Fitness Guilt

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight? To exercise more? To eat healthier? If so, how’s that going? It’s around February that the wheels fall off, so to speak, for goals like these. I’ve discussed the power of guilt before, but fitness guilt is its own unique animal.

Do you know how I started my February? By quitting my gym. I’m not giving up on exercise, as you likely know. I’m just not using the gym as much as I should. It’s been like this for a while. It started with Covid. I’m more focused on running outside, I continue to be wary of catching this virus, and I am tired of competing with the boys in the gym for the two Oly platforms. My husband found a great deal on some home gym equipment, including an entire bumper plate set, a rig for pull-ups and lifting, and a nice stationary bike. So as far as home gyms go, I’m pretty much set. The only thing that could make it better is a treadmill. So, yes, I’m still working out. But now I can workout at my convenience instead of driving to the gym. I’ve even lifted weights in my bedroom slippers!

If you have made deals with yourself to exercise more this year, good for you. It’s an admirable goal. But if you are frustrated, especially if your goal is to lose weight, maybe you should think of exercise as something you get to do, not something with which you punish yourself for not looking how you want.

I have been on that journey before. I starved myself eating 1200 calories per day, obsessively tracking my calories on an app and buying food through activity. I did lose 37 lbs this way, but at a size 2, I did not feel good. It’s not a pleasant path, nor was it healthy, especially mentally. It’s an easy avenue to burnout. 

If this is where you are right now with your fitness journey, take a moment to refocus. Exercise is about so much more than losing weight. Remember, to quote Elle Woods, exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy! Find an activity that you love, some way of movement that lifts your mood. Maybe it’s yoga. Maybe it’s neighborhood walks with your dog. Maybe it’s lifting heavy. Maybe it’s my drug of choice: running. Maybe it’s a well-rounded combination of all of these things. Find friends who are on this path, too, and who are also interested in doing what you love. These new friends may not be in your local gym. They may be in a private yoga studio, CrossFit gym, your neighborhood YMCA, or a local run club or training team. Having friends who rely on you to show up for workouts hold you accountable; they become like family. 

So, try to absolve yourself of guilt related to exercise. Sure, discipline is what is needed to train for running races, for example, but don’t feel guilty for not losing weight or missing a workout if life happens (we need rest days, anyway!). Feel joy for simply moving! Think about working toward fitness goals instead, like running a longer distance without stopping, perfecting a yoga pose, or lifting a personal best weight. Your body composition will begin to change, you will lift your mood through movement, and you will feel accomplished for reaching other goals that don’t necessarily involve moving numbers on a scale. Fitness is so much more than how much you weigh, and skinny does not equal healthy.

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Can you relate to any of these thoughts? If you have made a goal this year to rededicate yourself to your fitness journey, I hope it’s going well. But do be kind to yourself!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy. 

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness, speaking about the human experience, and in fighting for social justice. Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Boco Gear, SaltStick, Switch4Good, and Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon 2022.

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