This is my dilemma with gym goers and as per usual no one in my life seems to really understand my controversial views on this topic probably because it’s so common and the No.1 reason people go to the gym is for this exact reason.
I simply do not like the idea that we go to the gym to look better. Yes, I said it…I can’t figure out if I used to use this dilemma as an excuse when I was younger or this is how I really feel but the idea the majority of people go to the gym to look physically better sometimes irks me inside. I just feel like it puts a lot of emphasis on society that we need to be focusing a lot on our physical appearance, to look like how others do rather than our personal best. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for if you don’t like something, you should change it, but I don’t like how motivation to do so comes mainly from insecurities perpetuated by society when I feel the motivation really should be to strive for better for yourself.
I don’t know if I think this way maybe because I knew a few people who were majorly unhappy with their bodies that tended to pick apart other peoples bodies and appearance due to their insecurities. These were the exact same people that went to the gym, and put in a lot of effort to ‘look better’ but after all their hard work, they didn’t feel any better, they only felt like other people perceived them as ‘better’ (some admitting they still felt insecure, some still picking others apart, and some valuing Instagram likes more on their pictures also makes me believe this).
I understand this is just my experience, but it really did put me off the gym even though there were other reasons I loved to go. Like for example in the first year of Uni, my sleeping patterns were shocking. In our accommodation, we had a free 24-hour gym that did not require me to leave my home. Although it wasn’t the most well-equipped gym and focused heavily on cardio machines, it was a blessing to be able to tire myself out like a hamster on a hamster wheel at 1am and hit the sack and have the best nights sleep.
Now don’t get me wrong, this idea used to stop me going to the gym, but now I would and have loved seeing my body change in recent months because of it but there are so many other good reasons I use other than ‘to look better’ and try to feel less insecure about myself to motivate myself to hit the gym that I have listed for you guys…
1. Mental health– there are so so so many physical health benefits to staying fit but also just as many mental health benefits. Exercise can reduce anxiety, reduce stress and can also cause the release of chemicals in your brain e.g. endorphins that make you ‘happier’ which can all help make you feel better as a whole! Studies have shown that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression just as well as antidepressants could; it’s like a natural high which sounds good to me- I don’t know about you, but I always feel probably the happiest after doing some form of exercise!
2. Motivation at the gym encourages motivation in your whole life– being motivated to go to the gym or for some take part in other forms of exercise can be the igniting action to be motivated to accomplish other things too. For me, once I go to the gym, I feel more in the mood to complete other tasks that need doing, I come home and I just feel so motivated to clean my room, cook dinner, sit down and reply to all the emails I’ve been avoiding. Sometimes when I know I’m going to the gym later, I feel more productive to finish everything I need to do before I go. It’s really a win-win situation!!
3. Better good night sleep– for someone who has a crazy sleeping pattern, THIS was an important one for me. I usually go to the gym between 7pm and 9pm as I feel this is the optimum time for me to then come home, have a shower, have a late healthy snack, relax and feel tired enough to go to sleep. Research says that exercise can help you have better sleep too and I agree, I sleep likkkkaaa baby!
3. To ACTUALLY feel good about your body– it’s one thing to see a change from the gym and feel better about yourself cause of it but it’s completely another to simply feel good for taking care of the one thing you will always have- you and your body! You may have a perky toned little butt from them squats or be as skinny as you want to be from running for hours but that feeling of ‘I’m taking care of something that’s important to look after’ and doing it to feel good might just matter that tad bit more.
4. A learning experience– when I first walked into a gym, I had no idea what any of the machines were apart from the treadmill which let’s be honest, only involves me doing something I have been doing since the age of 1 but a little faster. As time went on and I started going to the gym with different people and reading up online on gym-related topics, I have built up a basic knowledge not only of the machines but how to vary my exercises for what I want to achieve, how I should be eating, what works best for me, and learning how to push myself more and increase the output of each exercise hence each session as a whole. I’ve learned a lot but I know there’s still a lot more to learn but it fun, useful and feels good to be knowledgeable in an area that can also benefit you physically.
5. Self-confidence– doing something for yourself and your well being while also being able to do something you can’t before can make you feel more confident in yourself especially when exercise becomes a habit. It can make you feel stronger as a person on the inside (and on the outside) even from meeting the smallest goals that can make you feel more self-confident as a person.
7. Inspire yourself and others– when you look at other people who do something you admire you think, ‘Oh I wish I could do that‘. I feel like with the gym or whatever activity you choose to do to stay fit, you inspire yourself and strive to be like that, to adopt the mindset to be able to conquer and push yourself more. Eventually, over time, other people will be inspired by you to achieve the same.
I hope this post motivated you in other ways than the typical to get your body moving and push yourself physically and mentally to achieve goals and feel the best when working out! Thank you for reading and I would love to hear your opinions and how you benefit in other ways from the gym too in the comments!