#throwbackthursday | exercise goals then and now

Yesterday, discussion in my Facebook 40+ Female Fitness group got me thinking about how my exercise goals and reasons for exercising have changed over the years.

A lot. 360 degrees. We’re talking sea change here.ย Yet despite the evolution of my goals, I always managed to prioritize physical activity of one sort or another.

In my teens, I exercised to be thin.

exercise goals

Thin girls were popular girls. Thin girls got invited to parties. Thin girls got picked for the cheerleading squad and dated the quarterback. Although I WAS thin (and a cheerleader), I was also smart. And since smart cancels out thin when you’re a teenager (at least it used to), I didn’t reap the benefits of exercise that I so desired. (But I did get into a great university; not all of the popular girls could say that ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Clearly, ‘health’ was not on my teen-age radar, as cafeteria muffins and diet coke were all I ate for days at a time.

In my 20’s, I exercised to socialize and release stress.

exercise goals

While the 12 years I spent at university were incredible, they were also a time of loneliness, doubt and sleep-stealing work. Exercise was time away from studying and writing and worrying about what the future would hold. It was also a great way to make new friends. My hubby and I met over our mutual love of squash (the game, not the vegetable); there’s nothing like a squash court for getting up close and personal ๐Ÿ˜‰

In my 30’s, I exercised to get my pre-baby body back.

exercise goals

Three babies in 5 years left me feeling soft and gushy and I can’t lie, I was all about the six pack, buns of steel and becoming a ‘yummy mummy’. Group exercise classes were a great way to get back in shape, while simultaneously stealing a little time away from my busy, growing family. I began to think about exercise and clean eating as a way to remain healthy, though; being responsible for the nutrition of little ones makes eating a whole new experience.

In my 40’s, I exercise for myself.

exercise goals

To feel strong and confident. To be healthy. To improve my sleep. And to be a good role model for my children. Although my workouts are less frequent and less intense than they were even 5 years ago, I’m at a healthy weight for my height and have developed muscles in all the places I yearned for a decade ago. Heck, I even modelled for a fitness photo shoot at 46-years of age! Something I would never have had the confidence to do in my 20’s or 30’s.

I wonder how my exercise goals will change once I reach 50? I guess you’ll have to stick around another 3 1/2 years to find out!

Have you experienced a change in your exercise goals with age?

Are you finding it more or less difficult to reach those goals now, then when you were younger?

What’s your number one reason for exercising?



  1. Hmm….I never really thought about the way my exercise goals have changed. When I started exercising (high school) it was because I was running competitive track and cross country which I did through college. Now, I think like you, I exercise because I love the way it makes me feel!!!
    Kim recently posted…Wacky WednesdayMy Profile

    and your family.
    and your GREY MATTER.
    smart cancels out THIN in this house completely.
    Miz recently posted…What EGGSactly does organic & cagefree mean?My Profile

  3. My exercise goals have changed just in a matter of 2 years so I can only imagine what they will be like in 5-10! Right now it is to be healthy, feel good about myself, have good energy, and maybe a little vanity… ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Danielle @ Labelsarefortincans recently posted…A workout challenge and yoga videosMy Profile

  4. Love the flashback.

    My exercise, my life, my issues are out of control….today is a brand new day…thank goodness every day is a chance once again to change your (my) life!
    Kathy recently posted…WiTi KT ~ “Witty KT”My Profile

    • Kathy, just keep reminding yourself that you’re only one decision away from doing something good for yourself!

  5. I love this. I think we all do it for different reasons at different stages of our lives. I hope my goals change similarly to yours. Thanks for sharing!
    Nikki recently posted…How to become a Maniac in just 7 days…My Profile

  6. Great post! Love your face in the high school shot! You know I have always exercised for stress release. My mom says when I was as little as 5, I would get upset, head out the door and just start walking. Of course, I couldn’t cross streets yet so I guess I just went from one end of the block to the other LOL
    Stephanie Robbins recently posted…Affiliate Holiday Promotions: Coupons, Shipping and moreMy Profile

    • Thanks Stephanie. Funny how that picture feels like it was take just yesterday (not 28 years ago….). When my kids were very little and my hubby was away, I would run up and down the street in front of my house for exercise. I’d put on a video for them and peek in the front window each time I passed (it’s a short street and they were only out of my sight for a minute at most!)

  7. I LOVE this post. As a 30 year fitness veteran and once obese teen, this is a great reminder to have appropriate goals because what matters now is not what mattered 20 years ago as you said. But no matter what, health trumps all other reasons! Thanks for sharing!

