What Is Your Why?
How many of you have been there?
"I ate half a pizza last night, so I have to run five miles today."
"No, seriously, I feel so fat right now. I need to go do cardio for at least three hours."
"I got fourth in my track meet so I'm going to go run sprints and then I am NOT eating dinner tonight."
"I stumbled over my words in a big presentation to my boss. Five more miles on the treadmill..."
I know you know what I'm talking about.
Many people, at some point or another, have used exercise as a means of punishing themselves. For most of my adolescence and young adulthood I was the worst offender. I wasn't skinny enough, so I ran. I got a 94% on a test instead of the 98% I was expecting, so I ran. I felt embarrassed at school for being so much taller than my peers, so I ran. You get the drift.
I ran because I wasn't happy with who I was. I ran until my shins bruised, until I couldn't walk, until I didn't care about whatever failures were bothering me. Have you ever heard the phrase, "loving the pain?" That was me, allllll the way.
(FYI, that is not healthy. Don't pride yourself in "loving the pain." It's weird.)
The issue wasn't that I was running a lot. There were athletes running far more than I was every week. The issue was why I was running and more accurately, what I was running from. I was running for all the wrong reasons and that showed in my results (or lack thereof). I wasn't stronger. I wasn't healthy. And I definitely wasn't confident.
All that changed when I stopped punishing my body for what it couldn't do, and started growing and strengthening what it could do. One day I just decided, "enough is enough."
I was sick of being weak. I wanted to be strong.
I was sick of feeling tired and ill. I wanted to be healthy.
I was sick of hating my body and not appreciating what it could do. I wanted to be confident.
That mental shift changed everything from there on out.
Exercise may have been a punishment in the past, but now it was an opportunity to grow my strengths and improve upon my weaknesses. Rather than stare at the weights, I walked over to them, picked them up, and lifted them. I stopped running for two hours and started supplementing my fitness regimen with short, high-intensity interval sessions.
I began designing my workouts to improve my health, not just my physique. And then this crazy thing happened...I started achieving my physique goals. And you can, too.
The big question you have to ask yourself is this:
Why are you running? Why are you lifting? Why are you choosing healthy foods over junk foods? Is it because you "love the pain?" Is it because you have low self-esteem? Is it a punishment? Or is it because you love your body and want to care for it properly? Is it because you are committed to becoming the best version of yourself? Who are you doing it for?
If your answers aren't, "I'm doing this for me because I want to be the strongest, healthiest, most confident version of myself," then you are not going to get the results you seek.
You could be the most ripped guy in the gym and if you are doing it strictly to look "the best," you won't be confident. You will be insecure, wondering if everyone else in the gym is noticing how ripped you are.
You could be the skinniest girl among your friends but if you are overexercising and under-eating to look that way, you won't be strong or healthy. You will be weak, tired, and prone to illness.
I didn't get results, physical or mental, until I changed my why.
I can honestly say that right now I am the strongest, healthiest, most confident Claire I have ever been. And the best part is, I have only touched the surface. There are endless opportunities for me to grow even stronger, healthier, and more confident in who I am. Because my why is the right why, I know I can keep growing.
And. So. Can. You.
You are only as powerless as you allow yourself to be, which means you are also as POWERFUL as you allow yourself to be. Choose to be powerful.
Don't settle for a less-than life. If you aren't happy with where you are, take a good look at your why. Then change it.