Self-Kindness and Fitness: Give Yourself a Break when Getting Fit


What is Exercise Addiction?

At its core, exercise is part of an effective self-care regimen. However, like all good things, fitness can be overdone even to the point of addiction. While it is okay to feel the need to get your run in every day, if your exercise routine becomes an all-consuming aspect of your life, it is a problem.

Exercise addiction is not a recognized condition, so hard facts regarding its prevalence are unavailable. In an attempt to reach unrealistic body goals, the subject pushes themselves to dangerous extremes that can lead to serious injury or illness. The addiction consumes the person’s life and exercise becomes a compulsion rather than a way to care for and celebrate one’s body.

Practicing Self-Kindness

For some reason, a lot of people are hesitant to practice a bit of self-kindness and compassion. Despite what people may think, it’s not selfish or lazy to cut yourself some slack. In the end, you are your ultimate source of support and understanding. If you don’t truly believe in your inherent worth as a human, why should anyone else?

The fact is, practicing a bit of healthy narcissism correlates with less anxiety, depression, shame, and fear of failure. When we aren’t bogged down with those negative feelings, we have the levity needed to keep moving forward toward our goals.

Self-Kindness and Fitness

There is always something that motivates a person to pursue a state of fitness. Maybe you gained a few pounds or you notice your back hurts after spending a day at your desk. Generally, a person sees something about their body is lacking, so they use exercise as a tool to “fix it.” This attitude-- that there is something wrong with you or your body-- isn’t healthy or supportive.

Going into your new exercise regimen thinking that way is basically self-sabotage. As soon as you break your diet or notice that results are taking too long to show, you are more likely to give up. Instead of setting yourself up for failure, try practicing self-kindness as a way to encourage your fitness efforts.

  • Thank your body. No matter what you don’t like about it, your body is capable of incredible things. All of the cells in your being work together to create the marvel of nature that is you. Appreciate your body and what it can do while you are young and able.

  • For every hardcore workout you do, balance it with a soothing activity that allows you to experience your body at rest. Sit in a steam room, get a massage, or draw a long, hot bubble bath at home.

  • The mind and body are intrinsically connected. Eat in a way that gives back to your body, and you can change your entire mood. Food ties us to our friends, family, and culture, but we often forget to use it as a way to connect with ourselves. Listen to your body’s needs. Have you been feeling fatigued lately? Pick up a healthy veggie curry for lunch to perk up your senses and fuel your next workout. Need a pick-me-up when you are feeling blue? A nostalgic bowl of whole grain cereal with low fat milk can improve your mood by helping you feel calmer and happier.

  • The gym is for workouts-- make your home a sanctuary for relaxation. Have a space for relaxing hobbies like knitting or coloring books. Promote quality sleep in your room with accessories like noise machines, good pillows, and blackout curtains. Finally, minimize stress in your life with a secluded meditation space where you can practice mindfulness.

  • Celebrate your successes! You deserve a reward for working hard. We suggest avoiding food as a reward. Instead, treat yourself to an experience that encourages your new, healthier lifestyle.

  • Try exercises that are less about procuring results and more about connecting with your body. Yoga and dance classes are both great examples.

***

Exercise can be a healthy part of your self-care routine, but if it takes over your life, it poses a risk of being a full-on addiction. Practicing self-kindness and compassion when pursuing fitness goals can prevent unhealthy habits. Cut yourself a break if you don’t reach a goal, and learn to balance hard workouts with times of rest.

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