“Exercise should be a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you just ate”
I wish someone had explained this to me as I was clocking up my 10th km on the treadmill for the 7th day in a row. I was 30 seconds ahead of my record and I could feel my whole body screaming in pain but somehow I thought I was doing myself good. My motto was “no pain, no gain” and boy did I feel the pain. I was sore pretty much every single day and I would train so hard that by the time I would leave the gym I would have absolutely no energy left to go out and have fun and do the crazy stuff normal 21 year olds would do. All I could think of was my training, and what I would be able to eat after training, then how I would train to get rid of what I had just eaten. My brain was constantly adding and subtracting calories and it was a complete fcuking nightmare!
I was caught in a vicious spiral. I knew it was not good for me and I was hating myself for it, but I could see no way out. I had no idea what I was running after but I just couldn’t stop. Looking back at it now, I know I was suffering from training addiction but at the time I had no idea what was going on. I looked myself in the mirror and hated what I saw and I thought maybe if I trained a bit harder and clocked up a few more kilometers or a few more gym visits, I would finally see the results I wanted. My trainings were gruesome. I didn´t have a trainer but I was an absolute bitch to myself and the pain I was inflicting on my body was just ridiculous. All I wanted was to feel good in my body and somehow I thought that putting it through pain was going to get me there.
The reason I share this with you today is because the training culture and the “no pain no gain” mentality just keeps growing and I don´t want others to get trapped like I did. I also feel like what is being resonated today is that the more pain you feel, the better it is for your body and the better results you will get. I understand that athletes must sometimes push themselves to the limit to make progress but as normal human beings we shouldn´t have to feel pressured to do the same. Exercise should be fun and it should be about making us feel good, not about inflicting unnecessary pain on ourselves. And I think that the people who want to take part in exercise without pushing themselves to the limit should be as proud of themselves as those who do.
If you don´t feel like getting your ass kicked and that something doesn´t feel good on your body, don´t do it. I´ve seen better results on my own body and on clients since reducing the training intensity and focusing on exercise such as Pilates & Yoga, because it´s gentler on the body than exercise that is just aimed at burning calories.
I know it may seem ironic but I´ve never trained less in my life than in the past 9 months (mainly because of a broken ankle, twice…) but I´ve never felt better either. For the first time in my life, I feel at home in my own skin and I like what I see in the mirror. I think part of the reason for this is because resting and looking after my ankle has forced me to nurture myself and I think it´s all my body has been longing for.
It´s been a long battle and I´m sure there will still be difficult times ahead, but part of the reason why I decided to become a Health Coach was to be able to help others find balance with regards to food, but also with regards to exercise. Being healthy shouldn´t have anything to do with the amount of calories you burn at the gym. It´s about finding the type of exercise that makes your body feel good and making sure the exercise you are doing is somehow contributing to making your life better, not worse.