Intuitive Eating Principle #9: Exercise – Feel The Difference

We’ve made it all the way to Intuitive Eating principle #9: Exercise – Feel the Difference!

Who here has started some kind of exercise program in the past to then stop and feel like a failure because you didn’t stick with it?! I know I’ve been there before. When we force ourselves to do activity we don’t like it is really hard to stick to it. It becomes something we dread and other things will take higher priority. Also using exercise as only a way to manage our body size or elicit weight loss tends to not be motivating in the long term.

Exercise doesn’t have to be something you hate doing or a monotonous activity! It can be fun, enjoyable and something you look forward to.

The authors of Intuitive Eating state:
“Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm. If when you wake up, your only goal is to lose weight, it’s usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.”

Exercise shouldn’t be punishment. It should be something we enjoy doing because of the way it makes our body feel.

Some of the benefits of moving our body that are not related to controlling weight include:

– Decreased stress and anxiety
– Improved mood
– Reduced risk of chronic diseases
– Increased HDL (healthy) cholesterol
– Increased bone strength and health (which naturally starts to deteriorate as we get older)
– Increased muscle strength and longevity (which also decreases as we get older)
– Increased energy

When working with clients I also like to shift the focus from exercise to movement. Moving your body can happen in so many different ways, not just at the gym. I think a lot of people think about exercise or working out specifically at a gym for a set period of time. You don’t have to have a gym membership. It doesn’t have to be an hour. If you have 15 minutes, cool, use it! In reality mowing the grass, deep cleaning your house, playing tag with your kids, walking your dog, or going for a hike with a friend are all ways we move our body. Our bodies were meant to move and it doesn’t matter how we move them as long as we do.

I have been fairly active for my whole life. There were times years ago where I also viewed exercise as a means to change my body and lose weight. During these times I did not love what I was doing. Working through that and finding things I do love doing has been a journey and absolutely worth it!

Some of the benefits I personally have experienced from moving my body and having a healthy relationship with movement are:
– Stress and anxiety relief
– Better sleep
– Connection with others
– Less physical aches and pains
– Mental clarity
– Connecting to my body
– Appreciation of my body

Here are some tips to help get you started feeling some joy with movement.

– Find something you enjoy doing, make it fun
– Think about what you did as a kid and liked to get some ideas
– Make it social, find a buddy to do the activity with if that feels good to you
– Be flexible
– Stop connecting movement and weight
– Make it easy for you and your schedule
– Make it realistic
– Buy new workout clothes. Think comfort, something that fits your body and feels good

Finding joy in movement is a process and can take time. You may not have anything you enjoy currently and that is okay. It will take some time to figure that out. Also, when you are working through an eating disorder it can be challenging to figure out intuitive exercise. Working with your team including your dietitian and therapist, if you have one, is important!

Our next blog will wrap up the Intuitive Eating series! We will be discussing principle #10: Honor Your Health!

If you have any questions or feel like you want a RD to help you work through Intuitive Eating you can contact me here!

Happy Moving!!