When it comes to exercise it’s easy to feel like there are only two sides to the story: either you’re a gym rat or you’re a couch potato.
The diet industry makes us feel that if we’re not spending every waking moment planning and thinking about our next workout then we might as well throw in the towel. It’s that sort of all or nothing thinking that has caused so many to hate moving their body. Because if they don’t do it in the way the diet industry is telling us is “right” we must be wrong. Therefore, why try? But, news flash, that isn’t true!
Moving your body and giving it exercise is important, but it doesn’t have to be as intimidating as every Instagram fitness influencer makes it seem. You know what I’m talking about, those “motivational” sayings that tout “no pain, no gain” or “be savage, not average”. Here are 5 tips to find joy in exercise again:
Redefine What Is Considered A Workout
Think that you have to be covered in sweat, huffing and puffing for something to “count” as a workout? Think again! Any time you’re moving your body can be considered exercise. That includes walking the dog, house cleaning, or even shopping (count me in!)!
Do Some Experimenting
If you’re in an exercise rut or simply have zero motivation to get moving, do a little experimenting. Make a list of 3-5 types of workouts you’ve thought “Huh, that could be fun!” and give them a try. Grab a girlfriend for a step aerobics class, sign up for hot yoga, do some power walking or, heck, try a pole dancing class! Remember from tip #1, ANY form of movement is considered exercise!
Focus On The Feeling
Last, but SO not least, is to focus on the FEELING of the exercise, not on the way your body looks or the number on the scale. You’re going to be much more likely to stick to an exercise routine that makes you feel fabulous vs. one you’re forcing yourself to do to try to change the scale or the way your tummy looks. If you use those forms of motivation for exercise, you’ll end up feeling discouraged and quite possible stop exercising all together. If you focus on genuinely enjoying the way it feels to move your body, you’ll be much happier and want to stay consistent with the feel-good movement.
Give Yourself Grace
There is NO such thing as perfection, and that includes exercise routines! Skip a workout to sleep in? No biggie! Rather watch Netflix over going for an evening stroll? Fine! There is no need to beat yourself up for giving your body and mind rest when it needs it. If we get down on ourselves for doing this it’s easy for it to turn into feelings of sadness and depression, which can make it even HARDER to get our bodies moving!
Make It Social...Sometimes
It can feel like when we workout the rest of the world has to stop. It can almost make you feel selfish for taking the time to move your body. Instead, make your movement social! Take the kids along for a bike ride through the park, meet up with a pal for coffee and a stroll, or take your next conference call while walking in place! Having your workouts fit YOUR life vs making your life fit your workouts can make it so much easier and less stressful!
Remember, exercise should be joyful and a celebration of YOU. It should not be used as a punishment for what you ate or to “earn” an extra slice of cake. You deserve to eat just by being alive!
If you find yourself having that all-or-nothing thinking about exercise take a deep breath, then grab a pen and paper and get those thoughts onto paper. Assess if the thoughts you’re having about exercise are true or if they’re false statements that diet culture and the diet industry has ingrained in our minds. Then, write out what IS true about exercise and make a plan of attack for what your body needs. That plan of attack might look like giving your body rest if you’ve been going a little too hard or long in the gym, or it could look like planning time for movement if you’ve been feeling like what you want to do isn’t “enough”, so why do it?
Bottom line: there is no right or wrong when it comes to exercise. And what you enjoy may be different than your BFF, which is totally okay! As long as it feels good to you, you’re doing it right!
Talk to me! Do you ever feel like exercise is forced? Another chore? How do you find joy in exercise?
Colleen Christensen is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and the creator of the No Food Rule nutrition philosophy. After overcoming a 6 year struggle with disordered eating and poor body image, Colleen now helps others find the same food freedom that she has so that they can eat what they want, when they want, without guilt stress or anxiety. Colleen aims to help you spend less think thinking about food and more time living! In addition to seeing clients one-on-one in her private practice she also hosts group programs, blogs, creates delish recipes and shares on her most recent obsession, YouTube! Follow along on Instagram @no.food.rules, on her website www.colleenchristensennutrition.com, and on YouTube as Colleen Christensen.