    • It’s funny how health was a late-to-the-party reason for me. I think because we tend to think of ourselves as invincible when we’re younger? That and I’ve had too many friends and relatives my age experience poor health and disease in the past couple of years…

  8. I have exercised for health and because I love food my entire life!
    Haralee recently posted…A letter to Myself about Breast CancerMy Profile

  9. I love this post. I’d echo just about everything you’ve said here, except I haven’t quite gotten to 30s and 40s yet. But I know that those are probably going to be my reasons at those stages too.

    12 years at University … PhD?
    calee recently posted…Sweet Tunes Thursday [78]: Arcade Fire “Reflektor”My Profile

    • Oooh, you’re still in your 20’s? That’s the funny thing about internet friends; you can never tell!
      Yep, Bsc, Msc, PhD and 2 years postdoctoral fellowship before I finally graduated ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. hahahaha, Why do you look so suspicious in that picture in your 20s? I am in my 50s, and I exercise to stay energetic AND to look great. I have a vain side.
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted…Walking for a CauseMy Profile

  11. What a great post! I knew I had to leave till I had time to read thru it not rushed! ๐Ÿ™‚ OMG the reasons have changed yet some remain the same too…..

    I was fat early on – once I started exercising I knew it would be forever to keep weight under control so that remains. Like you, I also wanted to fit in & be more accepted. I did not lose weight until junior year in high school so it was bout being better looking & getting a boyfriend & stuff like that.

    In the 20’s & 30’s, always about keeping the weight off & not regaining PLUS just wanting to look good… admitting that!

    40’s & beyond are that plus health & aging – needing & wanting to get healthy & not have others take care of me. Now it is still that PLUS the hormones – I must do it for health & weight maintenance.. that is my truth… and yes, for myself.. I like what I do & I do it cause I like having muscles & I am OK with that! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Great discussion!
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted…Give Yourself Permission – Behind Closed ThoughtsMy Profile

  12. Great conversation piece! I started exercising after graduating high school. My roommate and I signed up for the Supreme Court Fitness Center and aerobicized ourselves silly-crazy get-ups and all. In my twenties I took up running, based on my then-boyfriend’s fitness regimen. During all this time my goal was to do something healthy and hopefully stave off any weight gain. I was like you at that age and was genetically blessed. After my knees became all Velcro-y with the jogging, I dabbled in lifting weights here and there. Once I got serious about it, though, my goals changed forever. That’s because my results were so dramatic-nothing else changes the shape of your body like lifting does. My goal now is to maintain the muscular physique I’ve attained, and continue to progress and challenge myself for as long as they’ll let me into the gym.
    Cassye recently posted…Bringing Up The Rear โ€“ What A Difference A Year Didnโ€™t MakeMy Profile

  13. I definitely felt the swing from exercising for approval by others… to now exercising to improve myself!


    • Sarah, I think it’s the mark of confidence when we go from pleasing others to pleasing ourselves. Feels great doesn’t it?

  14. Just came across your blog and love it! My comment is more about how it all started for me…

    Since a very young age, I remember going for walks with my mom after work every night (not a stroll, a strenuous stress reliever!). Since then, I’ve just always gone for walks around dusk, my favorite time of day, through college, and then work life, then married/work life – it’s truly my stress reliever, my me-time.
    I’ve since started running, but when visiting Mum, we still go for a daily hike, and I make sure to challenge her, although she ‘mock’ complains a lot about the intensity level I try and impose! I keep saying: “You’re gonna thank me one day”, and she keeps asking: “When exactly?”.

    While huffing and puffing a while ago, we talked about how we always walked after her work day. In my childish ignorance, I assumed she loved walking and that’s why we’d go every day. Can you believe my shock when she told me she hated exercising, but she knows it’s good for her and that’s why she does it?! I felt a little cheated! But I got something out of it, I got a love for exercise that’s not understood by many in my family (my own as well as my in-laws). Thanks Mom for hiding your dislike of exercise so well, and instilling a deep love in me!

    • Ha, ha! Well at least your mother did it for the right reasons!
      But seriously, you are one of the lucky ones. So many of us don’t have parents that modelled exercise when we were young. And look where it got us as a society today!

  15. cherylann says:

    I started running in 1970 in high school (we started a track team) and nothing felt more wonderful to me than challenging myself with speed and distance and strength. Didn’t (don’t ) do it for weight reasons, didn’t (don’t ) do it for others, found out I was good at it, so kept it up for the last 42 years. Still do it for myself, for fun and I do love that podium! (Icing!)

    • How it makes you feel. Cheryl, that’s really the secret to sustaining exercise for the long haul, isn’t it?


  1. […] borrowing this post idea from Tamara at fitknitchick.com after reading her post of the same title this morning. Tamara is a personal trainer and fitness guru extraordinaire and she’s been […]