Connect with your body and mind, rather than focusing on the lbs.

As a running coach, I see a lot of people who are motivated to start running during the holidays or New Year because they want to lose weight. They think that losing the pounds will improve their lives significantly.

While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be in a healthy weight range, depending primarily on the goal of “looking good” is not a good way to adopt and stick with a healthy lifestyle. If you’re unrealistically motivated by your looks, you may never feel like you look good enough, which will leave you discouraged even after losing the weight. Or, equally upsetting, you’ll fall back into old patterns once you do reach your desired weight.

Part of the reason I decided to become a running coach is because, when I was first establishing a fitness routine in college, I fell into this trap of working out for my looks. But I didn’t see dramatic results in my health until I really connected with my body, respected it, and found deeper reasons to stick with healthy living. So now I’ve made it my mission to help people master fitness in a way that doesn’t focus on toning your butt or developing beach-ready abs.

Here are some of the reasons I encourage my clients to exercise regularly.

01. Exercise Because … Your Body Works

Be honest. How many times have you uttered, “Ugh, I have to go workout.” I know I have, even at my healthiest. But you should change just one word in that sentence – “I GET to workout.”

The fact that you can work out could inspire you to exercise. After all, there are plenty of people who have conditions that make working out impossible. If you are able to exercise, do it! Every movement you make can be an act of gratitude, not to mention a way to learn your body’s limits. Basically, when you exercise, you’re giving your body a high five!

02. Exercise Because … Your Family Loves You

You want to be around for your family and friends for the next holiday season and the next, right? Then you should exercise. Although really fit people still catch the common cold and the flu, exercising regularly can help you build up an immunity to many illnesses. Exercise helps you live a healthier, longer life, which means more time to spend with loved ones.

Worried your workouts will take away from time with your family? You could exercise before your family wakes up, or after the kids go to bed. Better yet, get your family involved in exercise! My husband and I have regular gym dates, and we use nice weather as an opportunity to go hiking with friends.

03. Exercise Because … You Beat Goals

Your life at the gym (or in your own home) can set you up for crushing goals, which research shows contributes to happiness. This is because achieving ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. So go ahead, go after that heavier bench press (gradually and safely). Notice if you can do one pushup when a few weeks ago you couldn’t.

And let’s take it a step further. If you set and reach enough fitness goals, it can start to happen in the rest of your life. Deadline at work coming up soon? No problem. Wish you could read more books? Consider it done. Ready to quit smoking? You can do it. All because you worked out today.

04. Exercise Because … It Changes Your Perspective

It may sound silly when people say that exercise makes life better. Working out doesn’t put more money in the bank or get rid of that annoying coworker, after all. But exercise does cause changes in the brain. It promotes the growth of new brain cells, which can improve memory and learning. And it is an effective strategy for preventing and treating depression. No, exercising doesn’t get rid of financial and relationship troubles, but it can make them more bearable!

Maybe your fitness journey starts because you want to change your body. But I promise that somewhere along the way you’ll forget about achieving the ideal body that you want so badly. Instead, you just may become addicted to the way you feel, and how much you just enjoy being you.