All you have to do is be yourself and live the story that no one else can live – the story of your own life. Be proud. Be confident. And most of all, be happy. {Piloting Paper Airplanes}

I’ve been thinking about this question for a while now:

Why do I workout?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that’s the wrong question. It should be:

Why do I work to be healthy?

All you have to do is be yourself and live the story that no one else can live – the story of your own life. Be proud. Be confident. And most of all, be happy. {Piloting Paper Airplanes}

The problem with the first question is the answer most often revolves around my physical look. How often to we say things like:

  • I workout to lose weight. (Or gain weight).
  • I workout to look good on the beach/in tank tops/wearing a bikini/etc.
  • I workout to be attractive to my partner (or stranger at the bar).
  • I workout to impress others in how awesome I look.

Come on, be honest. You’ve said those things. From my anecdotal experience as a health blogger who reads a bunch of health blogs, I think losing weight is the number one reason people make healthy changes. Heck, it was the reason I started running!

But as I grow in my journey, I’m more and more convinced that losing weight is the worst reason to make changes.

Here’s why:

    1. We aim for a goal on the scale.
      Goals are awesome; I love goals. The problem with a weight goal is that we work so hard to get there…. but then we have to work just as hard to stay there. You never actually reach that goal in any sense of finality.
      This really bothers me. I’ve struggled with frustrations that I will always have to work at this weight management thing. It’s this never–ending “issue” that always seems a step out of my reach. Talking about it this way also makes it a very negative problem I have to fix. Using weight as my standard of success does horrible things to my mental health. This, quite frankly, is 110% not worth it. Which leads to #2.
    2. Losing weight is not a lifestyle; being healthy is.
      We have to make changes that not only get us to our weight goals, but keep us there. That means lifestyle changes. That means long–term, maintainable, changes. Practically, there are different habits needed to lose weight verses maintain weight verses add muscle verses gain weight verses fill–in–your–goal. That means I can’t base my changes around weight loss, but around being healthy.
    3. Focusing on weight loss ignores the mental/emotional/spiritual side of the health equation.
      I feel like this get’s lost so often. We work out, we start running, we join a gym, we change our diets… but we ignore our inner selves. That’s the part that handles stress, emotions and problem solving. That’s where we change our self–talk. When the mental game is strong our positive self–image is strong.
      I’ve been talking more about a quiet time of meditation, reflection and prayer. I swear I’m going to preach this until I die. Make this space what you need – yoga, deep breathing exercises, mediation, reading and prayer, whatever – but make it happen. We deserve that small piece of quiet and peace. More so, to life a truly healthy life, we must have that space.
    4. Finally, that number on the scale is not an accurate measurement of health.
      We all know this. I, for one, still need to remind myself of it regularly. That number doesn’t tell me that I’m making healthy choices. It doesn’t tell me that I’m developing positive habits. It certainly doesn’t tell me that I feel good about myself.
      I used to step on that scale every. single. day. It was horrible! I now realize how dependent on that number I was. I still have my pretty bamboo scale and I step on it every couple of weeks just to make sure I’m on track. After the holidays, I knew from the scale that I had gained a few pounds (though I knew that from my body anyway). I spent the next  couple weeks paying closer attention to my diet and getting back on track. The scale is a powerful tool to keep me accountable, but it can also keep me in bondage.

Don't judge me. My story is still being written. And one day I'm going to tell it to the world. {Piloting Paper Airplanes}

I think it’s time we changed the conversation. Sure, for some of us, losing weight is an important part of being healthy. If you’re like me, that was your motivation to start. But I now understand that I did myself a disservice with that thinking. Who I am is far more important that what I weigh, but my success was so tied to that darn scale. The scale doesn’t help me grow as a person; being healthy does. Let’s start asking why do we want to be healthy?

The answer is yours, but I challenge you to answer with something more meaningful than weight.

      • To live a longer and stronger life.
      • To keep up with my kids.
      • To reduce stress and benefit from those endorphins.
      • To be a positive example.
      • To be confident in my fabulous self.

What is your motivation for healthy changes?
Have you struggled with the negative side effects of a weight goal?
I’d love feedback as I work through these thoughts.

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6 replies
  1. pickyrunner
    pickyrunner says:

    Love this. I’ve found that once you STOP focusing on the weight, you start focusing on the health aspect and your weight naturally comes down. I actually did a whole post on it last week but it’s a really important point to remember!

  2. Anne Marie Rhoades
    Anne Marie Rhoades says:

    I love this, and have been thinking a lot about the same thing recently. While my body stubbornly refuses to shed a single pound no matter what food, cardio or routine I throw at it, I gain something else despite not losing–actually knowing my own body. I find that the longer I work out (and it certainly didn’t come over a few weeks, but months at the least) the more in tune I am with my heart rate, my stature, my gait and breathing, even my appetite and immune system. Why try to get an entirely different body when you get prioritize getting to know the one you have?

    • Larissa
      Larissa says:

      So true! And I feel you; I’m coming to terms with the fact that I simply hold on to more weight than I’d like. But I’m not willing to put my body through what it would take to be my “ideal.” Which has made me think about what that ideal is, whether it’s healthy, whether it comes with too many other negative side effects, etc. So I’ve made a new ideal.

      There are SO many more benefits from healthy habits. I want to focus on those instead of a number.

  3. Katie Williams
    Katie Williams says:

    I agree that the scale/weight shouldn’t be our ONLY motivation to be healthy. But I also agree that the scale is a way to gauge how we are doing on our healthiness journey. Great, great post!

  4. mrsalexzan
    mrsalexzan says:

    I really connect with this! Sometimes I’m seriously so focused on my weight that I disregard that I’ve completely changed my life for the better. I need to come to terms with the scale and take it for what it is. It’s a number, that’s it. No different than any other number out there.

    Seriously love this post! I will be reading it over and over.


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