(Guest blog post by Meera Watts)
When you work on yourself every day, you pay less attention to the outcome of the workout and more about how it makes you feel. Scientifically, exercise does some incredible things to you at a cellular level that makes you feel great after a work out. A study in an Israel University found that there are more moments of positive body image thoughts when you exercise. Daily activity is going to help you in many ways and a positive body image is one of them. You become stronger, more confident, and you will probably shed a few pounds. The most important part is how you end up feeling about yourself. Adding a daily exercise regime into your life that includes high impact workouts along with a complimentary yoga program can make a big difference in how you see yourself.
The Brain is an Active Part in How You Feel
You build more muscles and stamina when you work out daily. Climbing stairs gets easier and you also change your mood. When you work out, you release endorphins. The process is quite fascinating, when you work out, the brain sees it as a moment of stress (the fight or flight response). Your heart pressure starts to increase and the brain thinks you’re fighting something or trying to run from it. The body will then release a protein to protect the brain from stress. The protein is called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BNDF). It not only repairs your memory but also acts as a reset. This explains why you’re so relaxed and blissed out after a workout.
Endorphins fight against stress and your brain releases them when you work out. Endorphins are said to reduce the discomfort of your workout and block the feeling of pain you might be feeling from pushing yourself. These endorphins are why you might end up feeling euphoric even thought you’ve been exerting yourself.
It’s Not Just About the Size or Shape
No matter what size or shape you are, there is another aspect to physical attributes and this includes how fit you are. When you start working out every day, whether it starts with just walking, gentle yoga or a high intensity workout, you look at yourself in a different way. As your body begins to get healthier in every way, you’ll be more at ease in your body.
Knowing that you’re strong changes something in your brain so you don’t beat yourself up as you might have done before. You’re taking the steps, you’re honoring your body and you are making changes within yourself. The weight will eventually come off but there’s something much deeper that will be taking place where your shape and size won’t matter nearly as much.
Exercise is a Form of Self-Care
When you work out, you are showing yourself that you care about your health. This will be just the beginning of your journey to changing your lifestyle completely. When you’re not happy with your body and you do nothing about it, you may take your anger out on your physical appearance which isn’t all that fair. However, when you get started on a work out regime that you are committed to, you are putting self-care into your every day.
That part of you that once looked in the mirror with distain will start to fall in love with the body you have. As your body may amaze you daily, meeting the physical challenges you give to it, you’ll feel the strength that is in you.
Exercise Reduces Stress
High intensity workouts will ease stress almost immediately and help you prevent stress for the long-term. Stress usually hits all the parts of your life when it hits you so you may feel more upset about your body when you’re stressed. Being totally relaxed allows you to stop sweating the small stuff in life. Exercise makes the brain believe that there’s something to feel stressed about in a life and death kind of way. This allows it to adapt to stressful situations in life so your reaction is much less dramatic.
Feeling terrible about how you look can make you feel low about yourself. It can affect everything in your life. As you begin to regularly exercise, you will like the way you look because your body will change. You become stronger and able to take on things you maybe never have. Then you’ll understand the separation of health and dress size.
Self image problems come from the inside so even if you end up wearing a size 4, there may still need to be some inside work done. This is where a practice like yoga can be helpful in many ways as it’s not competitive and yoga communities accept all people. Part of the philosophy is to never discriminate because we’re all equal. Also, you’ll find that yoga allows you to tap into a deeper part of yourself where you might find some of the answers you’ve been seeking.
Bio: Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)