WHY DO YOU WORKOUT?

It’s no doubt that you’ve seen the body positivity movement on social media. It’s a movement that I’d like to say I’m part of and something that I feel is an important message. That being said I do feel that some messages have been slightly lost or misconstrued along the way, so wanted to share my thoughts and feelings with you all on the blog, where I have a bit more space than just an Instagram caption.

I workout for many reasons. I used to run to help lift my stamina levels, as it was always something I struggled with. I hated running for a while, then I learned to love it and then I had to stop due to injury. I also ran because it was a great way of doing exercises in just 30 minutes, being outside in the fresh air and burning some energy to make room for some yummy food. OH GOSH NO! Did I just say that I went running to burn calories?! If you want to word it like that, then yes. And this is where the issues lies for me.

Because there is so much talk around mental health and eating disorders – which is awesome – I feel that we’re almost scared to say that we’re working out for aesthetic reasons, because it might imply that we’re not happy with the body we have and therefore might have a bad mental relationship with our body. So it sounds pretty strung out to write it down, but this is how the world of social media can work sometimes, people are very quick to judge and quick to assume that they know exactly what’s going on in someone else life.

It’s important to recognise when you do have a bad relationship with food and exercise, but it’s also important to know that it’s ok to want to look good and there should be no shame in that. And remember that looking good to one person is very different to the next, as is feeling good.

Maybe you went on a two week holiday, ate all of the pizza and ice cream (go you!) and just want to get back on track now that you’re home. Honestly I think that’s awesome and maybe it’s just me being a blogger that I somewhere along the way stopped sharing those kind of things because I was worried how it would be perceived by my followers. Especially as I have spoken openly about having body dysmorphia and a history of eating disorders. Or is that you too? Do you feel the pressure to only be working out for mental health reasons rather than the desire for a body that when you look in the mirror you say “damn right, I’m beautiful!” I’m not saying you shouldn’t already say those things now. You are SO much more than your body. You have a soul that no doubt lights up a room when you walk in, but you also have every right to want to get a sweat on and feel like super woman (or man) for it and have a body that is strong, that you’re proud of.

So even though there is an underlying desire for me to ‘look good” and that’s why I workout, there is also a lot more to it than that. I’ve said this in so many blog posts over the years and I will say it again. Do something that you enjoy. If you find yourself dreading going to the gym and marching on a treadmill for a hour, ditch it and find something new.

The two things that I hugely recommend when it comes to training are the enjoyment that I just spoke about and goal setting. Goals that have nothing to do with how you look. Maybe it’s a goal to do a pull up. Maybe it’s a goal to squat with a heavier weight. Maybe a goal to compete in a crossfit competition. To do your yoga teacher training. To understand the mechanics of your body even better. Whatever it is, goals are healthy to have. Both long and short term, so I recommend making some if you haven’t already.

Anyway, as you can see, this ramble wasn’t made for an Instagram caption. I’d love to know your thoughts on this. Why do you workout? Do you think it’s ok to do exercise to look good? If yes, do you feel ok talking about that or do you keep those things to yourself? How does it make you feel when you see someone talking about getting “bikini body ready” on social media.

Personally I think all of these things are ok, as long as the messaging is healthy. I’m not a fan of “Get shredded abs in 4 weeks” or “Lose fat fast”, but I do think it’s ok to want a strong body and to want to lose a bit of weight if you’re doing it sensibly.

Love, Cat x

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5 Comments

  1. Holly
    August 29, 2018 / 7:24 pm

    I workout for to try and stay in shape and keep fit but mostly because of how it makes me feel. I HATE the feeling of sluggishness, laziness or not being productive with my day and going to the gym makes me feel good. I feel more fresh, energised and lighter after a workout. However, I do get the guilt if I miss a session and start to worry. Sometimes social media can add to my guilt because I see people training every single day and looking great but most of the time I find it inspiring and motivating as long as it’s done in the right way. X

  2. Alice
    August 29, 2018 / 10:19 pm

    Hi Cat, this is a really great post! I completely agree with everything you have said.

    Exercise is so personal and everyone has different reasons for keeping fit. I think it’s perfectly okay for people to want to exercise to look and feel good and but it needs to conveyed that this is someone’s personal and long term lifestyle choice rather than a quick fix to look a certain way compared with someone else. As long as people use themselves as a benchmark to set realistic goals rather than comparing themselves with other peoples figures.

    I think that people that choose to keep fit to look a certain way need to be so mindful of who sees their public posts because it can be so easy for people to see a photo and instantly create unrealistic and unattainable goals and I must admit I have been there myself!

    Personally I now exercise because it makes me feel good, and I know it is one way I can be in control of my physical and mental health. I also like to challenge my fitness and want to stay strong so I can do my job well (I’m a Physio) I think the reasons should look into the long term for it to be a sustainable lifestyle choice and should only be intrinsic rather than motivations coming from others.

  3. Petra
    August 30, 2018 / 8:00 am

    Hi Cat!
    First let me say that I love you for your positive attitude…love to see your IG and Simba, offcourse 🙂
    Why do I work out? hmmm…mostly to look good. I have other ways to stay calm and to work on my mental health (yoga (if I doo a good vinyasa flow – that’s my workout for the day), meditation, listening to music, long(lazy) walks with my dog, books..). I’m quit a foodie….LOVE good vegan food, so If I want to keep my body I have to work for it 🙂 I’m all about working out and eating healthy, but my body puts everything I eat on my belly 🙂
    My next goal is to do my yoga teacher trainiing….soooo excited!
    Love from Slovenia,
    Petra

  4. August 30, 2018 / 10:15 am

    Such a topical subject! I think thanks to society we all suffer from a little body dysmorphia from time to time. I first got into exercise in my teens because I wanted to feel strong, physically and mentally. It was also a way for me to take back some control over my life. Moreover, I had endometriosis symptoms flare up and so had to manage my diet. At some point it did turn into an unhealthy obsession, well what I consider unhealthy. I was overly conscious of what I ate and would keep track of how many calories I was burning on gym machines. I realised that whenever I was going through an emotionally challenging time in my life, it affected all areas, including my relationship with health and fitness.
    Suffice to say, the older I’ve become, the more challenges I’ve overcome and the more confident I feel in my own skin. I’ve learnt so much about my body, I better understand my dietary needs and now my actions and motivations are to maintain a healthy body and mind. I feel stronger and look stronger. The two will always be interlinked.
    We all have our own journeys. If any-one reads too much into yours, it’s a reflection of their own inner-workings. And that’s something we all need to work on x #mentalhealthawareness

  5. October 23, 2018 / 1:52 pm

    Hey Cat, I really like that you covered this topic.

    I think finding joy in exercise is crucial to making it a healthy habit. As a personal trainer I see SO many people come in and out of exercise because they are just trying to force themselves to do something, purely for the aesthetics.

    I agree that most of us would like to look good too but if its forced and you hate it it will never become enjoyable and won’t benefit the rest of your life positively, like exercise should!

    Yoga and some quick strength workouts are what work for me as a busy mum. I enjoy it, it gives me energy, keeps me grounded (and sane) and I know I’m setting a good example for my kids.

    Hell yees to a strong body!!

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