If you’ve visited my blog, you know by now I talk a lot about intuitive eating. How it’s changed my relationship with food, how it can change yours and various ways to practice it in your life. What I haven’t talked about, and what you may be beginning to wonder as you enter your practice of Intuitive Eating is if there is such a thing as Intuitive Exercise? While the term intuitive exercise hasn’t been coined there is certainly talk among like minded practitioners about how to address exercise when working with individuals whom have a history with dieting or disordered eating.
Here’s what I do know- we cannot talk about intuitive eating and healing our relationship with food without addressing exercise. So here goes.
In intuitive eating, I teach others that we were born to eat intuitively. A newborn infant nurses when he is hungry and stops when he is full, a spoonfed infant signals they have had enough by turning away their head and toddlers, well- sometimes they throw their food, you know- on the floor. Point and case- they are no longer interested in the food, they’re ready to move on because they maintain the ability to internally regulate their hunger and satiety (were trying to get back here!).
In similar fashion- when we were born we were made to move! From infancy, we are exploring, throwing and grasping. Depending on the individual and their experience, usually in the late teenage and early adult age, we stop moving.
We used to play on the softball team, swim laps in the pool, go on long runs by the beach but now we have a job, school, a family or a combination of all three.
Somewhere along the line what used to be moving for pleasure has become a chore. A chore that leaves us achy and sore nonetheless!
To move ourselves from adding exercise onto our never ending to do list, we have to experience a paradigm shift. Just as intuitive eating can help an individual normalize their hunger and satiety or emotional eating, shifting our perspective of exercise to movement can help bring peace from within.
Most exercise we pursue and programs offered are focused on changing the body.
Burn more calories, tone your legs, shape your middle….
Movement or play encourages moving your body.
To be full of energy, to increase alertness, to connect with others….
Instead of being in pursuit of results, we can purse reflection.
Instead of punishing our bodies to shape them, we can pursue pleasure.
Instead of competing with others, we can connect with others.
Most of us like the idea, but struggle with defining what “counts.” We have so much quality research on the benefits of exercise on our health- how do we address these while doing something we don’t absolutely dread?
We can still address these by redefining what counts…
A 30 minute run that makes your irritable, anxious can transform into taking a peaceful walk at a brisk pace.
An hour long class at the gym, indoors, can transform into a hike outdoors exploring.
Don’t get me wrong, in no way am I encouraging you to decrease your routine of movement if you already enjoy it, but rather I encourage you to evaluate your motives.
If your constantly consumed with guilt, anxiety and irritability when engaging in movement- it’s a signal your moving in pursuit of discipline rather than for the pure joy of moving.
If you enjoy the way you move, and it leaves you feeling positive, energized and nourished, do that!
If your filled with dread at the thought of one more run, or one more class…it might be time to evaluate what ways you would enjoy moving your body.
Be Well & Enjoy Moving!