We all want to look good – that’s why we go to the gym isn’t it? Well, partly.
The benefits of exercise you don’t see
The benefits of exercise far outweigh just looking good on the outside. It helps to improve anxiety and depression as well as releasing serotonin which lifts the mood, and endorphins, known as the happy hormone. It boosts the immune system and also helps with brain function and decreasing the risk of dementia. Exercise stimulates the circulation bringing oxygen to the skin and sweating lets the body get rid of waste through the surface of the skin. It strengthens the heart, making it more efficient and decreases the risk of heart disease. It also increases lung capacity which decreases the risk of lung cancer. Exercise can greatly reduce the risk of high blood pressure and can help to lower high blood pressure in those who already have it. It increases the levels of HDL cholesterol and reduces levels of LDL cholesterol which help to keep your arteries free from fatty deposits which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. It helps to prevent type 2 diabetes and to keep it under control or reverse it in people who already have it, as it increases insulin sensitivity. Exercise reduces the risk of many cancers including bowel, ovarian and breast cancer. Resistance or strength exercise builds and strengthens muscles and prevents age-related muscle loss as well as helping to preserve bone mass. It can help relieve stiffness in joints and increase flexibility, as well as improving balance which reduces the risk of falling in older people.
After all that, we see how exercise helps us look as an added benefit:
However, a lot people do struggle with body image. This is how we see and feel about ourselves, and this can be programmed into us from a young age, including our memories and how we think we should look. Social media has a lot to answer for as people post pictures which have been edited and filtered in order to look ‘perfect’. These images are unattainable for most people, and remember, these people are also struggling with self-image otherwise they wouldn’t feel that they need to ‘perfect’ their photos. These feelings cannot be changed overnight but it is possible to change your thought patterns into more healthy ones. It’s important to think about being fit, strong and healthy first – if you don’t have that, it won’t matter what you look like. Remember that you are entitled to love and respect, especially from yourself. Be positive and say positive things to yourself every day. Saying this out loud makes it real. Stay away from negativity as much as you can (maybe a social media de-clutter is in order!) or try to turn it into a positive. Try not to compare yourself to others, instead focus on your talents, skills, and traits.
Remember, your body is amazing. Really think about what it can do, how it can move and perform all the daily tasks that you require it to do. So, let’s start with maintaining and improving that. This can be difficult to start, but once you do, it will become easier and something that you want to do. Once you have a healthy eating and exercise routine, this will become part of your lifestyle. As you start to feel fitter, stronger and healthier on the inside, you will naturally start to change on the outside too, becoming leaner and more toned. Exercise releases endorphins, the happy hormone, so you will start to think and feel more positively about yourself and your life and you will start to smile more. There is nothing more attractive about a person than a lovely smile.
When people are worrying about their body, the majority of them want to lose weight. They jump on the scales every day to see if their weight has gone down. This is a complete waste of time and the weight on the scales should be used as a guide only.
DON’T RELY ON THE SCALES
…especially if you’re trying to lose weight and are exercising!
Firstly, the scales are a very inaccurate way to measure your results from the gym as your weight fluctuates a few pounds daily. Plus, it’s a safe bet to assume that when people want to lose weight, what they really want is fat loss, which are two very separate concepts.
Losing overall weight isn’t hard – in fact, you’ll drop a few pounds of water weight if you sit in a sauna for a while. Fat loss is harder to achieve, depends on several factors, and it takes more time than you think to truly lose it.
When you lose weight, you lose more than just fat. Muscle and water (in addition to water weight) are two major components that make up your weight, and when you lose weight (according to the scales), you can lose some of each, rather than just fat.
You can drop weight but dropping actual fat takes time – more time than you think. Many people set fat loss goals for themselves that are unreasonable. The truth is, without going on an unhealthy near-starvation diet, you can only expect to lose 1% Body Fat per month, maybe 2% at best. Don’t expect to lose 10 pounds in a week, because even if you do, it’s not going to be all fat. Losing muscle is not good for your health, and you will want to preserve it as much as you can, after all that’s why you’re exercising – to build muscle and tone.
And don’t listen to those who do claim to lose 10 pounds in a week through ‘crazy diets’. For example, the ATKINS diet (where you restrict carbs), carbohydrates like bread trigger glycogen production more than any other food source, and in terms of your weight, glycogen has a very interesting attribute: 3 to 4 grams of water will bond to each gram of glycogen. Once your glycogen levels become depleted (by limiting carbs in your diet), there is less water for the glycogen to bond to. This is why many people who go on ketogenic-style diets appear to lose pounds very quickly: much of the initial weight loss is simply water.
At W Fitness we do full body measurement tracking to ensure all of our members are reaching their goals! And we don’t just rely on the scales – we complete Body Fat %, BMI, Inch measurements and Blood Pressure for a whole view of your results.
Even if you don’t see immediate results when you start working out, remember that the physical changes on the inside of your body are far more valuable.
At W Fitness, we promote a healthy body image, aiming for strength, fitness and confidence.
Caroline & Hannah xx