Motivation is the stuff that keeps you going even when you’re tired, when you feel like quitting, when there’s nothing left to give.
I’d be willing to bet that for most of us, staying motivated is a struggle. Why else would there be so many personal trainers? Professionals who, as one stand-up comedian quips, “We pay to force us to work out in the gym we already pay to go to.”
For this fat girl, the point of exercise had always been to get skinny. I’ve wanted to lose pounds, shed weight, see the numbers go down on my scale and on the tag of my jeans.
Becoming less has been the thing that drove me.
And let me tell you, less was never enough.
The desire to be less has been a poor motivator, keeping me going for minutes or hours; sometimes lasting whole days, occasionally weeks, and once or twice for whole months at a time. Eventually though, my resolve to change fizzled out and I fell back into my same old routine of being too busy to devote time to regularly working out.
I’m not the only one who operates in this manner. Just hit Pinterest and check out all the “Motivation” boards full of pictures of overly thin women with thigh gap. This drive to become less appears to be a widespread phenomena.
I think I need some new motivation. I think you do, too. I think we need more.
Here’s ten reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with how much space you occupy.
Many of us body-positive mamas are all about strengthening our spirits through self-acceptance. Let’s not neglect to grow stronger in body as well. Be powerful. Be influential. Be a force to be reckoned with. Check out Olympian Amanda Bingson for a little inspiration.
Grow in Grace
I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of woman who naturally walks into walls and trips on flat sidewalks. It took years of dancing hula to develop grace and poise. Fat doesn’t have to be synonymous with clumsy and graceless. What’s more graceful than a ballerina? Don’t think they exist? Frostine Shake is a model and dancer trained in classical ballet who is the very picture of grace.
Combat Anxiety and Depression
I know most of us have heard it before, but it bears repeating. Besides body image issues, so many of us deal with mood disorders. Whether just for a season or as a lifelong struggle, struggling with depression and anxiety is something fairly universal. Untended, these issues can be debilitating. Research study after research study links increased activity to decreases in mood disorders. Exercise is a cheap, effective, and drug free therapy!
Increase Flexibility and Agility
Have you ever looked at a yogi holding some impossible, gravity defying pose and wondered how on earth she managed? Have you ever considered that fat girls could do this too? Neither did I, until I got a load of Jessamyn Stanley and women like her. Talk about limber!
‘Cause Yoga Pants
Have you seen the adorable workout clothes they’ve been coming out with lately in plus sizes? Finally, the world has begun to recognize that women with breasts, thighs, and hips might want to exercise and need the gear for it. Gone are the days when sports bras stop in a large. My most recent finds in this department have been from Old Navy, but hundreds of companies have jumped on the plus-sized active wear wagon. (You all guessed that the fashionista couldn’t resist at least one clothing related reason!)
Improve Sleep Habits
I love to sleep. Really. Really really. I am that woman you do not wake up from a nap. Not if you value your life, anyway. Yet there are nights when I just cannot fall asleep. I toss, I turn, I’m exhausted yet sleep eludes me. O yes, I have nights like that but, NEWSFLASH, never after swim class. After swim class, I am out like a light at ten and I sleep like a baby through the night. O glorious exercise-induced sleep!
You Just Want to
Not once in my life have I ever thought to myself, “Gee whiz, I’d like to spend 20 minutes on a treadmill. What fun!” Yet, there are plenty of times I simply want to take a stroll in the sunshine. I have days where I just gotta dance! There are lazy evenings where I want to stretch out in yoga poses like a cat. When I have a free morning, few things sound more appealing than a hike through the woods. Splashing around in the pool with the kids is a delicious summertime treat. Find movement that makes you soul happy– even if it’s leisurely- and do it because you love it!
Get that Endorphin Buzz
Cheeseburgers aren’t the only “substance” I’ve had an issue with abusing in the past. You name it, I probably tried it. From drinking to drugs to shopping to men, I’ve sought out a lot of highs in my life. Nowadays, I’m clean and sober, with a lot more will power and a lot less impulse control issues (by the grace of God!) but I can still get a little buzz, guilt free, from getting active. Although recent research shows that there’s more at play to this feeling than just endorphins, it can’t be denied that “runner’s high” is a very real thing. Even if I’m engaging in exercise that isn’t at all my cup of tea- like when my big sister tells me I’ll be doing hot yoga in Phoenix, which is already hot enough, thank you very much- I still get that delicious high afterwards.
So it isn’t pretty or popular to discuss the workings of the digestive system but let’s face it, sometimes things get a little sluggish in that department. The more things slow down, the more bloated and uncomfortable we feel. Yuck! Well, getting moving really gets things moving if you know what I mean. Another reason I love swim class!
Prove them all wrong
Many years ago, on a dating site a certain gentleman asked my weight. Being an overly honest woman who doesn’t mince words, I told him the truth, “Two hundred thirty pounds.” The reply I got back was a scathing diatribe calling me a liar and worse. This guy was sure I must be telling a whopper either about my weight or my professional title, which at that time was “executive chef”. He argued, “If you’re so fat, there’s no way you could do a job like that.” Well, I was that fat, and I did indeed work as an exec chef, a position that required 60 or 70 hours a week of intensely physical labor. I don’t need to tell you that I ceased all communication with that particular suitor after that. He may be a jarring example but he certainly isn’t the exception. There are so many people who believe fat and lazy are equivalent. What glorious freedom can be found in proving them all wrong! Fat girls can be executive chefs, runners, swimmers, and athletes. Ladies, we are capable of anything.