Movement is meant to be enjoyed, a celebration of what our body can do, and a means of optimizing our overall health and well-being! So, when we use it solely as a method of manipulating our body shape or size, or as a punishment for eating a certain way, it diminishes so many of the amazing benefits it can play in our lives.
When we chronically tie movement to changing our bodies, it can often follow the same crash course as dieting (typically, they overlap). We might start by diving into an overwhelming exercise routine and commit to working out 5 days a week, then start to feel exhausted (possibly due to a lack of proper nourishment), followed by a prolonged period of time where we are sedentary and loath the idea of starting to move our bodies again.
When we start to attach movement to this kind of harmful cycle, it often becomes a chore to move our bodies rather than an opportunity for enjoyment and optimizing our health!
If you fall into the boat of “I only move my body to lost weight”, you are not alone!
The first step to trying to challenge this thought pattern is to make a list of some more diverse and important gauges of health (above and beyond weight loss) that you could start to use to evaluate your health status (instead of the scale), such as:
Ability to manage stress
Anxiety and depression levels
Mental health status
Gratitude for movement and our bodies
Then, once you have cultivated a list of some more important guides for your health, start to think about different the ways in which you can move your body that you TRULY enjoy. Consider falling on these more often, rather than calling on other forms of movement which are unenjoyable to you and used solely as a method of changing your body. Maybe you are not a gym-goer or long-distance runner - that is OKAY! Other forms of movement could be:
An online yoga or pilates class
Dancing to your favourite artist or dance class
A brisk walk to your favourite podcast or audiobook
Hiking with your dog at a leisurely pace
Doing the stairs in your house
Yard work or gardening
Group sports like volleyball or baseball
Skiing or snowboarding (or water skiing/wakeboarding!)
Whatever form of movement you enjoy, partaking in it has a PLETHORA of health benefits that go FAR beyond manipulating your weight or size! Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch have combed through the research and created an amazing list of all these benefits from movement - which include:
Increased bone strength, stress tolerance, "good" cholesterol levels, heart and lung strength, metabolism, satiety and fullness cues, mood, learning ability and memory
Decreased blood pressure, risk of chronic disease (heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension, some cancers, strokes), "bad" cholesterol, and cognitive decline with age
The bottom line is movement is important for our overall health and well-being, and finding JOY from our movement is so important for reaping all the benefits we can from it! Today, rather than choosing movement as a form of body manipulation or punishment, try choosing something for the joy of it!
What type of ways do YOU enjoy moving your body?!
Resource: Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2020). Intuitive Eating, 4th edition. St. Martins Publishing Group.
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