Let me start by saying that I love exercise. I have seen it as a huge source of energy and strength and it has played a big role in helping my whole life. God has used exercise to help break off anxiety, to teach me discipline and endurance, and to help me find rest during the chaotic season of motherhood. However, there are many reasons NOT to exercise and if you find your mind wandering in any of these 5 categories below, I urge you to reach out for support. These areas are places I have found my motivation coming from before, and I personally do not think they are healthy sources of inspiration.
Here are 5 reasons NOT to exercise, and 5 ways to actively fight these struggles.
One of the major motivators I hear from women starting a fitness routine, is that they want to start exercising because they hate their ____ (fill in the blank). We all know what that’s like. We dislike our thighs, our stomach, our arms, our butt, our face, our lack of muscle tone, etc… This discontent sometimes starts from a place of genuine need to change our health, but so often it lands in dislike of our bodies.
I have found myself staring at the scale to find my value, and that’s a trap. Then I hear what another woman weighs and I quickly start falling into comparison. There is a line in Lysa TerKeurst’s book Made to Crave that I love: “We can step on the scale and accept the numbers for what they are–an indication of how much our body weighs–and not an indication of our worth.” Your fat, current level of strength, the inches around your waist– these are all measurements that we can use to keep moving forward in a pattern of progress.
Activation:When you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, replace that thought with the opposite (which is usually a truth). I look in the mirror and think, “You’re fat.” As an exercise, speak out loud, “I have fat, and I am beautiful.”
Many of us feel shame after indulging in food, or going long periods of time without exercising, or maybe just not finishing that program we set out to finish. Maybe you feel ashamed of how you look or feel ashamed of how often your thoughts lead to temptations, whether you give into them or not. However, I urge you that feeling failure or embarrassment is not a reason to go step on the treadmill. Those are not reasons to give up on healthy living. They are reasons to sit with God.
Activation: Attack the shame. Identify the thing you’re feeling ashamed about, embrace yourself, and celebrate. What do I mean? Let’s say I feel ashamed about my stomach pooch after having a baby. Instead of this debilitating me OR pushing me into an extreme cycle of over-exercising and under-eating, I’m going to try this cycle. I’m feeling ashamed of my body. I’m going to embrace the fact that, yes, my stomach is pooching because I just had a baby. And now I’m going to celebrate it. Depending on what you’re experiencing shame with, this could look differently. But for me, it could mean going for a jog in a sports bra. Or snapping a pic and sharing my reality with some mom friends. Or maybe just dancing in my living room and celebrating the fact that my body grew a human and you can tell. Have fun with this one. 🙂
This one is a bit different than the others, but I find it has roots in insecurity and comparison. Pride is sneaky, but is usually obvious to others. We want to look good. We want to show the world we can do it. We are the best. We are the strongest. We want to tell our friends about the latest competition we won. Now this isn’t to be confused with confidence, joy, or excitement.
Maybe you don’t even really want to stand out, but you think your way is the best way. No one else has a program like yours. You see others as inferior.
Activation: If you find yourself thinking of others as inferior, try giving 5 compliments to people today about their fitness level, their health, or the way they look. Sometimes, all we need is to see the beauty in others, and get a little humble sharing it with them to begin seeing them as peers to ourselves.
Oh, comparison. I hate this one so much. Comparison is a struggle we all have unfortunately, and it is something we must battle. When we perceive others as more attractive, disciplined, beautiful, (fill in the blank)… it is the natural progression for us to become displeased with ourselves, and then drastically alter our eating and exercise habits.
Deuteronomy 2:3 says “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north.” We must stop circling this mountain of comparison, and look upward and our feet will follow.
Activation: When you find yourself comparing, think: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it necessary? Then ask God, “How do you see me?” And listen and accept the beauty God sees in you.
Some of us see diet and exercise as a means of punishment. “I ate 5 donuts this morning, so I have to run for 2 hours tonight.”Or “Good thing I just did crossfit, so I can eat this pizza!” I’ve even seen pictures on Pinterest with quotes that encourage you to look in the mirror before taking a bite of that cake. This just isn’t how we were made to live. To live in fear and react in punishment just isn’t sustainable, and personally I know this mentality cultivates a lot of stress.
Activation: Try and ask yourself why you want to live a healthy lifestyle. Write down your reason for loving your body and taking care of it, and focus on that as motivation.
Which one of these areas do you find yourself struggling with? Share in the comments below!