6 Reasons People Exercise
by Stephanie Nickel
1. To get a body builder’s physique – Even at 53, I would love to have a flat stomach, defined biceps, triceps that can’t be referred to as “bat wings,” and that indentation down my thigh that shows the dividing line between my quads and my hamstrings. My dreams for my abs and my upper body are doable, and I’ll settle for more slender legs. (Getting the kind of definition I mentioned takes a crazy amount of work.)
To all of you who are actually shooting for a body builder’s physique, I encourage you to do so carefully, under the guidance of your doctor. It’s too easy to make unhealthy choices on the journey to getting ripped.
2. To fit into a Size 0 – I was as thin as I’d ever want to be when I was in my early 20s. I weighed about 120, give or take. Guess what? I was a Size 9, and that was fine by me. (In fact, I’d be quite content to be a Size 9 again.)
If you are naturally tiny, there is nothing wrong with being a Size 6 or smaller. However, whether you want bulging muscles or to wear that teeny tiny outfit and still look modest, eat healthy and exercise regularly. If you do, you will find out what body size is best for you.
3. So we don’t have to watch what we eat – Healthy eating (that includes treats and “cheats” from time to time) is important no matter how much we exercise. Our body needs certain nutrients to function at its best. And if you’re looking to lose weight, reports state that it can be up to 80 percent dependent on what you eat.
I’m not talking about dieting per se. I’m talking about developing a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and eating a balance of what our body needs to function at its optimum. Since there are many factors that influence what each of us should and shouldn’t eat, you may want to speak with a nutritionist who knows you personally.
4. To attract attention – Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we shouldn’t look our best. But I’d venture a guess that most of us want to be noticed for the reasons that will last whether we put on a few pounds (or more) or gain a few wrinkles (or more).
What message do we really want to send to members of the opposite gender? To our spouse? To our children? To our friends? To our teachers? To our employer?
No matter what size we are, there are many advantages of exercising and eating well. We will almost always be happier and more confident, and that will show in our smile, our eyes, the way we walk, etc. We will likely have more energy and work more efficiently. And that can attract all the right kind of attention.
5. To conform with society’s norm – Before you assume otherwise, I want you to know I don’t oppose everything society values, not even in the areas of physical beauty and what’s declared fashionable.
When I was in Bible College, I thought “balance” was synonymous with “compromise.” I don’t mean the good kind of compromise. I mean turning our back on our most valued principles and beliefs. I’ve found the two aren’t synonymous, however.
If society is promoting the physical and social benefits of exercising with your family and friends, I’m all for it.
If restaurants are promoting a healthy choice on their menu, as long as it really is healthy, I’m all for it.
If society brings out a new clothing and accessory line we like and adds a spring to our step, as the young woman at the store said, “We should ‘own’ what we wear.” It’s much easier to “own it” if our outfit is sending the message we want to communicate.
It can go wrong both ways. If we try to pursue an unrealistic “ideal,” we will never be content. If we become indignant and condemn society, we won’t be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. We will reject even the positives. And we will likely alienate the very people we want to influence.
6. To gain approval – This is closely tied to #4 and #5. And to a certain extent we all want approval. And that isn’t a bad thing. However, there will always be someone stronger, thinner, prettier, more handsome . . . whatever.
While there are many positives that come from eating well and exercising regularly, I would hope those closest to us, value us for more than the apparent results of doing so.
And I’d like to encourage you not to hold off on giving yourself approval until you weigh x number of pounds or never choose a donut rather than fruit for dessert.
Who has God made you? What talents and gifts do you have to offer? As you develop those and give of yourself as He gives you opportunity, whether we gain others’ approval or not, we will know we are doing what we should. Knowing we have His approval is, by far, the most important thing of all.