Hey! Fellow intuitive eating Registered Dietitian, and one of Alex’s co-creators of Joyful Eating, Nourished Life, our new 6 week virtual intuitive and mindful eating group program. As part of the program, we spend a week on falling in love with exercise – which we prefer to call movement – and finding a fitness routine that you actually enjoy rather than dread. I’m popping in today to share a little preview and some of my best tips for loving fitness.

Photo by Mikita Karasiou / Unsplash

1. Change Your Mindset

When we were kids,  moving our body was one of life’s greatest joys. I remember my happiest  days were those spent playing in the pool or running around the woods  with friends. One of the best nights ever, in fact, was a lock-in at my  gymnastics studio where we spent literally ALL night bouncing around on  trampolines. I was so exhausted and happy by the time my mom came and  picked me up!

But when I got older, exercise suddenly started to feel like a chore. What had changed?

Over the years, thanks to diet messaging, movement has become  something that we associate with calorie burn and appearance rather than  joy. It was another job and another thing to try to cross off the  endless to do list.

One of the best ways to make exercise fun  again is to change our mindset about it. Try to uncouple the idea that  exercise is for calorie burn, and instead view it as your happy “me  time” to destress. Focus on moving simply because it feels good, and  because you can, rather than because you HAVE to.

The next time  you have a workout coming up, instead of dreading it, think about how  nice it will be to have some time to yourself. Going into a workout with  a happy mindset will make a surprising difference in how your workout  goes (and whether you stick with it in the long term or not). And when  you are finished, focus not on that calorie burn, but rather on how the  workout felt, and how good it feels to have moved. Be proud of what your  body accomplished!

2. Find a Form of Exercise That You Enjoy

This  sounds like a no brainer, but for #1 to work, finding a form of  exercise that you actually like is key! I’m a big runner, and a lot of  my clients will ask me if they should start running. “Only if you  actually like it,” I say. Exercise is all about finding what YOU love  and have fun with, not what someone else loves. Remember that what works  for someone else might not work for you!

I have a lot of friends  who love certain forms of movement that I don’t enjoy at all, and vice  versa. Just like with the work we choose to do or how we spend our free  time, each of us has things that we enjoy more than others, so there’s  no reason to feel exercise has to be a one size fits all type situation.

Photo by Yannic Läderach / Unsplash

Try  to think about what you enjoy and translate that into some sort of  activity. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing or what everyone  else finds fun. This is just about you. So first, start with what you  like. Love team sports, like when you were a kid? Join a local rec  league. Huge fan of dance? Try a Zumba or hip hop class. Like being  social when you workout? Recruit workout buddies or find them online  (MeetUp is a good place to find local workout groups). Love running or  biking but only with others? Check your local running/biking store –  they usually have free group runs/rides a couple times a week!

It  may also help to think about what you want to get out of the movement.  Do you want some solo time to think? A relaxing yoga class to calm you  down? A pumped up exercise class to energize you? Fresh air? Remember  that this may change day to day, and that’s okay, too!

Be sure to  try different variations on the same movements, too, and to give things  more than one shot. For example, I hate running on the treadmill and by  myself, but discovered that I love running with other people because it  turns it into a social outing. Similarly, I originally didn’t like yoga  because I had trouble calming my mind – and now it’s become one of my  favorite forms of movement.

3. Lose the expectations.

Photo by mr lee / Unsplash

Remember that  exercise doesn’t have to be a big formal, structured thing – it can be  as simple as taking a quick stroll outside, playing with your kids,  walking your dog, or whatever feels good in that moment. Get creative!

Also,  remember that just because someone else works out a certain amount of  days per week doesn’t mean that you have to. Determine what is realistic  for you and your schedule and be gentle with yourself if there are days  where movement doesn’t happen.

Above all – try to find the joy in  movement. It feels good to move, but only if we are embracing it simply  for that reason and nothing else.

Dennis J. Villegas

Dennis J. Villegas

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