There are a couple of words you will never hear me say or write ever again: tone up or bikini body...cause eff that! Those are two goals I gave up years ago when I shifted my focus from aesthetics (the way I look) to performance (the way I move and feel).

Many moons ago I would stalk my mailman waiting for the delivery of the fitness magazine to which I had a monthly subscription. I couldn’t wait to open it and flip through the glossy pages reading up on the latest workouts and recipes. But then once the euphoria wore off, I would almost immediately begin to berate myself for why I didn’t look that way.

Why didn’t I have the willpower to do what it takes to eat “clean” all of the time and workout for 2 hours per day. The answer? Because it’s not healthy or sustainable.

Little did I know at the time that most of the women on the cover pages don’t really look that way for more than a few days. “Photo shoot ready” usually involves restrictive dieting, twice daily cardio sessions, dehydration techniques, creative posing, great lighting and quite possibly, let’s be honest, photoshop.

I would log everything I ate into a food journal (as per their recommendations), do endless amounts of cardio on an empty stomach, count calories, eat low fat, low carb and the list goes on and on. In the end all this did was make me feel worse about myself.

I was never someone who had a weight issue really, but that didn’t stop me from thinking that I still wasn’t good enough. If I could just lose 5 more pounds or be a couple sizes smaller I’d be happier. Trust me friends, this is a rabbit hole you do not want to go down.

I can’t tell you the exact moment when I had shift in my thoughts because I don’t think it happened all at once, but little by little over time.

I had recently enrolled in kettlebell classes and instantly loved how I felt afterward. After a few months of consistent training I had a strong enough foundation that I could move on to more complex and totally badass moves like Turkish Getups and Snatches.

My goals had moved from looking a certain way, reaching a certain number on the scale or the waist size of my jeans to getting leaner, faster, stronger, and healthier. I wanted to lift that kettlebell for more reps, sets or move up to a heavier bell. I finally felt like I had a purpose to all the madness.

Don’t think you have to lift weights to feel the same benefit. This mindset can be applied to any type of training that you love. Yoga, running, powerlifting, zumba, swimming. The idea is instead of working out to punish ourselves for our lack of willpower or to fit into a certain size dress, we “train to achieve something great”.

[Tweet "Train to achieve something great! #fitness #goals]

Maybe nail that first handstand, run your first 5km race, deadlift your body weight. It can be anything that makes you feel like you’re a rockstar. If we learn to love our body for how great it is and what it can accomplish instead of hating it for what it isn’t, we usually become much happier and probably end up with a body that has less fat, more muscle, moves better and has more energy anyway.

It will be an automatic side effect that you didn’t have to agonize over. From now on try to shift your mindset from “working out to lose weight” to “training”.

Everyday train in way that makes you feel good and moves you toward a goal. Aim for performance, not perfection.