The days are getting longer and temperatures are rising. Spring is in full bloom, and summer is on the way. It’s that time of year when we can officially hang up our jackets and look towards “bikini season,” a term that inevitably strikes panic into the hearts of many. There’s a sense of anxiety and guilt around it–and an unnecessary pressure to quickly whip our bodies into shape with the season’s newest workout trend.
As a result, it is all too common to approach fitness as a punishment for not being good enough, for not fitting into someone else’s idea of perfection. This harsh strategy is one of the reasons that the majority of people who make fitness commitments rarely stick to them. Instead of falling into the same vicious cycle this year, try a new approach by adding these body-positive tips into your new workout routine.
Focus on Inner Benefits
There’s a lot more to exercise than toning and losing weight. If you start a fitness regimen only with the goal of achieving certain physical results, it’s likely that you’ll get frustrated and even give up completely. Instead of tracking inches or pounds, write down the way your workouts make you feel. Keeping a record of your feelings is a great way to remind yourself of the inner, more lasting benefits of fitness. Try keeping those notes in areas that you’ll see them, such as the bathroom mirror or your daily planner. Starting the day with a note that says “my workouts give me energy and make me feel resilient” is a more effective and compassionate motivator than “I need to have a six pack by summer.”
Make it Fun
Hate the treadmill or feel like you’d rather get a root canal than do a push-up? There is no need to torture yourself with workouts that you hate. If you try too hard to commit to what you think you should be doing, sticking to a routine will be an uphill battle. There are plenty of ways to work up a sweat that don’t require you to be miserable. If you haven’t found anything that you enjoy, try something new! Take a pole fitness class, visit a yoga studio, or just have a dance party in your living room. There’s really no wrong way to exercise as long as you get moving and stay safe.
Celebrate Challenges as Opportunities for Growth
Rather than beating yourself up because you can’t run as fast as you’d like, or your body gives out before you’ve finished all of your reps, celebrate obstacles as new opportunities to grow. If you were naturally perfect at every exercise you tried, there would be nothing to work on or look forward to. The old cliché “it’s about the journey, not the destination” absolutely holds true with physical fitness. Try to find a playfulness in your journey and don’t distress if you don’t progress as quickly as you’d like. Set new goals for yourself and find ways to celebrate your achievements every time you beat your personal record.
Think of Your Workouts as Self-Care
It’s easy to get into a negative mindset about fitness, approaching workouts as a chore or even retribution for “eating bad” or “being lazy.” This can create dread and suck all of the potential fun out of exercise. Instead of thinking “I have to hit the gym today” in the same way you’d think about getting your taxes done, approach it as a method of self-care. Cherish your commitment to improving your health, and enjoy the break from your endless list of obligations with an opportunity to focus on yourself. This attitude will allow you to find more joy and rejuvenation in your fitness routine.
Thank Your Body
Like many areas of life, when we’re too focused on trying to reach a specific goal, it can be easy to take what we have for granted. Our bodies are no different. Instead of focusing on what you want to change, show gratitude for what you already have. Your body gets you through the work day, allows you to enjoy meaningful relationships, and is the vehicle through which you experience your entire life. Think of exercise as a way to thank your body by making it stronger, healthier, and more resilient. Take a moment before and after a work-out to mindfully appreciate your body because it is an incredible gift.
What are your favorite body-positive workout tips? Share them with us!
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