Have you fallen out of love with exercise over the years? I’ve been there, and guess what, this is completely normal! I’ll explain why below.
Living in a world that advertises “health” as a serious addiction to the gym, it’s common to feel deeply ashamed when you simply hate exercising or avoid that “daily workout routine” so commonly recommended.
Because hating exercise = Not being healthy, right? I mean, that’s what diet culture teaches us.
Let me ask you a question…
We live in a world that highly associates weight loss with exercise, so why wouldn’t you fall out of love with it?
Especially with stats like this! 80% of people who lose weight will gain it back PLUS more. 90% of people will gain it all back.
When we only exercise to burn calories or lose weight, how on earth would you continue loving it when that’s only achievable long term for less than 10% of people?
I mean, I sure wouldn’t! When I lost my addiction to weight loss & burning calories, I also lost my drive to exercise.
The points I’ll share below are ones that I’ve personally explored and found helpful as I’ve fallen back in love with body movement.
These points have also helped my clients in huge ways! And now, I hope, they will help you too as you work to fall back in love with physical activity.
Diet Culture has Stolen Exercise
Remember back when you were a kiddo, and you didn’t even give a second thought to how many steps you took that day or if you hit your 30 minutes of exercise or not?
Now, people are so obsessed with their fitbits and apple watches tracking all of their steps, but research shows even 10,000 steps a day isn’t helping.
What if we could return to our childhood view of movement again as an adult?
Sure, it’s unlikely that you will have your friends over in the evening and play a game of tag followed by a heart thumping game of “no bears out tonight.” (I mean, you always could!!)
But what if we could return to simply allowing exercise to be part of our lives. And part of an activity that we ENJOY doing?
The key is to do our best to separate exercise from diet culture in our minds. Which I admit, is difficult when magazine covers, Instagram posts & often health practitioners try and convince us to do otherwise.
Change the Terms
One of the first tips I give my new clients when it comes to this is to remove the term “exercise” from their vocabulary and replace it with “movement.”
Is there a true difference between those terms? Nope.
However, for most people, the term “exercise” brings up visuals of 100’s of burpees in a CrossFit class or the emotions associated with pushing yourself to the state of nausea during a run.
Adopting a new term as we attempt to separate diet culture’s exercise and mindful movement can be helpful!
1. Have Patience – Don’t Rush it
Helping people heal their relationship with food is my day job. Overtime I have noticed a common theme with my clients.
When they first dive into giving themselves unconditional permission to eat, more often than not, they are in a mood to rebel against diet culture.
We call this stage the “Diet Rebel.”
They tend to be hyperaware of diet culture’s messaging and absolutely refuse to get involved in any part of it.
Which often includes exercise.
And guess what – THAT’S OK! In fact, this is often a crucial part to one’s healing journey!
Healing your relationship with food and your body image is a process. And it’s not a process that can be rushed. It’s a process that takes time. Read this related blog post on how intuitive eating takes time.
At times, I sense my clients tensing and feeling the urge to add gentle nutrition or movement back into their lives ASAP. I always encourage them to take a deep breath and remember that the time will come when your body’s biological cues will begin to kick in and encourage you to move your body.
Not because you want to lose weight, not because you want to hit 10,000 steps per day. But because it simply feels GOOD to move our bodies!
During this time, it’s also incredibly important to reframe exercise in our minds. I love pointing out to my clients that…
- Cleaning your house is movement.
- Gardening is movement.
- Dancing around with your toddler is movement.
My clients are often surprised that during their rebellious time of, “I don’t want to exercise” they are often moving their bodies a lot more than they think!
2. Determine Movement You Enjoy
When I ask clients what type of body movements, they enjoy I usually hear silence on the other end of the call. And then a, “umm… none?”
Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t feel this way after years of being told that HITT is the only exercise you should be doing or that CrossFit is the “best” way to get fit.
We’ve often spent years if not decades pushing ourselves to participate in exercise only for the sake of weight loss, physical fitness that we hate or even if we do somewhat enjoy it, it would end up taking hours away from our lives and therefore it was never maintainable.
True movement that you enjoy should be…
- Movement for the sake of feeling GOOD and not for the sake of weight loss.
- Movement that fits well into our busy lives and is maintainable for years to come.
- Movement that we truly ENJOY and would tend to participate in normally!
Sometimes the best way to determine what that movement would be for you, is to think back to your childhood. What did you enjoy then?
Playing with your dog?
Back then, I’m guessing, you didn’t view these activities as ‘exercise’ in any way. And honestly, that’s the goal! That movement is an enjoyable activity that makes you feel GOOD! An activity that you would participate in even if you didn’t have it on your to do list to move your body.
And yes, movement can be going to the dog park with your dog, signing up for a Zumba class, playing tag with your children or buying some snazzy looking roller skates online!
25 Movement Ideas
I’m going to drop 25 ideas below for what movement can be. Hopefully this will help jog your memory and help you realize what movement you may truly enjoy!
