Exercise Is About Loving Yourself, Not Punishing Yourself

Exercise Is About Loving Yourself, Not Punishing Yourself

Stop exercising out of guilt. It's not worth it.
452
views

"Ugh, I had too many cookies. I will have to go to the gym for hours later."

"I ran three miles, so I can have this ice cream."

"I worked out a lot this week, I can eat whatever I want."

"I cheated on my diet yesterday. I have to go work it all off today."

"I would love to have some of that dessert, but I didn't work out today."

Do any of those phrases sound familiar?

If one or more does, I am so sorry. I've been there. I know how horrible the constant guilt, work-out, repeat cycle truly is.

Exercise mindsets centered around food and dieting and working off what was eaten are unhealthy. They are dangerous and cyclic and a recipe for disaster.

But they are also the norm. They are promoted by society and normalized by peers.

You can find references to "magic" workouts on magazines. Exercise fads are almost as insidious as diet trends! They are discussed almost constantly.

Seriously, I dare you to go a day without hearing (or mentioning) working out, dieting, food or guilt around something you ate.

But, would you like to know a secret?

Exercise. Is. Not. A. Punishment.

Exercise isn't something you do because you think you had one too many cookies.

It isn't something you do because you want to eat a certain way later.

It isn't something that gives you permission to "let loose."

Our society treats exercise like the end-all-be-all of what you can and cannot eat. It is the magic permission slip for dessert. It is the go-to for guilty thoughts and fixing that cheat meal.

(Oh, and those cheat meals... those are bullshit, too.)

Food is not good or bad or healthy or unhealthy. (It's all about that moderation!)

Food is not something you earn.

Food is not something you compensate for with hours on hours of time at the gym.

Let me tell you something. I used to think that food was all of the above. I logged hundreds and hundreds of miles running. I worked out all the time.

I was miserable. I had an eating disorder that constantly told me food was bad. And I punished myself with exercise.

And now, years later, in recovery from my eating disorder and months and months away from compulsive exercise, I look around me and I see the same unhealthy relationship with exercise everywhere.

I hear it in conversations I pass on the street or floating around the air in cafes. I watch it in the monotonous strain of those who attend the college gym with a pained, dead look in their eyes.

It's not healthy.

But, as I have started to add exercise back into my life, I have redefined my relationship with it.

Exercise. Is. Not. A. Punishment.

Exercise is something you do because you have lots of energy and you want to move.

Exercise is something you do to relieve stress...and not the stress that comes from feeling like you ate something you "shouldn't have." (Shouldn't have really doesn't exist, unless, for example, you are lactose intolerant and had a lot of ice cream...)

Exercise is something you do to appreciate all that your body is capable of achieving.

Exercise is something you do because you feel strong and powerful and fierce.

Exercise is something you do to enjoy the outdoors and the fresh air.

Exercise is something you do only when you can enjoy it.

Exercise is something you do because you enjoy it.

Let me say it again... Exercise. Is. Not. Punishment.

Trust me, I have used it as one. The other, enjoyable, self-fulfilling, side of the exercise spectrum is a lot more fun.

Cover Image Credit: Lexi Ann

Popular Right Now

Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
35152
views

You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Men, If The Gillette Commercial Angers You, You Need To Re-Evaluate Your Morals

If you are offended by this commercial, YOU are who the commercial is aimed at.

50
views

On Tuesday, January 15, Gillette, a men's shaving care company, released an extremely controversial commercial. This commercial that has taken over social media by storm shows many different examples of toxic masculinity and how men should encourage other men to be the best they can be, playing off of the company's tagline.

Many people are angry with this commercial, mostly because they believe it to be "anti-male." It first shows different examples of toxic masculinity, such as a dad saying, "Boys will be boys" as his son beats up another kid. It then goes on to other examples, like sexual harassment against women, social media bullying and mansplaining. In the last part of the commercial, it shows different ways men can counteract these same situations in different, positive ways.

I have seen so many tweets of men throwing away Gillette products, cussing out the company and saying they have no right to "come after men" like that. But guess what?

This commercial isn't anti-male. It is all for being a positive influence and a respectful HUMAN.

"Boys will be boys" is not a valid excuse for your son to beat up another kid at school. Mansplaining everything a woman says does degrade her. Standing on the sidelines watching a man make comments to a woman who clearly isn't interested is awful. Just like girls automatically hating other girls is not okay just because it is seen as a societal norm. This isn't about being against men and it never will be.

No, I'm not a feminist because I do not align with the man-hating definition that that word is given in today's society. But I have more respect for the men in my life who don't subscribe to the idea that being a man means that you have to be an immoral, toxic person. This commercial isn't about being politically correct. It's about being a good person and just happens to mention the negative traits that men sometimes exhibit. Just like women do.

The best men in my life are the ones who put their masculinity aside and don't let it infiltrate everything they do. They stand up for other men who are being put down due to who they are. They stand up for women who are being harassed by other men. They teach younger boys how to be respectful, honest, good men so that when they grow up, they can teach their sons the same lessons.

The men who are triggered by this commercial need to look themselves in the mirror and ask why it bothers them so much. Is it because YOU make excuses for the way you act because you're "a man" and it is just "what you do?" Maybe it is because you know it is true, that you can see the toxic masculinity in yourself but don't want to admit it.

Whatever the reason, just understand that the commercial couldn't be further from putting down men. Gillette, and the rest of society, want men to be the best they can be, period.

Related Content

Facebook Comments