Aspen here! For those of you who don't know me and my background, I'm a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. I use my certification as a personal trainer, where I help individuals repair their relationship with movement to foster joy and empowerment, instead of restriction and resentment. My goal for you when you're done reading this, is to feel inspired to seek movement in the same way!
WHY DO WE FEEL THAT MOVEMENT IS A PUNISHMENT?
Many of us have felt most of our lives that movement is a means to avoid disease, to reduce our body size, or to earn our meals. If you've felt this way, you're not alone. It's common a narrative that has been engrained into us by the diet and fitness industry. They profit off our low self-esteem and keeping us trapped on the hamster wheel of diet and exercise. Chasing a lower number on the scale, implies that our body's are not worthy as they are. And I'm here to tell you that is simply not true!
EVERY BODY IS UNIQUE
Have you ever heard of the term bio-individuality? It's the concept that we are all completely unique in our biological composition and therefore all have highly individualized needs. Which means that movement should not and will not be the same for everyone. It also means that maybe you're not meant to be a smaller body size than you are, which can be difficult to accept when we've been told our entire lives that the smaller we are, the healthier and more attractive we become. I'm so sorry for the time you've spent feeling like you're not good enough because you're not small enough. Your body is an incredible machine that no matter what- is always working for you, not against you.
SKINNY ≠ HEALTHY
Here at Nourish, we measure each client's optimal health which considers our physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual health. Notice how weight and BMI are not included in these parameters. This is because optimal health is unique to each individual (cue: bio-individuality) and is sustained through a dynamic balance of the aforementioned. Just because someone is in a smaller body-size, does not mean that they are free from illness (physical or mental) or that they have optimized the many facets of their health. And just because someone is in a larger body size, does not mean they are riddled with disease. However, we make these assumptions based on societal factors that have influenced us for far too long. Remember, the diet and fitness industry preys on our vulnerability. We are NOT the problem.
You may have heard me talk about joyful movement before, but I can't reiterate this concept enough. This growing movement (pun-intended) within the fitness industry originated from the play-like structure we had with exercise when we were kids. When we think about how we used to run around outside with friends or play at recess/gym, most of us have happy memories to associate with these activities. That's because our only exposure to movement was that it was fun. We weren't influenced by external factors from the diet + food industry or society. We would play until we were sweaty and tired, and had a blast in the process! I don't know about you, but I have a huge smile on my face thinking of all the adventures. Sure, it may have been required by our parents to get us out of their hair, but we weren't using obscene standards (i.e. calories burned) to determine if what we did was right. All that mattered was that we enjoyed ourselves, and that's how I want the world to view intentional movement as well. Joyful movement encourages you to honor what feels best for you in the present moment. If the movement creates more stress for you than it alleviates, then it's likely not what will best serve you. You're not expected to be smiling the entire time, but upon completion you are expected to have an elevated mood and a sense of accomplishment and pride.
LOSS VS. GAINS
Some time during adolescence, the narrative we had previously established for movement drastically changed. The severity and source varies for everyone, but has impacted nearly all of us. The common theme is that many of us feel the need to move, not because we enjoy it, but because we have to. When we do something out of obligation, we begin to feel resentment towards the task and also ourselves. Movement has so many incredible benefits, that we want to promote sustainability and longevity. Instead of viewing movement as a means to lose something-- whether that's weight, risk for lifestyle-related disease, etc-- we are depriving ourselves of all that we have to gain from movement. I challenge you to think about what movement adds to your life, instead of what movement can reduce!
Here are some of my favorite examples:
Stress and anxiety management
Ease with activities of daily living
Boost in confidence
I could go on and on! And notice how not one of those examples includes earning meals or burning calories. That's because movement is so much more than that and when we reduce it to a means to reduce ourselves, we're doing such a disservice to our body, mind and spirit.
FINDING YOUR WHY
For us to continually prioritize a task, we need a strong why. Think of your why as the foundation of your belief system and your intentions. The purpose of a solid foundation in your home is to displace the weight of the load-bering walls into the ground, and to support you and every single item inside from the soil to the roof. The same concept applies for your goals and your habits. In order to build a safe and nurturing environment for these goals to prosper, your narrative must focus on the value you're adding to your life and be built using strong sources of support. Some common examples I've received from clients include: "Being able to chase after my kids without pain or fatigue" "To feel strong and empowered in my body" "Creating an example of non-restrictive movement so my kids don't grow up feeling the way I did about my body" "To relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress" "To prove to myself that I can do the hard things, and my body size is not dependent on that" "Having time exclusively for myself, to work on myself." "To feel confident and happy in my skin" The sky is the limit!! What's your why???
ADDING SUPPORT TO YOUR FOUNDATION
Once you identify your why, you'll want to begin adding to your strong foundation by seeking out sources of support before you take action. Support varies from person-to-person, and can include: - Reading books by professionals with an approach that resonates with you - Practicing gratitude + repeating positive affirmations daily - Reaching out to a friend or family member that you trust - Becoming part of a community of like-minded individuals who are on similar journeys - Unfollowing/Unfriending accounts on social media that have toxic rhetoric + follow accounts that add value and make you smile! - Joining an e-course that supports your goal - Working with a professional for mindset work if needed Nothing in life is one-size-fits all, and I hope you feel empowered to choose a path that feels best for you. After creating an unbreakable foundation, we take action to move our body (if that's what we truly want for ourselves). Give yourself grace as you get started on this journey, there's no expectation to go from 0-100. Movement should be a part of your beautiful life, not your entirelife.
CHOOSING MOVEMENT IN AN HONORABLE WAY
If you're ready to add in movement to your life, there is an abundance of options out there. I find it best to outline my week of potential days that I have time and energy to expend on movement. I say potential, because I don't ever want the pressure of not getting a workout in to determine my worth as an individual or as a personal trainer. The same applies to you and your schedule. Nothing is fixed or guaranteed and one of the biggest lessons I've had to learn is to roll with the punches and adjust accordingly. Before moving, ask yourself the following questions: - Does this honor my body's needs? - Am I in a safe environment to complete this task? - Is this causing me more stress than it should? - Will I resent myself if things don't go as planned? - Am I showing my body appreciation with this movement? - Will I be discouraged? - Will I be proud of my work? All of these questions help you begin to move intuitively and to begin to reduce the restrictions that you've previously felt. There is no right or wrong way for you to move your body, your body is deserving of love and respect. As long as that is at the forefront of your decision making, you can't go wrong!