Last week when I made the post about having a healthy relationship with food, there were a couple of people that asked about what it looked like to have a healthy relationship with exercise. While this is not something that I struggled with, I know that it's something that many do struggle with. The biggest thing with any of these topics to determine if you are mentally sound about it or not is just how you feel and approach the topic. I think it's appropriate to ask yourself some questions for this topic.
1. ARE YOU ENJOYING YOUR FORM OF EXERCISE?
I feel as if I'm a pretty good example of this. Do I think that my sport of choice is going to give me my desired body shape? Actually no. When I was training for the ironman, I had to stop lifting, and then I went vegan so I have lost a substantial amount of muscle. As of last week actually, I felt that it was something that I need to really focus on during an off season because I want to be strong for my sport, but I choose my sport of running because I LOVE IT. I love to run and I love to lift, but I basically love to do both and there's nothing that is going to change that. For a while, I only lifted and I did gain muscle during that time, but I always had this longing to get back to running, so I did.
I also want to add in here that it really is possible to maintain muscle mass while running and training for marathons, and I have written many blog articles about it, but I literally stopped lifting AT ALL and I stopped eating protein AT ALL soooooo...you can't expect any different. haha!!
2. DO YOU DO YOUR PARTICULAR WORKOUTS JUST TO CHANGE YOUR BODY?
I think this can go hand in hand with #1! Are you just doing these exercises and hating them the entire time? That would be miserable. I was thinking about how if you don't actually LOVE the sport that you're doing, then you can easily form a hatred for the gym if you do morning workouts. If your soul purpose is to change your body then how miserable to wake up at 5am to work out. I don't know about you but I'm a different human at 5am, and I'm not very enthused about what's going on. haha! However, I have huge goals in marathon running, so I'm able to pop out of the bed knowing that these huge dreams that I've set for myself are not going to be accomplished if I don't get up and get moving.
I know that it's unrealistic for everyone to have a sport that speaks to their soul the way that I feel about running, but I do think that it's possible to find what you love and not what you hate and dread in exercise. Did you play soccer growing up? Well find a local indoor soccer team! Tennis? Your local YMCA probably has tons that you could get involved with.
3. DO YOU FEEL GUILTY IF YOU MISS?
I think this is probably the biggest one. It's one thing to have a little bit of guilt if you miss a workout, but I have been a "fit girl" for about 4 years now, and I cannot tell you how many workouts that I have missed and skipped. LIFE.HAPPENS. It actually bothers me when girls get uptight about 1-2 workouts missed in a week. It really is okay, and with consistency in your training and your gym routine for whatever your goals may be, a missed workout is NOT going to hurt you!!! I repeat... jk I won't repeat. haha!
I'm a weird mix and sometimes wonder how I ever make it to the gym and workouts completed because I'm a little too chill when it comes to workouts. I literally feel zero guilt when I miss. haha! The beautiful thing about the first couple of missed workouts though is that you start to trust yourself more and more. You realize that it really isn't a big deal. If you are someone that has tied yourself to that for years and years and never missed, then I actually encourage you to have a season of missing. It helps you to learn and see that 1) your training will be fine and 2) your body will not change. Because that's just not how it works. Our training and our body changes due to diet and exercise are always on a continuum. The workout that you do today is additive of all of the other ones that you've done as well.
I know though that sometimes this is something that many really struggle with and have for years and place a lot of guilt on themselves if they miss, and I'm not trying to belittle that. Just because it's not something that I struggle with does not mean that it's not very real and harms quality of life. The two tips that I have for this are what I said above about giving yourself a few missed workouts and seeing that you are fine (or even thinking back to missed workouts and remembering that you are in fact fine now) and then the other would be to write it all out. Write out those emotions and how it made you feel. After that, write out worst case scenario. Think about what it is that you are feeling and what you believe will happen if you miss? Where does that land you? Is that place REALLY that bad.
Story time however to let you know you aren't alone if this is something you really struggle with. Sometimes I'm in a room full of people (it should be noted that I LOVE being in a room full of people and parties and Christmas and yayay), I get this feeling in the pit of my stomach like "Something is wrong. I need to leave this space." I have felt this so strongly since I was a kid, and it wasn't until probably the last year that I realized that DUH it's anxiety. Once I'm out of the particular space and home, I'm fine again. I felt it last night and Tanner said "Okay, well take a moment and realize that those emotions are irrational." For some reason, because I'm a woman, that hit me wrong. He was trying to be helpful but I was like DUDE LIKE I DON'T KNOW IT'S IRRATIONAL!!! haha! Point being: You might even know that the feelings that you have towards a missed workout are irrational but sometimes that doesn't stop you from feeling them, and that's okay, but I think it's important to rationalize with yourself and realize that it all will be okay.
4. DO YOU SKIP WORKOUTS YOU ENJOY BECAUSE THEY WON'T CHANGE YOUR BODY THE WAY YOU WANT?
This might not be as common, but I know that for a while, I kept putting running on the back burner because of what everyone always told me. I couldn't have my muscle mass and my running. WRONG-O. But, it is something that I have to work hard for, and sometimes people just stay away from running because of it. They also just might genuinely hate running which that's cool too but I just would never want someone to just do something strictly for their body image versus what they love.
5. DO YOU FEEL GOOD WHEN YOU DO THIS EXERCISE?
EXERCISE TO FEEL GOOD. EXERCISE TO FEEL GOOD. DO NOT EXERCISE TO LOOK GOOD! You can ask literally EVERY single person, I think at least, if they are able to keep a consistent gym//run//tri schedule because it makes them look good or because it makes them feel good. If they have a healthy relationship with exercise, the answer will always be that it makes them feel good. Yes, my 16 miler was hard yesterday morning and I got out of bed like "what in the world am I doing?" hahaha! But, once it was done, I remember every single time why I do this. Because it feels good. It feels good literally until I go to bed and wake up and do it again! It feels good right when you finish and if you are sore then it feels good knowing that you are doing something good for yourself. Maybe that's just me but I love when I'm sore. I'm like YES I WORKED HARD! :) ALWAYS do it to feel good not look good.
6. DO YOU DREAD GOING TO THE GYM?
My personal opinion is that you can be a healthy individual and not step foot in the gym. If you don't like the gym, and you have tried to create habits there and every time you end up defeated and hating it, then I say skip it. If you find something at home that you like it or you just simply enjoy walking outside your house sometimes, then that is fine. I get a lot of people in my hometown that say "Oh I can't look like you because you run all the time." First, I looked like this before I ran marathons. haha! And second, it really is possible to get all of the results that you want (for the most part if you aren't super picky and just want to lose a little weight) with diet alone. You NEED to be happy and the things that you do every day should bring you joy.