Are You Working Out for the Right Reasons?Posted: August 13, 2012 in Getting Active by Craig Primack MD FACP
Before your next workout, pause for a moment to think about just why you’ve committed yourself to improving your physical fitness. Yes, you need to exercise regularly to meet the guidelines of your medical weight loss program in Chandler and Scottsdale, but are you using exercise exclusively to accomplish that goal? “Diet and exercise” are so frequently uttered in the same breath that it can become difficult to separate the two—and this can make exercise seem like a necessary, but tedious evil.
We often get so caught up in the number on the scale that nothing else seems important, but your weight is just a number. The real progress you make with medical weight loss comes with learning to live better, to adjust your behavior in ways that help you move forward in a positive way while also, consequently, helping you lose weight.
Many of us pursue medical weight loss to feel better about ourselves, to improve body image issues that may be holding back our self-esteem. If you see exercise as a necessary evil, you may stay dedicated enough to slim down, but focusing on how exercise helps you improve your lifestyle is the true path to satisfaction and happiness with your body.
The goal isn’t to lose weight. Your path to weight loss is the goal.
Don’t look at that intimidating final goal weight as your ultimate objective—the steps you take to live better are what really matter. The eyes of others at your gym may be intimidating, but remember that what they think doesn’t matter—your goal is to get healthier for you, and you shouldn’t let anyone take that away from you.
Exercising for the right reasons can be one of the fastest ways to improve your body image, but only if you allow it to be a guide and teacher in your journey instead of a dreaded chore. Here’s how to develop a positive attitude towards your workout.
- Work out for your body’s benefit. Any reason to get active is a good reason, so don’t get too hung up on the source of your motivation if it gets you out the door. That being said, exercising because you want to take good care of your body will help you affirm the fact that you and your body are friends. You aren’t working against your body as you exercise; you’re working with it to achieve a common goal. Listen to what your body is telling you and you’ll find the experience much more pleasurable.
- Challenge yourself. You can become more engaged in your exercise routine by setting performance goals. As you reach and surpass each of your personal bests the improvements you observe can do wonders for your self-esteem and commitment. Try holding little competitions with yourself and attempt to beat your records a few times each month, then reward yourself when you succeed. To keep track of your efforts, it may be a good idea to record everything in a journal. You can even pay attention to how exercise impacts your mood and take note of how each activity and intensity level influences your state of mind.
- Have some fun. Picture an elementary school playground at recess, with kids running, jumping, screaming, laughing, hopping, skipping—you couldn’t stop them from being active if you tried. You were once like them, but who says you have to change? We may become more mature as we get older, but each of us still carries that desire to let loose and play. Instead of suffering through another boring treadmill session, get a workout with games, sports and activities that you’d want to do even if they didn’t burn calories. Get creative and mix things up a bit with Frisbee, golf or roller skating—anything you can get excited about.
Research shows that those who exercise regularly have a higher self-esteem and feel better about their bodies, but exercising for the right reasons can be even more beneficial to your body image and motivation. If you think of exercise as a tiresome chore, rethink your approach and get back out there—it’s never too late for a positive change.