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Intuitive Movement – What is Missing From Your Exercise Routine

mid size girl practicing intuitive movement by doing yoga

We know there are many great reasons to exercise but sticking with a fitness routine is difficult for most people!

In this blog, I am sharing my story with intuitive movement and giving you practical tips to help you exercise more consistently and feel good in your body.

Exercise Induced Guilt

How many times have you started and stopped exercising? Too many to count? That’s my experience too.

I could never understand why my motivation to exercise disappeared so quickly.

I tried all the recommended things: I set reminders and scheduled my exercise, I kept running shoes under my desk at work or in the car, I bought an exercise bike, treadmill, and other home equipment (which I hardly touch but can’t seem to get rid of because I spent so much $$$), I bought cute work out clothes, I got a fitness watch to track my steps and heart rate.

NONE of it helped me stick with exercise long-term.

I felt really guilty about not having a regular exercise routine, especially since I was telling my patients to create and stick to one!

My “excuses” for not exercising didn’t seem valid to me. I was tired. I was overworked and stressed. I just wanted to watch TV and veg out.

And the little voice in my head said watching TV isn’t doing anything for you. You are so lazy. You have no willpower. But not even guilting myself worked to motivate me.

When I finally started practicing Intuitive Movement, I realized what the problem was and why I never felt like exercising. It was actually a few problems.

The Real Reasons I Couldn’t Stick to Consistent Movement

I wasn’t doing exercise that I enjoyed

I did countless abdominal workouts and cardio sessions thinking this would help me slim my waist. Unfortunately, I was not able to spot-reduce fat in my tummy area.

Additionally, I really hated those workouts. I always felt out of breath and had a headache afterward.

If I wasn’t sore the next day, I told myself I didn’t work hard enough. I dreaded the next workout because I didn’t think I could push myself any harder.

My biggest reason for exercising was to achieve a flat, muscular stomach.

Diet culture told me over and over that exercise was for weight loss, getting “toned” or “banishing belly fat.”

The other benefits of exercise that I learned about in school were easily washed out by this mainstream rhetoric. When I didn’t see the results I wanted, it was all too easy to say forget it!

I thought rest days were for wimps.

I truly thought that I should be working out 7 days a week.

I would make a plan to walk or jog every day and strength train, alternating upper body and lower body days.

By day three or four I was exhausted and couldn’t pull myself out of bed for another workout. But if I took one rest day, I was unmotivated for the rest of the week (and more than likely, the next two or more weeks!).

Two larger sized black women in workout clothes making muscle arms, smiling with bellies and back rolls beautifully exposed

How Intuitive Movement Changed the Game

I thought I didn’t like to exercise. I thought I was lazy. I was wrong.

I figured out what I liked and made movement fun!

When my attitude and goals around fitness changed, so did my motivations.

I started doing movement I enjoyed!

For me, this includes hiking, walking the dog, paddle boarding, swimming, playing badminton with my sisters, gardening, or playing hopscotch or jump rope with my son.

You see the common theme here: I like being outside!

When I move my body in a way I actually like, it feels GOOD. I stopped relying on the level of soreness my body felt afterward and just had fun!

I practiced being attuned to my body’s needs

I started listening to my body for when I needed to rest.

I recognized that my body is extremely intelligent and was telling me what it needed all along!

I was choosing not to listen to my internal signals for rest and was following external guidance on how to care for my body.

As well-meaning as the recommendation to exercise 30 minutes 5-7 times a week may be, this doesn’t account for how MY body is feeling or how MY body handles exercise. I stopped following someone else’s advice and instead became attuned to what my individual body needed.

In doing so, I stopped feeling guilty for not exercising – which was honestly the most freeing part of all.

I changed my language around movement

I limit my use of the terms “physical activity,” “fitness routine” and “exercise” in favor of the terms movement or intuitive movement because those words reminded me of diet culture’s expectations for how I was “supposed to” move my body.

Along those same lines, I stopped saying I was “sedentary” on days when I didn’t move as much because that word was associated with a lot of shame as well.

Now I call them my rest days (even if there are a lot of rest days in a row!).

I reframed my goals

And finally, I let go of the idea that I needed to have a flat stomach or lose weight.

This was the hardest goal to change.

It meant having to accept my body for the way it is – not an easy feat when I’d idolized women with six packs since I was nine years old.

Instead of focusing on my appearance, I tried to determine what I wanted my body to be able to do. For me, I want to be able to keep up with my son (which means running, swimming, biking, and playing on the floor), to be able to complete a hike without feeling like I want to drop dead, and to prevent re-injuring my back.

I found inspiration from fat influencers such as FatGirl Yoga and dancer Erik Cavanaugh.

With these goals in mind, my will to exercise changed. I was training my body for what I wanted my body to do! I was training my body for life! And my body size had nothing to do with it.

It was time to go after what actually MATTERED in my life.

Practicing Intuitive Movement and Rest

Ready to revamp your movement goals?

Scan this list and see if anything sounds like joyful movement to you!

Outdoor

  • Walking/Hiking
  • Paddleboarding/kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Frisbee/frisbee golf
  • Biking
  • Play HORSE with a basketball
  • Go paintballing with friends

Indoor

  • Racquetball
  • Pickleball
  • Rockclimbing
  • Ice or roller skating
  • Swimming
  • Laser tag
  • Learn a TikTok dance
  • Bowling

Around the house:

  • Youtube videos (pro tip – look for videos conducted by people in larger bodies or in a body that looks like yours)
  • Body-weight-only strength training
  • Circuit training
  • Dancing
  • Cleaning out a closet
  • Playing with the kids (tag, red light-green light, What Time is it Mr. Fox?, Mother May I?, hopscotch, jump rope, Follow the Leader, etc)
  • Washing the car
  • Cleaning windows
  • Vacuuming/Sweeping
  • Gardening

Sports/Intramurals

  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Baseball/softball
  • Roller Derby
  • Bowling
  • Football
  • Volleyball
  • Badminton
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Golf

Classes/Group Activities

  • Spinning
  • Dance
  • Ballet/barre
  • Kickboxing
  • Yoga
  • Pole or belly dancing
  • Gymnastics
  • Aerial

Gentle Movement

  • Yoga/Pilates/Tai Chi
  • Stretching
  • Range of motion movement
  • Chair-Based or Bed-Based movement videos

More questions before you start your intuitive movement practice

  • What do you want your body to be able to do in life?
  • What kind of exercise do you LIKE doing? What feels like joyful movement? (Hint: think about what movement you do that doesn’t even feel like exercise)
  • What is your body telling you it needs today? Rest or movement?
  • Are you at a place where you want to practice body acceptance? (I promise body acceptance is possible for you too!)
  • Are you ready to let go of the stress, overwhelming feelings, and guilt associated with trying to change your appearance?
  • What sources of inspiration do you need to find to help you with body acceptance? (Tip: search for people with your body type doing amazing things and being successful!)

There are so many benefits to exercise beyond appearance such as improving cardiovascular health, preventing falls and disability, preventing injury, and reducing stress just to name a few.

Our bodies are so amazing in that, no matter what size or weight, they can do incredible things!


Learn more about Intuitive Movement in my book The Anti-Diet Workbook

1 thought on “Intuitive Movement – What is Missing From Your Exercise Routine”

  1. I was extremely pleased to discover this great site. I want to to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely liked every little bit of it and i also have you bookmarked to look at new information in your blog.

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