Remove Negative Programming around Movement: A Guide to Mindful Exercise

Mar 20, 2024

Exercise is often viewed as a punishment for indulging in food or as a way to achieve an ideal body weight. This negative perspective not only prevents us from enjoying physical activity, but also contributes to a distorted understanding of what exercise is and why we need it. It's time to redefine our relationship with exercise and movement.

Defining Exercise

Exercise is defined as “activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness”. Notice it doesn't specify extreme effort, nor does it mention weight loss. Exercise should be about any effort put towards improving quality of life.

Under Exercisers

There are many factors that can prevent people from exercising. Some people may lack fun activities to choose from, experience physical or psychological pain associated with exercise, define themselves as "unathletic", or simply not know where to start. It's important to recognize these barriers and find ways to overcome them.

The Myth of Sedentary Lifestyle

Are you truly under-exercising? Or are you just following someone else's definition of what's enough? Even simple activities like walking from your car to places or cleaning the house count as movement. It's crucial to understand that moderate activity is also beneficial for your health.

Over Exercisers

On the other end of the spectrum, some individuals exercise excessively, often as a form of punishment for eating or to escape from stress. Over-exercising can lead to physical damage and burnout, but it's often socially accepted or even rewarded.

Signs of Over-exercising

Over-exercisers often feel fear about what will happen if they stop exercising. They may consistently engage in physical activity even if they hate it, focus on weight loss rather than fun or mindful movement, or speak of exercise in a joyless way. If you identify with these signs, it might be time to reassess your relationship with exercise.

Why People Over Exercise

Over-exercising can be a reflection of unfulfilled desires. Some people may long for mindful movement, self-love, a sense of rhythm, or a desire for slow, nourishing activities. It can also be a manifestation of an addiction to perfection or unexpressed sensuality.

Choosing Exercise for Health, Not Weight Loss

It’s crucial to separate weight loss goals from health goals. Exercise isn't a guaranteed method for weight loss, and not exercising won't solely put weight on your body. Instead, focus on how exercise can improve your health and make you feel better. Exercise regularly can improve your strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Motivation for Exercise

If exercise doesn't necessarily lead to weight loss, how can you find motivation? The answer lies in recognizing the true benefits of exercise – improved health, increased strength and endurance, and a better sense of well-being. Imagine what it would feel like to know with certainty that you are healthy and are taking all the steps to live a healthy life. This feeling is far more rewarding than any number on a scale.

Becoming Someone Who Wants to Exercise

To transform into someone who genuinely enjoys exercise, you need to eliminate old definitions of exercise and redefine it as a way to feel better. Trust your own guidance. If you're not desiring more movement, it may be because your body needs rest. Trust that when the time is right, you will crave movement.

Movement Desires Change

Your craving for different levels of movement will change throughout your life. There will be times when you need more rest and times when you desire more physical activity. Always honor your body's wishes and don't judge yourself for needing more or less movement.

Movement vs. Exercise

Remember, your body craves movement, not necessarily formal exercise. Choose activities that make you feel good and don't stress you out. Trust yourself and follow your instincts when it comes to choosing your physical activities.

Choosing Your Movement

Choosing your movement outside of the present is a guess at best. You may decide that you'll run in the morning, but when morning comes, you might feel like doing yoga instead. That's okay! Don't force yourself to stick to a specific type of movement just to do something that benefits your body. Listen to your body and let it guide you.

Exercise Ideas

There are many ways to include movement in your life. You can try home workouts like Peloton, or Apple Fitness, Yoga, join a dance class or a team sport, hire a personal trainer, swim, or even join a musical for some fun dancing. Remember, the goal is to move your body and enjoy it, not to lose weight.