written by julie ohlemacher,
certified intuitive eating + body image coach
“What if we moved to celebrate our bodies? What if we moved as an act of gratitude for all that our bodies do for us every day? What if the “results” we cared about were all the ways we felt better during and after moving our bodies? Change your intention, change your life, my friends.”
If you joined me last week in my blog about the importance of making peace with food, you may have been left wondering, “but what about exercise?”
So… how does exercise play into the intuitive eating world?
It’s a great question, and one I love to answer, because the two go hand-in-hand.
One of the 10 principles of intuitive eating, after all, is: finding joyful movement.
Alas, for most of my clients, this can be a hard one to tackle. For so many of us, exercise is ingrained in us as a chore. It’s a “should”. A “have-to.”
We’re at the gym for a week and then don’t pick up the gym bag for a month… you know the drill.
Or maybe you’re like past-me, and have let exercise absolutely run your life. My exercise addiction got so bad it left me with a chronic hip injury.
For many of us, our relationship with exercise is tumultuous.
In fact, let’s take a little survey. Mentally note which of the following you can associate with exercise:
- All-or-nothing mindset
- All consuming (you’ve prioritized exercise over other important things in life/always thinking about it)
- Never good enough
- Earning calories
- Burning calories
- Weight loss
- Fixing your body
Chances are, you checked off one or many of the words above. No wonder we may have such a troublesome relationship with exercise!
And: it’s not our fault.
We live in a world that says we’re better people if we exercise. (No wonder we feel guilt and shame if we don’t!) We’re expected to push our bodies harder, faster, stronger, and never miss a Monday… when sometimes your body really needs to miss a Monday!
There’s absolutely no argument that exercise is good for us. Exercise is *so* good for us. Physically, mentally and emotionally: exercise can be such a wonderful thing to help us live better lives.
But, if you checked off even one of the words from the list above, chances are you’re not receiving those life-giving benefits.
But have no fear — just as I was able to heal my relationship with food and find a peaceful, empowered, healthy relationship with food — the same is true for exercise, or, which I like to call it instead: movement.
So, how do we make peace with exercise? How do we build a nourishing, sustainable, JOYFUL relationship with exercise?
Here are 5 tips to try.
01 / Take the morality out of exercise.
This is a biggie. We live in a world that elevates people who exercise as being holier than thou. All this does is make us feel like crap when we don’t exercise, and pompous when we do. When we attach morality to exercise, this is where guilt and shame come into play. We’re either “good” if we do, or “bad” if we don’t. This mindset can keep us in an all-or-nothing OR all-consuming relationship with exercise.
Let’s keep in mind: having the time, energy, money and ability to exercise is a *privilege* more easily accessible to some than others, and at different seasons of life!
Is exercise a wonderful thing to do? Yes. Do we have to exercise in order to be valuable, worthy human beings deserving of respect? No. We’re valuable human beings because we’re human. Our worthiness is inherent, and every single person deserves respect: period.
Allow exercise to just be another tool in your box. It’s something that you can choose to do to take care of yourself, to blow off some steam, to feel good, to be social, to enjoy yourself.
02 / Throw out the rules!
What often keeps us from having a sustainable, joyful relationship with exercise is having *so many rules.* We put up so many barriers to entry!
Some rules might be:
- It has to be at least 30 minutes
- It has to be an hour
- It has to be a class at a gym
- It has to be HARD
- It has to burn X amount of calories
- It has to be every single day
- I have to run
… but what if it didn’t?
What if we threw out the rules?
What if you went for a walk around the block?
What if you danced in your kitchen while cooking dinner?
What if you ran for 13 minutes instead of 30?
How about a 15-minute Peloton class?
What if you leisurely rode your bike outside?
What if you walked to work?
What if you didn’t count the calories?
What if you were flexible with the what, when, where, how?
How might that change how often you move? Chances are: a lot.
03 / Do what you LOVE.
This is a *biggie.* I used to think that to exercise, I had to run. (That was a rule!) — but… I hate running.
My body really isn’t built for it. (Hi, hip injury, can’t even run anymore!) I never enjoyed running, ever! So, no wonder I never wanted to do it… I didn’t enjoy it!
But you know what I do enjoy? Cycling, yoga, walking, dancing, pilates, lifting weights, stretching… I love those a lot.
So… of course I want to exercise when I’m doing things I actually enjoy!
04 / Get clear on your intention.
For some of us: exercise may have been a punishment for what we ate, or what we’re going to eat. Or, for others, it’s a punishment for not looking a certain way. In both cases, it’s an act of control over ourselves. It’s an act of never being good enough. It’s a thing we do to “fix” our imperfect bodies.
Woof… no wonder we avoid it!
But what if we changed our mindset?
What if we moved to celebrate our bodies? What if we moved as an act of gratitude for all that our bodies do for us every day? What if we went to cycle class because we know how good it is for our heart, and we want to support our cardiovascular health in that way? What if we went to lift weights because we know how strong it makes us feel, physically and mentally? What if we went for a walk because we love being outside, smelling the fresh air, chatting with our friend or listening to a podcast? What if we exercised to let go of a stressful day? Or to celebrate a great day?
What if the “results” we cared about were all the ways we felt better during and after moving our bodies? What if the “results” were joy? Happiness? Relief? Strength? Empowerment?
What if we threw out the calorie counting and weight loss and focused on moving from a place of total love and gratitude for our bodies and ourselves?
I’ll tell you what: it’ll get you out of the scarcity mindset and into an abundance mindset.
Change your intention, change your life, my friends.
05 / Give yourself permission to *rest.*
Just like we need full permission to eat any and all food in order to have an empowered relationship with food, we also need full permission to move in whatever way is best for us, and that includes rest.
Our bodies need rest. What if we prioritized rest as much as movement? After all, we can’t have movement without rest.
Need help? I empower my clients to have a healthy relationship with food in my group coaching program, The Intuitive Body Blueprint. Through my step-by-step course, our private Facebook group for daily support, and our monthly live coaching calls, I help you overcome obstacles that once seemed insurmountable. It’s time to feel empowered in your body and in your life, my friends. Through October 21, 2021, you get special access to 25% off the program in this link here!
Julie Ohlemacher is a certified intuitive eating and body image coach. Her mission is to empower women to live their biggest, boldest, most authentic lives. She does this by helping them heal their relationship with food, body, exercise and self. Through her health coaching, she provides women with the right system, support, and accountability to help them make permanent—and healthy—transformations, freeing them from the cyclical diet culture.