Spring is finally here and with this time of year a lot of people switch their attention to working out and eating differently in anticipation of summer and beach season. While it has been proven that exercise is one of the best things we can do for our health, both physical and mental, sometimes we lose sight of that and instead get caught up in the physical results. It seems that recently fitness/health advice has become more prevalent with “thinspiration” images (motivational quotes focusing on body size) popping up all over the place. It can sometimes be difficult to manage living a healthy lifestyle and not getting too caught up in society’s expectations of fitness and beauty.
Done correctly, exercising and focusing on healthy eating can boost confidence and help us feel like the best version of our self. But if we become too caught up in size, shape, and what the scale says, the fitness world can be damaging to our health and our self-esteem. Whether fitness and healthy eating are a part of your regular routine or something you are just getting into, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Focus on how you feel rather than what you see. Being toned and fit can be one of the benefits of exercising, but don’t let it become the focus. Most often, when we start exercising and eating well we notice that we feel better. We often have more energy and are more positive. We are less stressed and able to handle more. If we focus on overall well-being rather than just physical appearance, that can help ensure we are exercising for the right reasons.
Don’t diet, make a lifestyle switch. Dieting is not meant to be long term. Sure the grapefruit or Atkins diet might lose pounds quickly, but what happens when you go back to regular eating? Focus on eating real, whole foods. Unless you have dietary restrictions, don’t eliminate food groups or certain items. If something is off limits, it just makes us want to indulge.
Make it a family affair. What’s that saying – the family that plays together stays together? Make an active lifestyle a part of your family. It becomes more enjoyable and everybody gets to reap the benefits.
Don’t hold yourself up to celebrity standards. Everything we see in magazines and in the media has been edited. Even celebrities don’t look like that. Educate yourself about healthy exercise and nutrition and be realistic with your fitness expectations.
To steal a line from my favourite fitness enthusiasts – Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod, “keep fit and have fun.”