Yes, this will be another one of those “to exercise or not to exercise” articles. Will you read it? Not necessarily. Will you skim through looking for the words of advice you want to hear? Most likely. It’s okay—we all do. It can’t be helped. But really, why do we choose to exercise? It’s torture, honestly. You bend and break your muscles to your will, day in and day out. All for what? Have you truly thought about why you choose to work out? Or not to work out? Do you like the body you have now? Do you think about the way it will change, especially if you are a woman? Maybe I think too much.
I do feel the need to jump on the bandwagon of “writing an article about exercising” because all too often I step into the gym and within the first 15 minutes’ multiple girls have stepped on and off the scale before, during, and after their workouts. I am not making this up, nor am I exaggerating and quite frankly, it makes me sad. Am I passing judgement? In a certain way, yes I am. We all pass judgement, whether it is a good judgement or a bad judgement. We all come at something with a certain bias that is written into our thoughts before we even think them. But that is a whole other soapbox.
I want to focus on the idea of the scale and what it means, especially to women, because most of my thoughts about myself and my body have revolved around the scale in one way or another, and I get the funny feeling that I am not alone. However, I want to go back to thinking about what it means to worship the scale because I want to tell them, “don’t listen to that hunk of metal! It lies! How you feel is what really should concern you!”
I really wanted to add my voice to the growing numbers of women who are saying, “me too!” when it comes to the struggle of exercising and body image acceptance. I am thankful that in the 21st century, and in recent decades, bodies of all types have become much more accepted and acknowledged on screen and in print. One thing is certain—your own body is not something to be ashamed of. Your will should be the only thing that determines the changes that you choose to pursue, or whether you even want to pursue changing at all. As always, what you are on the outside does not determine who you are on the inside. And all the rest of those cheesy inspirational quotes.
But a few things I have found on my journey from being very athletic as a youngster to much less athletic as a 20-something college student have helped me to stay real and steady on the course to taking care of myself both on the outside and on the inside. As a college student, we have tons of extra stresses that don’t need to be compounded with the added stress of worrying about what we look like. Yes, our bodies change as we age, it is a simple conclusion that we all must learn to work with. But, learning to love ourselves means constantly reminding ourselves of what we love about ourselves (am I right?).
Loving yourself means exercising to the extent that you are comfortable with, however many days a week you want to or can fit into your already busy schedule and pushing yourself when you are ready. Exercising also has many added benefits that can improve other areas of your life (there are science-y articles for that). Exercising is important no matter what size you are. You can be a size 0 or a size 22 and still reap the benefits of exercising. Again, it isn’t about what size you are but what makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside and like a badass on the outside.
Just because you choose to exercise doesn’t necessarily mean you must change your diet, or go on a crazy fad diet. Eating healthier is better for you because your body will be able to recover quickly and you will generally feel better if you eat more vegetables, fruits, and get lean proteins in your diet. But honestly, as a college student you won’t always have access to these healthier options all the time, although you should check out your colleges financial aid and the local farmers markets, and this doesn’t mean you must cut bad food entirely from your diet. It is about maintaining a balance that is comfortable for you. You can still have cheat days, just like you can take days off from exercising if you don’t feel up to it. In the end, it’s about doing what you want and being happy with yourself. The scale won’t tell you how you are feeling that day. It doesn’t even know how you are feeling. But you do. Be comfortable with who you are because in the end we all go out looking the same way we came into this world anyway.