The first days of January are likely the most successful days of the year for gyms around the world thanks to New Year’s Resolutions. Then, by February, the gym is cleared out again. Why is it that fitness tends to be such a high priority that never seems to last? Personally, I think the problem lies with the emphasis that fitness goals tend to place on weight loss. There’s this misguided idea that fitness is pointless if it isn’t in pursuit of being skinny — especially for women. This thinking puts so much pressure on women that it’s no surprise it fails again and again.
There is a narrative that says that a woman’s size is worth more than the contents of her brain or the kindness in her heart. It goes so much farther than just being inaccurate — it’s damaging. Fitness is about so much more than getting skinny. Here are a few reasons to go to the gym that aren’t weight loss.
- Building Strength
Sometimes, people actually gain weight when they go to the gym…and they do it on purpose. As fat becomes muscle, it’s completely normal for your weight to go up in response. The problem is, the narrative around weight loss has made it feel devastating to see the scales go up, even if it’s for health reasons. I know because I’ve been there. Once I stopped thinking about my weight and enjoying the gym for the strength I was building I found out how liberating and powerful it feels to be strong.
- Being Kind to Your Body
Your body does a lot of amazing things for you. Take a moment to think about how much. This body has seen you at your best and your worst. It has walked and ran for you, cried and screamed, laughed and cheered for you. This body has done so much for you, so say thank you by treating it kindly, both in thought and action.
- Improving Mental Health
Working out even benefits your mental health! Exercise is known to release chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that can help ease symptoms of mental illness. That’s why many people who struggle with their mental health incorporate exercise into their treatment plan. I’ve found that even disregarding the chemical benefits, the routine of working out helped to reduce the noise mental illness creates in my mind, which is no easy feat. Exercise provides a unique opportunity to take time completely for yourself. As much as I may dread leaving my bed, I always feel so good by the time I’m leaving the gym.
Without the burden of the harmful conversation surrounding weight loss, exercise can be as healthy as it is physically.