which makes it impossible for some people to achieve a certain look or shape in a physically healthy way. So before you start comparing your body to those Instagram models we all see every day, think about your genetics and see their unique potential. My body type will never allow me to look like any of the Kardashians, so it’s pointless for me to waste my energy trying. My natural genetics make me tend to gain body fat on my stomach, not my butt or my legs. Think Spongebob… So to achieve the narrow, six-pack-abs waistline with a huge bubble butt, would only lead me to failure. Big failure. But…My genetics allow me to get strong, and that’s what feels best for me to pursue. My body feels it’s best when I’m challenging my strength and performance because that’s what my body type lends itself to. So take a moment to see the potential in your own genetics. I guarantee that your potential is much greater than just how you look in a pair of leggings!
Instead of relying on a negative state of mind to find and maintain your motivation, look to add positive things to your life! Add strength and endurance. Add years to your life. Make a goal to walk/run races with your kids or your friends. Join a martial arts class. Check out a dance class for adults. Try crossfit or yoga. There are countless communities to get involved in and they have the potential to be an incredibly positive force in your life and your future health! So instead of hating your body, begin doing things to add to your life, because your body isn’t actually you, right? Your body is just the physical representation of you. Who you are has always been and always be fluid. Everyone grows and changes over time, and that’s a good thing. It only makes sense that your body will be a fluid representation of you as well. So adding positive things to your life will have a healthier impact on you and your body than a negative punishment. Positivity will take you further than negativity every time.