Exercise, like diet, is a tricky subject these days. There are so many opinions as to which is the best for your health and passions can run high. There are many reasons to exercise besides the fact that our body needs movement: strength and muscle tone, weight loss, sense of community and accomplishment, stress relief, sports conditioning, etc.
While I understand all these different reasons for movement and the passion that is attached to each one, I will always ask the question: is this form of exercise sustainable for you? Do you love it? Does your body love it? Can you see yourself being consistent?
One of the most important topics I discuss with each client of mine is sustainability. Can you see yourself eating or exercising like this long term? Do the decisions you make for your body nourish or break down your body? Disordered exercise is a difficult subject to spot and also to broach but it is just as damaging as any eating disorder. If you are not nourishing your body with proper food or EXERCISE you are doing damage.
What does listening to your body look like practically?
First of all, ask yourself what kinds of movement do you truly enjoy? If you love something you will make sure it is part of your life. Sometimes what you enjoy will change with the different seasons of life. If you find yourself having to talk yourself into movement, it might be time to change some things around and add in something different to your current rhythm.
Secondly, are your choices for movement meeting the needs of your body? Do you have any physical limitations? Are you over exercising and causing undue stress on your tissues? Are you going to be prone to overuse injuries? I have had seasons where I met with a personal trainer, took classes in Russian Hardstyle Kettlebell and also went roller skating every week. Now, during this current season of my life, due to some physical challenges, I am really listening to my body and its capabilities. Some weeks I am freer than others to do something challenging and other weeks I am seeking a movement that is gentle and restorative. I am sinking in to the needs of my body and to be honest, it has been so good for me! I cannot give in to any false pressure to change. This is specifically what my body needs right now.
Thirdly, ask yourself, is this form of exercise also meeting my needs mentally, emotionally and spiritually?. I find walking in the fresh air is such a good reminder of God’s mighty hand in His creation and yoga leaves me with an incredibly deep sense of peace. While I am uncomfortable exercising out in the open in a gym environment, I do feel exhilarated after a 30-minute session on a treadmill or arc trainer. Some of you thrive on the gym experience or group classes where it can meet a social need for you. Each person’s needs are unique and different so don’t try to follow someone else’s plan or passion or give in to a specific “workout” theory. Be ok with being different and don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
Remember we need to always look at our body’s needs as a whole. Life should be so full of all things that nourish, including exercise. So listen to your body and it will tell you exactly what it needs!!!