How to Enjoy a Healthy Relationship With Fitness

Katherine Robinson

Friends working out. Image: Pexels - Antoni Shkraba

For many fitness devotees, pain is part and parcel of the journey as an accepted — if not celebrated — aspect to reaching one’s wellness goals. And while that steely Olympian mindset is certainly admirable, it hardly makes for an enjoyable relationship with physical fitness.

One doesn’t need a renowned psychologist to point out that the frequent correlation between exercise and punishment seldom leads to a sustained enthusiastic regimen, let alone a successful outcome. As with any relationship, how one approaches fitness can make all the difference, from the language used to the goals put in place and expected outcomes.

Here are 6 fitness expert-endorsed tips for approaching exercise with newfound joy:

Tip 1: Identify Your “Why”

There are many reasons to seek a healthier lifestyle through a designated fitness routine, from improving one’s physical and mental health to maintaining a desired weight or toned physique, as well as staving off illness and injury. Acknowledging your personal “why” behind getting fit will not only help keep you motivated and on track in the long run but can also indicate if you’re approaching fitness for the right reasons.

Pressure to achieve a certain body type or push yourself to the extreme in order to prove yourself can often lead to burnout and the eventual abandonment of personal fitness goals altogether. Understanding what genuinely drives you to get moving and shaking can make all the difference between a joyful workout session and self-imposed punishment.

Woman stretching before run

Tip 2: Reevaluate Your Workout Goals

You often hear about starting small when it comes to working out, especially if you have been physically unwell or feel overwhelmed or triggered by the process. If you’ve ever felt yourself falling down the dreaded shame spiral of failing to meet your fitness goals, it might be time to reassess where you’ve set the bar.

Focusing on short-term objectives — more energy, better sleep, improved stamina, and committing to a designated block of time and activity — rather than marathon achievements right away will not only make your goals more obtainable but allow you to enjoy every earned triumph. 

Tip 3: Opt For Movement Over Exercise

If the thought of hitting up the gym or participating in a structured class setting makes you groan with dread, you’re hardly alone. The good news is you can get moving and grooving your own way! Dancing, hiking, dog walking, swimming, kayaking, and many more activities are not only stress-free ways to have fun with your workout but bring about equally optimal results.

Every one of us is unique, and just as no two bodies are alike, not all methods for staying fit and active are guaranteed to be a success. If something doesn’t feel right for you or makes you uncomfortable then by all means scrap it and find what moves you naturally and with the utmost joy.

Tip 4: Celebrate The Small Victories

Hyper fixating on one major outcome while disregarding the smaller triumphs along the way can turn almost any well-meaning personal goal into a Sisyphean feat. Rather than obsess over the pounds presented on the scale or visible results in the mirror, why not celebrate a marked improvement in your mood, sleep, performance, and overall get-up-and-go?

Congratulating yourself on those seemingly minute but immense personal victories is not only well-deserved but will likely keep you feeling charged and motivated to continue on your fitness journey.

Tip 5: Find Your Fitness Crew

An open and supportive community is crucial to staying on course when it comes to exercise as self-care. Surrounding yourself with individuals who will encourage you not to give up while applauding the positives will ensure a safe and nontoxic environment to flourish.

Friends talking after workout class

Avoiding the naysayers and unsolicited fitness know-it-alls both online and in person will save you a great deal of undeserved shame and doubt, and don’t be afraid to unfollow or altogether block social media friends and influencers promoting ideas and imagery that don’t align with your own values and fitness sensibilities.

Joining or creating your own personal workout group consisting of trustworthy and dedicated exercise enthusiasts who will hype one another up and provide welcome company can turn working out into a much-anticipated opportunity to bond and socialize over a shared goal.

Tip 6: Talk It Out

Let’s face it: exercise, much like food, can trigger some deeply uncomfortable — if not downright traumatic — feelings that in turn prevent us from pursuing the full and rewarding life we each deserve. If you feel overwhelmed or fearfully hesitant in your own relationship to fitness it may be worth your while to speak with a professional therapist or trusted wellness mentor who can guide you through your past experiences and present concerns to ensure a secure and triumphant experience.

Similarly, keeping a fitness diary and recording your thoughts and impressions throughout your journey can provide an indispensable account of your progress, desired points to improve on, and most importantly, just how far you’ve come.

Guest post by Katherine Robinson, a writer for HOTWORX

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