- Go for a walk
- Have a dance party
- Play frisbee
- Take the stairs
- Take a Zumba class
- Go on a hike
- Go rock climbing
- Have a water balloon fight
- Take your dog to the park
- Jump rope
- Do Yoga
- Hula hoop
- Clean your home
- Go shopping (yes, shopping can be movement!! Think about how much you walk around when you go shopping!)
- Jump on the trampoline
- Go paddle boarding
- Go kayaking
- Go for a bike ride
- Do some gardening
- Go roller skating
- Play tag with your kids
- Go swimming
- Play catch with your dog
- Take a kickboxing class
- Play on the play structure with your kids
As you can see, movement can be SO MANY different things! My hope is that the list above helped jog your memory as to what is actually body movement.
If you want a more detailed breakdown on some of the movement activities listed above, check out this article from Queensland Health.
3. Don’t Make Movement into a Diet
After years if not decades of chronically dieting or following different food rules, we tend to want to make everything into a diet.
What do I mean by that? Well, when I work with a client on healing their relationship with food and their bodies we often focus on things like tuning into your hunger and fullness.
What sometimes happens when we focus on this too soon or too much? It becomes a diet!
People beat themselves up if they start eating when they weren’t the “perfect” hungry on the hunger & fullness scale. And if they overeat? Or eat past their fullness? They beat themselves up! Read this related blog post for more on the dangers of dieting.
Even tools we use inside of intuitive eating can easily become a diet. Just like movement or exercise.
How do we avoid making movement into a diet?
1). Don’t add rules to your movement!
What are some examples of adding rules to your movement?
- Forcing yourself to hit 10,000 steps per day and if you don’t, you feel guilty.
- Making a rule that you work out 6 days/wk. and when it doesn’t happen, you beat yourself up.
- Holding yourself to a specific type of movement even if you feel like your body simply isn’t up for it that day.
See what I mean? You can make almost anything into a diet!
You can make almost any health behaviour unhealthy.
The key is to allow fluidity and flexibility into your relationship with movement in the same way you do with your relationship with food.
Do you feel best if you walk for 30 minutes a day? Amazing! Do it!! And if suddenly you aren’t feeling up to it one day, THAT’S OK! This allows you to work towards a healthy mind and body.
2). Extend yourself so much grace and compassion.
A large part of intuitive eating principles and healing your relationship with food and your body is TUNING IN. Tuning in means that you will feel when your body isn’t up for that HITT workout or when your body really needs a long walk.
Honour those feelings in the same way you would honour your hunger!
4. Allow Movement to be Ever Changing
What tends to happen when you find a way of eating that feels good for you? You feel nourished from your food, pleasure from your food and an overall sense of wellbeing when it comes to the food you consume.
Well, most people, start eating that same thing week after week after week.
This is totally 100% ok!
But what happens when suddenly that food doesn’t feel nourishing anymore? Or it simply doesn’t bring you pleasure any longer?
I hope that you give yourself permission to shift! Permission to change up your food. Permission to acknowledge the beauty in how everchanging our lives are, including the foods we want to eat!
You see, most of us strive for a “key” in life. The perfect diet that will forever serve us or the perfect movement that we will commit to until the day we die. The perfect career that will never grow old or the perfect relationships that will never have to change.
Sure, that sometimes works in some areas of life. But the truth is, diversity is the spice of life!! And that’s a wonderful thing!
We must embrace the fact that our appetites, our careers, our LIVES are everchanging. This is something to be loved and embraced!
Not something to detest. Embrace your ever-changing pallet and embrace your desire to change up your body movement often!
I’m going to say it again because I know it hits home with so many of my clients!
It’s healthy to allow fluidity and flexibility into your relationship with movement in the same way you do with your relationship with food.
If one day you are loving HITT but the next day all you want to do is go for a walk along the river, DO IT!
If one week you are so into CrossFit but the next week all you want to do is a Zumba class, EMBRACE IT!
If one month you are obsessed with running a half marathon but the next month all you want to do is go for a bike ride, LOVE IT!
Embrace diversity within movement. You will get sick of it far less if you are ok with the fact that it is ever changing!
Research even shows it is best to switch up your workout routine every 3-4 weeks to get the most out of your movement and prevent burnout or boredom!
Your body is ever changing too. Honour her when she asks for a change. In my experience, there is always a reason! Even if in that moment you don’t know the why quite yet.
Work with a Professional
Sometimes years of dieting, not trusting our bodies and chronic exercising leaves us needing help.
At times reading blogs, listening to podcasts and downloading free resources is enough.
And sometimes it’s not.
For myself, I hired a mentor for my first year of healing my relationship with food. And I’m so glad I did!!
She had been exactly where I was and knew what I needed and when in my journey of intuitive eating.
She empowered me to believe that one of the most courageous things you can do is ask for help!!
As a Licensed Health & Nutrition Counsellor who is Certified in Intuitive Eating, I do what I can to create affordable resources to help people just like you, heal their relationship with food and their bodies.
Why? Because I’ve been there. I’ve walked in your shoes. And I’ve made it my life mission to help people who are exactly where you are!
I now help women feel at peace around food once again and heal from disordered eating, click here and see if what I have to offer may be a great fit for you!
Until next time, happy healing!
- Ending Question:
How will you add diversity into your body movement?