Intuitive exercise can mean many things, from dancing in your kitchen, taking an exercise class or flipping upside down in public place, just wash your hands after okay?
Start with these principles and questions to discover how to move in a way that FEELS good! ⠀
1. How do YOU want to FEEL in your body?⠀Get specific! -Open, lengthened, stretched
-Strong, grounded, stabilized ⠀
-Free, liberated, flowing⠀
-Calm, relaxed, centered
2. Impact on Body. Do you have any injuries or is there anything you need to be aware of in terms of impact on your body?
- High impact activity includes- running, jumping, dancing, especially on a hard floor or concrete
- Low impact includes- weight lifting, yoga, swimming, cycling (where there is no impact on the body)
- Aerobic- do you want to/ can you safely increase your heart rate so your movement becomes aerobic and you are out of breath? Does this feel good in your body or would you prefer to have an even heart rate.
3. Environment ⠀
-What temp feels good to move in
-What light would feel good? (bright, dark, disco, candle-lit)⠀
-Inside or outside?
-Music, motivation or silence? ⠀
-Home, gym, studio, open space
- Are mirrors something you’d like to avoid or embrace?⠀
How connected do you want to be?
-Do you wanna be with others or want time alone?⠀
-Led by an instructor, guided or do your own thing? ⠀
- Do you want to feel like you’re on a team? Or independent?⠀
If you’re new to exercise this may feel like a mind boggling list of questions to ask yourself! I get it! Start easy and simple, listen to your bod and try different things! ⠀
Since starting something takes way MORE energy than continuing (hello activation energy), I recommend going through these prompts, writing down ideas and start experimenting!🧪 ⠀
There’s no right way to this, nor is there a specific end goal! Your wants and needs will evolve. Eventually you will learn what works for you and what things in your life lead you to crave certain types of movement. ⠀
HAPPY MOVING! Comment below and tell me your fave type of exercise!
I grew up as a figure skater from the age of 9. Though it absolutely became fuel for my eating disorder, for a great deal of the time, skating was simply an authentic expression of movement that felt good in my body.
I loved the feeling of ice under my skates. I loved that skating combined a flexible/ artistic component with athleticism It felt like the perfect combination of both aspects of movement for me. Stretching, jumping, gliding and strengthening all felt really good.... until my eating disorder entered the picture.
Like most good things in our lives, my eating disorder hijacked my relationship with my body, movement and of course, food. Movement now became about how my body looked rather than how it felt, and calculating calories in versus calories out. This resulted in me being obsessed with going to the gym.
I was a slave to the elliptical and the bright red numbers running across the screen.
Eventually my eating disorder led to full blown addiction to drugs and alcohol so exercise took a back seat. Throughout most of college, I was too busy trying to control my body weight and shape through alcohol and adderall to bother going to the gym.
Though I dabbled with yoga the summer before my senior year in college, it was not until a year later, when I got into recovery from my eating disorder, that I experienced the true power of it. As part of my recovery, it was recommended to me to not exercise by running, going to the gym or do anything that I used to do in my active eating disorder. Instead, I was encouraged to move mindfully, and do something where I had NO idea how many calories I was burning. Although this was difficult for me to do at the time, it was so important and I learned so much about my motivation for moving my body.
I was able to see clearly how I would use exercise as a way to justify or compensate for what I had eaten, rather than moving my body in a way that felt good.
Enter yoga. Yoga first and foremost taught me how to breathe. Part of what my eating disorder robbed me of was my ability to take a full, deep, belly breath. I hated the idea of my stomach expanding and would only take shallow chest breaths. The yoga classes I took also had no music, which was so important for me in the beginning because it forced me to be present, and tune into my surroundings rather than zoning out.
Yoga also taught me how to tune in to what my body wanted and needed through stretching and movement. I was able to discover how different yoga poses felt in my body.
As one of my first yoga teachers stated, "your mat is your laboratory."
I was able to notice, if I bent this knee slightly, it would create a different sensation in my body and if I tried this alignment, the strength shifted from my core to my legs. I became interested in the way body felt rather than how it looked. My relationship with my body began to change. Through this physical movement, I began to understand viscerally that I was NOT my thoughts. This was a breakthrough moment for me that completely changed my healing .
Soon after, I went on to become a yoga teacher and practiced and taught consistently for 5 years. A year and a half ago, I got burned out from yoga and took an 8 month break from teaching and practicing. Although it was scary and rocked a huge part of my identity, it was one of the best things that I ever did for myself. I discovered other ways to move my body that feel REALLY good and have been able to exercise intuitively. I've discovered how if I bring principles of yoga, such as: mindfulness, breath, gaze and alignment many things can be "yoga". It just looks differently.
