I can practically feel the groaning and eye rolling.
In preparation for writing this blog post I did a bit of research. I googled some exercise slogans. What I found ranged from the ridiculous – “squat till you puke” (eww) – to the downright offensive, which I won’t repeat here. (Guys, seriously?).
Many of the so-called “motivational and inspirational” quotes I found conveyed the message that to have the body you’re “supposed” to have, you must punish it into submission.
No wonder the ‘e’ word has such a bad rep.
Forcing ourselves to do exercise we don’t enjoy doesn’t work. Just as we don’t like people telling us what to eat – which is one of the reasons diets don’t work – we also don’t like people telling us how to move. The desire to move and the method to do it have to come from within us, or we give up.
Lapsed gym memberships, abandoned fitness DVD’s, dormant exercise equipment – these aren’t evidence of failure or lack of willpower. They’re casualties in the struggle for autonomy.
I love the phrase “joyful movement” that’s increasing in popularity. Movement should be joyful, like it was when we were kids – when we didn’t care what we looked like or what people thought. When we just ran around and got out of breath, and laughed for the sheer joy of movement.
Perhaps when it comes to our bodies and exercise, we could replace thoughts of punishment, pain, exhaustion, abuse and, er…puke (nope, still can’t see how that’s “inspirational”), with ideas like connection, gratitude, harmony, fun and autonomy.
I think one of the saddest slogans I came across was “When my body shouts ‘stop!’ my mind screams ‘never!’”.
How about “when my body shouts ‘stop!’, I listen, say thank you and ask ‘what would you like to do now?’”
Not as punchy, perhaps, but definitely more respectful (and probably involves a lot less puke).
For more on joyful movement, click here to read this 2018 post “What’s the Big Deal about Exercise?”