The media, new trends, and impossible standards have made working out to be this “have-to,” grueling, “no pain, no gain” thing where we are all striving for 6 pack abs and the f*cking "thigh gap," restricting, carb counting and spending hours in the gym - it’s no wonder people have developed strange relationships with exercise - it is all based on fear. While it does work for some people, it sends my inner mean girl into a frenzy - and friends, I’m tired of it.
For the majority of my adult life I have struggled with my own relationship with exercise. All of my decisions around it were, in fact, based out of fear: fear of gaining weight, fear of being out of control, fear of not being in a good mood unless I exercised, fear of not being good enough. There were years where I was addicted and years of trying to figure out what it was that I actually enjoyed about my workouts, which lead to burnout and, at times, giving it up all together.
Because of all of this I’ve been experimenting with the concept that exercise doesn’t have to be this fear based thing - that we can actually get up and want to spend a portion of our day moving our bodies because the activity itself truly brings us JOY. What if we started letting that love part of us drive instead?
To take care of our bodies in a way that feels good to us.
Bike and Build first introduced me to this concept (I talk a lot about my experience in this post). I felt this spark, this thing inside of me that completely ignited as I discovered my love for the mountains for the first time. There was something about the beauty, the smell, the way they made me feel so small yet so integrated. I knew from that moment on that the mountains would be an important part of me, they made me want to experience life and movement in a new way, they made me want to be a part of them.
I think this was a big motivator in why I started rock climbing. It gave me new meaning to exercise, an opportunity to moving my body in a way that inspired me. Along with climbing, activities like skiing, and mountain biking, and trail running, and hiking all became a part of my day to day life. I realized the underlying passion for all of these sports was connected by my desire to explore these beautiful mountains I was so awestruck by on my trip. It gave me a chance to be excited about the thing, the movement I was doing, rather than the end result. I wasn’t mindlessly doing workouts in the gym out of fear but I was moving my body in a way that was inspiring, that was out of love for myself. There was no more of this “have to” mentality, it was now a “I can't wait, I want to” mentality. I felt so free for the first time in my life.
So I ask this: What if your workouts didn’t have to be “have to” workouts? What if you could find that type of movement in your life that inspired you to all-get-out? Movement that you actually wanted to do or work for? What if we had a different definition of what it meant to “work out,” of what the end goal of it all had to be? What if we could take off the pacing watch, the timer, or get rid of the reps? What if it didn’t have to be our fastest time or exactly 5 miles?
What if it just felt good? What if it just made you happy?
What is it that inspires you? Is it the fresh air, the water, the mountains, the snow...the silence? Is it dancing, running, pushing yourself mentally? Is it just simply getting outside, taking a break for yourself among the crazy of the day? Is it waking up early to go on a walk with your dog to see the sunrise before work?
What kind of movement lights a fire within you?? What can you change or incorporate in your life to feel that fire?
Is the pace on your Garmin a measurement that determines whether or not you enjoyed your run? Take off the watch. Do you crave the water but don’t know how to swim? Hire an instructor and hit the pool, or the ocean. Are you craving being in the mountains and want to learn to mountain bike but don’t have a bike or a clue of where to start? Ask to borrow a bike and find a friend to teach you... ahem, thank you Anna and Larissa ;) Do you have a mountain that inspires you to get to the top of? Pick one, book your travels, and start training.
I had to work really hard to change the way I defined “working out.” Because I based so much of my “good enoughness” on the distance I ran, or the time on my watch, or the number on the scale, it was hard for me to say “this is all my body needs today,” to cover up the measurements and just enjoy the process. But when I take away the standards, the definitions everyone else gives it and just make it all about the run or the bike ride, or the day of skiing and the way I felt during it all, it makes me crave movement even more. It has changed my life. If we balance our day with movement that inspires us, with food that fuels, and time to just quiet down, our happiness will reflect those choices.
So, today I challenge you to do some soul searching and find some type of movement that inspires you, that makes you excited to move and groove. To move away from these fear based decisions around exercise and choose movement that allows you to connect to your truest self. What if love was the only path, how would that change your day, how would that change your life?