Workout Motivation: Strong Over Skinny

If I learned one thing from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in The Silver Linings Playbook, it’s, well, to look for the silver lining in any situation.  (Andrew just read that over my shoulder and said, “No, it’s that if you are doing a lift while dancing, make sure you don’t get caught in the crotch.”  I’m sticking with the silver lining thing.)  One upside to my scary experience Friday is that it has provided excellent workout motivation.

While running on Monday I thought, What would I do if the guy drove up beside me in his car right now?  As I pondered the question, playing the scenario out in my head, I noticed I was running faster.  I felt the desire to push myself to be in the best shape possible–to be strong and able–so that if I ever end up in a similar or more dangerous situation, I have a fighting chance at defending myself.  I don’t want to run simply to burn calories, but rather to be fit and prepared for whatever challenges come my way.

Then I started thinking about workout motivation in general, separate from this specific experience.  I think what motivates us to exercise can change from month to month, even day to day.  Maybe we do it to lower our risk of a disease that runs in the family, or because we like how it makes us feel (go, endorphins!)  Maybe we want to be able to defend ourselves or run a marathon.  Maybe we just want to look good in a bikini.  There was a time in my life that I valued being skinny over a lot of other things.  But what’s the point of that?  What good is “skinny,” if you still can’t do the things you want to do?  We cannot reduce the value of our bodies to their size.

In recent years, I’ve learned to value strong over skinny.

Why I Workout:
To be healthy–There are many diseases and conditions that regular exercise can prevent (or at least greatly lower your risk of.)  If I can avoid certain heart conditions, type 2 diabetes, and other issues just by going for a walk each day, you better believe I’m going to do that.
To do what I loveI like to hike; I like to kayak.  I don’t ever want to miss out on an activity because I am not physically able to participate (for reasons that are my own fault.)  I don’t ever want to be nervous about having to park far away from where I’m going or not be able to explore a new city by foot.
To be strong–I want to be able to run (more) marathons.  I don’t want to say, “That’s too heavy;  I’ll wait until Andrew gets home.”  If the need ever arises, I want to be able to not just defend myself, but kick someone’s tail.

If I also end up thin while aiming to be strong, it’s no more than a happy byproduct.  Thin, in and of itself, holds very little value.

This was actually not the direction I intended to go on the blog when I started writing today, but I’m okay with that. 🙂

What is your non-skinny motivation for working out?

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11 thoughts on “Workout Motivation: Strong Over Skinny

  1. AMEN!! I was JUST looking at graphics a few minutes ago that read “Strong is the New Skinny.” Yes, vanity sometimes grabs me, but I also know that I FEEL better when I work out. My 40+ body doesn’t ache, my mood is better, and I can keep up with my boys (16, 14, 10). It’s just all-around a lifestyle of health and wellness. THANK YOU for sharing these words today! And I’m REALLY glad you got thru a very scary situation. Thanks be to God! 🙂

  2. I love this!! I was JUST thinking this morning about “why I workout.” I got up early and was trying to talk myself into doing the yoga tape I planned on. And I started thinking through my reasons – health, attitude, and fitness. There are so many reasons to be strong, I love your distinction. Being strong is the best! 🙂

  3. Those are some fab reasons for motivation and mine are on similar lines – with my new current yoga obsession (hopefully it wont just be a fad! fingers crossed!) I’ve added flexibility to the list too (in the long term I’d rather be an older lady who is flexible and steady on my feet than to be able to bust out 45 minutes on the treadmill). Admittedly I do exercise to keep in shape too, but it isn’t my only reason. And if I could be in shape without doing exercise I would most definitely still want to do it 🙂 As for skinny vs. strong, I would 100% always choose the latter!

    • Flexibility is a good one! Haha, and yes, if I was one of those people who didn’t have to workout to stay thin, I’d probably be very tempted! While physical appearance is not the primary motivation, it can help on days when eating a bunch of cookies on the couch seems like more fun than exercising 🙂

  4. Great points, Catherine! And I’m so glad that you are at the point in life 🙂 My non-skinny fitness motivation is to strengthen my muscles and my running endurance.

  5. Pingback: Reasons to Exercise | Races, Reps, and Ramblings

  6. I couldn’t agree more with this post – the boss that I cook lunches for, normally would eat a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast (250 calories) and a Lean Cuisine for lunch (300 calories). She’s a size six, and while I have been making her around 350-400 calorie lunches, they use real ingredients, nothing processed and lots of fruits and veggies. She’s questioned that I am trying to maker her fat. Um, she usually works through dinner and eats nothing until the next day.

    She may be skinny but she sure isn’t healthy!

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