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Don’t let an unhealthy body image push you into exercising dangerously

Dana Gore

Whether you’re looking to drop a few pounds or to simply lead a healthy life, it’s accurate to say that there’s quite an abundance of information out there about how to lose weight and get fit.

More: It’s time to stop judging our health goals against fitness models

Perhaps you follow the latest diet and workout programs — hoping for some fast results or maybe you compare yourself to fitness models — thinking they’re the perfect example of what the “ideal” body looks like. But there’s one topic that seems to be overlooked, one that could either help or hinder your efforts in your quest for a healthy lifestyle. That topic is exercise safety, and being aware of it can prevent unnecessary injury. It could also save your life.

Workout safety tips

  • Chewing gum while exercising could result in choking (it’s happened to people before, and they have had very close calls).
  • Not all exercise pain is created equal. While muscle burn and fatigue are fine, when you feel an impending pull, cramp or strain, it’s your body’s way of telling you to stop what you’re doing right now.
  • Lack of a proper warm up could lead to injury. Not cooling down can lead people to lose consciousness and possibly sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), which can be fatal, from pushing themselves too far.
  • You should exercise like a beginner if you are a beginner. When you try to do too much too soon, you could easily get hurt. You may also quit out of frustration.

I know how painful it is to live in a body you aren’t happy with. It was my reality for years. We can’t help but notice the advertisements society has been privy to, all in an effort to sell a concept of what it means to be beautiful. We compare ourselves to the models (and even the mannequins) in the stores — none of which are authentic representations of the human body. Yet we try to look like them. We watch weight-loss shows that demonstrate extreme activities that promote unrealistic methods to lose (a lot of) weight quickly. And we succumb to the opinions of our peers, hoping to be liked, accepted and to fit in

As a result, we make decisions to fix our “broken” selves from a place of emotional turmoil. We try to lose the weight fast in an effort to feel better as soon as possible. This can backfire.

More: When things go wrong my faith helps me stay optimistic

Awareness of exercise safety is the key to healthy living from a place of mindfulness. When you think clearly, you make conscious and deliberate decisions about your activities from a place of sound judgment.

You’re then able to make informed choices, and you are armed with the knowledge that can help you line up with a safe and structured program designed to increase your overall well-being. It can help you pay attention to how you think about yourself, question what society deems attractive and think critically about what advertisements are really communicating to you. You’re being sold an idea of what it means to be beautiful. These ideas penetrate your mindset — and your wallet.

How to smartly choose an exercise program

  1. Start with an exercise program suited for your level of fitness and progress as you gain the strength and stamina to increase your workload safely.
  2. If you’re thinking of hiring a personal trainer, make sure he or she is qualified (educated and truly caring).
  3. Keep your mouth empty when you work out.
  4. Make wellness your ultimate goal. You’ll lose the weight the right way and the safe way.

Make exercise safety a priority, like I did. It could save your life.

More: 5 no-equipment exercises that won’t interrupt your vacation fun

Image: SheKnows

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