Exercise Motivation and Practicing Self Care​

It’s 10AM on a Sunday. It’s the last day to start a 30-Day Yoga promotion for a studio in the metropolitan area. I’ve already skipped two classes available for the day, and I must make the decision to drive to the 11AM class in a further neighborhood or wait until the 4PM class at the studio down the street. The more I think about which class I should take, the less likely I am to actually get my namaste on. It’s also supposed to snow later, so it’s looking like savasana will be taken in bed tonight.

This conversation I have with myself is being drawn out from yesterday: “The only exercise you’ve had this weekend is walking to your abandoned car to avoid another Uber fee. Three low miles through the suburbs won’t burn off all the beer you drank Friday night.”

As I spend time criticizing my behavior from the weekend, I lose time looking for my yoga mat. My body is aching not only from the IPA’s I downed on Friday, but from a sense of neglect after yesterday’s Vegans on Youtube binge. I give my belly a squeeze and assure it that I’ll be going to bootcamp all week, and that one more day of vegging out without eating any vegetables won’t kill my fitness goals.

But that makes me wonder: What are my fitness goals? To have a six pack by the summer? What about beer? Or when someone picks up donuts at work? And what about girl’s trips? And weekends at Grandma’s? My gym doesn’t have a location in the middle of Missouri.

Throughout high school and college I exercised everyday, but I never worked out. I was a swimmer. An athlete. Exercise to me as an adolescent was intuitive, and swimming was my passion. Though once I neared graduation I began looking for every excuse to skip practice. But despite burn out in the pool, I still longed to exercise. And as someone learning to love her body again, some days the motivation to move feels emphatically vain and agonizing to imagine doing anything but Netlfix.

It’s 11:00 am on a Sunday and I tell myself that any workout is better than no workout, so I end up choosing Power Sculpt at the studio down the road. The gangster rap blasted between lounge squats is not the mood I was hoping for in a yoga practice, but we still spend time in savasana. As the teacher wafts a towel infused with peppermint oil over my head, I get a rush of enlightenment. By no means am I the leanest body in the room, but dammit I am strong. I tell myself that my fitness goals are already met. That the practice is more important than the exercise. I realize my glory days in the pool are over and this 30-Day Yoga trial will run out, but I will continue to move this body of mine as a thank you for all that it’s put up with, and all that it is capable of doing.

There was a point in my life where I exercised to burn calories; to purge. Today I look at exercise as part of a greater equation within my daily practice. The sweat, the breath control, and the mental stamina required of exercise challenges my body on a regular basis. What I am working on is removing the judgement and justification of particular workouts. Because for me, it’s not about the self-discipline, it’s about self-love.