Last week, in part 1 of this post, we talked about
This intuitive approach can be applied in the health and fitness realm as well. I am super passionate about this. I feel like movement/exercise has a bit less emotion attached to it compared to food for most people (though not all), and can be a great place to experiment with this approach . I’m zealous about it because NOT being intuitive with my exercise and activity really helped push me over the edge with my health and kept me there for quite some time when I was at my sickest. I find there are so many people who are like I used to be, pushing so far past the signals of their bodies into a state of dis-ease. It often seems this is the result of both those internal and external “should’s” that we talked about last week.
Exercise often does involve a certain level of pushing through some mental and physical discomfort. However, that discomfort should mostly dissipate either immediately or within a few minutes of completing the activity. Forcing oneself through entire workouts that feel like an unhappy strain or pushing through pain is not being intuitive! Having endless mental struggles about whether or not to do a workout because we feel like we “should,” but we really don’t feel like it, feeling guilty for missing workouts, using workouts as the only way to achieve “good energy,” relying on exercise as your main outlet for stress, looking at exercise as a way to “burn calories,” etc., may all be clues of an unhealthy relationship with exercise. When these types of things are going on we are likely overriding signals from our body and intuition regarding healthy activity and movement FOR US! In the fitness world, strict training plans and schedules often exist which further encourage the overriding of LISTENING TO OUR INTUITION around the best types of movement for us in any one day.
It seems to me in my experiences that when we ignore our intuition in one area of our life, we are likely ignoring it in other areas as well. Our body, mind and spirits are intertwined in all the processes of our lives. So, likewise, the more we start listening to our intuition in one area of our life and paying attention to the signs and signals of our body, mind, and spirit, the more likely we are to let this expand and permeate other areas of our lives.
So, what would happen if we started ALLOWING one area of our health and/or life to become more intuitive? Can we start to RELEASE some of the “physical control” we feel we have over certain areas of our life? Can we RELEASE some of our fears and untruths? What happens if we stop controlling so tightly and do more allowing? Can we ALLOW our thoughts and emotions to come in and inform us? Can we NOTICE what our bodies, thoughts, and emotions are telling us? Can we FEEL those thoughts and emotions? What can we LEARN from all of it?
I know in several areas of my life over the years I have lived in fear of what would happen if I relinquished control. I’m far from a perfect at this even now, but I have seen so much healing in myself by doing more ALLOWING, RELEASING, NOTICING, FEELING, and LEARNING! We do everything we can to avoid discomfort. Sometimes it can get uncomfortable when we face those thoughts and emotions we’ve been pushing down for so long, but there is truly so much healing and wisdom that can come from the allowing!
WOAHHH! Pulling it back here now to exercise and activity again…
Exercise and activity should make us feel good- both during, immediately after, AND the next day. If we find ourselves feeling fatigued for the rest of the day after exercising or more fatigued the next day, we’re likely over-training for our body at this time. If we don’t feel good on rest days, or feel like we must workout to feel good, we’re also very likely over-training. Just to be clear, though, rest days don’t have to mean being a sloth. They can include lots of slow and gentle movement – whether that be walking, a GENTLE hike, yoga, chasing kids, taking the stairs, parking further away, etc. Being like a sloth on every rest day ISN’T likely to make one feel very good, but it’s not to say we can’t take a “sloth day” once in a while either.
Often listening to our intuition regarding exercise and activity can have quick rewards. Not feeling a workout? Honor that and skip it! I bet when the next movement opportunity arises we’ll be excited for it and our performance will be better! Additionally, our overall level of energy and happiness around those events will be elevated. Remember, constantly (or even often) pushing through workouts when we don’t feel like it is not being intuitive!
On the other hand, maybe we don’t really ever feel like working out and that’s the story we are constantly telling ourselves, though we struggle with feeling like we “should” add more activity to our life. Ask what feels reasonable. So often we treat “exercise” as all or nothing. It doesn’t have to be that way. Could we go for a 5-10 minute walk? Could we do a set of air squats after every bathroom break or water refill? How does a set of push-ups during commercial breaks sound? Start small with something that feels accomplish-able! (Yep- I made that word up.) Now, set some of these small goals for the week. Need some accountability? Find a partner or seek the support of a coach (like me)! It’s likely that once we start moving a little more, we’ll feel better and feel like moving more and more! Remember to stay tapped into that intuition!
Remember, an intuitive approach “should” make you feel happier, healthier, and more YOU!
As I’ve insinuated here, with exercise, like eating, there will be those who lean toward over- and under-exercising/movement. So perhaps gentle guidance, tracking, structure, and/or accountability would be appropriate for some, alongside an intuitive approach. Track how you feel physically, mentally, emotionally on “workout days” and “rest days.” Be honest about how you’re feeling. Take special notice if you require that workout for the endorphin release. I used to be there. If I didn’t workout, I really didn’t feel as good, so I trained 6-7 days every week. Even if I felt tired and unmotivated, I’d convince myself I’d feel better if I did workout. I usually did — until my body finally crashed. Go too long without really listening to your body and eventually it’ll scream at you. How long this takes will be different for everyone. I DON’T want you to get to this same place! It’s truly miserable! The same goes for inactivity too, though– go too long without healthy, intuitive movement and your body will start telling you that as well!
Of course there are many areas of our lives where we can live more “intuitively” while assessing whether decisions we are making are in line with our core values. Perhaps consider whether one of these two areas (eating and movement) may be opportunities to start using more of an intuitive approach. Or ponder whether another area of your life could benefit from tuning into your intuition more. Remember, an intuitive approach “should” make you feel happier, healthier, and more YOU! As I mentioned previously, becoming more intuitive can be uncomfortable (especially at first) since it often gets us outside of our comfort zone—the “comfort” of weighing and measuring every morsel we eat, the “comfort” of killing every workout and “burning calories” so we can “comfortably” (read without guilt) eat the ice cream after dinner, the comfort of routine, the comfort of “control”…..
Not all positive change feels positive at first.
So, getting through that discomfort will likely require us to TRULY tap into our intuition, which may mean we accept truths that feel uncomfortable. Over time it will get more comfortable and we’ll just know what feels right! We’ll get more and more in tune with our TRUTH! And please don’t forget that following our intuition is about ALLOWING, not working harder. It is about letting out what is within us rather than overriding it with “shoulds”. It is coming into ALIGNMENT with our energy – really feeling when something is “right” or “wrong” for US.
Need help with this approach?
As I mentioned, I’m extremely passionate about it
and have personal experience with both sides of it.