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The 8 Emotions of Exercise Part 4: Disgust

The views expressed in this article are the author’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of Body Twenty Global

In the last three articles we discussed how anger, sorrow, and fear fit into your exercise life, how you can better understand them, and how they can be useful to you in the pursuit of your goals. In this article we’ll discuss the science of disgust and how you can manage it throughout your exercise journey.

Emotion #4: Disgust

Initially I thought that this would be a challenging article to write because I enjoy training. Disgust isn’t usually an emotion that I associate with exercise. However, I was quickly reminded how much of a prevalent emotion this is in sporting and exercise environments. You see disgust everywhere! You may even see it in yourself. Let’s discuss how to handle the difference between disgust of others and disgust of self.

Being Disgusted with Others

Ok, so I’ll try not to be too preachy with this one, but we need to stop being so darn judgemental of other peoples’ bodies, identities, and workouts. Everyone has different experiences when it comes to exercise. Some take to it pretty easily and some have to work for a long time to form the necessary habits and to learn to enjoy it. People also have different exercise goals. It would therefore be unfair to judge a guy for having almost no visible muscle growth if his goals relate more to cardiovascular fitness. Yes, you could probably outlift him, but he could probably outrun you.

For the ladies reading this, you probably struggle with this sort of thing the most. This is because of the unrealistic expectations that society has placed on you and your bodies for so many years. It’s heart-breaking that so many of you feel you have to starve yourselves and/or deprive yourselves of yummy food just so that you can look more like that plastic mannequin in the store. Most women are physiologically designed to carry more fat than men. According to the American Council of Exercise (ACE), if you’re a woman, it’s part of your genetic make up to have up to 32% body fat before you’re considered obese, whereas for men, its anything above 25%. Research also shows us that women lose weight and build muscle slower than men, which isn’t your fault, so we’ll cut you some slack.

If you read Part 3 of this series on fear, then you know that there are many people who are terrified of exercise environments because they fear that others will judge them. Know that many people attending gym or exercise classes feel extremely vulnerable. They will be hypersensitive to people looking at them, so show empathy to anyone who looks nervous around your class or gym. If someone is using one of the machines in the wrong way, fight the urge to judge them. Rather go and ask if they need assistance and encourage them for their hard work. These small acts can go such a long way in terms of how people view exercise and how they view themselves.

Being Disgusted with Yourself

It can be easy for us to get disgusted with ourselves when it comes to “letting ourselves go” by doing a bit less exercise and eating a bit more junk food. Many of us have had that frightful moment in January when we stand on the scale for the first time in a month. “What? I didn’t think I’d put on that much!” Its normal to feel a bit upset with yourself in that moment. Guilt can be a powerful motivator when it comes to behaviour change and habit formation though. If, however that guilt is allowed to turn into shame, then we have a problem. Guilt is the feeling of knowing you have done something wrong and that you should do something to rectify it or redeem yourself. Shame is the feeling of self-loathing because you tie your identity to your wrongdoing. In short, Guilt says “What I did was wrong.”, whereas Shame says, “What I did makes me a bad person.”

Neglecting your health or diet does not make you a bad person. Try to identify the behaviour that you need to rectify, then make a plan to rectify that behaviour so that your emotions don’t get the better of you in making you feel shame. If this resonates with you, I highly recommend that you read our previous article called The Power of Yet. It will give you tips to practically process and deal with any irrational fears or thoughts that you have about yourself.

While it’s important for us to love ourselves, we need to try and achieve balance between (1) being too comfortable that we stop progressing, and (2) being so hard on ourselves that we get discouraged. It’s a tough thing to get right but we at Body Twenty would love to help you out with that! We have great facilities that track your fitness and excellent trainers who give expert advice on your goals and progress. Come and visit us for a free trial!

I trust that this article has been helpful to you as you deal with your exercise journey. If you have any questions or concerns about your emotions, let me know at and let’s set up a meeting to chat.

Be sure to look out for part-5 to this blog series on the eight core emotions next week. In the meantime, let us know what you thought of this article. If you have any suggestions for future articles, drop us an email at We’d love to connect with you.

Keep Growing

Dave Roebuck

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