“You need to exercise.”
I could say that this sentence makes me pop up and get moving or that I’ve appreciated when someone has told me this. Knowing what I should do and then doing it doesn’t always happen in a reasonable amount of time. Just like it shouldn’t have taken me months to get this next post out, I feel like it shouldn’t take me so much mental preparation to get moving.
But it does.
I sat with this for a long time. Why is exercise such a challenge? I used to be so active – track team, step team, African dance troupe, walked or biked for miles, in the gym or weight room regularly, and hit my fit goals and maxed out for sit-ups in ROTC (they stopped counting after I did 100+ in under two minutes). I was always moving – took long walks with the kids, taught people to swim, and would dance for hours. I even exercised while pushing shopping carts through clothing aisles!
So, what happened?
I internalized what my narcissists said about my appearance. I started questioning my own physique and examining what they suggested needed to be changed. This was a very gradual acceptance, which seemed to kick into high gear around the time my body started to change (from the thin rail to the woman body we tend to gain post-twenties). While dealing with drama, my weight yo-yoed. Insults would repeat like an echo in my brain about my size, hair, clothes, etc. The “me” in the mirror hardly resembled the “me” I was before I absorbed the negativity. I knew something needed to change, so I joined a gym…because I kept hearing that I needed to exercise.
I went about three times that whole year.
I repeated that a few times – bought memberships to gyms and wouldn’t attend, bought exercise clothes and wore them around the house, bought exercise programs and stopped after a couple sessions, bought equipment and gave it away. I couldn’t stick to anything. I watched people get fitter around me, but I gained weight, lost muscle tone, lost energy, developed health issues, and tried to find clothes that didn’t scream “I’m not taking care of myself!” Being reminded that I needed to exercise felt like admonishment, which made me avoid it more. It was hard enough realizing that I wouldn’t have my younger shape, but I wasn’t even in “healthy” shape.
And then I realized what I was doing wrong.
I couldn’t stick to the programs because, deep down, I knew I was trying to fit an illusion. My ideas about my health and how I should look were tainted by what I thought I “wasn’t” for my critics. On some level, I wanted to “prove” I was still desirable, fit, and happy. I wanted them to see that “I’ve still got it.” I wanted the satisfaction of seeing surprise on their faces when they saw me looking and feeling attractive and moving on with my life. I was seeking validation from people who wanted to see me deteriorate.
How I look or feel is not dependent upon their acceptance of me and never should have been.
All the things I did when I was younger were done because I wanted to do them. I didn’t run every day with ROTC to get noticed. I ran because I wanted to do well in the program because I thought I might join the military as an officer. I lifted weights because I enjoyed being able to do it. I danced because it made me happy. I would look in the mirror and smile because I knew the progress I’d made for myself. I didn’t stress about what was coming. I was in the moment, fully engaged, and having fun while doing something important for me. That’s what I had been missing – what many of us are missing – permission to do something healthy and fun for ourselves without the burden of believing we have to fit someone else’s image. It’s not about “getting back” at an ex, hoping someone regrets letting you go (Do you really want the narcissist to miss you and come back into your life to make things worse?), trying to make the cliquish group notice you, or about anyone else’s approval. It really is about you.
You should exercise…because you deserve to do something active and fun.
Since we’re aware that exercise has physical benefits, I feel it’s necessary to mention some of the lesser discussed benefits:
- Sleep quality improves
- Reduces depression
- Improves memory
- Helps control blood pressure
- Makes you feel better (That could be enough reason by itself, right?)
Benefits of Having a Personal Trainer
by Corey Boyd
The benefits of exercise are scientifically proven, and exercise is known to improve your quality of life. With that being said, the benefits of having a personal trainer are also priceless. When you hire a personal trainer, you’re getting much more than someone that just serves as a coach.
Here are some of the benefits:
- You get someone to hold you accountable. Many fitness resolutions have fallen by the wayside because there was no one to keep you focused.
- You get a personal fitness GPS system. A personal trainer is someone that shows you the best and quickest route to reach your fitness goals.
- You get a personal cheerleader. The better your results are, the better a personal trainer looks. So, they’re rooting for you to succeed.
- You get a personal motivator. We all need an extra push sometimes, and trainers know how to get you going.
- You get a personal program designer. A personal trainer’s job is to design a program specifically for you and your goals.
- You get a friend – someone to hold you accountable, wants the best for you, and pushes you to reach your goals.
“Building Better Birthday Suits”
“13 Benefits of Exercise” – https://health.clevelandclinic.org/benefits-of-exercise-other-than-weight-loss/
“Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity” – https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389
“Real-Life Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity” – https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/real-life-benefits-exercise-and-physical-activity