Calling all Ladies!
We all know the importance of the “what, when & where’s” of fitness (as in, what am I going to do, when am I doing it and at what location -> the gym, at home, in a field?). But what about the why? After growing up as one of those sprout-loving, turnip-cherishing kiddos and then a long and windy road into university soccer and an exercise science degree, it wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I began investigating my “why” wholeheartedly. It was during that time, after the birth of my son, that I discovered the significance of finding an internal reason for committing to ‘fitness’. It was then I realized that this, knowing your why, is so pivotal for fitness longevity.
If your “why” isn’t solid and rooted in something meaningful (to you) chances are it won’t stick, at least not for the long haul. I would argue that the pursuit of “thin” while sought after by a LOT of people, isn’t enough to keep people truly engaged in fitness and investing in exercise steadily throughout the years.
The very real but misunderstood definition/(s) of fitness are:
- the condition of being physically fit, and healthy -> not necessarily reaching a specific number on a scale
- the ability to perform a particular task -> as in carrying two children, lifting a large rock, or hiking up a hill
- an organisms ability to survive and reproduce -> (read below)*
That last one is kind of funny and most applicable to wild animals, but still I thought it was fitting considering just how much fertility has been a topic of late. And, having had my own fertility challenges – it does, in my opinion, have a place. Indeed, fitness is SO much more than the weight on a scale, body fat percentage, and fitting into a specific size. Deep down, we all know this and yet our why is often challenged with these very things.
What is your why? When you hear the word fitness what thoughts come to your mind? When you think about fitness what images pop into your head? Who, to you, reflects fitness fully and why?
These are the questions I began asking myself after I became a mother. Fitness was my calling. Ask my sisters and mother. I was a unique child (laughs) and fell in love with fitness at the ripe age of, say four or five. I used to wake up early on Saturday mornings to do the on-TV workout programs (you know, the ones with the three ladies in leotards on the beach with waves in the background)?? Heck yah, I was that kid! No joke. I loved it. But somewhere between then and my early twenties, I questioned if I could even work in the industry anymore. I left for a short while. My love for fitness changed because the tug and pull and pressure to ‘beat ones body into submission’ just didn’t feel right, and it wasn’t. Thank goodness the industry has shifted!!! Seriously, this makes my heart SO happy!
Getting back, when determining our fitness “why” we first have to understand what the heartbeat of fitness really is, and what it’s not. First, the true definition of fitness is not pushing your body beyond natural limits. It is not forcing your body to fit into a size it was never meant to be, or creating extremely strict boundaries around what, when and how you should eat.
Now hear my heart, I think athletic competition is INCREDIBLE (like, Hi CrossFitters, you’re actually my heroes) and working hard to be lean is awesome! I’m not talking about leanness – I’m talking about forcing your body beyond lean, in a way that compromises your health. I am ALL for pushing the fitness envelope – > having fun, working hard, seeing the results from hard efforts. I’m not about waking up daily feeling like you’re not good enough, never feeling free to go shopping because you’re aiming to be a different size, or avoiding fun activities like swimming or wearing shorts in the summer because you feel like your incredible, beautiful, miraculous body isn’t acceptable. You are beautiful and acceptable, my friend. Let those words imprint on your heart.
Ladies – the real definition of fitness includes FREEDOM! And if fitness, for you, doesn’t include freedom or has never included freedom … oooooooo girl, your life is about to seriously change! (I literally have goosebumps writing this)!
Freedom comes when our “why” shifts from the external (only) and includes the internal. Let me say that again, freedom comes when we shift our fitness focus from simply our external physical appearance, to a mind, body and spiritual intention. Exercising our mental fitness (mood, focus, determination and discipline), our internal body strength (i.e. the health of our cells, gut optimization, brain longevity, reproductive health and disease prevention), and our spiritual endurance (i.e. being rooted in our beliefs in a way that it withstands the challenges of life, and our emotions). When our “why” includes all of these things – our commitment to fitness takes on a whole new meaning, a more layered meaning, and one we are more connected to.
Friends – this IS the missing link. When our why is rooted in all of these layers, and we begin to reap the benefits of investing in this type of fitness – it will stand the test of time. And you know what, getting lean will happen naturally. Seriously. When we focus on eating foods that fuel our brain and mood; help with emotional discipline; maximize fertility and reproductive health; and assist our gut and digestion – we naturally see the impact in ALL area’s! How amazing is that?!
So then – what is your fitness why?! Do you know what it is? Does your head hurt a little? It’s ok if it does. It took me a good two years of digging deep, pulling out some roots, forgiving myself for mistreating my body in the past, and then falling back in love with fitness before my “why” really made sense. P.s. I don’t think it will take you that long! I was pregnant (twice!) during that time, nursing babies, surviving a renovation, and so the process got delayed 😉
Finally, IF your “why” does include being lean, running a marathon, or seeing your muscles pop – GIRL, high fives all around! Seriously, I have those goals too! My nudge comes from a concern for “freedom.” You can follow lean eating principles, prioritize exercise and be so stinkin’ happy and healthy. But on the flip side, you can practice these same things and feel terrible. Between these two, I suspect the difference is the approach – the “why!”
Think about your why! Evaluate it. Give it so much grace but also know that it can change if it is not serving you well! Freedom in fitness is real and possible. And I am so excited for those of you who needed to know and hear that!
In Fitness & Freedom,