Learn to Meet Fitness Goals with Non-Attachment

We hear a lot these days about non-attachment. Therapists, Buddhists, and pop songs all tell us how important it is to learn to let go. The well-known Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that “Letting go gives us freedom and freedom is the only condition for happiness.” But when it comes to fitness goals, non-attachment doesn’t really make sense. Or does it?

Certainly it’s good to have goals. The best goals lend us clarity, give us momentum, and keep us focused and accountable. But staying firmly committed to the goal of fitting into those particular skinny jeans or to losing a certain number of pounds or inches opens us up to potentially unmet expectations, even to feelings of failure. Attachment to a certain look or to a strict goal can give rise to anxiety.

Long term fitness goals can certainly help keep you coming back to the gym, but attachment to a specific end result can lead to judgement and self-deprecation. For the best results, in fitness as in life, you must enjoy what you are doing in the moment. It’s the little daily things that make the journey worthwhile. To this end, holding plank for 5 more seconds or doing 2 more reps in your circuit can be incredibly rewarding. You’ll gain a sense of accomplishment as you do them and the endorphins that arise in the body as a result of exercise make you feel amazing – in the moment.

Wishing things were different is the source of suffering. But being proactive about making change by doing something enjoyable right now can be empowering, even upliftings. It’s a subtle difference, but one that can mean everything, in fitness and in life.