Exercise is one of those things a lot of people have different feelings about. Some people hate it; some people tolerate it; some people love it. And it looks different for everyone. So how does exercise fit into intuitive eating, you might ask?
It will come as no shock to hear me say the same thing about exercise that I’ve been saying about food:
Listen to your body.
When exercise is something you have to do, you are much less likely to want to do it. However, if you start listening to how your body feels when you are moving, you might start noticing some pleasant benefits, such as:
- Ability to handle more stress
- Better energy levels
- A general sense of well-being/empowerment
- Better sleep at night
The truth is that our bodies like to move. It’s when we make it a chore that our minds get in the way and make us think we’d rather not.
We hear a lot talk about weight loss in relation to exercise, but this relationship is complicated. Just because you start exercising doesn’t mean you will lose weight. But I would argue that weight loss is not the point of exercise anyways, and if it is, you’re very unlikely to keep with an exercise program consistently. When your foundation is guilt/shame, your relationship with exercise is bound to be unhealthy.
What if we changed our thinking to begin viewing exercise as joyful movement rather than a chore? You might rethink going to that boot camp you absolutely hate, and instead go for a walk with a friend. You might take up a sport instead of dutifully lifting weights every day to break that PR (which is never quite high enough for you to be satisfied).
Exercise can contribute a lot to your life when you approach it from a healthy standpoint, and it can play into respecting your body. When you choose joyful movement, you might find yourself liking it more and more as it naturally finds its rightful place in your life.
One final note: you might notice some times when your body doesn’t feel like moving — and that’s okay too. You don’t have to earn rest! Exercise is not an obligation, and sometimes the best thing you can do for your health is to take a nap. Be free; your body knows what it needs!