Why I Quit Working Out (And Why That's OK)
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Health and Wellness

Why I Quit Working Out (And Why That's OK)

Sometimes you have to take a step back.

Why I Quit Working Out (And Why That's OK)

I won't lie when I say I almost didn't write this article. When considering topics to write about, I was really excited to have a platform to speak about my experience with growing my self-esteem and finding peace with my body, even in its current, imperfect state. But when it came down to putting my thoughts onto the page, I was gripped with the same and all-too-familiar anxiety that has plagued me my entire life: What will my friends think of me when I attempt to justify quitting working out this year? Do they already think I am lazy? Will they view this as me trying to make excuses for lack of self-motivation?

I am realizing, however, that my need to share my experience with those who may be struggling silently with body image issues far outweighs my fear of being judged for how out of shape I have gotten in the past six months. I chose to stop exercising in January to focus on healing my mind from years of abuse through various eating disorders, which seems like a rash and unhealthy decision to make; however, the clarity and peace of mind I have attained through this past half year by forcing myself to be introspective and audit all of my feelings about who I am and who I want to be, is something I could have never attained in my previous unhealthy mindset trying to be the thinnest version of myself. Here are some of the more important values I learned on my little journey of me.

Your Friends Will Still Talk To You 15 Pounds Later

I understand how irrational this may sound when verbalized, but I can't say I didn't have this looming fear that people would look at me differently, and not good differently, if I had to go up a pant size. I realize now that these thoughts are normal (but wrong) and similar to the spotlight effect, when you think that everyone notices little intricacies of you when, in reality, they see you as a whole. I'm glad I have surrounded myself with people who will build me up, because as cliche as it sounds, friends who tear you down aren't really friends (mom wisdom of the day).

There Are More Awesome Things About You Than Your Appearance

I am (regretfully, at times) an appearance-minded person by nature. I believe that it is important to take care of yourself physically. However, this desire to be the best physical version of myself actually became the root to my long-standing battle with disordered eating and overexercising. It is so easy for good intentions to spiral into disastrous outcomes. In taking my exercise hiatus, however, I discovered other passions in my life that I didn't know previously existed and was able to narrow down what I really wanted out of my college experience, which shockingly was not to be thought of as "pretty" or "thin." I was able to be proud of my accomplishments beyond my appearance and begin to let go of my perfectionism (key word: begin).

You Should Enjoy Your Exercise

I always jokingly refer to my days of being thin as "my days when I cared," but I have realized that I wasn't caring about myself as much as I was caring about how others saw me. I used to do this ridiculous workout guide that was so difficult I could only make it through the first four weeks before I would lose motivation and have to start again. I did it not because I enjoyed doing a million jump squats, but because it was effective. I have realized now, though, that I do not need to be miserable in a workout in order to keep a certain shape. Having the ability to go for a run or kick a soccer ball around is not a right, it is a privilege that many are not afforded due to circumstance, which is why I believe that every workout should be treated with respect and positivity, like it is a gift. You should want to do it, not because you have to but because you can.

Though this break has been difficult in many respects and has been a mental test, I can confidently say that I am in a better mental state than I was six months ago, or a year ago, or two years ago for that matter. "Quitting" has forced me to evaluate my likes and dislikes and helped me discover a love for running, yoga, and being outside (even though running three miles after being virtually inactive for half a year is HARD). I may have gained weight, I may get winded walking around campus now and I may not look the same as I did my senior year of high school, but the appreciation I have for my life and myself is more than I could have ever attained 15 pounds ago.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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