If I asked you what your relationship with exercise was how would you respond? Complicated? On and Off again? Extreme? How about Joyful?
If you are having a hard time finding movement that works well for you and actually having a positive relationship with movement, this post is for you.
I want you to take a moment to think back to your childhood. What was movement like for you back then? Did you do things you enjoyed like ride bikes, go swimming, play catch or tag with friends? Were there any expectations or rules on how much or how often or what type of movement you did everyday? Did you force yourself to do things to 'burn off calories' or 'make up for dessert last night?"
Likely, the answer is no. For most of us, movement in childhood was fun, it was part of our day and we did it because there was joy in it. We didn't think twice about rules or pass any judgment on ourselves if we missed a game of tag one day.
Somewhere along the way diet culture tends to hijack movement and turn it in to something with the motto 'no pain no gain'. It puts rules and expectations on it, puts an emphasis on moving for aesthetics and quite frankly takes the joy out of it.
Working towards joyful movement is an option for all of us. It's an opportunity to go back to our roots and find what truly feels good. Here are my tips to help you find joy in movement.
Take a break
This might sound counterintuitive however allowing yourself to take a break from exercise might be what you need to find joy in it again. If you have spent a long time enforcing rules and guilt onto yourself giving yourself permission to rest can be the kick start to finding motivation again.
Take the focus off of how you look and instead focus on how you feel
When you decide it's time to start moving again, instead of focusing on numbers or how you look, focus on how you feel. Check in with these things
Our bodies are much smarter than a workout plan on a piece of paper. Take some time to listen to your inner wisdom and ask what sounds fun and needed in this moment. Maybe it's a long run, maybe it's to dance, maybe it's a restorative yoga class or maybe it's a slow walk with a good friend. We build trust with our body every time we listen to it and honor what it's telling us .
Focus on movement as a way to care for yourself
Movement can be beneficial for our well being if we can cultivate a positive relationship with it. Focus on things such as
Get creative! Join a group, grab some friends, start a league. The more fun you can make movement the more likely it will be a regular part of your life.
Challenge the rules and know, it's okay to rest
This goes back to listening to your body and building trust with it. It's okay to rest. There is no perfection involved in this. Find what feels good and if that means resting then that is more than okay.
Warning signs to consider :
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. How do you find joy in movement?
Be well friends,
Hanna Kuyper is a wife, a mom and a lover of all things outdoors. She has owned a women only wellness studio, sat on the board of a non profit dedicated to eating disorder and body image awareness and has volunteered as a mentor for girls in school. Hanna has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in eating disorders and body image. She is a currently a virtual body image and recovery coach at The Eating Disorder Center.