Exercise: It’s Not About the Clothes

Reading blogs, especially those focused on physical, emotional, or spiritual health, inspires and motivates me. I learn and grow from reading about other people’s explorations and moments of enlightenment. (Thank you for that.) I frequently catch myself nodding along as I read, feeling that instant of shared belief or experience.

multicolored yesSometimes I read a blog post that strikes a chord so strongly and deeply that I want to jump up and shout, “YESSS-S!” In fact, I think I did that when I read Brynn Harrington’s 10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out. If you haven’t read it, I’d love it if you’d take a moment to do so now. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.


Every single one of her observations resonates loudly with me, but her opening recounting of her discomfort with the class leader’s misguided, but probably well-intentioned, attempts to push the class by focusing on appearance is what brought me to the edge of my seat.

I’ll admit that looking better in my clothes was one of my motivators in changing my lifestyle, but the far greater incentive was feeling better in them. And by “better”, I mean confident and strong and capable.

As I was approaching goal weight, I had to visit the company nurse for a random drug test. (I passed, in case you were wondering.) She hadn’t seen me for a while, and as you might expect, was quite excited to see how much I’d changed. I appreciated her enthusiasm…until she started cajoling me to get out and purchase some “sexy short skirts and dresses”.

To my credit, I managed to smile and nod politely during that part, because I knew she meant well. But when she observed that “the reason we do this is so we can wear slinky clothes, right?”, I had to say something. And I did–politely, I think–by saying that I did it for the energy and strength and sense of well-being I felt and that how I looked was just a by-product of that. She blinked a couple of times and then went on as if I hadn’t said anything at all. When she started yakking about how much I’d enjoy a cruise and could now wear bikinis and tank tops, I tuned her out completely until I could make my exit.

For me, exercise is not about this (although I do like the pink dress):

body suits

It’s about this:

Collage photo of exercise adventures

In a word, exercise is about adventure and accomplishment and fun. It’s having the energy and confidence to try new things, to stop avoiding activities from fear that I can’t do them.

By focusing on those intrinsic benefits of exercise, I see benefits far greater and more meaningful than a piece of clothing. (But…YAY! for pants that fit!)

Hats off to Brynn for capturing in words the truest benefit of exercise.

What’s your take? What’s the greatest benefit of exercise to you?

With that, I’m off to complete today’s workout: cleaning my gutters and raking/bagging leaves. (After four hours of this yesterday, I’m wondering how people did yard work before Ibuprofen.)

8 thoughts on “Exercise: It’s Not About the Clothes

  1. I’m with you on this, although from your title I thought this post might have been about exercise clothes, and you know how I like to match all my workout gear, lol!

    While I’m happy that I fit into smaller clothes, I have no desire to attempt the “cougar-sex-bomb” look – recently someone mentioned something about sexy clothes to me (in person or on my blog, I can’t remember) and I felt very uncomfortable with that…I’m not wanting to show off my body, and I don’t exercise or diet to do that.

  2. I also loved the article. I’ll admit I love being in smaller clothes but clothes that fit and are comfortable — not clothes that cause people to stare. Yuck and ugh on that. :( Really, if that was the only reason to lose weight and exercise, it would not work for me.

  3. I completely agree with you!! I don’t workout like I do for clothes – I do it because I like the way it makes me feel.

  4. The greatest benefit for me is better health. If you don’t have good health nothing else seems to matter. Now I must admit that I love cute clothes and do look better in them when I am at a healthy weight!

  5. For me it is both. I definitely enjoy my shape now and wear clothes that are flattering (hopefully) and not overtly in-your-face vavoom (hopefully). Of course, my every day attire is jeans, so that’s not much of an issue any way. Not to mention with all the layers I am wearing, I may as well weigh 250 again LOL!

    I also love feeling strong. That gives me confidence when I walk around.

  6. Always love your posts Cammy AND your take on it all! I don’t wear many regular clothes these days but it is nice to feel good in them.. BUT I like to do what I do to take care of myself as I age! :) Nothing like being fit & being able to do things for yourself!

  7. “before ibuprofen” LOL. That was not the ending to that sentence that I was expecting.

    I do like the way I feel when I exercise regularly, but lately I have been thinking of it as staving off something negative (arthritis.) I think I’ll try to work on that.

    So I’m totally curious. The gal that wrote that usually gets one or two comments, and that article had 700 comments! How does that happen?

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