Exercise as Self-Love: Reframing Your Relationship to Movement

The fitness industry is rife with bootcamp coaches, hard-asses, and sadists.

"Forget sleep." They say. "Rise and grind."

"No pain, no gain. If it was easy, everyone would be fit."

"Suffer now... " I don't know, maybe you'll have abs later?

But, does it really have to be this way?

My proposition is that it doesn't, and it all boils down to how you cultivate your mindset.

Here are some tools to help you reframe exercise, training, and movement, so that you can get into great shape, and stay consistent, all while enjoying the process.

Replace "I have to," with "I get to."

"I have to exercise today."

"I get to exercise today."

"I have to go on a walk."

"I get to go on a walk."

"I have to eat vegetables."

"I get to eat vegetables."

See how that changes things? And, it's true... Whatever it is that you are doing is a privilege. There are millions of people who endure real pain and suffering. If you are reading this, you probably enjoy some privilege: you are literate, and you have access to the internet. That says something about you, already.

Whenever you have a choice, there is privilege. Recognize that by framing activities in a way that honors your autonomy and its benefits.

Did it really "suck" that much?

"This sucks."

No, being sick "sucks." Starvation "sucks." Imprisonment "sucks." 

When you are in the throws of a difficult workout, what you are experiencing is LIFE. Exhilaration. Strength. Stamina. Challenge.


You are sharpening your axe. Cleaning your house. Taking out the trash. Doing your dishes. Taking care of business.


Is it uncomfortable? Maybe. Is it pain? No (or, maybe it is, in which case you should probably stop and seek medical attention asap).

Have fun. Play. Experiment. Move.

Is it fun? No? Then, go do something else.

Even if that means that you need to leave my gym because you are not having fun....


Of course, don't go away mad... just go away... and do something you love.

I really don't care what it is... Zumba, pilates, walking, skateboarding, yoga, running, juggling fire balls...

Because, if you are not enjoying the process—if you are not doing what you love—you are wasting your precious time. 

And, you know what, NO HARD FEELINGS. Because, this is about YOU, not about me, or whoever your coach is. You need to please yourself, not anyone else. No one can blame you for that. Be selfish when it comes to your movement. It's your body, your mind, and your health. Not mine, or anyone else's.

Celebrate the small victories.

I see it all too often: people overlooking the progress they've made and getting down on themselves. 

I've seen the opposite, too: people who take the smallest victories and celebrate them, constantly.

Guess who lasts the longest? Guess who has the most success?

No mystery there.

A living example of this is Patty Plessner a.k.a. Miss Patty:

Miss Patty

It dawned on me one day, after she shuffled up to me with what seemed like the most amazing news I was ever going to here:

"Oh my gosh, coach, I added 1 pound to my press!" She told me this almost jumping out of her shoes.

At that moment, it hit me then like a sack of bricks: this lady celebrates EVERYTHING.

Some coaches would scoff at Patty. Maybe get annoyed that she reports progress EVERY SINGLE DAY. But, not me. Not at all. Because, I know that this is Patty's superpower. More than anyone I have ever met, she celebrates the little things. She sees the bright spots. She's always looking for that silver lining.

And, because of that, she is enjoying the process more than most. She is excited to come into the gym and seize the day. She models what we should all be doing: scavenging for the bright spots and celebrating successes however they come, however small.

This is hard work, especially if we're used to focusing on the big grey cloud.

Like any skill, finding and celebrating the small victories takes practice. So, next time you're in the gym, see if you can find one small way to improve, and practice this skill everywhere you go: work, school, the kitchen, etc. 

Maybe your success is showing up. Maybe your success is moving better. Maybe your success is going on a gym attendance streak. Maybe your success is eating a new vegetable. Whatever it is, no matter how small, celebrate. Give yourself that pat on the back. You really do deserve it.

Notice and Name Negative Self-talk.

Just notice your own words to yourself.

This is really the first step to any kind of change. Before you can make changes, you have to become aware of WHAT to change.

Maybe you haven't even noticed that you curse at yourself during a workout. Maybe you haven't noticed your own words. 

Today, take the time to notice how you talk to yourself; at work, at home, and in the gym.

Need help?

It's easy for me, with all of my experience, to preach. But, this stuff can be really hard to implement. Maybe you feel overwhelmed? Scared? Intimidated?

That's normal. To tell you the truth, even I've been scared to walk into a new gym. I, too, have felt insecure about my body and my movement.

If this is you, and you want some help, I'm just a click away. You can schedule a 15-minute call with me by CLICKING HERE. It's totally free.

I offer nutrition services online, as well as in-person coaching in Gainesville, Florida. Schedule a call, and we can talk about how my services can help you get into the best shape of your life, with a mindset to match.

In the meantime, keep voicing your gratitude, have fun, and celebrate your victories, no matter how small. You'll be happier and healthier for it in the long-run.