Full disclosure before I begin this blog: I am not a doctor nor a dietitian. Everyone’s exercise needs vary. Please consult your physician with any concerns or questions.
When I thought about a public issue to discuss I found my mind wandered to heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity; while at the same time, I thought about how these issues and their antidote are portrayed on social media. As an American society we are always throw an antidote for such conditions by being advised to exercise, drink water, get enough sleep, and so on. I wrote a blog recently about the Tumblr girl era and how the mid to late 2010’s were infused with body-type aesthetics, eating disorders, and specific beauty features and standards.
Bottomline is exercise is great, and the latest conversation attached to the word “physical exercise” is how since the pandemic, we all walk and move our bodies significantly less.
Over the years I have witnessed a dichotomy surrounding exercise from the media and influencers and medial professionals. The first one: exercise in whatever way feels right to you, moving your body in any shape or form is beneficial to your health- That being said form health professionals. The second is this idea of working out to ultimately look a certain way (i.e, bbl workouts, rock-hard abs, slim thick figure.) I’ve seen and heard of these kinds of exercises for years from influencers, fitness celebrities, media outlets, and so on. There was and still is this glorified incentive to working is for the look you will achieve.
Don’t get me wrong, I lift weighs and love it. It’s my favorite exercise to do that also reliefs my stress, keeps me healthy, and my mind strong. But what bothered me for years was I pressured myself into doing one kind of physical activity and put it on a pedestal for the sake of how I will look. When I didn’t do it, I felt bad about myself. I say this because I think many people struggle with consistency and also feeling like they’re doing the “best exercise regime”. But in my opinion, that’s bull crap, and if you’re moving you body in a way that feels good, more power to you. So what’s this to do with the pandemic?
A: We were trapped inside spending way more time on social media being shown all different kinds of beauty standards. B: Most of us were physically moving less. C: This was a time where people were trying to workout or find a way to move their body while staying safe/at home.
My position is that its been hell the almost three years. Many people have faced weight gain, experienced a decline in their health, increased levels of stress and sleepless nights. And just like the slow process it has been of getting things back to normal in our world, it is the same for our physical activity routines. What we can do for ourselves is take the baby steps we know it requires, and get back to the basics. Let’s not overwhelm ourselves with all these lifting routines, intense pilates monthly challenge workouts, or HIT circuits to the point where it feels unattainable. Walking is amazing and many Americans have this as their #1 form of exercise. That said, move your body in whatever way feels right to you. I remember as an 8 year old girl I would get so sweaty and tired just from dancing in my basement for an hour. It was my favorite things to do. For some, certain people got back into a fitness routine during the pandemic because it was a wake up call or, they had more time on their hands. For others, they experienced less physical activity due to the closing of fitness centers.
You may have even met someone or know someone throughout the pandemic who found a new love for yoga or running and ditched traditional weight lifting or pilates. Truth is, it’s okay to shake things up and let go of something that isn’t working for you. As a society, let’s let go of this social media based perception of wanting to get abs, have the perfect gym-fits, and having a strict routine of doing a specific exercise. All of those things can end up burning us out and making us feel about ourselves. I understand that strict regimes may work for some, but as someone who gets bored with routine easily, I have to keep my workouts interesting and fresh.
This topic of fitness, physical activity and caring for you body isn’t to diminish or dismiss barriers and other challenges we may face that can keep us from being physically active or feeling like even trying.
My hope is that we can all find away to move our bodies in a supportive way that enriches our lives- Not just for a physical aesthetic or because we feel pressured for the sake of our health.