Why is it that so many people still see exercise purely as a way to lose weight? Something that has to be endured, or done purely to ‘burn off’ the calories after eating something they deem as ‘bad’ like a burger?
There is nothing wrong with having physique goals, but there is so much more to exercise. And once you find those reasons, I can guarantee you’ll actually enjoy exercising rather than dread it, and you will reach your goals in a way that you love and the results will actually be sustainable.
I may not have been through a weight loss body transformation, but this doesn’t make my journey any less inspirational so let’s tell you a little more about it…I’ll keep it brief…
On first glance, you may look at me and think I have always been into my fitness. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. When I was at school, I would do anything to avoid as many PE lessons as possible. I have double jointed knees, so it was pretty easy for me to get out of things like cross country, but the rest I just had to endure. I have always been naturally slim, so I didn’t feel like I needed to exercise, as like the majority of people, I thought of it as a means to an end when you wanted to lose some weight.
Fast forward to life in my early 30’s. I didn’t have children, but I did have an active husband. I had dabbled in the odd yoga class and netball game, but other than that, I had been pretty sedentary for the most part of my life (when I say I was sedentary, what I mean is I didn’t ever do any planned sport or exercise). I didn’t have any interest in the gym – in fact, the thought of the gym filled me with absolute dread and fear.
We used to get to the weekend, and my husband would suggest going for a bike ride, or going out for a long walk and I just wasn’t interested. I was at my happiest sat on the sofa with a sweet cup of tea (2.5 sugars worth of sweetness to be precise) and a packet of chocolate biscuits. I could tell he was frustrated with me, and I think I was frustrated with myself, but I had no energy or motivation to change.
But as time went on, I started to look at my body as what it could (or couldn’t) do rather than its size and shape. I work in events, and the events I was now working on were getting bigger, meaning the set up of them was a lot more physically demanding. I wanted to be stronger…and that right there was my moment. The moment I realised that I wanted to exercise for a reason that wasn’t weight related.
From here on, I looked at exercise as something that was going to make me stronger. As soon as I started to see the progress I was making, I started to look forward to going to the gym. And then I started to notice all the other benefits….
I was getting more confident, I was feeling good about myself, I felt empowered, I had a shit tonne more energy, I was motivated, I was enjoying being active, I was getting stronger, my knees no longer hurt and I was learning a lot about myself.
Like I said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a goal of losing weight if that’s what you want. But I would highly recommend having that as a ‘side goal’. Make your main goal something that has nothing to do with what you look like. Be it to be able to do a full push up, 10 unassisted chin ups, run a 5k in under 25 minutes, run a marathon, master a box jump, hold a plank for 60 seconds with perfect form…the list is endless. I genuinely believe having a goal like this is a healthy way to look at exercise.
The weight loss is likely to follow, but it’s not healthy to have that as the pure reason to exercise….
It takes a long time, and a lot of consistency to see any physical changes to your body. I think that is why so many people give up so quickly. They only have weight loss as a goal, they don’t see the changes in the mirror as quickly as they would like and then give up altogether. I truly believe that if you stop looking in the mirror every day for those changes, you stop comparing the way you look to others all the time, and focus on the mental benefits, the benefits to your fitness levels and a non scale related goals, you will in turn see the physical benefits too. Because by then, you will be so in love with the way you feel, you will be excited to exercise and will have formed a habit that is improving your life.
People often ask me where I get my motivation from. And I can honestly say, it’s down to the fact that I don’t want to go back to how I was before. I have a spring in my step, I feel so much healthier and actually feel like I am living. I can keep up with my husband on the bike (just about) and I genuinely love the way I feel. I still enjoy sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea and a few chocolate biscuits (rest is important!) but now I feel good about myself when I am doing it.
My goal when I started training was to be able to do 1 chin up. I can now do 9 in a row (on a good day!!) and 2 with 10kg attached to me! And then I was talked into competing at a local Powerlifting competition. I was just going to have some fun and enjoy the experience…….and I only went and bloody qualified for the British Masters competition later in the year (which obviously probably won’t happen now, but hey…I qualified!)! The feeling after this was amazing. I felt so proud of myself. It had taken me a long time, but I had finally (at the age of 39) realised the benefits of exercise went far beyond bodyweight.