There are a million reasons to get in shape. Good physical fitness helps you live longer, have more energy, feel less pain, and feel mentally strong and at peace with yourself.
But let’s not pretend we’re only training to get healthier or to become athletes or to perform better. Sometimes we just want to look good. If we’re being totally honest, appearances are important to us. After all, we’re not running around in PJs all day long. What we look like matters to us and it would be silly to deny it. l remember not too long ago people going on the streets because they wanted to be able to get a haircut. We express ourselves by dressing a certain way, styling our hair, or proudly displaying tattoos. Our fitness can be another facet of that self-expression, and it’s an important and healthy part of who we are.
I’m not saying you should start working out to appeal to someone else’s beauty standards. But if your motivation to go to the gym is not strictly health or becoming an athlete, but to change your physique, then I ask, why not? And why is that anyone’s business but yours?
The indisputable benefits of exercise
No matter how you feel about the esthetic value of being in shape, we can all agree that the physical and mental health benefits are enormous. Research has proven that getting enough physical activity leads to better outcomes in all these areas:
Lowers risk of many diseases
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
Improves mental function
- Improves memory
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Lowers risk of dementia
Helps us feel and function better as we age
- Keeps bones strong
- Maintains muscle mass
- Supports healthy immune system
- Maintains strength and balance
- Lowers blood pressure
- Less joint pain and stiffness
Makes life feel good
- Better mood
- Better sleep
- More energy
- Better sex
These reasons for getting or staying fit are well-known and easy to talk about. But we don’t want to admit that healthy results might not be the only thing on our minds when we get up early in the morning to workout.
As far as I’ve seen, a very large number of us are truly motivated to make healthy changes in our lives AND at the same time we want to look better.
Your reasons for getting fit belong to you
As a lifelong athlete I spent many years in different sports including gymnastics, speed skating, and karate. None of those pursuits were physique-oriented; they were all about function and achievement. Now, I enjoy strength and hypertrophy training. I don’t just do it to look a certain way. I enjoy all of the benefits—I am healthy and fit, I sleep well and have plenty of energy throughout the day. I love training hard and earning that satisfaction after a great workout. I enjoy being physically stronger from lifting weights. And, yes, I absolutely love what it’s done to my body.
Many of my clients come to me because they want to “look good naked”. That is never their only reason—they want to become stronger, to challenge themselves, and to learn how to eat healthier, as well—but they want to be able to pursue their personal goals without judgment. They don’t want to settle for the body they have. They want to improve their capabilities AND feel more confident in their favorite jeans or in a bikini. They deserve to strive for their goals without being labeled “shallow” or “vain”, or to have it assumed that they’re judgemental about other people’s bodies just because they enjoy sculpting their own.
I’m here to support my clients to achieve what’s important to them. They are grown-ass adults, they know exactly what they want and it’s not my business to worry that they’re “vain” or “doing it for the wrong reasons”. Also, in my experience the women who commit to changing their body or sculpting their physique end up doing the work and ultimately enjoying all the other indisputable health benefits, too. So, what’s not to love?
Having worked with so many clients who longed to feel better in their skin, I’ve come to appreciate the incredible mental boost that we get from transforming our bodies through hard work. We all deserve that sense of accomplishment.
Whatever gets you moving is the right motivation
Working out is important for everyone. But it’s worth mentioning that your well-being needs to be the primary factor. If you have an unhealthy compulsion to exercise, such as exercising in extreme amounts or feeling obsessed with “getting skinny”, you could be doing yourself harm. If your fitness routine makes you feel worse, physically or mentally, it’s important to pay attention and get help from professionals so you can rebuild a healthy relationship with your incredible, capable body.
But to be clear, caring about your appearance and using that as motivation to be active and to eat nourishing food can be a wonderful thing. People who make fitness part of their life are happier, more resilient, and get better at reaching all kinds of amazing goals, inside the gym or out.
It’s hard enough to get started and to stick to a fitness routine. Working out to look good seems like a great motivator to me. Whatever motivates you to get going and do the healthy work is ok in my book.
In my practice, I want to help women feel more confident in going for what they want for themselves. That includes training not only to benefit others, by being healthy and having more energy for work and family, but to have fun with their bodies. Without fear of judgement!