Embracing Exercise As A Success Strategy without the Guilt
After A lot of Inner Work, I’m Working On Shifting My Limiting Beliefs Around It
I grew up thinking adult exercise meant housewives watching Jane Fonda video cassettes and a few ex-military guys lifting weights in their garage. Exercise as a pastime was non-existent in my childhood beyond fashion models and professional sportswomen. I never once met any women in my childhood who exercised. The women role models in my life worked. They got educated, held down full-time jobs, and built careers because they had to in order to afford to buy homes and raise children with housewives becoming the scarcity. Between the work shift and the home/childcare shift, the women I knew were twice as busy as men. My town did not even have a single gym open to the public until I was an adult.
As an adult, I became aware of a deep divide in society around exercise. There were women who did not have any dependents (single or grown children) who exercised regularly. My city, San Francisco, for example, was full of very young and very old women who jogged and visited the gym. Regarding moms, there was a deep divide between poor and rich: rich moms joined gyms, had trainers, ate healthy, and dedicated a lot of time and money towards self-care while poor moms did none of that. So I got the idea that to exercise, you needed to be rich or single or both.
In my twenties, I enjoyed an affluent lifestyle that exercise was a big part of. My $280 Pilates sessions and 6-digit personal trainer packages validated my feelings of exercise being attached to wealth. I would get bi-monthly massages and take frequent spa days in a club that charged gastronomical membership fees. More proof that I was in a higher class. I came to associate exercise with snobbism and privilege.
In my late thirties, I divorced. I left the club because I couldn’t afford it. I was scared for my financial survival on my own. All my waking hours went into my work and my kids. No more exercise, facials, and massages. I had nightmares of being homeless and having my kids suffering. Exercise made me feel guilty. After all, I didn’t have my rich lifestyle anymore. Yet I wanted to be fit. I just didn’t know how to change my mindset.
When you think every day about paying your bills and providing for your children, it can feel like a luxury to exercise. After all, I work really hard in my business. But the more I work, the more there is to do and the costs just keep going up. It takes money to make money. Then I regularly have crazy unplanned expenses. Just my luck that they aren’t small. Every day it happens, it is a 5 or even 6 figure expense. So I’m always on high alert. I don’t have anyone to ask for help so it is all on me. All I can do is to build passive income, tighten my belt, and work harder. I don’t think there will ever be enough money.
Despite everything, I miss exercise. I remember the feeling after workouts, a mixture of endorphins and pride. Not to mention the self-confidence of looking your best. I’m still trying to navigate how to incorporate it into my new life without the guilt. I admit it isn’t easy. Every time I work out, I feel like I let my kids down since I should be working instead for them.
I’m forcing myself. Exercise feels like an indulgence and a luxury, but I argue with myself that it will have long-term benefits to keep me healthier and that means I can be around to see my grandchildren someday. Life is so short and I don’t want to think I didn’t give it my all to care for my health. I just wish I could erase my terrible beliefs that it is only for the rich or financially supported.