Today I’m going to talk about…DUN DUN DUN….exercise. Everyone’s favorite topic in the diet and weight loss industry!
What comes to mind when you hear the word “exercise”? You probably have a mental picture that comes up, and also a feeling or emotional reaction to that word. What is that for you? Maybe you think of a sweaty muscle man lifting weights in the gym. Maybe you feel like “ugh, I hate exercise”. Or perhaps you remember the great feeling you had when you ran a marathon or something awesome!
Everyone has a different association with the word “exercise”. I want to know if you identify with any guilt in relationship to exercise. Do you feel guilty that you don’t exercise at all? Maybe you feel guilty that you exercise but not consistently. Or maybe you feel guilty because you exercise consistently but it’s low impact and you think you should be doing something harder. Maybe you do exercise consistently and vigorously but you’re not getting the results you want and you feel guilt around that.
Tell me about your exercise guilt – I want to hear it in the comments!
Let me tell you about my exercise story, and then I’ll give you some tips.
I grew up my whole life having a love-hate (but way more hate) relationship with exercise. I suffered from asthma as a child, I still do actually, and whenever we had to run the mile in school or something, I would always have an asthma attack and have a horrible physical experience. I’m still working through that to this day! I don’t have asthma attacks when I run anymore, but I have a very negative psychological association with running particularly.
I also have very super woman athletic sisters who are amazing and exercise all the time and I would compare myself to them and feel shame and inferiority since I wasn’t athletic like them. Obviously that was self-imposed, nobody said anything to me about that.
Down the road, I got married and started having kids, and I would have a lot of guilt. I wasn’t sleeping very much because of my kids and I wasn’t exercising consistently. I would go on big up and down’s with exercise and I felt a lot of guilt about it.
Fast forward a few years ago, I signed up for a program called MuTu Mama’s. Maybe you’ve heard of it, it’s short for Mummy Tummy. The founder is super cute, I think she’s from Australia. This program is designed to heal diastasis recti, which is why I signed up for it.
Diastasis recti is when you’re pregnant and your abdominal muscles kind of separate. So this program was designed to kind of knit them back together, heal diastasis recti, and overall strengthen your core.
So I signed up for it thinking I would get a six-pack and change my life. The program did change my life, but not because I got a six-pack. I still don’t have a six-pack. But more about the program:
MuTu Mama’s was delivered in a series of videos. In one of the intro videos, the founder was giving instructions and she said two words that changed my life: “Walk everyday”. I can still hear her voice in my head exactly saying it slow and calm – “walk everyday”
Woah – I could do that! I, even I, could walk every day. And for some reason, I was mentally, emotionally, and physically ready for this. So I committed to it, I began to walk every day! I would get up early, before the sun was up and my kids were awake and I walked every day. Whether it was 10 minutes or an hour, I did what I could, and I walked every day.
I love to read, so I would listen to audio books while I walked (I still do this). This was getting me out of bed every day, knowing I would have this time to myself. Being out in the beautiful morning hours, alone, listening to my book, feeling the sun on my face, listening to the birds, looking at the mountains, it was just really an awesome experience.
I fell in love with walking. It was like an epiphany for me: I love walking! I had never known that about myself.
I still do this! I still hear her voice in my head: “Walk everyday”. It really changed my relationship with exercise. Before that, I had always thought that exercise needed to be hard, and I needed to be miserable and sore and burn 8000 calories every time.
But then I had that shift where I totally got in touch with my body, and it totally changed my life. I no longer feel exercise needs to be punishing. I know this about myself now that I don’t like punishing exercises. Like burpees? Yeah I would rather die than do a set of burpees. Literally, I hate them. And I don’t do them anymore because I know that doing them sends me on a downward spiral.
I embrace exercises that I love. And that’s my tip for you – start small. Start with walking every day! Do something easy and gentle to build the habit.
If you just had a baby, if you have young kids…whatever situation you are in, if you already exercise every day, get in touch with yourself and figure out what you love.
If you feel guilty, I want you to take the two concepts of exercise and weight loss and divorce them. Cut the cord. They do not belong together. One does not equal the other! So separate them in your mind.
We have been so conditioned to think that they must go together so if we try and fail, we give up and throw in the towel and don’t exercise anymore. So cut them apart!
There are a thousand and one other reasons to exercise besides weight loss. Weight loss should be the last reason you exercise!
Our bodies were created and designed to move. Our bodies love to move! When I got in touch with that through walking, I found my body loving me and thanking me. I felt so good in my own skin, and I do.
I have gotten to the point that if I go on vacation and am not able to at least go on a walk, I feel something like a craving! My body is frustrated and wants to move. It’s awesome! I feel so good now.
And I want every woman to get to that point, where exercise isn’t something you have to do, but something you want to do. It’s like a self-care ritual! Look at it as a way to treat and pamper yourself – it’s like a spa day for your body and your muscles! They will love it and you will love it.
So exercise not for weight loss, but to treat yourself. Your body is a temple, it is a gift from God, and it wants to move. Try walking, try yoga, try hot yoga! I love hot yoga! Try PiYo! I fell in love with it and became an instructor. There are so many ways to move your body, it doesn’t need to be a punishment.