Clearly, exercise can shift the shape of your body. You may have noticed how wide and strong are the shoulders of Michael Phelps, Olympic swimmer, or how muscular are the legs of runners. Weight lifting can shape muscles into the “guns” of biceps, rivers of deltoids and pecs, and bulging calf muscles. Long distance running often leads to a lithe physique. Yogis are strong and flexible. So, it’s clear that moving your body shape shifts it.
But, what drives you to move your body? Is it possible to exercise for reasons other than a visual and physical ideal to which we’ve been socialized to want? Like……
- Restful sleep
- Stress reduction
- Mood stabilization
- Efficient metabolism
- Functioning GI system
- Increasing focus and attention
- Regulate hormones, like insulin and cortisol
- Improve heart and lung functioning.
And, is it OK to want to exercise for the sheer goal of looking hot, or having 6-pack abs, svelte arms and legs? You tell me. Sometimes we catch site of a well toned and fit body and we yearn for ours to be like theirs. We get a little motivated. Maybe you already engage in some activity on a regular basis, then you catch sight of tricep definition on a friend and think, “Gee, I’d like some of that!”
Here’s the deal from my vantage point. Answers to these questions depend on who’s asking. If you’re listening to an internal critic yapping at you that your gigantic behind or jiggly inner thigh muscles will never score a lifelong companion, or “Your belly fat sucks,” therefore you are a miserable piece of unloveable doo-doo, the answer to battering yourself on a treadmill or CrossFit class is No! Don’t do it for those reasons.
Now, nothing is inherently wrong with wanting that lovely body but from this blaming and shaming place, nothing will be gained, not muscle, definition, slender calves, or marriage.
If driving you to grunt it out at the gym are thoughts that are self-deprecating and focused on you feeling not good enough, undesirable, or unworthy, ask yourself these questions:
- Is something outside of me driving the bus here and shoving me into an exercise plan? Like a diet program, well-meaning (?) family and friends, or gym ads?
- Is self-hatred, disgust, or loathing toward your body pushing you to change?
- Is what you’re considering engaging in harmful to your mind, body or spirit? Does it place any of these in jeopardy?
- What is the cost involved and is it worth it? Financial?
The answers are within and waiting for you.