Exercise and Self-Image

Man running

I’ve always had trouble maintaining an active lifestyle. Maybe (probably) it’s because of my career choice (working in front of a computer) or my choice of hobby (also working in front of a computer) that I tend to fall back into a sedentary routine. I’ve always had good stints of activity but I have a history of falling off that wagon.

Something I’ve realized recently while trying to stay active is that it’s imperative that you disassociate your self-image with exercise. In the past, I would workout—whether it’s running, lifting at the gym, or other sports—and I would be focusing on how much better I look and feel afterwards. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the human body, the good results you see from exercise don’t show themselves until after a couple weeks of continuous activity. Because I had such a strong mental connection between the effort I was putting into fitness and the results I was feeling and seeing, I often would rationalize poorer health choices when I was feeling great only to feel the negative effect of them a week or two later.

A new mental approach that I’ve been taking to fitness is to disassociate self-image and exercise completely. I’m treating physical activity more like brushing my teeth and less like a thing that I do for an end result. After making this mental switch, I’ve felt much better; I’ve been able to miss a few days of exercise and get back into the routine much easier than I have in the past. I’ve also had an easier time getting out to the gym in general.

I’m sure this is obvious to some, but for those like me I thought this revelation might help. Exercise like you brush your teeth. It’s ongoing self-maintenance, not a task to be completed.