Take Moral Judgements Out of Diet & Exercise

Bless me Trainer for I have sinner: Yesterday I was so bad, I ate a bagel.

This is how I feel listening to a client when I ask her how her week has been. Like they are confessing to me some deep dark secret when telling me her food choices for the past week. It is the same with exercise; if she had a goal to get a certain amount of exercise done for the week, and couldn’t (usually for good reasons) it is often described to me as “I was so bad I only worked out one day”.

On the flip side, the word “good” is often used when goals are reached or if food choices were on point. “I was so good I worked out 4 times last week!”. Which of course is an accomplishment of which one should feel proud…but use of the words “good” and “bad” when it comes to one’s fitness journey implies a self-imposed moral judgement that can actually be detrimental.

The danger of this judgement is two-fold: 1. If goals are not reached, guilt can kick in, which can have a negative impact on a woman’s sense of self, and 2. it creates an all or nothing scenario and mentality; you’re either good for getting it done or bad for not meeting your goals, no in-between.

The fact of the matter is that for women nothing is cut and dry in our lives! Often not making it to the gym or getting a workout in has little to do with our own motivation and everything to do with something external: cancelled sitter, sick child, baseball game rescheduled, etc. So am I bad because I didn’t get my workout done because I watched my son hit a homerun? Of course not! It just means your game plan needs a tweaking!

If I crave a bagel, eat it slowly and with enjoyment but then make good choices for the rest of the day, was I bad? Again not at all! Even if for the rest of the day it caused a less than ideal eating pattern, it just means the next day you buckle down and recommit!

Women are so incredibly susceptible to feelings of guilt over so many aspects of our lives, trying to give 100% to everything…the last thing we need is to feel bad about ourselves because we assign a moral judgement to our food and exercise choices. The key is what I like to call compassionate self-awareness, be aware if eating a certain food is a trigger for you, and aim to avoid it. Don’t beat yourself up if you eat something not on the healthy food list! With exercise find the type (or types) that you enjoy, and set a goal for each week based on your work or your family’s schedules. Do your best to stick to it, but if something external comes up don’t blame yourself! Take the moral judgement out of your fitness journey and watch how your mindset about yourself changes! 🙂

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