Maintaining a healthy relationship with exercise is crucial for overall physical and mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, boxing and other combat sports or martial arts can harvest an atmosphere of competitiveness and the need to prove yourself, especially as a female in a male dominated sport. Which can lead to burnout or injury. As well as generally women often feel pressure to achieve a certain body type or fitness level, which can lead to unhealthy exercise habits. To avoid all that's mentioned above…here are some tips for building a healthy relationship with exercise as a female!
Exercise can provide a wide range of benefits beyond physical appearance and winning competitions or fights. It can improve mood, reduce stress, increase energy levels, and promote better sleep. By focusing on these benefits rather than solely on appearance-related goals, you can shift your mindset and create a more sustainable and positive relationship with exercise.
Exercise should not be a punishment or a chore! It should be an enjoyable activity that you look forward to. Experiment with different types of exercise outside of your normal practice and routine until you find activities that you genuinely enjoy. This could include hiking, yoga, dance classes, or maybe even just trying a new combat sport! By finding activities that bring you joy, you will be more likely to stick with them long-term.
Pushing yourself too hard can lead to burnout or injury. It is important to listen to your body and give yourself permission to rest when needed. This could mean taking a day off from exercise, doing a gentle yoga practice instead of a high-intensity workout, or reducing the duration or intensity of your exercise session. By tuning into your body’s needs and giving yourself permission to rest, you can prevent burnout. I promise you won't lose progress if you take a day or two (or even a week!) off.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, especially in the age of social media. However, comparing yourself to others can lead to feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your own progress and achievements. Celebrate your own successes and don’t worry about what others are doing. Your true competition is only yourself, strive to do the best you can for your goals and body.
If you are struggling with your relationship with exercise, seeking guidance from a professional can be helpful. This could include working with a therapist who specializes in body image or disordered eating, or working with a personal trainer who can help you develop a safe and effective exercise program. Seeking professional guidance,even if only for a few sessions, can give you a perspective you might not have seen before. And more often than not this will only push you further in your goals!
Doing the same exercise routine day after day can become boring and lead to burnout. Incorporating variety into your exercise routine can help keep things interesting and prevent burnout as mentioned before. This could mean trying a new class or workout, incorporating different types of cardio or strength training, or simply changing up your environment by exercising outdoors.
All in all, maintaining a healthy relationship with exercise as a female requires a shift in mindset and a focus on enjoyment, self-care, and individual progress rather than comparison to others. In the end fitness is about getting those endorphins, feeling good, and having fun! Everything else that might come from it such as athletic awards or cool looking muscles is just a bonus!