Since April, I’ve had the privilege of writing weekly blog posts for the gym I work at, STS Active. The month of November is all about gratitude and I felt this one was a good reminder for anyone, even people who aren’t avid fitness buffs, and emphasizes the importance exercising for the right reasons.
For many of us, walking into a gym can cause instant anxiety. Thoughts like, “Wow, why is everyone so thin and toned?” or “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to benchpress that much weight,” and a thousand other insecurities bubble up to the surface when we see so many people exerting themselves physically and looking good doing it. But the worst thing we can do is compare our journey to someone else’s. They might be in the middle of theirs and it’s hardly fair to compare day one to day one hundred.
In fact, you might get to day one hundred and find that you still aren’t as thin/toned/strong as the person next to you. But do we ever stop to consider that maybe our bodies are just built for different things? While genetics play a huge part in our physical make-up, there are also parts of us that no amount of squats, push ups, crunches or chin ups are going to change completely.
Our bodies are not meant to all look the same. They are a conduit for doing good works. And everyone’s work is different. In other words, our bodies are not our offering to the world. The deeds we do, the words we say, our ability to lift each other up through intention and action are the bigger point of it all. So it’s all right if your thighs always touch no matter how many squats you do. Those legs work and you can use them to get you from point A to point B. It’s ok if you can never lift 200 pounds. Your arms are more useful helping your elderly neighbor carry in her groceries when you see her struggling.
Exercise is what we can do to help maintain our bodies and allow us the capacity to keep doing good in the world because good health usually means a longer life. Showing respect for your body by taking care of it is actually a gift not only to you, but to everyone whose life you touch. When we take care of ourselves, we are able to live a better quality life and provide a better quality of life to others as a result.
Taking care of your health by eating well and exercising is the best way you can honor you body and show gratitude for yourself. Prioritizing your health is showing those who care about you that you value not only yourself but them as well so they don’t need to worry about you.
Working out can feel like a challenge or a chore, but if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you to help you become the best version of yourself that you can offer the world around you. But we can’t get crazy over the end result. Everyone’s version of “healthy” will look a little different depending on who is wearing it. Just find your fit and keep at it. Honor yourself by taking care of yourself.
“Stop spending all day obsessing, cursing, perfecting your body like it’s all you’ve got to offer the world. Your body is not your art, it’s your paintbrush. Whether your paintbrush is a tall paintbrush or a thin paintbrush or a stocky paintbrush or a scratched up paintbrush is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that you have a paintbrush which can be used to transfer your insides onto the canvas of your life — where others can see it and be inspired and comforted by it.” —Glennon Doyle