Embracing Joyful Movement

What is your relationship with exercise like?

Do you view it as a penalty for overeating or eating the "wrong" foods?

Do you suffer through torturous sweat sessions as punishment for not having the "perfect" body?

Do you dread your workouts, force yourself to hit the gym, or only exercise because you think you should?

Or do you not even bother, having "failed" at it in the past, no time to spare, or zero desire?

Rationally, you know exercise is good for you. Doesn't it seem a little nuts, however, to repeatedly do something you don't like, or to avoid it altogether because of a past experience or limited belief about your capabilities?

If any of this sounds like you, it's time to examine your relationship with exercise.

Inspired Movement
I love to run at sunrise in Golden Gate Park. On my non-running days, I used to drag myself to the gym and climb onto the elliptical machine or stationary bike hating every moment. Those monotonous workouts left me uninspired and unsatisfied. Finally, I decided I was done with that madness.

From that day on, I committed to only doing exercise I love. It must invigorate not only my body, but also my mind and soul. That meant ditching those miserable machine workouts for breathtaking coastal hikes.

Exercising in nature both grounds and uplifts me. It clears my head, boosts my spirits, stokes my creative fire, and reminds me of the sheer awesomeness of this planet.

Your Exercise Inquiry
If you're struggling with starting an exercise routine, dread the one you have, or are just bored with your workout, investigate your beliefs and patterns with these questions:

  1.  What are your exercise intentions?
  2. Do you exercise from a love of movement, or is it a form of punishment or necessary evil?
  3. Do you exercise on autopilot or while multitasking (e.g., reading, watching TV)? 
    This is a clear sign you're not engaged or enamored with your workout of choice and that it's time to shake things up.
  4. What forms of movement bring you the most joy?
    There are endless ways to get your heart pumping from belly dancing to urban hiking. If you don't know where to start, recall your childhood. Did you love to bike ride, dance, swim, climb trees, hula hoop?
  5.  How would your life change if joyful movement became a daily activity?
  6.  What's one thing you can do this week to enhance your relationship with exercise?

Not About Willpower
Successfully integrating regular movement into your days is not about acquiring more self-discipline or willpower. It's about discovering what nourishes all parts of you and ultimately makes your life more vibrant and joyful.

Your body yearns to be active. It was made to move, not sit on its rump 24-7. Celebrate and honor it with pleasurable, consistent movement.

Finding Your Match
After struggling with exercise for years, my neighbor discovered Zumba. And wow, has it ever changed her life. Not only has she gotten stronger, she also looks years younger and absolutely glows. Although physically challenging, her beloved Latin-inspired dance party is a blissful experience she eagerly anticipates (so much so, she wakes at 5:30 a.m. on class days to reserve a limited spot online).

Just as you would spend time looking for the perfect mate, wedding dress or house, dedicate time to finding the right form of movement for you. Experiment with an open mind, try different things on, be adventurous, and have fun.

If it lights up your mind, body and soul, you've scored the perfect match.