Exercise is invaluable. It releases endorphins, helps cleanse your liver and clear your mind. It’s also nice to be admired for being in good shape. But as with most good things, us humans have a tendency to get a bit carried away.
If you’re going through some shit, but you’re still able to do a decent amount of exercise, this is almost guaranteed to help your mental state.
There isn’t really a single part of your life, that WOULDN’T be improved by having an exercise routine.
But at what point does it become a detrimental distraction, an addiction, an obsession for a certain aesthetic?
What a lot of us crave is a sense of achievement. To feel like we are doing something we can be proud of. That we are setting goals and reaching them, that we are doing difficult things and succeeding.
And a lot of us are getting that feeling from the gym. You turned up, you committed, you improved, you can see results. All of these things make us feel proud.
But ultimately, if your life satisfaction comes from something that is so linked to the shape of your body, this is asking for trouble. Attainment of a ‘perfect’ body is just like the attainment of any other thing, like an expensive watch, yeah it’s nice to have and it looks good, but it doesn’t bring meaningful contentment to your own or anyone else’s life. Hasn’t every major religion and philosophy over time sought to remind us that possessions and vanity are not things to aspire to?
Nevertheless, we have often coveted certain shapes of body – folded feet, stretched necks, foreskin-less bellends, our culture is always telling us to look a certain way – but these trends will always be changing. We shouldn’t take them too seriously.
Are you exercising and feeling great afterwards? If so, please crack on. Or do you then check the size of your muscles or flatness of your stomach; to assess whether or not to be pleased? If so, you may be cutting out your joy.
How often do you look at other peoples’ bodies and feel worse about your own? Being envious is part of being human, but it shouldn’t plague you.
Also, a lot of us are lonely in our society; could you do with hosting more dinner parties instead of sweating more buckets?
If a lot of your mental space is taken up thinking about the size and shape of your body, try reading this mantra, and every time a negative thought about your body pops up; notice it, remind yourself it’s not important, and move on to something else. We’re surrounded by millions of galaxies each filled with billions of planets, all whizzing around the little rock we’re on; your belly doesn’t matter so much in the grand scheme of things.
Please also note that men and women have different bodies. On average, men suit high intensity exercise regimes more than women do, women need a higher percentage of body fat for optimum health.
Humans will always be doing strange things, and going to the gym is for sure a strange thing. Running around with no destination, lifting heavy things without actually needing to move them anywhere… Strange isn’t bad, but measuring your success by what you see in the mirror is not ideal.
I only say this, because I’ve been way too obsessed with my body most of my life. But how big or small I was never made my life better or worse – it was all in my head. The less I focus on my body shape; the better I feel.