Exercise is a BIG topic for me when it comes to my recovery. Shifts started occurring when my coach, who I was working with during my recovery, suggested that I try to look at exercise more intuitively. What did I actually want to do at the gym? Did I want to go to the gym at all? Maybe I just wanted to go for a walk outside, or maybe nothing at all.
This, I must say, was terrifying for me. How could I even allow myself to eat when I wasn’t going to burn anything off at the gym that day? How could I settle for a walk in the morning instead of a highly methodical HIIT run and call it a workout???? Surely I’d be pudgy and soft before 2 weeks went by.
Slowly I found myself using my gym membership less and less. And before I knew it, 2 months had gone by and I hadn’t stepped foot in my gym. Mind you, I hadn’t gone more than 10 days, probably, without a workout in at least 4 years. So, not lifting a hand weight or watching seconds tick by on the treadmill in over 2 months was a huge deal for me.
See, it wasn’t that I necessarily dreaded my workouts. I enjoy running. I enjoy lifting weights and breaking a sweat. But my workouts felt obligatory, not fun. I was always focused on doing more, more, more in the gym. I did this not for the purpose of “being my best self”, but for the purpose of getting skinny and muscular. And moreover, I had to make my workouts “count” or a huge wave of guilt and shame would wash over me, and I’d end up watching my food intake even more hawk-like than usual. If I wasn’t sweating my ass off by the end of the workout, I needed to go workout again. That means all the fun things I liked to do that involved movement – such as going on long walks, dancing, and doing yoga – just weren’t cutting it in my thin-obsessed mind.
Let’s break this down: What if you had a friend that said, “To hell with your stupid yoga practice. It doesn’t burn nearly as many calories as a good long run, so just don’t bother trying to call that exercise when it isn’t.”
^^ That is neither true nor NICE. I would not let a friend talk to me this way, so how could I let my inner critic speak to me so harshly? This chatter continued for years until I learned the concept of movement versus exercise.
I learned that using the term movement took the pressure off exercising. Movement feels good, not torturous. Movement doesn’t need to burn a certain number of calories; it just needs to be enjoyable. And what my body craves for movement could be different every day. Some days I might feel like doing yoga, others I want to do squats and lunges and chest presses, some days I want to do nothing. All of these are okay. All of these forms of movement (or lack thereof) are valid.
I had to learn to trust that my body wouldn’t let me down. That I didn’t need to control her so much. Skipping one workout isn’t going to make me gain 10 pounds overnight. My intuition took over, and I feel amazing, no matter my workout.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Do you feel the need to methodically control your workouts to make them “count”? What kind of movement does your body crave?