Fitness and the all or nothing mentality
“If I’d get one dollar for every time I promised myself on New Years’s Eve that I’ll work out five days a week, do cardio, stretching, yoga, and jogging, I’d have at least five dollars now.
“And for the longest time, this is how I viewed the perfect fitness routine. I had to go to the gym at least five days a week, otherwise, it wasn’t good enough. Or when I knew I couldn’t make it to the gym every day I wouldn’t even try to just go for a quick workout once or twice. It had to be all or nothing.
“And even if I walked almost ten thousand steps one day, took the dog out for multiple walks, I felt as if those things just don’t count. That those things are not even considered “real sport”. So I felt like a failure all the time.
“I wish I had the mindset back then that I have today. My relationship with exercise probably wouldn’t have been so hard and miserable.” – the author
The Benefits of Sport
Why do we work out? Let’s start with that question.
An active lifestyle is recommended by probably every single health professional and that can’t be a coincidence or a conspiracy theory.
A regular workout routine can reduce the risk of several chronic diseases, help with cognitive health, enhance sleep quality, support our immune system, and regulate energy, too. It can lead to better emotional regulation and an increased serotonin level (happy hormone) in our bodies.
Blockages and Misconceptions
Now we know that a healthy and regular fitness routine is like the perfect wonder substance. But why don’t we take advantage of it then? Why can’t we stick to our New Year’s resolutions?
Let’s break it down to a few possible and pretty common blockages people can experience during their fitness journey.
Being too idealistic: Waking up at 5 am and working out every morning before going to work sounds super inspiring, but for most people, this idea of perfectionism is just not realistic or achievable.
Being able to hop on the 75 hard, or 75 soft, or any similar trends like that, means a certain amount of privilege, too. Working out five or even seven days a week is just not a possibility for so many individuals for various reasons.
One size fits all: The social media we consume daily tells us that fitness has to look a certain way. It has to be running in the morning after a green juice or lifting heavy in the gym for 2 hours. But what if those types of activities don’t bring joy and value, or are not accessible for everybody?
What if you don’t want to do those things but you still have a longing for physical activity? Where are the other options and why aren’t they talked about enough?
Resources and inspiration: This ties into the previous problem as well. How can we find alternatives when the whole world insists on chasing these idealist images of fitness and health in general? How can we shift our mindsets and find sport in everyday tasks, too?
Let Go of Perfectionism
Now we gathered a few ways how we, social media, and society, sabotage our fitness journey. But how should we break free from these cycles? How should we build a sustainable and healthy relationship with exercise?
The most important step is probably to let go of the idealistic and overly aesthetic ideas of what sport has to be. Let’s look beyond the ideas of social media.
It’s better to exercise one day of the week than none. It’s better to go on a short walk if you can’t make it to the gym than just not do anything at all. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Find Joy in Fitness
You can’t even stand the thought of going to the gym, running, or going to classes? Do you find those too expensive, exhausting, or stressful? Then don’t do these things!
You don’t need to force yourself into activities you don’t enjoy, because even with the greatest motivation it is going to feel like a test every single day.
Find a movement that brings you genuine joy! It can be something really small like walking to a few places during your day instead of going by car or taking the bus.
Try a variety of exercises! There are tons of amazing videos online from real people! You can try yoga (look for an authentic practicer if you can), dancing, boxing, jump roping and so many more! And when you feel like even 20 sit-ups in your bed seems like a struggle, just do a 1-minute gentle stretching.
Build a Community
Going to the gym alone can sometimes be frightening (especially for fem-presenting or LGBTQIA+ individuals). Having a gym buddy or someone who holds you accountable can lift a huge weight off your shoulders and provide motivation.
If going to the gym is not your thing, then you can take advantage of technology. Agree on a time when you can and a buddy can both do a little workout from home while face-timing. Or, if you like being outside and organizing things, you can even bring together a little event in a park or in any other public place to do some community exercise. Click to read more about the benefits of working out outdoors!
Shift your mindset
Living an active life is not a competition, aesthetic, or challenge. You need to find a way to fill your day up with a gentle movement that energizes you and provides some clarity and calmness.
It can look very different to each person and you definitely don’t need to follow your favorite influencer’s routine if their preferred type of exercise just doesn’t work out for you. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you need to prioritize other things in your life, and you don’t have time or the energy for a 1,5 or even a 45-minute workout.
Make small adjustments and it will pay off soon!