The ninth principle of Intuitive Eating is: Movement—Feel the Difference. This is another non-food based intuitive eating principle. This principle offers a powerful way to feel connected to and truly alive in the body you have today.
Feeling healthy, strong, empowered and content with your body is a primary component of this principle. We all know that movement/exercise is important for our physical and mental health, so why can it be so difficult to create and stick to a consistent movement routine? One main reason is that we can often get hung up on what kind of exercise is “best” versus what we actually enjoy. If exercise feels like just another chore it will be difficult to remain excited about it. When you find what movement you actually enjoy and look forward to, you can feel the difference in both your mindset and your body.
There is no one “best” or right way to move your body. When you find movement that you enjoy and actually find pleasure in, you are far more likely to make it a habit. Many people think that running, high intensity interval training, Crossfit or getting a Peloton will make all of the difference and will magically create the desire to exercise. However, if you don’t enjoy it, you most likely will not follow through with doing it consistently. Consistency is really how movement benefits our mental and physical wellbeing and allows you to feel the difference.
If movement/exercise becomes a means only to support a desire for weight loss, it can get tangled up in the diet mentality. (You can review principle one: Reject the Diet Mentality here.) When it feels like exercise is solely related to attempting to control the size and shape of your body, then that movement can feel like a chore, or worse punishment, and can create feelings of being a failure. This will ONLY equate to giving up because those feelings of failure, resistance and discomfort are the very feelings most people attempt to avoid.
When you break it down and consider what you enjoy doing to move your body, if you can find something that brings you a sense of accomplishment, makes your body feel good and lifts your mood, it is a win-win-win! When you focus on how the movement you choose makes you feel, this creates an opportunity to choose movement that brings you pleasure and can become something you crave. Another benefit of focusing on how the movement makes you feel is that desired feeling state can support you through any resistance.
Focusing on how movement makes you feel will create feelings of alignment with how you want to feel. When you can connect with how you want to feel and movement/exercise creates those positive internal connections, you are far more likely to follow through and remain consistent. When movement creates feelings of being strong, accomplished, healthy and relaxed, you will be more consistent because these are feelings most of us want to feel more frequently.
The true key here is finding movement that you truly enjoy and look forward to doing. If you love to be outside, find movement that you can do outdoors in nature such as walking, biking, playing a team sport, jogging, hiking… If you prefer to be indoors you might enjoy yoga, dance classes, barre classes or any other group fitness classes at the gym. You can always catch a YouTube video of any kind for any movement you like to do. If you love a variety and mixing it up you can craft a routine based on several forms of movement that bring you pleasure.
No matter what form of movement you choose, be sure not to entangle it with calorie burn, punishing yourself for eating something you judged as “bad” or in any way to control your body in some form. While your body may change as you become stronger with consistent movement, that can be a side bonus that just happens by the way. If changing and controlling your body is your sole purpose, most likely it will trigger anxiety, stress and frustration—and this is simply not sustainable. Find movement you enjoy and allow yourself to do it for the sheer pleasure of moving your body and feeling good in mind, body and spirit.
Now to feel the difference. When you begin to create your movement routine and put it into practice consistently, keep notes on how you feel prior to and following the movement that you engage in consistently. Reflect on how the movement you choose to do makes you feel. Any time that you are experiencing resistance, consult your notes and connect with the feelings you experience following the movement that you do. If you experience resistance, ask yourself if you could commit to doing 10 minutes of some form of movement. Allow the positive feelings that you know you can create for yourself through movement to motivate you to commit to those 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes are up, you can stop, or if you’re feeling really good, you might just find that you want to keep going! Getting started is generally the hardest part. Keeping up with your reflection log related to how movement makes you feel gives you a layer of support to create consistency.
The first step is consider what you love to do. The second step is to get started. There is no right way to get started and you can always change your mind and find something new so try not to get hung up until you find the “perfect” exercise. When you begin moving your body in a way that you enjoy consistently you will feel the difference and create a healthy relationship with your body and with yourself. What movement can you commit to doing today?