By Kait Spong
After coming out of what seems like a year-long period of solitude, many of us are carrying some extra weight with us – and no, we don’t mean emotional or mental strain. The “Quarantine 15” has become a frequent topic of conversation, whether you’re finally hanging out one-on-one with your besties in-person or reading up on posts from your favorite social media influencers. One thing is for certain, though – all the talk of weight gain during one of the most stressful periods of our lives thus far is simply feeding into the toxic nature of diet culture.
Diet culture often sucks all of the joy out of simple, healthy physical activity by encouraging “all or nothing” behavior. Instead of the practice itself, we become obsessed with only the results of our workout routines. But, fitness as a whole is so much more than just the number you see on the scale. More importantly, it’s about how you feel in your clothing, how you present yourself, and how you move about the world at large.
No matter how you may feel about exercise at this exact moment, the joy of movement is something that lives in all of us, and it’s important that you nurture it accordingly – or reconnect with it, if it hasn’t been a part of your routine. Remember how much fun you used to have riding your bike around campus pre-pandemic, or playing tag with your best friends as a kid? Well, you can certainly have that type of active fun again! The key is to build, or rebuild, a healthy relationship with health and fitness. Don’t worry – your pals at uCribs will show you how in this blog.
Establish your “why.”
There is definitely a honeymoon period to most fitness routines – the “feel good” moment, where all that matters is the initial lifestyle change. This alone can carry you for a while, but like any significant shift you make in your lifestyle, it will grow old eventually. The point of fitness is to remain consistent, so if you want to be successful in your new endeavor, you’ll need to establish the real reason why you’re devoting all your time and effort to your new routine, to begin with.
In other words, you’ll want to establish a “why,” or a motive that reminds you why getting up and moving is worthwhile, especially on those inevitable days when you aren’t feeling particularly motivated. Your “why” can be anything you want – perhaps, you want to build up endurance and finally say “yes” to that kayaking or hiking trip with friends from your chemistry class. Or, you might want to build a better and healthier future for yourself, one that will help you make the most of your early adulthood and prepare you for family life later down the road. Whatever the reason may be, figure it out before you get started.
Reflect on what type of exercise feels good and brings you joy.
Like the reasons why we move, it’s crucial to enjoy the movement we’re actually doing, in order for it to be sustainable. So, if you despise running with everything in you, it’s probably not the best idea to build an entire fitness plan around the activity. Don’t feel bad, though. Many of us have succumbed to the shiny exterior of an exercise trend that looks glamorous on Instagram or Good Morning, America – only to find that we’re much better off sticking to an exercise that feels right to both our body and mind.
If you have a love of swimming, try swimming laps or water aerobics. There might even be a pool on-site that you can utilize on your campus! Do you consider yourself more of a dancer? Get yourself going with some dance cardio, like Zumba or hip hop. Maybe, you prefer aerobics and can take a local HIIT class, which is a multimodal workout that combines cardio, strength training, and balance exercises. Choose one or two activities you love, or combine several different types of workouts, and your routine will never grow stale.
Celebrate non-scale victories.
Despite what some veterans of a healthy lifestyle might say, you never have to “earn” food with movement. Sure, food is energy, but it is certainly not a reward system. Weight loss should never be the primary goal of moving your body more, and that’s why it’s extremely important to celebrate those non-scale victories that we all experience, but may overlook completely.
What are non-scale victories, exactly? Well, non-scale victories, also known as NSVs, are health improvements from lifestyle changes that have nothing to do with how much you weigh. Maybe, you’re losing inches or gaining muscle definition, in spite of what the scale says. Or, you could be fitting into your clothes more comfortably. You could even be sleeping better or feeling happier overall. Reflect on these changes, and it will motivate you to keep moving forward in your exercise and fitness journey. Trust us – there are endless benefits to exercising that doesn’t involve standing on a scale that may or may not move.
Are you ready to evolve your relationship with exercise and fitness? After a tough year, we at uCribs think many of us are! Not to mention, the toxicity of diet culture got to us long before the pandemic ever did, and we must constantly progress our relationship with health, nutrition, and movement. Keep in mind that the scale is not the only measure of success. Take these 3 considerations to heart when you begin to re-evaluate where movement fits into your lifestyle, and your physical and mental improvements will be much easier to roadmap.