We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Exercise isn’t just for appearance.

Sure, it can help you lose fat and build muscle that – in turn – keeps your body performing to its best ability, but there’s so much more to it. Which is why when PT Kelsey Wells, creator of SWEAT’s PWR programme, which features alongside workouts from top trainer Kayla Itsines, shared her new training outlook, we got straight online to share it. 

How come? Well, for starters, her Instagram post highlights that there’s more to fitness than training to reach a goal weight. 

The number of the scales encompasses everything from fat and muscle, to bone, water and organs, and so on, so working towards a goal weight – with no awareness of other health markers – is out-dated and isn’t a good strategy to build a body for life. 

But also because, having a healthy, functional body and a positive mindset is far more valuable than seeing the numbers on a scale decrease, or being able to squeeze into a smaller size of clothing (let’s not forget that clothing sizes vary between brands).

WHY YOU SHOULDN’T SET A GOAL WEIGHT

In a recent comparison post on Instagram, Wells shared her own experience with setting a goal weight. “Once upon a time my fitness goals were to weigh 54kg, wear size 0 jeans, and be thin and NOT muscular because being muscular, well that’s ‘manly’. I thought eating healthy meant extreme cleanses and severe calorie restriction and I viewed exercise solely as a dreaded chore to reach those goals. The biggest problem? I honestly believed that once I hit those goals, I’d be happy with myself. I’d have confidence.

“Well once upon another time, it happened! I hit my ‘goal weight’ of 54kg I fit into size zero jeans! Guess what didn’t happen? I wasn’t happy. I still picked myself apart. I still didn’t have a sense of self-love or confidence. I. WAS. NOT. HEALTHY.”

Once upon a time my fitness goals were to weigh 120 lbs, wear size 0 jeans, and be thin and NOT muscular because being muscular, well that’s “manly”. I thought eating healthy meant extreme cleanses and severe calorie restriction and I viewed exercise solely as a dreaded chore to reach those goals. The biggest problem? I honestly believed that once I hit those goals, I’d be happy with myself. I’d have confidence. . Well once upon another time, it happened! I hit my “goal weight” of 120 lbs! I fit into size zero jeans! Guess what didn’t happen? I wasn’t happy. I still picked myself apart. I still didn’t have a sense of self-love or confidence. I. WAS. NOT. HEALTHY. . Flash forward, these photos were both taken today! Now, I am 140(ish) lbs, wear size 2-8 jeans (depending the brand😂), and am PROUD to be strong and muscular and simultaneously feel more feminine and confident than ever.💪🏼💁🏻‍♀️ I nourish my body with around an abundance of calories a day and I lift weights because I LOVE IT. Best of all I no longer give a damn about those numbers — my focus is on my HEALTH. Physical, mental, and emotional. . Listen to me. FITNESS IS MORE THAN PHYSICAL. If your happiness or sense of self worth is predicated upon physical aesthetics YOU WILL NEVER BE HAPPY. Throw away the crap filling your mind about how your body “should” look and stop viewing exercise as a punishment or food as a source of guilt. Instead of setting goals to look a certain way or be a certain weight, SET GOALS TO BE YOUR BEST SELF. Find a way to move your body you enjoy! Nourish your body with proper nutrition! Work towards being the best version of YOU because healthy looks different on everyone. Focus on taking care of yourself mind, body, and soul. THAT breeds confidence. Treat yourself with love and watch self-love start to grow. . www.kelseywells.com/app . #pwr #pwrprogram

A post shared by KELSEY WELLS (@kelseywells) on

So what does the top PT train for if not to look lean? A mental – not to mention emotional – boost.

And while you might roll your eyes, the science backs it up. In fact, a study published in The Primary Care Companion revealed that exercise has the ability to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, relieve stress and improve sleep and general mood. Not bad, if you ask us.

Wells continues: “Flash forward, these photos were both taken today! Now, I am 64 (ish) kg, wear size 2-8 jeans (depending on the brand), and am PROUD to be strong and muscular and simultaneously feel more feminine and confident than ever. I nourish my body with an abundance of calories a day and I lift weights because I LOVE IT. Best of all I no longer give a damn about those numbers — my focus is on my HEALTH. Physical, mental, and emotional.”

So, how do you change your mindset and stop fixating on a goal weight? Focus on performance- or health-focused goals instead.

For instance, you could aim to deadlift your body weight or run an 8-minute mile. Or perhaps, you could simply look to increase your self-confidence with the help of the weights room.

Either way, put your mental wellbeing first and you’re onto a winner.

“Instead of setting goals to look a certain way or be a certain weight, SET GOALS TO BE YOUR BEST SELF,” Wells writes. “Find a way to move your body you enjoy! Nourish your body with proper nutrition! Work towards being the best version of YOU because healthy looks different on everyone. Focus on taking care of yourself mind, body, and soul. THAT breeds confidence. Treat yourself with love and watch self-love start to grow.”

This article originally appeared on Women’s Health UK.  

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