“This is my remedy for depression.” “This is my happy space.” “This is the place where I feel most comfortable!” Do these statements sound familiar? Often, these words are paired with a picture of dumbbells, or a treadmill. Perhaps we do this subconsciously, but it emphasizes that the ONLY happy place for us is at the gym. I am guilty of this as well. I have been there, seen it, and done it! I used to think that the gym was the happiest place on the planet. How mistaken I was!
I recall miserable moments at work. The only thing I could think about was going to the gym. All I wanted to do was a heavy workout. It was my safe place, where I could hide away for three hours a day. It was my only escape from the misery, discomfort and challenges at work.
As soon as I thought about my morning and evening cardio session (before the bodybuilding show), I could physically sense the goosebumps on my skin. I was obsessed with becoming leaner and leaner. It got to the point where I couldn’t even hold my own body, due to an overwhelming lack of food (eating 800-calories a day is not exactly “healthy”). Regardless of what I was putting my body through, I was ecstatic! I could see my veins and muscles, and I was down to 6% body fat. This was my “dream”, or so I thought…
To this day, I still get anxious whenever I think about not being able to race due to an injury. I feel like I’ve lost my best friend. Despite this, I push, perform, and force my body to run. I lift and do 222 burpees. Without this, I feel like my worth and value is gone.
Why is fitness thought of as a remedy for unhappiness? Why does it often become a substitute for friendship, or the only means of value one has? Why is this ideology so strongly embedded in our society?
Yes, exercising is good for health. It helps us to feel better physically and emotionally. Getting our endorphins released and having our metabolisms sped up is helpful for many things! As a biologist, nutritionist, and fitness professional, I see these benefits clearly. I encourage every single client and friend of mine to be active.
With that said, I strongly dislike the fact that the gym can be used as a substitute for personal awareness, mindfulness, and self-understanding.
How do you feel when you don’t go to the gym? How about when you “fall short” and don’t push yourself beyond your physical limits? Do you feel unworthy? Do you feel like you’re losing yourself and your identity?
If you answer “yes”, now is a critical moment for you to realize that self-worth, self-value, self-identity, self-power and self-strength needs to be found within one’s self.
It is not given to us for free.
It is not miraculously appearing in front of your eyes.
It does not land on your lap out of nowhere.
It is not a magic pill, nor a magic moment.
It is not a sparkly angel coming down from the sky.
It is none of these!
It is countless hours of self-work.
It is finally coming to the realization of where you are.
It is a frustrating trudge through trial after trial.
It is a limitless list of affirmations repeated over and over.
It is a mind blowing, eye-opening, and shocking moment of self-truth.
It is an emotional spiral between YOU-the-Best and YOU-the-Worst.
It is a powerless feeling when you become vulnerable.
It is a transformation that doesn’t happen overnight….in fact, you might not even know it’s happening!
It is a love that you need to surround your most sensitive inner-child with.
It is the compassion you need to find and create.
It is the painful memories you need to face to move forward and grow.
It takes the present moment to realize who you really are.
It is that time you need to spend with yourself, and only YOURSELF, to find happiness and self-belief. It is during this time that we can find self-validation, confidence, self-worth, value, acceptance, compassion, respect, and love. These enormous treasures of energy and power are within you.
YOU are NOT your worst enemy. YOU ARE YOUR BIGGEST FRIEND, SUPPORTER and ALLY!!!
You got this beYOUtiful! ❤