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Maybe you’re thinking, “hey lady, I thought we were supposed to be talking about subverting the patriarchy and smashing oppression and all that stuff. Why all this talk about health and diets and intuitive eating? And now an email about working out? What gives?”
So all that being said, my rule when it comes to moving your body: If you don’t like it, then it’s not for you. You will not catch me on a treadmill or elliptical because I get bored out of my mind and it’s too reminiscent of all the years I spent trying to “burn” parts of myself away.
How do I find motivation to exercise?
Ah, the age old question. Let’s address it. First of all, there are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.
Hey, wait a minute, this sounds familiar! You mean we can trust our bodies to know what movement is right for us just like we can trust our bodies to feed us? Yep, that’s right.
Intrinsic motivation is motivation that comes from internal rewards such as less stress, having fun during an activity, better sleep, or improvement in moods. These intrinsic rewards are immediate payoff, during the movement or exercise (or immediately after).
Extrinsic motivation is motivation that comes from external rewards. These rewards aren’t immediate. Typically they include things like losing weight, building muscle, or figuring out ways to bribe yourself into exercising like cash or gifts (when I lose X pounds, I can buy that dress, get a tattoo, go on vacation).
Extrinsic rewards might help motivate folks to get started exercising in the short term, but research shows that people who become regular exercisers do better if their source of motivation is intrinsic.
Put more plainly, if you’re focused on exercising to change your size, shape, or weight, you’re statistically not going to stick with it long-term. If you want to become someone who stays active, you’ll need to find motivation in joy, pleasure, and satisfaction of movement.
You need to move your body because of the way it makes you feel, not the way it (might) make you look.
Don’t get caught in the all or nothing trap
When you are trying to find a movement practice that works for you, it means letting go of your ideas of what “counts” and not getting caught in the “all or nothing” trap.
Just like with eating, we often get caught up in black and white thinking. Does this sound familiar?
If I don’t go hard and leave exhausted then what’s the point? If I’m not sweating, it doesn’t count. If I don’t practice yoga for an hour, then I might as well not do it at all.
This is self-defeating thought and keeps us stuck in old patterns.
Don’t worry about the right or wrong exercises, times, or intensities. Just do some movement, and mix it up.
Just like with food, we can listen to what the body wants. Maybe it will crave more activity one day, and less the next day. There are definitely days that moving our body might not be the best plan (illness or injury). But we have to listen!
The first step is just to try some stuff. Go have some fun being in your body. Appreciate what it can do today. Something fun and enjoyable will help you get your body moving.
Having fun feels real different from walking on a treadmill because your current body isn’t good enough. Now go find something fun to do. Your body is waiting.
Want to feel better in your body right away?
What’s next? Tomorrow we’ll dig into where our body image comes from and how we can unlearn all the bullsh*t that society has fed us about our bodies and ourselves.
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