Exercise motives that are based strictly on looking good or losing weight negatively affect our health. Everybody has a different idea about what they believe to be a healthy looking body, but if looks are the only reason for exercising, that can limit the potential for progress in other aspects of our health. Exercise is a great tool for physical strength, mental well-being, managing pain, improving our quality of life, and preventative healthcare.
When our only objective is to lose weight when we exercise this can lead us on a path of body destruction by doing whatever it takes to lose that last 5 pounds. This can lead to overtraining, poor form, building bad habits, and crash dieting. It really is true that “slow and steady” wins the race. We have to think of our health as something long term and not something that is going to be fixed overnight or maintained without continuous effort.
The quick fix is enticing for everyone because we want our efforts to pay off immediately. When all of our hard work doesn’t illicit results right away we start getting frustrated and turn to magic pills, not eating enough, and then eating too much, exercising so intensely that our form turns poor and our chance of injury increases, or we just get fed up and throw in the towel all together. Instead of eating a little less at each meal and exercising a little more at each workout and building habits that we can maintain, we sabotage our success by trying to change everything at once and then expecting that change to manifest into accomplishing our goals right then and there.
Instead of having goals based only on physical aspects of health, like trying to look like the fitness models in magazines. Create goals that enhance other aspects of your health. Start off small, like trading french fries for a salad, and do it for the benefit of adding more veggies to your diet instead of doing it because it’s less calories so you know you’ll lose weight. If your goals change from losing weight to eating more vegetables you’re more likely to choose meals that are lower in calories anyway, so you’re still likely to lose weight but that’s not your only focus and therefore not the only benefit. By eating more vegetables you can experience natural energy through the day instead of feeling run down, with the new energy you don’t have to wire yourself with caffeine, and so you don’t get dehydrated as often. So now instead of beating your body up to lose a few pounds, you’re building your body up by fueling it with good food and staying hydrated. Habits like these will inevitably lead to healthy weight loss, one of your goals, but not the only one.
If you prioritize other aspects of your health as your motivation for exercising then it’s more likely that you’ll accomplish your goals. From losing weight and getting stronger to managing anxiety and living a fit and healthy lifestyle. Life is short but if your health is compromised then the days drag on and quality of life starts to suffer. Exercising with the right intent will sustain your body and your health to enjoy everything life has to offer for years to come. Keep yourself in the game and take care of your body to promote longevity and function. The days of exercising to look good are fading and the era of exercising to look and feel HEALTHY is in demand!