Are you Missing the Point of Exercise?
Exercise for the sole purpose of weight-loss is setting yourself up for failure
If you are only exercising in the name of weight loss or making your body smaller, you are entirely missing the point of exercise.
I say this as someone who entirely missed the point of exercise for years. I internalized exercise = weight loss and smaller body = better body narrative that we are soaking in every single day and tbh, I am angry that this is the world we live in and I hope my pain and experience can help shift your perspective.
It wasn’t until I blew out my hip joint so terribly that I had to take a year off of strenuous exercise, that I was able to examine my relationship between exercise and my body. I was so focused on how my body wasn’t changing enough, that I missed how I caused my own injury by not paying attention to the cues my body was providing for me to stay safe.
I was driven to exercise not for how it made me feel, but for how it could make me look and honestly, I felt shame for years that I didn’t look different despite how often I exercised. I felt I must be doing something wrong that I wasn’t smaller or more muscular. I felt full-on betrayed that my body didn’t reflect the work that I put into it. I felt judged by others who knew how much I worked out and I assumed they thought I should look different too, that my body should take up less space, that my muscles be more pronounced. I had no idea that this was all internal and that while others may have been judging me, the person who was making my life a living hell was me.
Have you missed the point of exercise?
Did you know it is a time of moving meditation, of creating resilience, of releasing stress and stuck emotions?
Are you punishing yourself because you are so results focused that you are causing your body harm like I did for so long?
Are you creating an internal hostile environment for yourself because nothing is ever good enough for you because the standards for women’s bodies are moving goalposts set up for failure?
It makes me so angry and sad that how we view bodies, especially women’s bodies, is so harmful that even the joy of exercise is taken from us.
You do not have to exercise for weight loss. You do not have to exercise to change your body.
Exercise to CELEBRATE YOUR BODY. Exercise to free yourself from all the old trauma that’s literally stuck inside you. Exercise because your body is a temple just as it is.
If you are steeped in diet culture like I was for so long that this seems impossible, know that it is all about small steps to open your mind to the possibilities beyond weight loss. Yes, exercise can change your body, but it can also change your mind.
If you are working so hard that you are experiencing injury, take the time to connect with your heart and listen to what your body is telling you. Honor your body with rest. Honor your body with gentle movement. Honor your body by loving it as it is.
I want to know your feelings and experience — have you over-exercised to the point of harm?
Are you ready to let go of weight loss as the ultimate marker of success?
If so, take some time to think about the following things and discuss them with a friend, your therapist, or write them in a journal:
How does exercising make you feel?
Why am I exercising?
If movement is about celebrating my body and releasing stress, what would I do differently? What would stay the same?
Take time to sit with your answers.
Letting go of diet culture and being at home in your body takes time. I’ve been doing this work consciously for 3 or 4 years at this point and it’s still an uphill battle some days. Be gentle with yourself.
Follow some anti-diet accounts and find movement teachers who prioritize your feelings over appearance.
You’ve got this.