Why did I skip my workout today?
Because I had to throw my yoga mat away two days ago when my living room flooded from a plumbing issue behind my wall.
Because I have to get my kids ready for school at 6:40 a.m. and I’ve never been a morning person.
Because I’m a single mom and unless I want to drag my children to the gym day care after they’ve been on a school bus for almost an hour there’s no way I’ll get out of the house to exercise.
Because when I work out with my kids at home, they always need me when I’m dying from some epic, painful isometric hold.
Because I chose not to when I had a rare moment of free time, and now I feel guilty about that.
So how do I feel when I see a thin woman on Facebook used as fitness inspiration?
I don’t feel inspired.
I don’t feel inspired because shame isn’t motivation. Shame makes women feel bad. Shame, by its very nature, is a toxic force that erodes at confidence and well-being.
Some women may rush to the gym after seeing photos of thin women working out — a tactic known as “thinspiration.” Are those women feeling inspired? Or are they feeling threatened by their own insecurities?
People who enjoy working out are inspired by fitness itself, not by pictures in a magazine. And there’s nothing wrong with being thin or muscular or strong. The problem isn’t with thin women, it’s with using that particular “ideal” body type as motivation when fit bodies come in all shapes and sizes.
When presented with that ideal — with that body we’re supposed to look like — we may feel not only shame but regret.
I don’t like my tummy. That’s my fault. When I’m in a forward fold, I feel it bunching up and rolling around and I get a knot in the pit of my stomach — right behind the roll of belly fat. I should have put an exercise DVD on. I don’t like my cellulite or the wobble my butt has, despite how enthusiastically I sing along with Meghan Trainor and Nicki Minaj. That’s what I get for snacking.
Loving my body is a battle. The other day, I did a yoga routine specifically meant for women to embrace and honor their flaws. I wept on my mat, grateful for recognition that self-love doesn’t come easy.
That was inspiring.
I know that fitness is good for me, not because I read it in a fashion magazine but because I know I sleep better and feel healthier when I move.
I never want to feel “inspired” by shame over the shape of my body or shame over being “lazy.”
A gallery of thin women in a magazine won’t magically create time for me or for anyone else. So today, I skipped my workout. Maybe tomorrow I’ll hit the mat. Maybe I won’t. But every single day, I’ll practice looking in the mirror and accepting my body, even when it’s hard — even when magazines make it harder.