Exercise. To some, this word brings up a lot of feelings. Not always good ones.
To be very honest, I didn’t always have the best relationship with exercise. I would tell myself I had to do it, I would feel guilty if I skipped a workout and I would definitely have thoughts about food. Conditional permission with food, all depending on whether or not I made it to the gym. For so many reasons I needed to heal the thoughts and the obsession with exercising. My turning point was learning to respect my body, list to it and learn some acceptance.
I was lucky I found my way and I had support. I made a mental shift in how I looked at movement (a lovely term I prefer over “exercise”) and you can too! Movement can be joyful and amazing. Movement can leave you feeling uplifted, not exhausted and injured. Also, movement can just be, it doesn’t have to be what gives you permission to eat or not eat. Whether or not you move, you still need to eat today!
For me it took taking a break from exercise. I had to take a break and see that even if I stopped exercising in the conventional way (prescriptive and too often), that the world would keep spinning. I needed to show myself and my body that I cared enough to let it rest. I also need my mind to heal and I needed to stop having anxiety if I skipped a workout. Until that happened, I knew I had to take a break to do some work on myself. It was not easy and it was uncomfortable, but it was key.
Another big part of what helped me was remembering that my body can do some amazing things. Some of which include walking, running and holding my little one. Having gratitude for what my body can do came with more realizations.
One being that I am a runner, and while I used to deny or minimize this, I am one. It is my movement of choice. If I was going to be a runner, I needed to be smart and think about my intentions behind the running. Why do you run? I run because it is all mine, it brings me peace and I do some of my best thinking, and it is challenging, which I like. Being a runner made it more clear that I needed to take care of myself if I was going to expect to stay mentally and physically healthy. Through previous training cycles I have always been injured, or put too much pressure on myself. I never let it be joyful. Which is sad because I really love running. This training cycle, I knew I needed to be kinder to myself, fuel correctly and rediscover the joy.
After my break with scheduled exercise and some self-reflection, I felt ready to start training for my next half marathon. I told myself I would take it slow and not get too worked up about the runs or the training schedule. I also wanted to make sure I enjoyed every second, but if I wasn’t enjoying it, that I had the permission to stop.
I had the most amazing training cycle. For one, I am not injured. I got great rest, I fueled my body with lots of variety and I enjoyed myself. Movement should do this. Sure, I had some tough runs but the joy of accomplishment and the runners high I felt afterwards made all the difference. I also found a great tribe. I found community in a local running club which was was amazing. I had typically always trained alone and thought I wasn’t a joiner. Well spoiler alert, I am, and I really like having conversations with people while running, working towards a common goal and meeting new people. See, I’m still learning new things about myself!
I am telling you this somewhat long story for two reasons. First, I want you to remember that exercise can be viewed as negative and can become obsessive, and if that happens it is more stressful on the body than helpful. I knew this was happening to me because at one point I even lost my period. That is not a good sign, ladies! Secondly, I want to convey that joyful movement and moving your body in general are things the human body craves and is born to do.
Movement can be intuitive. For me that is running, and a few other activities, but it doesn’t have to look a certain way. Movement you enjoy could be walking with your kids, dancing, chair yoga, swimming, hiking… the list is endless. It just has to make you happy and set your soul on fire! All bodies, no matter their size, deserve to move. Take up space, move in a way that feels good and don’t let anyone take that God-given right away from you!
You deserve it! It feels amazing and can make a huge difference in your life!