When did exercise change from being a fun, often playfully competitive, lesson at school to being a chore or punishment?
Too often, I hear people say they have to work out because they’ve had a so-called bad food day.
Firstly, no food is bad food, and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. But perhaps thinking more holistically about how moving your body can help you will change your mind. There’s more to working out than burning calories.
In a world full of beauty ideals and ignorant, binary thinking regarding health, it’s so hard not to think about weight loss when working out. Especially as women, we’re taught from day one that we need to take up as little space as possible. The thinner we are, the better, despite the fact that thinness doesn’t equate to health. We’re praised for being small. Life is easier if you’re small. So it’s assumed by the majority that working out, especially for people in larger bodies, is in pursuit of weight loss, disregarding the actual benefits of keeping active.
I no longer see weight loss as an end goal. I personally feel that obsessive thoughts about our bodies, calorie counting, and monitoring “input” and “output” will cause more damage to our mental health than benefits to our physical health.
Research papers worldwide have shown that the size of our bodies doesn’t necessarily determine our health. In fact, crash diets and exercise programs leading to quick, significant weight loss (which will inevitably come right back when you get back to your normal routine) can cause worse long-term health than being steadily heavier. Working out purely to become thin and therefore acceptable in our patriarchal, idealist culture is working out for other people.
I used to do this, and now I’m saying, NO.
I’m not against health. I’m against discrimination against people for living in larger bodies. I promote working out, not to change our body shape or size, but to feel amazing!
Exercise helps us sleep better, concentrate more and remember the good times. It releases natural happy hormones (endorphins) to boost our mood and self-confidence and enables us to tolerate everyday stress more easily. A side effect of keeping active is potentially becoming lighter, but even if you don’t, your heart and lungs will be stronger. You will be more physically and mentally prepared for whatever life throws at you.
You don’t need weights or a gym membership. You don’t need crazy-expensive butt-lift leggings. All you need is a body—whatever that looks like for you. And… move it!
Dance, stretch, bop around doing the housework, walk, run, twerk, cycle, play in the garden with your kids. Move purposely and with intent. Move knowing your mind will thank you for it.