Every single day I see women killing themselves in the gym, punishing themselves with hardcore workouts, struggling to find the motivation to exercise or avoiding it all together because it’s just so freakin’ hard, or it doesn’t “work” (ie equate to weight loss).
Everyone knows that exercise has loads of health benefits and is a major protector from all kinds of chronic conditions. But that knowledge clearly isn’t enough to motivate us to do the thing, as evidenced by the fact that only 15% of Canadians meet the national physical activity recommendations.
Well DUH! How can anyone feel motivated when we’ve been taught our whole lives that it has to be hard to be effective, and that if we’re not losing weight then we’re not doing it right (or worse, that there’s no point).
The research is abundantly clear that chasing weight loss or body goals is anti-motivating. But enjoying movement is the most motivating force of all.
So if we want to be consistent with exercise, the answer is clear – we need to enjoy it!
“WHAT?!?! Easy for you to say, Kim – you already like exercise. How am I supposed to just flip a switch and start liking something I’ve dreaded my whole life??”
Stay with me, friend. It might not happen overnight. But you can learn to experience joyful movement just like I did (guess what I haven’t always liked exercise either – have a listen to this podcast to hear my story).
Here’s my Joyful Movement Manifesto.
The 10 principles you can implement today to start having a more peaceful relationship with exercise.
Reject the diet mentality- Disconnect exercise from weight loss. Exercise to feel good, not to burn calories or earn food.
- Embrace embodiment – We are more than a physical body. Honour your spiritual, emotional and mental bodies’ needs when choosing exercise.
- Say NO to punishment -Forget “no pain no gain”. Exercise should never hurt. Say NO to punitive, tortuous exercise programs.
- Challenge the Gym Police – The Gym Police are thoughts in your head reinforcing all the rules diet culture has created about how to exercise. Scream a loud “no” to thoughts that you’re not doing it right if you don’t workout for a full hour with heavy weights, cardio, HIIT training, etc, etc.
- Respect your limitations – Tune in to your body’s signals (pain, energy level, mood, menses). Respect your body’s cues by modifying as needed.
- Attunement – Do what moves you. Stop relying on external validation (trackers, apps, scale) to tell you that you got it “right”.
- Honour your need for rest. It’s part of the program. Don’t wait for an injury or burn out to justify a rest day.
- Find your people – community matters. Feeling a part of a community is one of the biggest motivating forces. Find people who support your goals and build you up. A little healthy competition is ok, as long as it’s friendly.
- Discover joy in movement – aka the runner’s high (it’s not just for runners). Try new activities that light you up and make you feel strong, successful, connected, alive.
- Challenge yourself on your terms. It’s ok to work hard and push yourself if you’re having fun and your body is ready. Try new things, round out your fitness repertoire with a variety of activities, but do it because it’s fun not because you think you “should”.
I’m on a mission to empower women to ditch diet culture so they can experience joyful movement, peace with food and embrace the body they have today.
Follow along with my podcast “The Joyful Movement Show”, for a more detailed look at how you can implement each of these principles into your life.