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POSITIVE, WISE & LOVING LIFE

Four insights that will change how you feel about your body

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For many of us, exercising is about losing weight or improving our looks. Why not exercise to take care of our body, of because it makes us happy?

The number of inspiring women who show a different, more candid image of beauty, is increasing. At the same time, an hour of scrolling through Instagram or browsing the average fashion magazine, still gives you the impression that skinny is the standard. 

Gym versus couch

That’s why many of us still exercise to lose weight and/or look better (whatever ‘better’ may be), not because it’s healthy for your body or gives you a pleasant feeling. In fact, the gym can make you feel quite uncertain about your body, so it’s no wonder that it can be quite the challenge to get off the couch and put on your sports gear. And that’s a shame. 

Look with loving eyes 

If you can manage to look at yourself with different, more positive eyes, the relationship with your body becomes more loving. Exercise, even if you’re not the athletic type, will be fun. Which helps you to love your body even more. This is how to do it: 

1 Think of food and exercise as two different things

Allow yourself to allow a meal (or a luxurious piece of chocolate), without wondering if you’ve burned enough calories today. By focusing on calories, you reinforce the idea that being slim is ideal, and you stop listening to your own body. Thinking thoughts like these creates a negative relation between food and exercise:

- I have to do something to burn the calories of this piece of pie, no matter how tired I am
- I didn’t exercise today, so I can’t have dessert 
- Yesterday I went completely off limits, so today has to be about balance
- That sandwich looks so good. How long do I have to exercise today to earn it?

2 Learn to listen to your body 

Every body – yup, yours included – longs to move. That’s natural. If you think of exercise as an unpleasant chore, you make it into something negative. Respect your body’s needs: exercise, but allow yourself days of rest, too. And don’t force anything. There’s nothing wrong with pushing yourself occasionally, but don’t make exercise into agony. There’s a difference between challenging yourself and punishing yourself. 

3 Focus on other advantages than weight loss

Exercise can have so many advantages. It really depends on what’s important to you. A few examples:

- When you’re feeling stressed, taking a walk helps you to relax
- Going for a bike ride with your partner, kids or friend is a fun way to spend time together
- Boxing and other explosive sports are perfect to get rid of frustration
- Dancing for an hour to your favorite music makes you happy
- Team sports are a fun way to meet people

4 Have fun 

If you like to do something, it’s easier to keep doing it. Find a way of exercising that makes you want to move. If running or cardio isn’t your thing, try something else. Yoga, walking, volley ball: there are so many alternatives. Or find an exercise that doesn’t make you think of sports. After all, dancing in your living room, walking along the sea or riding your bike is exercise, too. 

Text: Sanne Eva Dijkstra - Photo: Matthew T Rader