The following is the first in a series of posts focused on physical activity and exercises that facilitate self care. Please join the conversation and share your learning’s, questions, reflections, and struggles – we’re in this together!

All right, so I think it is about time that we were all honest about exercise…and I mean this in a few different ways! First off, there is this new “trend” of people posting pictures of themselves conquering a yoga pose, with six pack abs, on top of a mountain, with no evidence of physical strife whatsoever…okay I may be exaggerating a bit, but in some cases this is absolutely true, right?! First off, my intention here is not to shame or put down anyone (ALL BODIES ARE BEAUTIFUL), instead, my intention is to bring a bit of reality and maybe even clarity to physical exercise, so by all means, if you are that person with a six pack, doing a headstand, on top of a mountain, then good for you…you do you! What I am truly trying to “get at” is the motivation behind YOUR physical exercise. What is YOUR motivation when it comes to exercise?

…..Dig deep…be honest!…

If you are like me, or how I used to be, you most likely have a personal motivation to loose weight, purge of your calories, sweat to cleanse your body, torture yourself in order to truly “ feel” like you deserve that piece of cake, rid of what you ate, or fit society’s ideal of what a body should look like, am I right? If so…. then lets reevaluate a bit!

If this is the case, in that you are a person that exercises to ‘”look” a certain way, how is this truly going for you? …for me, it did not go so well, in that the more and more I tried to fit this “ideal” of how I “should” look the more and more I became unsatisfied with myself, the more I let myself down, and the more I brought stress and shame to what should be an emotional release! Throughout my recovery, I learned that physical exercise is incredibly important for me, in that it was and still is an emotional, psychological, and mental release, but it took me a while to get to this point!

 ….so before I go on let me say that I encourage everyone, who is within their recovery, to talk about this with their care team, helping professional, and/or doctor to ensure SAFE, and HEALTHY physical activity within a CONTROLLED manner!

Okay, so full self-disclosure right?…One of my main struggles in daily life is my negative body image…who is with me?! The unfortunate truth is that within eating disorder recovery, body image ALMOST ALWAYS comes last, and therefore it has always been a personal battle for me. For years I struggled with the addiction to toxic behaviors that coincided with my eating disorder, such as, binging and purging as well as restriction, and through hard work and commitment my behaviors are no longer, but my emotions are still sometimes present…

Ah! Ah! …. don’t forget….RECOVERY IS NOT LINEAR! The real importance within this process of recovery is staying honest, accountable, learning from your mistakes, and taking that shame away! Don’t worry…I will continue to remind you of this!

The perceptions of self are important, but none are as crucial as the continuously changing image of our own bodies (Beilharz, Atkins, Duncum and Mundy, 2016). This growing dissatisfaction concerning body image conception (BIC) is implicated in several mental health issues and can lead to harmful behaviors such as restriction, over exercising, binging, purging, etc (Beilharz, Atkins, Duncum and Mundy, 2016). Knowing this, it is crucial all to safely take control over your body image to avoid the reoccurrence of toxic behaviors.

With that being said this is why I am a HUGE believer in-group exercise whether that be through classes, group runs, and in some cases even through the use of an app on your phone! Taking exercise classes truly brought me to a healthy state within my recovery when it came to physical activity, in that I was able to practice safe, healthy, controlled physical activity without overdoing it, and without losing myself in my unhealthy motivations.

In the coming weeks I will be sharing some of my favorite exercises and ways I maintain healthy motivations.

I’d love to hear from you! What are your motivations for working out and how do you keep them positive. #MotivationIsNotJustForMondays