Self-love vs. Shame…The Origin of a Fitness Goal

February 29, 2016


By Shannon Stoby, Physiotherapist

We are bombarded with photoshop-ed images of perfection, inundated with social media accounts of the perfect lives of others. Some days it is pretty hard to feel like we measure up. There are a lot of people talking about self-love; but, in general, there is still a lot more shaming going on.

As we enter the third month of a new year, many people may be struggling to keep a common resolution: to lose weight. Those fitness and weight loss goals are far too often associated with the deprivation of the food we love and the beginning of a torturous exercise regimen. Some will succeed but, even for those who do, it can be a struggle to keep those pounds off.

Why is it so difficult?

True, lifestyle changes can be challenging to implement and new habits don’t form overnight. It can take a while to get into a new groove and for a body to adjust. It can often seem like so many changes have to take place for a fitness goal to be achieved; but, I would argue, one way to make all of the other changes easier, involves changing just one thing…

Your mindset.

Attitude is a major part of any task. Setting a goal for improvement from a space of shame can be self-defeating; it can be very difficult to stay motivated if we are constantly judging ourselves and comparing ourselves to others. Media-driven ideals of body image are totally unrealistic for most people. Who makes those rules anyway? Many of us may not be aware that we are using exercise and food restriction as a form of punishment for not being, or looking, or having something. Many of us have fooled ourselves with the belief that “if we lose weight then we will be happy.”

So many people exercise because they hate their bodies and want to lose weight. What if you exercise because you love your body and want to add to your quality of life and longevity? What if the exercise itself actually contributed to your happiness? What if it wasn’t about how you look, but how you feel?Having a body that is capable of movement and exercise is a gift. Celebrate that gift with whatever form of exercise makes you happy. Having a body that will tolerate whatever you want to feed it is also a gift. What if food was a form of gratitude—a way of thanking your body by giving it the fuel it needs?

Even warming up to the idea of self-love may involve a habit change, but it can be the foundation of so many other positive changes. How we treat ourselves shapes our relationships with others. Everyone is thinking about love this month. Valentine’s Day just passed and most people either celebrated their relationship or wished they were in one. But what about your relationship with yourself? As we learn to love and care for ourselves, we are better able to love and care for others.

Set those goals for self-improvement—whatever that means to you. Set the standard for how you want to be treated by how you treat yourself. Set the bar high, but do it from a space of love and a desire for health, instead of a space of judgement and a desire to meet a ridiculous standard. It doesn’t have to be about the latest diet trend or the latest exercise fad—it’s just about you.

By: Shannon Stoby, PT, MScPT

Shannon is a Physical Therapist with an interest in helping her patients achieve holistic healing from whatever ails them and achieve optimum functioning in pursuing their passions.

Shannon graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Physical Education with distinction, and followed with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. She is licensed with the College of Physical Therapists of Ontario and is a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.

Shannon has trained extensively in John F. Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR), and this is the focus of her practice. She has worked with patients with mental illness, has trained in women’s health treatment, and is a sports enthusiast; MFR allows her a means to assist with all of these issues in a meaningful way. She has also worked across the lifespan, with experience addressing the health concerns of older adults. Through her experience in work and in life, she has come to understand that there is more to healing than just the body. While physical health is paramount, the roles of the mind and the soul in health and healing are of equal importance.

Shannon is excited for the opportunity to work with the talented team at IHI, and looks forward to working with you, in wherever the journey may lead.

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