Exercise as a Celebration

Following on the theme of health and wellness from my last post, I have also been reading and learning more about optimal fitness, how to work and rest the body, build strength, and increase cardiovascular health.

In my reading I came across a piece of advice that I had never thought of before but which actually makes perfect sense. Physical activity or exercise should not be viewed as a punishment we do to ourselves to "atone" for overeating or making "bad" food choices. Exercise should not be viewed as a punishment we inflict upon our bodies.

Exercise is a celebration of what the body can do.

It is perfect and makes sense and I think subconsciously I have lived that advice without really reflecting upon it.

If I have a day where I go out to my favorite restaurant and get queso-wasted at lunch (a rare but wonderful pleasure of mine), how does it serve my body in any way to stress, feel guilty, overdo cardio and deprive myself of my next meal?

It does nothing!

Instead, I have always subconsciously felt like after a "bad" meal like this that I need a little extra self care. Perhaps some extra veggies with dinner. Perhaps a bit of extra water throughout the day. Perhaps taking a preemptive Tums before bed because I know eating like that kills my acid reflux!

If I go nuts on Mexican food and eat 1200 calories at lunch, pushing myself on the treadmill for an extra several miles doesn't even come close to making it up. Better to smile, say I enjoyed it and resume my normal, healthy lifestyle of eating well and being active.

Working out should not be a punishment. I do cardio because it is my escape from the world - I put on some music, close my eyes and churn out a few miles on the elliptical and enjoy the sweat and the fatigue after. I lift weights to strengthen and shape my body, and I love the accomplished feeling I get when I am able to lift heavier than I could before, when my little biceps start to grow, when I can feel my body slowly changing shape.

These are moments to celebrate. The human body - even mine! - is capable, strong and resilient. Maybe we don't all have the same goals and therefore we may not all be on the same path in our journey. But we should all use exercise as a celebration of our bodies and a reward for what they can do!