One of the best things about exercise is that it’s something you can do at your own level and on your own terms. Sure, there are ‘recommended’ approaches for fitness. And sure, you want to follow a regimen and routine for the best chance at success. But at the end of the day, it’s not about perfection—it’s about balance.

You never want to get to a place where you’re forcing yourself to get to the studio or beating yourself up about an unhealthy meal. It’s not smart to be pushing your body to the max without proper rest, or starving just to drop a few pounds.

Being healthy is not about having this ‘ideal’ or perfect body. It’s about accepting that you’re a work in progress and finding ways to both keep going and stay balanced throughout your journey.

Living a healthy life is about patience.

You have to have patience with yourself, with the progress you make, with the goals you accomplish (and the time it takes to get there). You have to listen to yourself when you’re sore and push—but not push too much—so that you’re always healthy, which is the most important thing.

You’re not going to get to where you want to be in a single day, week, or even month depending on how big your goal is. This doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. And it doesn’t mean you’ve lost your way.

It means you’re on a process and journey that’s uniquely yours, and however long it takes you to get to the place you want to be is okay.

Exercise is a discipline, not a punishment.

Getting into the habit of working out is going to be difficult at first, no matter how ‘in shape’ or excited you are. There will be mornings when you can’t stop hitting snooze, or nights when a big burger and beer sounds far better than dragging your butt to the studio.

When you get in these negative moments—which you inevitably will—it’s important to remind yourself that each time you fight back against your excuses, you’re building a better you.

Your workouts are not meant to punish you; they’re meant to grow you.

It’s not about being perfect.

Stop comparing yourself to the person next to you. Your journey is not their journey. Your goals are not their goals. And most importantly, your story is not their story—you have to write your own.

Although it’s easy to fall into the comparison game, remind yourself that no one is better or worse than you because it’s not about anyone else. Focus on the steps you’ve taken, the path you’ve created, and how far you’ve come.

And remember that it’s not—and never will be—about being perfect. It’s about doing your best, fighting to keep balance in your busy life, and getting up every time you fall.

You’ve got this.

Marisa Donnelly

Marisa is a full-time freelance writer, editor, and fitness enthusiast located in Ocean Beach, San Diego. She is the author of the poetry collection, Somewhere On A Highway and founder of Be A Light LLC, a remote writing coaching/tutoring/editing services company.


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