You have already heard that the “best” exercise is the exercise you are going to do, so you have to find something you love. Makes sense, right?
If you are on a quest for an activity you can enjoy, you have company. Lots of people I meet tell me they really do not like exercise. The reasons why they don’t like it can run the gamut from “a bad experience in junior high P.E.” to “every time I move I have pain.” Completely and totally understandable.
What I’ve discovered is that those who seek my help developing a fitness program almost always have something in common. They want to move their bodies and they are afraid of doing so. It is fear, more often than not, that keeps them sedentary. Not laziness, not lack of desire, not a lack of willpower – fear is what “freezes” them in their tracks.
Understanding and acknowledging that fear helps them overcome the inertia. Realizing that it’s not moving the body that creates the fear, it is the association with the discomfort and pain.
Do you have difficulty finding “joy” in moving your body? Ask yourself this question, “what am I really afraid of?” The truth will probably be at a deeper level than you might expect. For example, are you really afraid that when you move, you will remember junior high school and the bad experience? Or is the truth that when you move your body you still feel the shame and humiliation that you felt on that occasion (or other occasions?). And in order to avoid your “feelings” you avoid moving your body?
Not “feeling” cannot solve the issue. We are human and we have feelings and those feelings are messages from our body. As painful as it may seem, not listening to avoid the “feeling” doesn’t make it go away. And the longer you choose not to listen to the body and its messages, the greater the chances it may “betray” you – you experience increased risk of physical pain or illness.
I use the term “betray” because that is also what I hear from those who seek my help. They say that their body has “betrayed” them and they cannot trust their body. Yet it is not the body that betrayed them, but instead their separation from their bodies and their inability to listen to their own feelings with understanding and compassion. More often than not, they stopped paying attention to their feelings prior to the physical “betrayal”.
If this rings true for you, I encourage you to explore the possibility that it is not the exercise that you wish to avoid, but the feelings that moving your body and connecting with your body evoke for you. It is the narrative in your mind about the exercise and about your body that evokes the discomfort you are experiencing.
You cannot change that which already is, but you can begin to treat yourself with the compassion and love that you deserve and that includes the body you live in day after day. The body needs to move and must move for survival. The body also needs you to listen when it speaks to you through your feelings. Your health depends upon it.
You have feelings because you are alive. Acknowledge the feelings as a message to you. Listen and learn. Accept that what has happened to you in the past cannot be changed, but you can be different in how you choose to respond. Begin to create positive feelings by living not in regrets of the past or worries over the future, but paying attention to what you do have control over, your response to what is happening to you right here and right now.
Seek professional help when needed because facing your feelings can be intimidating. I am not speaking of dealing with these feelings lightly. If you are not listening to your body because of your fear of what it has to say, then you could certainly benefit from talking with a therapist or counselor.
Your body requires your care and your compassion. Give your body the grace and gratitude it so deserves. Learn to become “present” with your feelings and with your body. Move your body when and how it “feels” right to you. You may be afraid. That’s OK. Just move in whatever form that takes for you. There are no rules.
A New BMI teaches mindfulness along with physical activity as a path to health. When you are healthy, you say you “feel” good or that you are well. Moving your body and quieting your mind are a powerful combination for you to “feel” better. Fear stops you. