Exercise: More Joy Less Push

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We are bombarded with media messages saying that we should exercise…that we should get that workout in. Yes, exercise has so many incredible benefits like

  • Releases stress and reduces anxiety
  • Improves mood and self-esteem
  • Maintains healthy muscles and tissues
  • Improves circulation and lymph flow
  • Controls blood sugar
  • Releases toxins

While I absolutely agree that exercise has wondrous effects and I believe in it, as a recovered exercise addict (to some degree) who use to count calories on the machine and run miles and miles just to get to that number, it can have a negative impact when it’s all about the ‘push’ and not about the ‘joy.’

In the beginning, keeping up with this routine wasn’t an issue, however, I reached a point where: I grew bored. I felt obligated. I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t look forward to it. I didn’t experience the results I wanted. I pushed myself to run even when I should have rested a sore muscle or an injured ankle.

I also noticed that so many women who passed by at the gym appeared unhappy in some sense…drooping shoulders, dull expressions, and their physique didn’t really change.

I knew I wanted more. I wanted exercise to be fun. I wanted to look forward to my workouts. I didn’t want it to feel like a job – we already have way too many of those! I didn’t want to care about the calories. I wanted it to challenging and rejuvenating. I wanted to feel like my workout supported a toned physique. I wanted to feel free and balanced. I wanted it to add to my life instead of take away.

I am happy and quite grateful that I can, on most days, check every one of those things off. What happened, right?

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I changed my relationship to exercise and to food as well (more on the latter later). I started to release the feelings that I had been tied to for so long – feelings of being successful only when working out a certain number of minutes, running a certain number of miles, burning a certain number of calories.

Instead of focusing on the result, I started to focus on the process. I tried different classes and found a love for barre (a love so strong that I felt I had to be able to teach it so I got certified!). I let go of the gym. When I do run, I actually prefer that it is outside – no more treadmill. Hallelujah! The studio where I got my barre certification, Pilates Denver, is actually a Pilates studio and so I’ve really gotten into Pilates too (and they even have a couple yoga classes too)! Another bonus of enjoying your workout, especially if you’re at a studio, is that you get to meet really great like-minded people and create more relationships in your life. The transition to finding this balance with exercise has been such a rewarding experience on so many levels.

Knowing so many other women who experience this same kind of ‘prison’ around exercise, I include this topic in my health coaching sessions as needed. The lesson generally is that regardless of the type of exercise, you must enjoy it and it always helps if there is some degree of variance. Just the other day I had a client who is just getting back into exercise say that she needed to ‘push’ herself. I gently reminded her that this is a time for her to heal, to nourish her body. I think everyone would benefit from less ‘pushing’ and more ‘enjoying!’

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