By Julia Marquette MS, RD, LDN
Could you imagine how you would feel if you could shift your focus away from metrics measuring body movement and from trying to change how your body looks, and could shift your focus towards how you feel when you move your body?
Could you consider setting the intention to use movement as a way to connect with your body?
There are many messages in our culture judging what forms of exercise are “best,” what exercise routine people “should” follow, and what exercise “counts.” What if, instead of listening to these external rules, you turned inward and listened to your body’s inner wisdom to decide how you want to move it? Despite these cultural messages, you know your body best.
Do you use movement as a punishment? Could you imagine using movement as a way to bring more joy into your life? What if you sent the message to your body that you are allowed to take up space, as opposed to trying to shrink it with movement? Wearing comfortable clothes that allow you to breathe is one way that may help you to feel more able to take up space.
Check in with yourself to see if you hold any beliefs around movement that you would like to address or challenge. Notice if you are using movement for compensation, focusing on calories, feeling guilty for missing a day, or feeling depleted as opposed to energized following movement.
Do you have any rules around how much you need to move your body? Any thoughts of what “counts” vs what doesn’t “count?” Where did these beliefs originate from? Avoid the trap of feeling like you need to move in a certain way, need to sweat, or need to do it for a certain amount of time to make it “count.”
If you participate in movement classes, notice what impact they have on you. Are the environment, culture, and language used welcoming, supportive, and inclusive? Are the classes’ goals and values aligned with yours? If you try a class and feel that it isn’t having a positive impact, try something new!
Do you experience joy from how you’re currently moving your body? If, in the past, you have used a certain type of movement to try to change how your body looks, you might try something different that you don’t associate with trying to change your body. Explore different types of movement to find what you enjoy most and what feels best in your unique body.
Think outside the box—you don’t need a gym or a studio. You might enjoy gardening, doing at-home yoga, walking with a friend or your dog, hiking, bike riding, gentle stretching, dancing, joining a community sports team, or playing with your kids.
The possibilities are endless!
What does joyful movement look like for you?