The Impact of Exercise on Body Image


Getting a bit more personal on this week’s blog post! Growing up, I looked at my body as something that could be better and I took it for granted. I wasn’t grateful that it could allow me to ride horses, play lacrosse, run with my dog, jump on a trampoline, you get the idea. I was mean to my body more times than I was nice. 

               And yes, that's me!

If you struggle with body image then you probably don’t believe that your body is an incredible machine capable of so much more than you ever give it credit for. But IT IS! I didn’t believe this until I actually started to work on my relationship with my body. The most impactful thing I did was to find an exercise routine that complimented my lifestyle and my goals. This wasn’t the only thing I did, but exercise was what allowed me to see physical progress when I was discouraged for not seeing more emotional and mental progress. It helped keep me motivated. In regards to physical progress, I’m not only talking about changes in the shape of my body, I’m also talking about changes that went deeper than that. I noticed myself getting stronger, faster at running, my posture improved, I slept better, and I felt productive and accomplished. I was bridging the gap between my self, my mind, and my body. I started my journey wanting to just be happier with the way I looked, but I ended up with so much more. I can say that I am truly grateful for all that my body can do and allows me to do. 

Exercise routines require hard work, determination, and persistence, but the impacts on mental health are invaluable. Therefore, I encourage all of my clients to engage in an exercise routine that fits their lifestyle. Anything is fair game! Kayaking, hiking, yoga, walking, weightlifting, running, biking, anything that gets them moving! I ask them to not focus on losing weight or inches, but instead focus on what they are gaining. Are they getting faster? Can they notice themselves getting stronger? Are they able to lift heavier weights? Has their balance improved? Can they go farther without getting tired?  Can they finally do that difficult yoga pose? We often approach our weight and bodies with the idea that we need get rid of fat or change it’s shape that we forget to notice all the things we gain along the way.