By Samantha Russell
Exercise is obviously a good thing, right? It helps keep our bodies strong and well, and can be a real source of fun and enjoyment. If, however, you one of those people who is doing extreme exercise, or who has to force themselves to do exercise they don’t like, it might be doing you more harm than good.
What are the benefits of loving how you move, or exercise vs. movement? Ask yourself the question: “Why am I doing this activity?”
If the answer comes from a place of shame, hate, fear, or ‘because I HAVE to’, it’s probably not a good idea. As Karen Witzig says, “When was the last time we leaped joyfully towards that!?” Change resulting from any of these negative body emotions will never be pleasing, satisfying, or sustainable in the long-term. Why?
If you’re counting calories, or living by the mantra that “it’s not a good workout unless I’m exhausted/in pain/can’t move any more’, then I’m sorry to say that you’re probably hurting yourself and won’t be achieving your goals in a healthy, holistic way.
It’s creates a lot of stress, both in your mind and body if you’re doing activities from hate, fear, or a sense of duty. Very hard exercise is a source of stress, but your body expects that from time to time. What it’s not prepared for is the on-going mental stress associated with forcing yourself daily, or even weekly, to do something you dislike because you have a body you dislike. It’s a double threat, double the stress, and pretty bad for you all round.
What’s wrong with stress?
Well, I’ve written about it before in 4 Ways Stress is Stopping Your Weight Loss, but basically, it messes up your body chemistry, your digestion, and how well you can burn calories – usually things we are trying to positively change with our exercise. So, when we move from a place of stress or force, we totally reverse our hoped for benefits!
What should you do instead?
Now ask yourself: “If everything burned the same amount of calories, what would I like to do with my body? How would I move?”
Rochelle Rice at Health at Every Size says this perfectly when she pointed out that we should “Identify activities that are fun!” We want life to be full of fun and pleasure, and moving your body should be no different.
So, make a list – what movement feels great to you? Dance, yoga, walking, weight lifting, running, playing with your kids… anything! Then put your efforts towards doing, and really enjoying, those activities.
This doesn’t mean that if an activity is difficult, or fast, you shouldn’t do it. It’s ok if you love distance running or weight lifting – if you get a lot of enjoyment from it, and do it from a place of choice and love, that’s great! Activities can be ‘movement’ or ‘exercise’, it depends on how you see them and how they feel to your body.
Be Mindful While Moving
Another important point here is to be mindful while moving. Similar to the article I wrote about mindfulness and its importance in life, it’s also important while moving. Research suggests that being present in your body while you move can really increase the benefits you get, both physically and mentally – so, total win-win!
The most important things to think about are how much pleasure and enjoyment you are getting from the movement, that you feel great both during and after doing it, and that it is adding energy and joy into your life instead of draining it.
So, tell us in the comments: what movement do you love? How can you do more of it?
Samantha Russell is an Eating Psychology Coach in training. She blogs about holistic health, wellness, and living a whole life at Living The Whole. Samantha is passionate about helping people de-stress their lives and have a beautiful and healthy relationship with food, self, and body. She will be offering both group and one-on-one coaching later this year. Samantha is originally from New Zealand, but is currently living, loving, and working in Seoul, South Korea. Stop by Living The Whole and drop her a line.