Want to find exercise you'll actually LOOK FORWARD TO?
Intuitive Eating Series Principle #9 - Exercise, Feel the Difference
Let me ask you a question. Why do you workout? Or if you don't, why do you think you should workout? In today's post, I'm talking all about making exercise a gift instead of a chore.
So, I want to know, why do you exercise? Is it to lose weight or to be able to eat anything you want? Regardless of your past experience with exercise, I hope today's post will help you see exercise and movement in a new light, as a new opportunity to serve your body, and as a non-negotiable priority in your life.
First of all, if you're a regular dieter, exercise can be hard work! Diets often cause us to eat a lot less than our bodies need which often results in depleted energy. That's why exercise is a component of intuitive eating - because practicing intuitive eating gives your body the nutrients and energy it needs to move. If you're consistently deprived of calories, you're consistently deprived of energy - no one wants to workout with an empty tank!
So, how do we find a happy balance with exercise in our life? I'm not here to talk about making time for it, or waking up 20 minutes earlier, or joining a gym, but instead I'm here to help you find more ways to enjoy exercise so that it becomes a desired and valued part of your life - and not just a chore you check off each day (or don't and then criticize yourself for it).
Steps to find joy in exercise
Focus on how it feels
First, focus on how exercise feels. Stop focusing on calories and focus on what it does for you in the short term. Does it help you deal with stress better, do you get a little more energy by going on a walk mid-afternoon? Does it make you feel proud of yourself? Do you sleep better when you move more throughout the day? Take a minute to write down a few reasons exercise makes you feel better.
Don't pair exercise and weight loss
Second, don't pair exercise and weight loss. Again, stop focusing on the calories. Exercise accounts for only a small amount of weight loss, and if you're only doing it for that, it's likely you'll get discouraged and give up quickly. Weight loss can be a side effect of increasing your movement, but it should not be a driving factor. Remind yourself that you're exercising to improve your quality of life in all kinds of ways.
Focus on exercise as a gift
Third, Focus on exercise as a gift. How can you use exercise as a way of taking care of yourself? There are so many benefits of exercise such as lower blood pressure, better metabolism, reduced disease risk, etc. But, personally, I know that my mood improves 100 fold when I exercise and move my body regularly. How can you view exercise as a gift? Do you love to do yoga? Does it help your mind calm down? Does pilates help you alleviate back pain that makes you grouchy throughout the day? We'll talk about this later, but there is not a right or wrong way to exercise. Move your body in a way that serves YOU and don't worry about all of the "shoulds" that come up when you think of the word "exercise".
Stop playing mind games
That leads me to the 4th way of making exercise a gift. Stop playing mind games! You may have found yourself thinking "It's not worth it if I don't do it a certain way or for a certain amount of time", or "I don't have time to devote to a gym membership", or "If I don't sweat it doesn't count." It all counts. As long as it is serving you. It's not about running errands all day and counting that as exercise. It's about doing something that renews your body, spirit, or mind in a physical way.
Make exercise fun
Lastly, MAKE EXERCISE FUN. Let me say that again. MAKE EXERCISE FUN. If you told me to go swim laps as part of my exercise, I wouldn't last a day! I hate swimming.
Do you know what I do love doing that most people don't? Running. Especially trail running in the mountains. Yeah, I like to run for fun. It clears my head and makes me feel better. And you know what? Some days I run a few miles, and other days I walk/run and I'm happy with both! I listen to my body and do what I enjoy. What do you like to do OR what would you like to try? Do you like working out with others? Find a friend or find a class to attend. Do you like to talk and need an outlet during the day? Grab a co-worker and walk for 30 minutes during lunch.
One summer we put together an ultimate frisbee team. It was such a great workout, but we were having fun at the same time!
If you don't like the movement you're doing, try something else. It's much more likely to stick if you find something you enjoy. And, if you find yourself struggling to get started, pair the exercise with something you love to do. Sometimes when I'm not in the mood for weight lifting (even though generally I do enjoy it and I enjoy how it makes me feel), I throw in some headphones and listen to a podcast. It distracts me enough to get through it that day - because some days might be more motivating than others!
And don't forget, there is no right or wrong way to exercise! The best exercise and movement plan for you is the one that you'll stick to! And it might take some time to find that thing that you love and how to balance it in your life.
But, I can almost guarantee that as soon as you start incorporating exercise that you love into your life, you'll find that it becomes a huge priority. It will no longer be about scheduling it in or checking it off, but instead a gift you give yourself every day. A gift you need to feel happy and balanced.
So, don't forget to grab your free intuitive eating starter guide and start discovering the movement that brings you joy!