I wasn’t fond of participating in sports when I was in school. When PE would roll around, I’d roll my eyes. When I had to walk to school, I’d only go if my friends were walking too. I have never been very coordinated, so it probably didn’t help that I wasn’t any good at sports, but I just genuinely hated the thought of having to move my body.
Once I was old enough, a few friends and I joined our local gym. We were only 15, so it was more of a social novelty. We didn’t know what we were doing and didn’t put much effort into doing anything useful, but it was a start.
This was the first form of exercise I enjoyed, at least, and I continued to go inconsistently for a few years.
Over time, I became obsessed with my body. I’d never really thought about it before, but now I was participating in a movement that was mainstreamed into the best way of shaping the body; it was all I could think about. I wasn’t happy unless I saw change, and eventually, this shaped my mind.
I was counting calories. I was staying in the gym for hours at a time. Something meant to be good became obsessive. While I thought I was working towards the body I’d always wanted, I was actually destroying it.
And in turn, I was destroying my mind, too.
Eventually, I reached a point where I went in the completely opposite direction. I wasn’t even getting out of bed, and overeating out of guilt became a daily occurrence.
I had created a very unhealthy “all or nothing” relationship with exercise, and it took me a while to shift this outlook.
When I reached the point where I wanted to start exercising again, I knew I had to approach it differently. For years I’d been going in circles with the obsession and expectation of exercise and food, which all boiled down to my relationship with my body.
I thought that exercise could only train your body and completely disregarded that it can train your mind, too.
Once I realized this, I was able to use the thing that had me trying to run away from my mind to try to run for my mind.
Suddenly, exercising wasn’t a chore anymore. For the first time in my life, it was actually fun and became a part of the day I looked forward to.
Morning walks around the lake to wake me up. Late-night gym sessions blasting bad bitch music. Sunday afternoon Just Dance parties because I’m never ready for the previous Saturday night to end.
These all became activities that exercised my mind into the best place it’s ever been.
I stopped counting calories. I stopped moving in a way that I thought I had to. I stopped worrying about how I looked.
I started eating whatever I was craving. I started moving in a way that suited me. I started praising my body for allowing me to do these things, no matter what it looked like.
And funny enough, exercising my body to exercise my mind became the best thing for my body, too.
I am the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been.
And this is still true on the days I eat my body weight in pizza, and the days I think fuck it, I’d rather stay in bed.
Exercise is beautiful, both mentally and physically, so do it in a way that suits your body, but don’t forget to do it in a way that suits your mind.