Contributed by Hannah Stoker and Morgan Ireland
We’d like to talk about joy, specifically movement and joy.
A fundamental principle of intuitive eating is a focus on physical movement and understanding the difference between movement that feels good to your body or joyful movement, and movement that causes your body suffering.
Take a moment and think about your relationship to movement and exercise.
We are bombarded with messages that exercise should be goal oriented, rigorous, scheduled and continually improving. Here are some situations where movement causes your body to suffer. Do you have to squeeze in exercise in order to "earn" food? As an athlete, do you feel exercise is your entire identity? Do you push yourself to exercise longer and harder because you think you might have eaten too much? Are your primary feelings shame, overwhelm or dread when you head to the gym?
If this sounds familiar, know that you are not alone. Much of the language around exercise is marketing. That kind of phrasing is often punitive because it’s about selling - workout to counter over-indulging, workout to be desirable, workout to belong. Phrases like this can make you feel bad or shameful and are degrading to your body. And sometimes it contributes to destructive thought patterns as we think about our bodies and exercise.
Now, let’s take a step back. Let’s begin with your ‘why’. Why do you move?
Remember that the 8th principle of intuitive eating is focused on movement and understanding the difference between movement that feels good to your body versus movement that causes your body suffering. This is an opportunity to reimagine movement. An opportunity to reimagine exercise. An opportunity that emphasizes choice, feeling good while moving and pleasure.
It will look different from person to person but here are some situations where movement brings joy to your body. You master a new physical skill. You participate in a physical challenge solo or with others. While exercising you feel a connection with your body. You are building your strength. You collaborate with teammates. You fuel your body so you can move, dance, run, jump, hike, walk, swim, do yoga, play, explore, run with pets, garden, connect with others. You challenge yourself to a competition.
Exercise can be physically challenging but also enjoyable and not forced. Learning to recognize what your body needs to fuel every movement is part of joyful movement. Honoring your body is part of being present in your physical body and respecting the amazing things you and your body can do together.
Movement can be a celebration of our whole selves. You can begin by experimenting with any movement that you find enjoyable. Part of joyful movement is recognizing what your body needs in every moment and honoring that from a place of respect. Because you and your body are amazing.