Picture this. You know today is the day you have to work out. You procrastinate for another hour, convincing yourself that your house needs cleaned or that you have to watch one more episode of Parks and Recreation. You finally force yourself to put on your workout clothes and go to the gym. After all, you did eat that cookie at lunch and you want to look good for your Caribbean vacation in a couple months. You push yourself through the workout, picturing the fat on your body melting away. You’re THRILLED when it’s over and you try to calculate the number of calories you burned, feeling satisfied that you have definitely undone the damage from that lunchtime cookie.
For so many people, this is the narrative of their fitness experience, and it leaves me wondering what we have done to ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great decision to go to the gym, to understand the outcome of what you eat and to work hard. But if you take a closer look at the experience described above, it’s FILLED with negativity: dread, guilt, regret, body shaming… With all of this going on in your head, how could you NOT hate exercise? It’s a punishment and an inconvenient task.
But what if it didn’t have to be like that? Exercising will probably make you look better, it’s true. But just set that idea to the side for a minute. That doesn’t have to be the reason you workout. We all want to look good, but eventually that desire alone is not compelling enough to keep you going. In addition, this thought process forces you to feel bad about yourself. Working out because you want to look good implies that there is something wrong with the way you look. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want every workout to tell me I need to be prettier, thinner, have a flatter belly, or look more like the model on the cover of Self magazine. I just don’t need that in my life.
At Soul Lift, we go into each workout with a specific intention that contributes to personal development and spiritual growth. We conquer tough workouts so that we can redefine our definition of impossible. We use exercise to reduce anxiety, express anger, feel joy, find gratitude, to seek forgiveness and let go of the pain of the past. Every squat, every burpee, every pushup is an intentional step forward. That step takes you away from fear and closer to love. Exercise can be the avenue for finding your inner strength, learning to love yourself and transforming into a powerhouse. It will change your body, and that is a magnificent side effect, but I want you to start your journey with love and good feelings and I want you to leave every workout feeling so confident and inspired that you can’t WAIT to get back to it again tomorrow. That’s how it feels to exercise with intention.