STRESS SERIES | The Skinny on Exercise
Like most women in today’s society, you were likely taught that more intense exercise is better. If you aren’t burning 120874940 calories at the gym, you are wasting your time. More importantly, the more calories you burn, the more chips and guacamole you can have at tonight’s dinner. I want you to stop thinking about exercise in this way. Clear your mind. This approach to exercise sets you up for feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and failure.
While the fitness industry would love for you to believe that exercise is the key to sustained weight loss, it’s really not. Diet is. You are exercising for different reasons. That’s right. Exercise is crucial for mental wellbeing and preserving the quality of life that you want as you age. The goal should be maintaining flexibility, coordination, cardiovascular health, etc. So what does that mean? It means move your body by doing something you love. If you love yoga, don’t worry that it doesn’t burn as many calories as running on the treadmill. If you love walking, don’t worry that it doesn’t burn as many calories as running on the treadmill. You see where I’m going with this.
This is not to say that you can’t push yourself when you exercise. Test your edges, but do so in a mindful way. If your body needs a break, take a break. The idea of doing the same exercises day in and day out is really rooted in a male approach to fitness. Remember that your body is craving more restorative exercise during your luteal and menstrual phases. Don’t be ashamed to slow down because the more you push yourself at the gym, the more cortisol that you produce, and more cortisol means more inflammation (and recall that inflammation is not only a main contributor to premature aging, but also at the heart of every disease plaguing us today).
Listen to your body. Give it what it needs. Stop thinking about exercise as a fast track tool to getting “skinny” and start thinking about it in terms of quality of life. You only get one life. Enjoy it.