Learning to Love Yourself With Exercise: A Personal Trainers Advice
For anybody who doesn't know me, my name is Emma, I am 32 and at the age of 30 decided to re-qualify as a personal trainer, I am now a full time freelance PT.
I guess the first thing I should say here is that I am still a work in progress when it comes to loving myself and loving my body. I have good days and bad. Sometimes I feel strong and pretty and others I am crippled with self doubt and loathing for every lump and bump and imperfection I see.
It is hard to love yourself in the world we live in. A world full of airbrush, unrealistic body image goals and entire consumer markets based on our insecurities.
There are so many layers to self love and self care. I really just want to share with you my tips on how embracing exercise can help you find love for your body again or even for the first time.
1. Being sh*t at something doesn't mean you can't do it.
One of the first ways we really come into contact with 'exercise' is at school. In school everything is sport related and by default competitive. It is at this age you find out if you're either good at exercise (sport) or not. This is where we get the 'exercise isn't for me' mentality.
The reality is, exercise doesn't need to be anything to do with how good you are at anything. All that matters is that you show up, you try and you enjoy yourself whilst you do it.
Just because you can't do something straight away doesn't mean you can't learn it or become fit enough to conquer in. Nobody can do everything straight away.
Ever tried a different bottle of wine and then thought that was bloody awful, not getting that again? Course you have. Does it stop you drinking wine? NO.
2. Lose your balance, fall over, trip up - nobody cares.
I think in life we care more about what we think other people think about us than anything else. It is an exhausting and pointless process. The reality is, that person is too busy worrying about what they think you think about them - to care.
I have dropped weights on myself, tripped over, slipped on a treadmill, hit myself in the face with a TRX. You name it, I have done it in a gym.
Do you know what, nobody cared. I did, I died inside a little bit. Everybody else however just moves on with their lives and forgets about it. Don't let the fear of thinking you might mess up or look stupid stop you.
3. Learning to do something you didn't think your body was capable of.
It doesn't matter if that's a step up on a bench, a press up or a 70kg squat. We all have our own mountains we want to climb. Stick with them and celebrate the heck out of them when you get there. You earned it.
4. Seeing the physical changes.
Let's all be honest about this for a second, we all like to see physical changes for the better. There is nothing wrong with that. Enjoy them and feel good about them.
I always encourage my personal training clients to take measurements every 4 weeks. That way they can appreciate changes in a way that doesn't consume them daily and doesn't involve them stepping on the scales to feel constantly disappointed.
5. The mental quietness.
Exercise in any form is the best mental head space you will ever get. Most personal training sessions end up being similar to a therapy session, and a heck of a lot cheaper.
6. Sweating out some of life's frustrations.
Sh*t day at work? Partner doing your head in? Kids playing up? No exercise will fix what life throws at us but somehow getting a sweat on and really pushing your body to move makes all of life's noise seem a little quieter.
7. Getting the mind-body connection back.
I see this daily. Clients who can't squat or lunge, who can't activate their core or glutes. They've never been shown and they've never tried before. The connection between the brain and the body is incredible. If you don't move around and keep that relationship active, it gradually over time switches off. You'll notice things like balance and coordination become harder. Keeping this connection alert and strong is so important , especially as we get older.
8. Making time for you.
Whatever exercise you decide is for you, use that time to just do you. Be in your own head, focus on yourself and how you and your body is feeling.
In a world full of fake fitness, fads and detox tea. Remove all the noise and the comparison and just find that one thing you enjoy and do it every day for 20 minutes. Start small and indulge yourself with the time to really learn how to love yourself with exercise.