There are a variety of reasons to start forming healthy habits, and vanity is not often cited as one of them. It's not often cited, but -- if we're honest with ourselves -- it's probably one of the biggest motivations. After all, while ideals like 'health' and 'vitality' and 'being a better role model' are definitely noble goals, they are less visual; less tangible than looking damn good.
So why are we always so reticent to admit that we want to be healthier to look better? What's so wrong about that?
Well, because we're taught that vanity is a shallow pursuit; that it is frivolous and indicative of a limited mindset at best, and a limited intellect at worst. But we're still expected to want to look good -- just not talk about it. Let's talk about it.
Vanity as Motivation
We already mentioned there were many kinds of motivators. Some revolve around those lofty ideals we touched on: health, vitality, love, etc. There's also motivation to avoid pain, like starting to exercise because a loved one died of heart disease and you want to try to avoid the same fate for yourself. Then, there are motivators that are not as noble, in the purest sense of the word, but work.
As long as vanity serves to move you toward better health, and doesn't border on (or cross the border to) obsession and sickness (e.g. eating and exercise disorders), there's nothing wrong with stroking your ego to stoke the fires of a happier, more vital life. We’re not just saying that either: studies back our claim. Vanity can make you healthier! By encouraging you to move more and eat less junk, your drive to look your best can help you live your best.
The Evolution of Vanity
Your foray into fitness and healthy eating may start as a vanity driven journey, but vanity — while an effective motivator — doesn't often serve as a long-term one. It won't sustain you for years and years of healthy eating and grueling workouts. Or, it alone won't do the trick.
Take it from us.
Somewhere along the line, you’ll realize you're eating nutritious food not because you have to if you want to look a certain way, but because eating it makes your body and brain feel energized. Same goes for working out: you don't smash out a 5am HIIT session only because you want to look better, but because you've learned it will also make you feel happy and confident. As Winston Churchill said, vanity is "that vice that promotes so many virtues."
And we say there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Use vanity to your advantage!
Tell us in the comments: why did you start working out?
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It was 25 years ago Way to young to feel so horrible all of the time. NOT over weight just lethargic and my body hurt everywhere everyday! diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and told I would have to take Rx to fight this auto ammune illness, I Say OH HELL NO! and changed my lifestyle, found my way to living a healthier daily lifestyle! Yes I still have inflammation and exhaustion but I feel and look so much healthier! I have learned as i age to listen to my body and obviously not hit hard on days Im feeling bad but I never give up.
I love what strong looks like on other people. When I see someone strong, I know it took perseverance, persistence, diligence, drive, self-motivation, research, determination and more. All of those are qualities I like and admire and like to have in my life. So when I see it, I want it, because we are a very small club, those of us who live it. And I like that too.
Hell yes, I wanted to look sexy. Tight, lean and 100% healthy and fit. What’s wrong with that!! Struggling a bit to regain after Christmas though but give me 3 backs and I will be back to it. 😬
Thank you for helping those of us who want to look good and healthy but can’t say it out loud.
This a really profound perspective that I have thought of before….You are absolutely right in societal taboo/negative perceptions of vanity, thank you for sharing this perspective. We need a more positive outlook regarding vanity as something that is innate in most of us, and to be able embrace this aspect of ourselves more lovingly. Thank you!🌺
Fine with this message. It is ok to want to look better as well as look after our health and feel better. No problem.