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How to Be Body Positive While You Workout

By Sara Butler

Exercise is good for you, that much is clear. But exercise and the culture surrounding it can also bring a lot of baggage to your workout. You often see fitness magazines praising a long and lean physique, and the images on fitness websites and workout videos often portray people with nary an ounce of body fat. The real purpose of exercise is to be healthy, not to look like a model. So here are a few ways you can tailor your workouts to be a more body positive experience as you work toward your goal of being healthy and happy with your own body.

If You Exercise to Earn Food, Stop

When you exercise you really shouldn’t be thinking of that brownie waiting for you in your car that you’ll eat once you’re done. If you work out and constantly try to figure out how long you have to do the elliptical or how many laps you have to swim in order to have a slice of cake later, then you’re zapping the joy from both endeavors.

It’s not entirely your fault, as fitness culture preaches a mentality of “burning off” calories from the foods you eat. But, you don’t have to earn food, you just have to eat it. And if you’re relatively health conscious anyway, you’re already doing what you need in order to be healthy, so just let go of the food/workout tradeoff.

It’s Just a Number

You really shouldn’t set numbers as goals. It is far better to focus on how your feel rather than how you look or how much you weigh. Remember, there are benefits beyond numbers when it comes to exercise, including mood elevation and improved overall health. So, cut yourself some slack and realize you’re doing your body good by getting out and moving – who cares what the number on the scale says?

Keep Your Body Engaged

It will do you, and your body, a world of good to switch up your exercise routine from time to time. If you bore your body then you bore your mind and if you bore your mind it’s a lot easier to think of exercise as a form of torture rather than something you enjoy doing. So, get a trampoline, try a new group exercise class or take a hike. Either way, you and your body will reap the benefits of not being bored!

Respect Your Body – and Its Limits

If you start a new exercise class and you have to stop, that’s OK. When you begin something new or intensify your workouts you have to listen to your body and appreciate its limits; if you have to stop part of the way through a workout, that should not be viewed as a failure: You could have stayed home and simply not exercised at all! So be proud!

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