Do a quick exercise with me. Think back to your earliest memories about exercise and movement. What are they? How was exercise treated and talked about when you were a child? Was it seen as fun? Challenging? Did your parents dread it and see it as a chore?
The way we were brought up to think about exercise has a profound impact on how we view it ourselves as adults. And it can even affect the way we treat our bodies. Many of the clients I work with have historically seen exercise as a way to “make up for” what they’ve eaten, or to “earn” their next meal. This mindset about movement can be really harmful, and can even lead to disordered eating.
Good news, though: you absolutely can change your relationship with movement. And as it begins to change, you’ll start to feel better—both physically and emotionally.
Here are 5 thoughts that will help you shift your mindset about movement:
Movement is a way to connect with your body. Exercise serves many different purposes. It’s great for our physical health and our mental wellbeing. But another way it serves us is that it helps us connect back to our bodies. So much of our life is spent doing all kinds of things that move us further away from that connection. But when we move intentionally—no matter if it’s hard exercise, light stretching, yoga, dancing—we get to experience that embodiment.
Movement doesn’t have to be hard or painful to be “good.” Do you feel like you have to really beat yourself up for a workout to be worthwhile? I want to assure you that’s NOT necessary. All types of movement are beneficial. In fact, if you’ve been going hard at the gym for a week straight, your body would benefit from a day of stretching or light cardio.
Movement should never be used to punish yourself. If you see movement as punishment, or as a prerequisite to eating the food you want to eat, that can lead to really dangerous outcomes. Instead, try to see the food you eat as fuel for your body—and movement as a natural outcome of being fueled well.
A little movement everyday goes a long way. You don’t have to work out for an hour every single day for your movement to be productive. Even 15 minutes of intentional movement can make a big difference in your overall health.
Movement should bring you joy. Quite the opposite of seeing movement as punishment, right? This is what you should strive for: to find joy in moving your body. If movement brings you joy and elevates your mood, you’ll be much more inclined to move your body regularly. On the other hand, if you dread it, you’re far less likely to want to do it.
We were all told stories about movement that shaped the way we view its role in our lives. My hope is that, if movement wasn’t portrayed in a positive light for you thus far, you’re able to tell yourself a new story.
Want more ideas for incorporating healthy, joyful movement into your life? Sign up for my newsletter!
The content found on Integrative Counseling and Nutrition Consulting platform is not intended to be a substitute for professional therapeutic advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your psychiatrist, therapist or other qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition.