Have you ever stopped to think about why you are exercising? Lately I've been thinking about this more and more...
I used to work out for one reason. To look good. I think when we are younger we don't think as much about exercising for "health" because we feel invincible. As we get older, we still want to look good, but that comes as an added bonus to being "healthy". For exercising to be part of my "lifestyle"...I realized I had to change my mindset about exercise, or else it wouldn't last. So I did.
I think it's so important to change our mindset about the reason why we exercise to have a healthy balance between health and vanity. One of the things I love about the gym I've been going to is their philosophy. Their workouts are designed to incorporate movements that will enhance daily tasks and boost your overall quality of life.
I found the following article on Urbanfitt that explains this subject so well that I'd like to share it with all of you. By understanding the difference, I'm hoping it can help others embrace fitness as a "lifestyle", instead of a short-term goal.
The difference between fitness for health vs. fitness for vanity is pretty simple:
In training for health, we use exercise like medicine. We exercise in a way on any given day with a flexible approach so that we are giving our bodies exactly what they need in the moment. Exercise is not depleting and works to make our immune systems stronger, our sleep better quality, calms our nervous system and helps us also find a state of relaxation and peace of mind. We expect to feel energized after a workout, not like crashing on a couch. We look at exercise as a way to build chi, not a way to look better. If we have the energy to push ourselves harder than usual and our intuition is pointing us in this direction we go for it. If we feel depleted and our body feels leaden and heavier than usual, we let go of plans for an intense workout and work in a more restorative way. And in so doing, we will improve our vitality which will improve the way we look in the end anyway. It’s easier to stay the course when choosing to focus on health because their is no end goal. It is a way of being. Focusing on physical appearance while ignoring the spiritual and emotional issues we struggle with is not about health and is dysfunctional.
In training for vanity we set goals based on an external appearance. A certain size waist, bicep circumference, dress size. The underlying focus is that “life will be better when I achieve these goals”. I find that people who pursue fitness from this perspective don’t stay the course because they aren’t moving in a conscious way in alignment with their deepest selves. There’s a shorter term end goal. Once someone achieves this goal, then what? Will they ever be happy with the way they look? Or will there be something else to work on. We might find ourselves ignoring signals from our bodies to tell us to change course. Injuries, over training, constant colds or illnesses might hit us but we ignore our body telling us we aren’t helping it and instead, stay they course with an original plan that isn’t actually making us healthier. The typical way men train for vanity is in overdoing chest work to compromise upper body structural balance possibly leading to shoulder injury. The typical way women train for vanity is in avoiding muscle building activities or going on heavily restrictive diets that are nutritionally insufficient. I could name a plethora of fitness gurus who tap into people’s desire for this type of fitness but will bite my tongue.
I thought I’d share because I’ve been in both camps and have decided to choose the first option for the type of messaging I want to put out into the universe...
I'm excited to think of exercise in a new light. Exercise can be any type of movement...it can be fun! It doesn't have to feel like torture or work. I think we should be liberated from the elliptical trainers and the treadmills...and get outside!
The next time you exercise, maybe you need to take it more seriously. Instead of thinking... "I'm doing this to look good." This makes me feel like, "Well, I must not look good now." Instead, try this... say to yourself "I'm doing this for my health and peace of mind...I'm saving my life." It feels good. That makes me feel happier now...not I'll be happy when...
I hope this makes you think about why you exercise and decide to have a healthy balance between health and vanity. It's okay to still want to look good, I still do. Just don't let that be the only reason. Do it for health and peace of mind....the good news is, it will improve the way we look in the end anyway;) We'll just be a whole lot happier on that journey.