Motivation Monday: Fitness as Self-Love

What’s your motivation for going to the gym?

It seems like an easy question, and most of us are armed with an appropriate answer: I want to be healthier. I’m training for a marathon. I’m focusing on myself.

Unfortunately, most of our motivation are long-term goals. Health, happiness and endurance don’t come with a few weeks of eating right and hitting the gym. We often root ourselves in the grand scheme of things, focusing on the end result: what I do today will be one tiny building block towards my goal.

That’s the argument here, though: what most of us think of as motivation are actually long-term goals. Motivation is what keeps us going to the gym, day after day and week after week. Motivation is that little voice in your head that persuades you to go to the gym when you’re lying on the couch after a long day at work with your gym clothes on, debating if this workout is really happening.

I have to go to the gym today. We had free pizza at work! Now I really, really have to go. I don’t even have a choice.

We’ve all heard the proverbial angel on our shoulders telling us to get off the couch and lace up our shoes. While this motivation comes in handy before our Wednesday night yoga class, my issue with it is this: it’s almost always negative.

We tell ourselves we have to go lift or go on a run because we’re not good enough as we are. Because we’re bad, or lack will power and self-control. So, we work out, and feel that we’ve done “good” and have counteracted the “bad” and can sleep peacefully.

Yet, the balance of good and bad spurns a cycle of internal debate that never ends. We’re gonna be bad and have a piece of cake, which is ok if we go to the gym later, right? Or, we’re going to the gym (which is good) so we can indulge afterwards, right?

IMG_3329This cycle leads to nothing but stunted progress, weight fluctuation and a whole lot of guilt and self-loathing. When we talk negatively ourselves, we take our own power away and blindly hand it over to our perceived mistakes and flaws.

Nobody’s perfect, of course – we all have our indulgences – but it’s possible to approach them realistically with a change in internal dialogue.

When you shift your mentality about fitness from positive to negative, working out and eating right become a powerful form of self-love. An affirmation of the confidence and care we give to ourselves.  Here’s the difference:

Negative: I have to work out today. I didn’t go to the gym yesterday and ate a cookie and I have to go or else I’ll keep feeling guilty about it.

Positive: I’m going to work out today. I had a stressful week and could really use some time to focus and take care of myself.

Just by switching I have to to I’m going to changes the intention; I don’t’ have to, but I choose to. Because I deserve this “me” time. Instead of us being a slave to our imperfect decisions, we give ourselves back the power. We’re the ones running the show, not our indiscretions.

The side effects to working out and eating well from a place of self-love, as opposed to self-loathing, are dangerous. You can expect a better, more positive and fulfilling workout; a buoyed mental and emotional state; and boosted self-confidence and self-esteem. We are making positive lifestyle choices because we’re living a positive life, full of love for ourselves and our progress.

Mentality changes everything. It really, really does.

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