The world seems to assume that if you’re engaging in some kind of fitness activity, you are doing so because you want to lose weight. Obviously, this is not true, but it’s the dominant belief nonetheless.
But what if we changed the conversation? There are plenty of reasons to move your body (if you can and to the extent that you can) and goals for your workouts that are not sizeist, ableist, or healthist. Here are some weight-neutral fitness goals:
- Reap the myriad non-weight-related health benefits. “Health” is, of course, not an obligation. It also does not look the same for everyone and is not even possible for everyone. However, fitness activities can improve the state of your cardiovascular system, help fight disease, limit your risk for certain cancers, help you maintain a safe blood pressure, improve your cognitive function, and improve your mental health. These things have all been found regardless of body size.
- To try something fun. Not every movement activity is going to be enjoyable for everyone. I hate running, for example, and I know others who absolutely love it. I adore yoga but it bores some people. Swimming is my favorite form of cardio, but others might hate how solitary it is. But finding something you really like can become a new and exciting hobby.
- See the world, or at least a nearby part of it. Getting outdoors and moving around can be exhausting, but it’s also amazing. There’s so much beauty in nature, and wanting to experience more of it is a fantastic goal. Don’t think you can do it? Check out Unlikely Hikers for inspiration. But you don’t even have to hike! Whatever you are able to do is enough.
- Challenge yourself. Being able to try a headstand in yoga isn’t going to magically make me a size 4 (why would I even want that anyway? I’d have to replace my whole wardrobe). But it was something for me to achieve and be proud of. Now I can revise those goals — try a new challenging pose (I’m coming for you, crow), do the headstand without support, and so on.
There are so many reasons to work out, and changes in weight don’t even factor in. As an added bonus, once you get rid of the feelings of shame and obligation that come with weight obsession, exercise becomes — dare I say it — fun.
So next time you’re doing your favorite physical activity, think about all of the great things you’re experiencing that don’t relate to your body size. You may be surprised how many there are.