When I Let Go of the Physical Results of Fitness, I Found the Benefits

Exercise is beneficial to much more than just physical appearance – or even physical health. It substantially improves your mental health and emotional well-being. In these times, that is an essential reason to keep moving. We asked Garmin Ambassador Sarah Buchanan to share what motives her to continue to move and exercise.

Sarah is the founder of INDULGE, hosting experiences that introduce people to wellness and mindful practices so they can adopt what empowers them.

When you show up on the regular to do hard things, you will begin to believe you are capable of hard things, and your confidence, self-perception, kindness, compassion and energy will all shift.

I once had the goal of running in a sports bra. What I mean by that is I wanted a six pack that would gift me the confidence to run in a sports bra. What I realize now is that fitness can give me the confidence to do anything, including running in a sports bra without a six pack.

I was constantly showing up to fitness to get smaller, lose that little extra on my belly, to be able to pull off tight dresses without Spanx or to be the chick guys checked out.

I couldn’t make a habit of movement. I was searching for superficial and temporary results. The goals were easy to brush off to focus on work, loved ones or happy hour. Definitely happy hour. Then in 2011, I came across two instructors (one yoga and one cycling) who spoke to me mentally and emotionally, and the movement became about body awareness, then strength, and eventually I became an elevated version of myself … most days.

Movement offers individualized, emotional and mental health benefits. For me these are the top three that keep bringing me back:

I feel confident. I know I can do hard things. By showing up on the regular and seeing myself overcome what I once couldn’t is a practice of perseverance and resilience. And like anything, if you practice it enough, you become good at it and believe in it.

It lightens my emotional load. When a train runs out of fuel, all the broken and worn-out pieces are burned for fuel and then the train is rebuilt with new pieces. When I start to feel weak, I use all the negative thoughts, misplaced anger and stress as my fuel and when I am done, I rebuild with gratitude, whole food and rest.

I show up for myself. Most people, especially women, spend the majority of their energy showing up for others. When I move my body, it is time for me to check in with myself, ask how I am doing and think about what I need. It is important we make ourselves feel significant, worth the time, maintenance and energy.

A few years ago, I made a promise to myself to never do anything to make myself smaller. This includes my body, my mind, my presence. I will only do things that make me stronger, that allow me to live a big life. And without a six pack, I work out in a sports bra because it feels good and I feel free. Goal accomplished.