Similar to diet culture, there is a mainstream fitness culture that is just as prevalent. Understand the motivation behind why it exists, and how to shift your mindset away from it.


For some, leaving behind intense fitness culture and regimented exercise programs can be difficult because of a fear that they’ll never work out again. This stems from the extremes of yo-yo behavior that is common when it comes to eating and exercise –

Some people believe they must be all in on a diet and exercise regimen.

And when that rigidity becomes too much, they overeat foods that were once restricted or quit exercising. Unfortunately, this is the pattern that our culture sets up and not surprisingly, it’s not great for mental or physical health. In fact, the key is trusting ourselves to know when, what and how much to eat and move our bodies. Here’s how to reframe your thoughts and find joy in exercise again.

1. Exercise goes beyond physical appearance.

By focusing on the sheer enjoyment of movement and how it makes you feel, you’ll begin to  recognize that there’s so much more to exercise than its impact on your physical appearance. When exercise is purely hinged upon appearance, it is less likely you will have a positive relationship with it in the first place. That is more likely to lead you through cyclical periods of intense exercise and being complete sedentary. For some, it can even lead to an exercise disorder with serious health consequences. When we exercise for reasons other than appearance, it becomes a habit that is neither extreme nor punishing. It becomes truly enjoyable and the mental, physical, and emotional benefits are experienced.

2. Humans naturally like to move.

It’s important to first find what feels good naturally, before fine-tuning the specifics to create a sustainable, positive relationship with exercise. Give yourself the space and freedom to tune into your body. What kind of movement feels and sounds good for you? What works with your physical abilities? When does your body get antsy for movement? What makes you feel the best? How do you feel when you don’t exercise?

Try a variety of strength, cardio, flexibility and balance activities that will help you explore various types of exercise and learn what you enjoy most and what feels the best. If you’re into the gym scene and are eager to try equipment, work with a fitness professional to show you the ropes.

3. Appreciate the health benefits of joyful movement.

Once you explore all the benefits of exercise that have nothing to do with how you look, you’ll start building deeper motivation to make it a habit and actually enjoy it more.

These include:

  • Enhanced stress management
  • Better sleep
  • Feeling more energized during the day
  • Stronger muscles and bones
  • Increased lung capacity
  • Reduced risk of chronic disease
  • Better mood
  • Increased work productivity

Move in a way that creates joy for your mind and body, and your best health will follow.

Adapted from the original article.

Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN is Chicago-based Registered Dietitian who helps others lead a life of compassion that improves their overall relationship with food, exercise, and their bodies.  As an expert in eco-ethical and vegan lifestyles, she’s passionate about helping individuals end their struggle with food and live an unrestricted life in the kitchen. Learn more about Taylor at Whole Green Wellness.

1 Comment
  1. I think exercise is definitely part of the success. Mentally and physical. I already plan on joining a gym and start with the treadmill and work my way thru the gym.