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How I learned to exercise in a more Body-Positive way

A few days ago, I was lying in bed, fully awake, scrolling through Instagram. The sun was slowly creeping up and my mind was switching between getting out of bed and going on a run or blissfully ignoring life. Add to that the inexplicable dread that creeps up when it’s cold and windy and I quietly went back to instagram for some digital #fitspo.

Needless to say that after a few hundred hours of instagramming, my fingers were cramped and my motivation bruised. We all need a push sometimes, to get out of the house, to put on sneakers and go for a run/dance/swim/extended dance sequence. But so much of the available motivation under the guise of ‘inspiration’ borders on self-hate.

Deciding to do 100 sit-ups because I hate my stomach or sweating it out in Zumba to make up for the pizza I shared last night, won’t help my self esteem or my attitude towards exercise. Working out should be about what my body can do not how it looks like.

So instead, here are some body-positive ways to motivate you into getting your sweat on:

Don’t do it to earn food

Food doesn’t need to be earned and exercise isn’t a punishment for indulging your taste buds. We’ve often been conditioned to think we have to work up an appetite and “run off” calories. We don’t. It’s not a zero-sum game. If you’re taking generally good care of your body, it knows just how to deal with indulgences and excess.

Express gratitude towards achievements

Remind yourself that you and your body are on the same team, so don’t judge what you can and cannot do. Celebrate every single time you do an extra push-up, appreciate your moves in your cardio class and just savour all the cool things your body can already do. Motivation doesn’t have to sound like “today I will do better.” It can also be “yesterday I was AWESOME, and today I will be AWESOME AGAIN.”

Chase the feeling

There is pleasure to be found in exercise, in the form of endorphins and mood-lifters. That moment after your workout, while the blood is pounding in your head, your heartbeat is racing away and your body feels like it can conquer anything in the world. Exercise for moments like those.

Let health motivate you

Think of weight loss as a side effect to you taking your body to great heights. Exercising can also be about improving strength, reducing stress and creating a lifestyle that you would want to embrace throughout your life. It’s easy to get dragged down by the numbers on the scale and ignore how good you’re feeling or looking!

Do it for you

Fitness should make YOU feel good. As long as you’re enjoying yourself and are proud of your journey, you’re on the right track!

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Mana

I love lists, my hair always sits weirdly on my head, and I can't get through a day without obsessing over my 2 crazy pups. I haven’t changed much since I was a kid—illustrating, crafting and eating cookies are still at the top of my favourites list. When I’m not rambling about in my head looking for words, I’m found either glued to a computer or to a book.

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