My relationship with my exercise has transformed in the past few years and looks very different. I believe our relationships with our bodies and our habits should change and evolve as we do. We need different things at different times of our lives and seasons. I love that And it has continued to evolve and change and I continue to listen throughout my recovery journey. This has led to the creation of intuitive exercise.
Lately, I've been back in a yoga kick, although these days I really love practicing on my own, sometimes with my eyes closed to really tune in. I've discovered how to notice what my body needs and craves through looking at components like : environment, intensity, type of movement and instruction.
Check back on the blog tomorrow for the nitty gritty details of exactly "How to Exercise Intuitively."
Have you seen the Amy Schumer's "I'm so Bad" sketch on Comedy Central?
Its a genius parody striking back at food shaming in the media. Seriously, if you haven't seen it, go to youtube it... I will wait. Let me recap it for you. 4 women sitting at a restaurant sharing about how "bad" they were with their eating habits....with no mention or issue with the actual horrific things they were doing like "cyberbulling kids on Instagram." Its a perfect play on how women in the media are depicted as feeling guilty (and therefore you should too!) for...wait for it...eating. I know horrific right? How dare a woman engage in a body behavior that is integral for her survival!
Can you imagine if we replaced the behavior of eating with something as natural as going to the bathroom? I'll paint the picture for you...4 women sitting around the table. Three of the women are able to leave their water untouched while another keeps pushing it away and then sneaking a sip! Finally, flushed now, she scurries away from the table to go to the bathroom only to slunk back to the table and cry, "I can't believe I've had to get up to pee three times tonight! You guys, I"M SOO BAD!" Comical right? But the representation is right on point.
Take that a step further to include men. Can you picture a guy feeling guilty about eating? Play around with google for an afternoon and you will see what I mean. I'm not saying they may not feel guilty, but they certainly most do not feel like an immoral human being, who is guilty of punishment in some way. Yesterday I googled "women feeling guilty." The entire first page was filled with article after article about women feeling guilty about everything from success to motherhood to eating. Once I looked at the image results of this google search, it got even sadder. Most of the photos that came up showed women eating food and feeling guilty!
Next, I googled "men feeling guilty." This first article that popped up is an article from PsychCentral entitled," "How to Deal with Women's Emotions." The remaining results primary discussed how men want to leave you but feel too guilty about it, or even more fun, men making women feel guilty about their issues. I then looked at the pictures of this search. *Brace yourselves.* There were zero, I repeat, zero pictures of men with food. In fact, only the first three photos were just men. By picture #4, there were pictures of women feeling guilty while the man looks annoyed and couples in arguments. There was certainly no pictures of men feeling guilty for eating a steak.
The closest I got to an ad with men feeling guilty about food is the photo above, which is honestly almost worse because the guy feels guilty for "not reading the girls mind" when she is PMSing. This is seriously an ad for guys to buy their girls milk in order to "calm her down".
If women are portrayed as enjoying food in advertisements or media, their is typically a sexual innuendo attached to it. Think of the stereotypical Carl Junior ad's Paris Hilton did back in the day...or almost every chocolate commercial you have ever seen. Seriously, I don't know who started this, but every chocolate ad appears to be advertised towards women as a way to feel sexy and "be bad" in a sexualized way. Do you see the ad above? It literally reads "Filthy. Indulge your obsession for chocolate."
Compare this to men. All the photos you find when you google "men eating" show pictures of men "chomping" down on food, or enjoying food with their friends. There is no guilt, there is no hesitation or need to sneak or lie about what they are eating. Also, to be clear, men have their own issues associated with food, body image, and advertisements and men absolutely have eating disorders. However, if you look at the photos of men eating versus women on the whole, men are represented as having a significantly healthier relationship with food than women.
It's no wonder when examining a minute portion of advertisements and social media that women have issues with food and sexuality. Women are taught to feel guilty about their bodies, their sexuality and their appetites. And while I am very clear that there has been a lot of progress, there is a reason Amy Schumer's sketch is so relevant Its one of those sketches that as a woman, you laugh "almost" too hard, as if your giggles may reveal that you relate a little too much. Again, not with the cyber bullying, but with eating so much cake you fear your friends will actually think you're a monster!
So in closing this week, I leave you with one therapy nugget, a "therapy snack " if you will, no pun intended...to take away from this week's #fiveminutetherapy,..
Dear woman, go be YOUR BAD SELF! The world needs you. All of you. The good, the bad and the what you perceive as ugly.