New Fitness Goals
When it comes to creating new fitness goals or even just starting up a gym membership, many are motivated by a desire to change their external appearance––especially women. And while there's nothing inherently wrong in wanting a slimmer physique, focusing solely on weight loss and "getting skinny" through diet and exercise can quickly deviate into unhealthy thoughts and practices.
If you're tunnel visioning in on the number on the scale, you may be tempted to restrict caloric intake to the extremes and up the exercise to try to bring that number down as quickly as possible, which can easily catalyze an eating disorder or disordered thinking about food and body image in general. This can lead to an increase in stress, anxiety and depression, as well as putting your overall well-being in jeopardy. As someone who briefly used to count calories as a teenager, that's exactly how I felt; frustrated and dissatisfied because I wasn't getting immediate results.
Another issue with focusing solely on getting thin through exercise is that it's a short-term solution––once you hit your goal weight, then what? If you don't have long-term goals that incorporate challenges and variety to keep fitness fun and exciting, you're probably going to get bored and regress into a more sedentary lifestyle.
Look Better, Feel Better
With a renewed desire to lead a more active lifestyle, I joined a gym this summer and by going into it focusing on gaining strength instead of losing weight, I've had better results than ever before. Not only do I look better, but I feel better. There's a kind of pride and satisfaction that comes from working toward increasing my strength and endurance one day at a time that I never found when I just cared about getting skinnier. Now, I love seeing my arm muscles develop, because it shows all the hard work that I'm putting in. I love the feeling I get when I realize that I can do more reps or run faster than I could before, because it shows that I've stuck with it and I'm moving forward in my fitness journey. And I also love taking time to stretch and nourish my body, because it's an important part of self-care and maintaining a healthy body and mind.
More Energy & Happiness
Not only are my jeans a little looser, but I have more energy and happiness in and out of the gym. Working on my body as a way to cultivate my strength rather than just trying to look a certain way has not only been more beneficial to me, but it's much more fun! Instead of hating my body for not looking a certain way, I can now celebrate it for all the amazing things it can do and focus on the progress I make when I continue putting the work in. When you aren't just focusing on what you look like on the outside, you'll be able to shine from the inside, too.