Do you find it challenging to incorporate movement into your life?
Perhaps you’re a parent who’s always shuttling your kids from one commitment to another, with little time for yourself.
Or you work a super-stressful job that barely gives you enough time for a pee break, let alone a physical break.
Or you feel really uncomfortable in your body and movement is a reminder of that discomfort.
It’s pretty much universally accepted that movement is good for us. In this post, I’m going to share with you why I personally love movement and maybe it’ll resonate with you and inspire you to find your own reasons for engaging in it.
My reasons why I consistently move my body (in no particular order):
1. Being present
No matter what kind of movement I’m doing, I have to be present. Whether it’s gardening in my parents’ backyard or doing a yoga class or dancing in my living room, I have to be present, otherwise all sorts of things can happen. A garden snake might appear out of nowhere, I’ll miss what the instructor is saying, or I lose rhythm and stub my toe. I’m a big fan of HIIT classes, so if I’m not present and paying attention, it would be pretty easy for me to hurt myself or to lose count of how many reps I’m doing. And this is the one time when I’m not looking at my phone, replying to emails, or looking at a screen (unless I’m doing an online class, of course); I’m not expected to answer questions, make decisions, or confront challenging situations. Literally, this time is my time.
2. Dropping into my body
This is an extension of being present because when I drop into my body, I’m more aware of the connection between my mind and my body. I’m paying attention to what movements I’m doing, how I’m doing them, the ease or difficulty with which I’m doing them, and how I’m progressing (or not); I’m also paying attention to how I react when things get challenging. Do I tell myself I can’t do it and give up, or do I modify and encourage myself to continue? Do I take the time to celebrate myself or do I focus on what I can’t do? How I react in this situation is indicative of how I react in other life scenarios.
3. Focussing on my body’s function
When I do this, I’m less focussed on what my body looks like and am more appreciative of what it does instead. One of the things I love about moving my body is that there’s usually a progression; for example, it’s a great feeling when I can walk longer or stretch deeper – in general, do a little bit more each time. And then there are some days when perhaps it seems like I’m going backwards and that’s okay too. I won’t be at the same level every time – that’s impossible – but I can still appreciate that my body is working.
4. Belonging to a community
Before the pandemic, the gym was like a second home to me; I knew the regulars in my favourite classes; I was on a first-name basis with the staff and owner. So many of my friends, no matter where in the world I’ve lived, have come from the gym. It’s a great place to meet people who have a similar interest as I do. Now that I do a lot of my workouts at home, it’s harder to connect with people, but I do enjoy seeing the same faces pop up on my screen.
5. Creating certainty
2022 was a tough year for a lot of people, myself included. I moved around A LOT and at the same time, I was building my business. To call my year unstable is a bit of an understatement, but let’s go with it. The one thing that I could count on, however, was being able to move my body, which is a chance for me to let off excess energy, relieve stress and frustration, and be out of my head. It was the one part of my day when I knew exactly what to expect; in a time of uncertainty, that was something I could create that was certain.
6. Showing up for myself
I know what it’s like not to prioritize myself, to think I don’t deserve care, and to feel guilty about getting it. It took me a lot of therapy to get to this place where I know I deserve (self-) care – and I make the effort to give it to myself now. For me, moving makes me feel good. There are some days when I struggle to get my body going; in these instances, I focus on how I will feel after I move and what I can do in that moment. Is it dancing to a Carly Rae Jepsen song? Walking around the block? Doing a light stretch in my chair? More times than not, I’ll want to continue after I’ve started and then I’m pretty damned proud of myself for not only getting out of my funk, but for doing something that made me feel good. That’s what showing up for myself looks like; it is no one else’s responsibility to take care of me, but me.
Tips for those who feel pain whenever you move
- Start with movements that feel comfortable in short increments of time.
- Gradually increase your efforts as your strength, flexibility, and confidence increases.
- Listen to your body and do what you can; you are not competing with anyone, including yourself.
- Be aware of how you speak to yourself when you’re going through this experience because your language matters. Remember that shaming yourself is not an effective or sustainable motivator.
- Recognize that rest is also part of the process.
If you’re struggling with getting more movement into your day and if any of these points resonated with you – how can you get more of it in your life? If you want to talk about it, I invite you to book a free call with me so we can brainstorm some ideas. Alternatively, sign up to my email list or follow me on Instagram to get more bite-sized bits from me!
(Please note: the term “exercise” is rarely used around here because it has such a strong association with diet culture. Exercise brings to mind endless sessions on a cardio machine in the gym in an attempt to lose weight; it’s often done in conjunction with reducing calorie intake and though there might be temporary weight loss, at some point, there is a plateau after which there will be a slip in either the diet or the exercise – when this happens, one of the activities will stop, and the other will follow shortly thereafter.
When we instead focus on movement that don’t have anything to do with weight loss, it becomes much more enjoyable – and sustainable!)