Ready for your annoyingly positive quote of the day? (I know, I’m lame, but those Pinterest motivational quote boards are almost like a guilty pleasure for me. Whatever, judge away..)
“Work out because you love your body, not because you hate it.”
In a society that’s uber-focused on diets, fitness, and -let’s be honest here- vanity, it seems like an awful lot of people only see exercise as a way to get that hot bod’. Okay, yeah, that might be a cool bi-product of working out, but I really think the main goal should be pleasure. You know – endorphins, serotonin, all those happy mind/body chemical thingies.
Even beyond not focusing on how we can change our bodies, how about appreciating what our bodies already are and are capable of? Too often we forget how impressive our bodies already are. I have to thank yoga, and my darling yoga teacher, April, for reminding me of this over and over.
April always has wise words, but some that have stuck with me the most are about gratitude. Gratitude for our friends, family, good things in our lives, but especially for our health, which so many of us just take for granted. When you think about how many people are stuck in an hospital bed and would give anything to be in your place on the yoga mat, you kinda realize just how lucky you are.
Just being able and healthy enough to come to class and move through even the simplest of vinyasas is a privilege. I’m far from the poster-child for a healthy body image, but yoga has helped me adjust my mindset. I think that’s part of what hooked me in. Instead of worrying about the hated-body-part-of-the-day, yoga reminds me how great those legs, arms, belly, or even toes(?) really are. It changes the negative, uselessly hateful thoughts into “hey, look what weird shape I can bend into!”, or “wow, I’m getting so much stronger!”. Even after all the years of wear and tear and being unappreciated, my body hasn’t given up on me – and that’s definitely something to be grateful for.
I’m not saying everyone should just abandon their fitness goals and embrace the sloth life. As always, balance is key. Work hard for the body you want, but don’t forget about the amazing body you already have. Think kinder thoughts about your body – self hatred is never gonna get you anywhere. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and toned abs aren’t going to mean anything if you hate yourself.
I know it all sounds trite and all “yeah, easy for you to say”, but just give it a shot. Next yoga class, leave your bad vibes at the door. Wear clothes you feel confident in – that makes a huge difference too. Any critical, mean thoughts about your butt or your thighs or your whatever, give ’em the boot. Really try to notice what makes your body feel good, and what you’re proud of that body for doing. Self-love and gratitude – make that part of your yoga routine.
Our healthy bodies are so impressive and strong and so, so resilient – it’s time we appreciated that a bit more.