Exercise, activity, movement. Do all three of these words have the same meaning to you? If you have been a dieter, the only word the “counts” is exercise. Activity is something your kids do, and movement doesn’t count unless you are profusely sweating so that it can be called exercise.
When exercise has always been about changing your body, rather than moving your body in a way that feels good, there has been a battle. When exercise is about the change of your body, the only thing that counts is whatever burns the most calories and will give you the results that you are seeking. But have you ever considered at what cost this is to you?
See, our society has made pushing yourself to physical limits the norm of exercise. It’s made dripping with sweat and feeling physically exhausted at the end of a workout, the marker of a workout that “counts.” Just look at hot yoga. Bikram hit the jackpot when he played in how people feel the need to be soaked in sweat to feel like they got a workout.
What I am asking you, is to look at what you do for exercise and ask yourself, “Do I really like what am doing? Do I have fun? Does it feel good to move my body in this way or am I doing it because I am at war with my body. Am I punishing it, for its size or for what I ate yesterday?” Can you feel the difference with these?
When someone is only moving their body out of hate, dissatisfaction or punishment, there is often an all or nothing mentality associated with it. When you are in punishment mode, you are likely restricting your food too. Or maybe food is okay, but this is where you seek your permission to eat. If you exercise, you can eat what you want.
But what happens when you have “fallen off the wagon,” and don’t want to exercise? Or maybe you feel like you don’t need to exercise because your body has always been thin, or you’re in a larger body and you feel uncomfortable with the thought of going to a gym. You create all these barriers as why you don’t want to be active and all movement seizes.
Shifting your mindset with exercise to the pure movement of your body can change the why behind you are active. It’s looking at it with the intention of being mindful with movement. Really feeling how you, not only feel physically, but also mentally when you are moving your body.
There are so many health benefits with exercise. But when you are only focused on changing your body, you lose sight of what you are actually doing for your body. Exercise helps to lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, triglycerides and osteoporosis. It helps with stress, anxiety, sleep and mood. So when you stop exercising, you don’t realize all the things you are missing out on that is actually improving your body’s health.
When you are moving your body to take care of your body, instead of to punish or change it, you are coming from such a kinder place. One that is respecting your body to honor it and focus on the health of it. You allow yourself to listen to how you want to move rather keeping yourself in a box that is, how you “must” move.
When you actually like what you are doing, you have a much higher likelihood of staying with it. Sometimes this means you are thinking outside the box of a gym. Look at other things that you can do. Play tennis, jump rope or on a trampoline, go for a walk or run, take a yoga class or dance to great music. There are so many things that can be fun to move your body and you can look forward to, rather than dread.
Your body has so much wisdom inside of it. It’s just being willing to not run away from it or drown it out with “just 10 more minutes” or push yourself to that place of exhaustion. You can’t hear it there. You hear the wisdom when you are kind, when you are connected, and willing to find peace with your body instead of war. So, move in a way that inspires you and allows you to feel grateful for all that your body can do. That alone is worth a dance party! 😊