Recently I had the opportunity to really appreciate the support that exercise contributes to my life, and to discover the relationship between my commitment to myself and my commitment to exercise.
I was quite the exercise fanatic for a large percentage of my life, but in recent years I had pulled back rather substantially from my exercise programs. Whilst I never stopped exercise completely, as I love my walks, I definitely reduced the amount, intensity and regularity.
In effect, I had experienced the two opposite ends of the scale – exercising too much for most of my life, and then in recent years, pulling back to a very minimal exercise program. But I felt that something was not quite right with my approach and with my commitment to exercise – and so I started to explore.
I began to introduce a regular gentle exercise program and I discovered that my body loved this new gentle and connected way of exercising. Listening to my body made me realise just how supportive and important exercise is and how it had such a positive effect on how I felt throughout the day. When I listened to the wisdom of my body and began to exercise for health and vitality, rather than weight management or body image as was the case in the past – I felt amazing!
I started a more regular and committed exercise program of cardio, light weights and some gentle stretching. I noticed how this supported my energy levels and thus my days in a very positive way. And it got me pondering:
- Why did I stop a lot of my exercise in the first place?
- Why do such a large proportion of the population do very little exercise?
As I began to honestly reflect on why my commitment to exercise had waned, I started to piece some things together. Apart from the obvious fact that I was exercising way too much and too hard, and then not exercising enough, I started to connect the dots of what was happening in my life and why these choices were made. It dawned on me like a big yellow light bulb, that…
There is an innate relationship between my commitment to exercise and my commitment to self.
My lack of commitment to myself was not something I was conscious of at the time: I didn’t go walking around saying out loud “I have given up on myself!” I discovered that this process of giving up on oneself seemed to be a slow chipping away over time that easily went unnoticed, as most of my focus was on getting through the day’s events.
On reflection, I can see that I went down the path of giving up on aspects of my life like relationships, family and friendships, because it all felt too hard or hurt too much. Over time, the self-doubt started to kick in, confidence and self-worth headed south, and the joy of life started to lose its sparkle and magic. My energy levels became erratic and my exercise commitment started to decline. I had to pull in more vices and outside motivation in order to get off the couch to exercise. Examples of vices I used were stimulating food and drinks (coffee, alcohol, sugary foods) to give me energy, or convincing myself off the couch to go for a walk even though my body was tired and unmotivated.
If I am really honest, the only reason I stayed in good shape during this time was vanity and my career. I wasn’t choosing to exercise for health and vitality: I was choosing to exercise for the purpose of a body image that I knew was accepted by society. But as I was to discover, like many others have, this approach cannot sustain itself long-term.
The relationship between the commitment to me and the commitment to exercise has become so clear to me now. The more I struggled with life, the more I struggled with committing to exercise. Now that I have seen this connection, my relationship with exercise is very different. Choosing to commit more to me and to truly living life has included dealing with the unresolved issues that were dragging me down. As a result of these choices all aspects of my life have changed… the way I eat, relate to people, my work, my relationships, energy levels… life has become a joy!
When I reflect back it all makes sense; of course I would lose interest in caring for me if I had on some level checked out or given up on aspects of my life. When we feel we are worth it and life is worth it, we pull out all stops to care for and nurture ourselves.
My newfound commitment has come from the understanding and claiming that…
- I matter in the world.
- I am making a conscious choice to make a difference.
- I am equally as amazing as anyone else because only I can bring what I bring and share with the world.
- I truly believe I am worthy of expressing my full potential.
Our daily choices really are powerful and have a big influence on our health and thus how we feel.
I have started to notice more and more how my body feels during, and after, my daily gentle exercise program. Here are the things that I am very much appreciating that regular exercise offers me…
- Increased endurance, stamina & energy levels
- Increased ability & ease to stay focussed on tasks
- A sharper mind with increased clarity
- Increased confidence in my body
- A content feeling in my body after exercise
- Improved quality of sleep
- Improved digestion & stool movement
- Reduced appetite, thus less likely to overeat
- Less likely to comfort eat, if at all
- An awareness of everything internal flowing with much more ease & efficiency (blood flow, circulation, digestion, assimilation etc.)
No longer is exercise a chore or something I have to do, but simply one of the many ways to support my wellbeing. It also confirms to me that my commitment to exercise is because of my commitment to me.
Without a doubt exercise is an important part of looking after ourselves, and we are all absolutely worth it!
By Marika Cominos, Fitness Professional / Yoga, Meditation & Complementary Therapies Practitioner, Melbourne, Australia