You know the voice I'm talking about. It's the one that tells you that you need to exercise or you'll get fat. The one that makes you feel so guilty for not exercising that you actually believe you did something wrong (that's what guilt is, for when you've done something wrong). As if you are a bad person for not exercising.
After years of believing that I had to exercise almost every day to be healthy, I finally discovered that health is about balance and trusting your body's intuition.
Just like I teach intuitive eating to clients, I also teach intuitive exercise. Intuitive exercise is about listening to your body's inner wisdom and trusting that it will tell you what it needs. There are some days that my body craves rest, so I take the day off. Other days it craves a mindful walk outdoors with my pooch. And then there are times that I yearn for something that gets my heart pumping end endorphins rushing, something to energize me.
One of the biggest lessons I learned was to step out of the gym and into the real world. The gym is too rigid for my taste. It's all about numbers and outcomes. When I exercise outdoors it becomes about the process, the moment.
I also learned that sometimes I like my exercise to be social. Some of my best friendships have been formed on long slow runs where we chat away the miles, talking about everything from life's tribulations to the funny thing that happened earlier.
Yet there are other times that I want to exercise in solitude. There's something about a quiet yoga practice or a walk by the lake near my house that brings me peace and perspective.
Wherever you are at with your relationship with exercise, it's never too late to start trusting your body. It may require some experimentation before you really connect with your body's desires. Perhaps it would help to try out some different types of movement and see how you feel after. You might be surprised with what your body tells you when you open your mind to new experiences.
And when your body says rest, honor that need. Forcing yourself to exercise through fatigue or pain will only break your body down more. With rest you'll become rejuvenated. Remember that there are no rules when it comes to intuitive exercise. This alone may be terrifying in our diet-filled culture. Yet the freedom of exercising intuitively will be so wonderful.
Listen to your body. Trust your body. Honor your body.
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