Do you workout to be healthy or to fit a smaller dress size? I'm sharing my own personal mindset shifts around exercise that have helped me find balance.

Exercise for me is a necessity, it’s not about losing weight, getting a six-pack or thigh gap, it’s all about how it makes me feel. After a period of not working out, I feel sluggish and tired and generally blah. Moving my body and getting those endorphins pumping really helps me to feel fabulous and energised, but it hasn’t always been this way.

Last week, I shared my personal battle of feeling like a fraud as an advocate of the body positivity movement and this has prompted me to open up more about my wellness journey.  Today I thought I would dive in with my relationship with exercise as it’s undergone a transformation over the past few years.  

I’ll be honest with you, my mindset was completely effed up where fitness was concerned and I was a slave to the gym. Generally, my routine would revolve around cardio (because that’s the gateway to being skinny, right?) and I was hitting the treadmill 6 times a week, whether my poor body was exhausted or not.  On top of this was the tremendous guilt when I didn’t manage to squeeze in a workout and would compensate by eating less and depriving my body of what it really needs.  Typing this out reminds me of how naive I was and how consumed I had become by the diet culture.

Exercise was a form of punishment if I’d eaten too much the night before. Additionally, when I missed a workout I would lift heavier weights or work my body even harder in the gym to overcompensate for the lost workout.  Going to the gym back then was about wanting to lose weight (that I didn’t need to lose) or fit into my clothes that I had outgrown.  To be clear, there is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight and feeling good about yourself.  I champion anyone who is on a journey to a healthier version of themselves with the fierce desire to love their bodies.

Here’s the thing,  I wasn’t working out to become healthy, my mindset was totally geared to working out as much as I could because being smaller equaled happiness.  I thought I had to and it was the only way that I would feel fabulous again.  Going to the gym and training hard under the pretense of wanting to get fitter actually concealed the damaging relationship that I had with my body.  If you’re practicing a routine of unhealthy habits and hiding them under the veil of wellness that’s just one long road to self-sabotage and a broken relationship with your body – you need a reality check!   

It’s taken a lot of mindset work, but I’m in a better place.  I’m much kinder to my body and treat it with the love and respect that it deserves.  This is the only body that I will ever have, so it’s my responsibility to care for it the best that I can.  Most certainly, there are times when I’m still getting  it wrong, it’s definitely a work in progress. However, identifying where I went wrong has allowed me to heal my relationship with my body and has helped me get to the place that I am today.  

Sometimes life gets in the way and we can’t fit everything into our day. This is OK, we haven’t failed ourselves. This is just reality and there’s no reason in this world that our bodies should take a beating as a result.   I wish I had acknowledged all of this back then because it would have saved me lots of anxiety and body image issues and allowed me to enjoy my life instead of focusing aesthetics.  Seriously, is putting on a couple of pounds or missing a workout the worse thing that can happen in this world. Simple answer; hell no! 

With running my business, a husband, and a spirited toddler, working out can sometimes take a back seat, but I’m OK with this because my priorities have changed. I’ve given myself the permission to be flexible, reign things in and focus on other important aspects of my life.  Exercise will always be there and I know that I will return to it when I can. I’m not going to shoehorn it into my day when I don’t have the time because I will hate every minute of it.  

Life is far too short to be doing something that isn’t bringing you joy.  Just because I’m not working out as much as I used to that doesn’t mean that I’m going to pile on the pounds overnight, let’s be real here.  Currently, exercise looks like a 5 minute yoga routine to stretch in the morning and 2-3 gym workouts a week.  I haven’t had a gym membership for over 2-years and I’m really enjoying feeling the sweat on my face again.   There’s the difference, I’m actually enjoying my gym workouts and they’re bringing joy to my day.  If I have to miss a workout, I’m OK with that because I know the world isn’t going to come to and end if I have to prioritise something else.  

I’ve really found a groove with my exercise routine that works for me, however, that’s not to say I won’t feel differently in a few months time.  If and when my current routine isn’t enriching my life or bringing me joy that’s when it’s time to check in with myself and change things up.  

Exercise shouldn’t be punishing or grueling, it should be something that you enjoy doing.   It’s definitely worth taking the time to find your favourite way to move your body.  This may not be the gym, but a long walk in the countryside, running, dancing, yoga, rock climbing – whatever it is, embrace it and love it!  Workout because you adore how it makes you feel not because you want to be smaller or fit into a certain dress size – it’s definitely a happier and balanced way to be!  

If you feel that you need more balance in your life, I will be running my FREE Balance Bootcamp starting on Monday 12th June.  To find out more details and to reserve your spot click here