With the new year comes new habits. But habits only stick if you have the right motivation!
You may think that any motivation to get yourself into the gym is a good one. While exercise has so many benefits for your bodily, mental, and emotional health, your motivations to exercise can potentially negate much of your hard work. It’s time to change the narrative. Below are three negative, yet common motivations and how to check your self-talk in order to protect your self-image.
What would it look like if you let yourself have a night out, off the dietary clock, and skipped a workout the next day? If you know that you would not be able to live with yourself if you couldn’t fit a workout in the next day because of the heavy guilt you would feel, then you have succumbed to the "guilt-based workout" method. The mental abuse you are putting yourself through is not worth the extra calories you may have consumed yesterday or the extra calories you “need” to burn today.
To be blunt, it’s a culturally-applauded version of binging and purging. The fitness ads and workout shirts will tell you to work off the weekend. But that is just going to make you feel worse about your body in the long run.
Instead of viewing your body as something you need to control and correct, maybe you allow for a more balanced week. Instead of starving yourself all week so you can let loose on the weekend, allow yourself some wiggle room in your weekly meals and then you will not feel as strong a need to eat all you can in the short Friday night timeframe you have given yourself.
How do you feel about yourself when you hit a wall earlier in your workout than usual? If you feel mad or ashamed and try to push through it, you most likely have succumbed to the “push through it” method.
You have probably seen the “motivational” quotes that tell you to push your limits in your workouts, especially on the days you are not feeling up to it. But, if you trace back the logic of this argument, you are teaching yourself to neglect what your body may be trying to tell you and that a hard workout is always the answer.
Sometimes this method works well. If you know yourself, you can answer this test honestly. For example, if you do not try as hard as you know that you can during your workouts or you skip days willy nilly, then you are not in this camp. You may need a little push to get you back in the gym.
But, for those of you who make yourselves go in to workout because it is Monday and Mondays are the day that you workout — no matter what — then you are the person who should turn off the instagram quotes and take off the darn T-shirt. This motivation is only pushing you towards injury and self-loathing. You may need an extra day off this week. Take it and remind yourself that listening to your body is healthier than pushing yourself past your limits.
Did you get into the gym because you saw a thin, muscular girl running this morning and you looked down to shame your own body? If you make yourself workout in order to fix yourself, you have succumbed to the "look over your shoulder" method. Your workout will not solve or even necessarily change your self-image. The more you look over your shoulder at others who seem to be more fit than you, eat healthier than you, or workout harder than you, the more you will learn to hate the way you look. The harder it will be to actually see positive change. You are beginning down the road of body dysmorphia. When you look in the mirror, you will only see the flaws that the other girl at the gym did not have. But you do. Or at least you think you do.
Show yourself some compassion and block/delete the Instagram or Facebook posts that contain photos you know will trigger your sense of negative self-worth. Switch channels or turn the TV off if you see ads that promote a perfect, skinny body type as the only happy one. Listen to what your friends and family say about themselves, people around them, and see if their words have impacted you to try to fix yourself through exercise. Especially listen to what you say and think about yourself. You may be surprised by how negative and hard on yourself you are. It’s time to look at your body in the mirror and treat it with acceptance and love. It’s your body. You do not need to fix it in order to make it worthwhile.