Growing up I learned that exercise was for losing weight, looking slimmer, being attractive and more acceptable. It wasn’t really about health and how it made you feel. Therefore, exercise was a chore, something you had to do but didn’t really want to do or enjoy doing. At least that’s my narrative. I wanted to fit in and be popular. I wanted to wear clothing like other girls my age. Thus began the dieting yo-yo game because diets don’t work, at least for the long haul. Thus began a war with my body that would last until I was almost fifty years old.
Lately though, I have felt a shift occurring in my thoughts on exercise and movement. I have come to realize that movement can be enjoyable and it doesn’t have to be about weight loss. I move my body naturally in my day to day life and that movement, cleaning, laundry, gardening, are all valid and valuable. I move my body when I want to and feel like it. I don’t push myself to keep a rigid exercise schedule and I am compassionate and kind to my body when it’s not feeling up to doing a lot and this is all okay. I know that when I do an activity I enjoy, I feel better during and after completing it. I know movement helps me feel better, not just physically but emotionally and mentally as well. It reduces my stress, makes me better able to cope with life’s ups and downs and it’s a nice way to spend time with friends and family.
Exercise doesn’t have to be the traditional go to the gym five days a week and work it until you’re drenched in sweat. All movement is important and counts. I enjoy restorative yoga, meditation and stretching, swimming in the summer and biking. I like going for short walks around the block with my dog and Zoom exercise classes from the MS society designed specifically for anyone with MS or who has mobility issues. I do these things because I want to, not because I have to. I do these things not to change my body but to feel good in the body I have.
If getting out of bed is the only movement you can muster for today, then that’s okay. If you think going for a short walk on a lunch break would be nice then do it. If doing a quick 10 minute yoga class from YouTube is all you have time for, wonderful! Do what you can, when you have time and feel like it. Never feel pressured to move. Don’t allow other people to guilt you into movement. Don’t do it with the only intention that you want to be more acceptable to society. Do it for you and how it makes you feel.
Be Pretty, Plus and Proud and I hope you join me on this new journey where movement is fun, motivating, energizing and healing.