You would be lying if you told me that exercise hasn’t become a trend, and for many people, a topic with negative diet culture connotations; because of the recent increase in the awareness of our own bodies exercise and movement are being depicted as painful experiences that are more so a punishment than an enjoyment.
In writing this I am speaking from experience, I have personally had an exceptionally bumpy journey with exercise; from representing British Western Counties in Amature Boxing to crawling up the stairs on all four because of my heart refusing to beat, all of which was a consequence of excessive exercise and undereating. Restoring the balance is far from impossible, and achievable by everyone, in this blog I explore the ways that this can be done, and how each one of you can shake out of the unhealthy customs!
It’s not unknown to anyone that a healthy person should exercise, this is something we get taught from a young age and are guided to practice through clubs, lessons, and tv shows. However, what’s beneath all of this media advertisement is often unnoticed and can lead to severe turns in how we perceive ourselves: in the process of drilling this into peoples heads, we convert it into some kind of ritual, that without, an individual may deem themselves unworthy. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in exercise as much any other well-being fanatic, however only if in moderation and for the correct reasons.
Movement, even the most basic, releases endorphins and the ultimate feel-good hormone: serotonin. When we exercise, we stimulate these in our body, this is why you may experience the post-gym ‘high’ feeling, it’s like a rush of sunshine. When, however, we go to the gym or play a sport with the intentions of weight-loss and lack a positive attitude, we end up mentally beating our selves up: you may be angry at your appearance, or your inability to ‘do better’, these invasive thoughts ultimately shun the enjoyment and convert exercise into a punishment. This negativity brings about only more pessimism rather than confidence, and the inner fist fight distracts you from your activity.
A huge factor and consequence of these customs is over-exercising, many of us believe we are doing what is best, that we are being healthy and consequently ignore the signs from our body. Exercise can become a dangerous obsession, and when accompanied by obsessive thoughts of body image perfection, it can lead to serious issues – both mental and physical. An individual may disregard the signals that their body is sending, and continue to put strain on their muscles and joints, which can result in injury and ill-mental health. If exercising is no longer something that we enjoy spending our time doing, then it is no longer good for us; you should take a few days off, have some rest, unwind and collect your thoughts.
Following the previous point, the journey to healing the relationship that you may have developed with exercise should begin, there are many things that you can do to rebuild your bodies trust and blissfulness. First off, create some space and take a break from the gym, initially this may be difficult, but after a few days of self-love, you will see how much better you feel. Secondly, stop being self-critical; having high standards and aspirations is different to hate and punishment. To detach from old customs, you should appreciate yourself, and notice how amazing and powerful you are… tiger. Take some time to compliment yourself – remind yourself daily that it’s not selfish to feel worthy, empowered and the bomb, because these are traits common in all of us. Finally, try something different! I mentioned this in a post on well-being, and it really is a revolutionary step! If your current gym or exercise routine is causing you to distress then change it; change the location, the people you train with or the actual discipline. Instead of spending hours grinding yourself down, join a class or a club, try yoga and discover your dosha, or an extreme sport like boxing or even a spin class. Soon enough you will discover that there is so much out there and that you may just find your new knack!
I am, by no means, trying to convince any of you that it is easy because change never is, neither is acceptance of the truth if it has been your truth for an extensive period of time. What I can promise is that you will be thanking your self for taking the first step to change, this doesn’t have to only apply to the people that are really struggling, it is relevant to all of us; we could all do with a little variation and spice in our monotonous realities, because at the end of the day, you wouldn’t want to eat dry bread for every meal and not enjoy it, so why should exercise be any different?