Do you remember the sound of the recess bell?
We couldn’t wait to run out to the playground and cause all kinds of havoc — hopscotch, swings, tag, dodge ball, catch, soccer, and maybe even the occasional wrestling match in the sand pit…
We didn’t care that it was too hot or too cold, and we weren’t afraid to get our clothes dirty and sweaty. We just ran and jumped with smiles ear to ear.
…and then came adulthood and everything changed. Responsibilities at work and home leave limited time for healthy activities, and being a couch potato is just way too easy.
We watch the number on the weight scale gradually increase, and listen to doctors bring up more and more issues at annual checkups. Pants purchased in our twenties now stay up without a belt, and whenever we jog, it feels like a heart attack waiting to happen. How did we get here?
Unfortunately, when we do finally decide to workout again, it’s often accompanied with a negative voice.
“I’ve been sweating around this track for weeks! This beer gut is relentless!”
“I hate my chubby arms. I’m gonna look horrible in that strapless dress.”
“I want my butt to look as great as that girl I saw on Instagram.”
“Why did I eat that pizza late last night? Now I have to work it off on the stinkin’ treadmill!”
We used to move to have fun, for the form of joy that originates from deep down, but as an adult, we exercise because we look down upon ourselves and hate our current states. We compare ourselves with others and feel inferior. Workouts have become almost a form of punishment, and often times, we feel worse emotionally afterwards.
As the title states, we believe the proper reason to exercise is to be kind to yourself, not to hate yourself. The keys to building a healthy lifestyle are 1) have fun and 2) do it for you.
Rediscover that joy
Whether it’s our career or weekend leisure, it’s human nature to prefer what is fun and those that utilize our strengths. We should follow the same criteria as well when it comes to sporting activities.
For example: If you love the outdoors and festive atmosphere, then please don’t isolate yourself inside a gym on a stairmaster. If you find running too monotonous, then stop forcing yourself to slog around the park. If you don’t cope well under the heat, then, for Christ’s sake, don’t do SUP in the middle of the summer just because you saw some Youtuber doing it. Going against your personality and what you enjoy is not the best way to sustain a healthy exercise habit.
Think back to PE classes or after school programs, which sports made you the most excited? Little League? Dance? Swimming? With a plethora of social networks, finding the right groups, events and facilities are just a few taps on the phone away. Work and other aspects of life are already a drag. When it comes to exercise, give yourself a break and pick something that simply makes you happy.
Take on challenges can also bring happiness
However, if it suits you, the definition of “happiness”, can be expanded to the sense of fulfillment and positivity after overcoming a challenge. Step out of your comfort zone, take on a little pain and in exchange, might be a more meaningful state of joy.
Ride up a steep hill without taking a break, run an interval session in the summer heat, tough out an hour of core training etc. Puddle of sweat, breathlessness and burning muscles will all be part of the process, but it will feel oh so good upon completion…a real sense of accomplishment.
Remember to evaluate your interests, strengths and needs before selecting a sport, and let the good times roll.
Exercise to love yourself
I recently saw this:
Not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Not for him, for me.
Not for a day, but everyday. Not to feel good in a dress, but to feel good in my skin.
Not for the beach, but for my mind.
Not a competition, but for THE competition I have created for myself, by myself, to become a better version of myself.
Every. Single. Day.”
We exercise to be kind to ourselves, for health, to feel good, and because we deserve the blissfulness. Don’t approach it with an insecurity or an hatred for your body, and definitely avoid external comparisons.
Do it for YOU and do it because you LOVE yourself.
Now go run, jump, swim, ride, hit, kick, throw, dive, surf, paddle, lift…whatever that puts a smile on your face and in your heart.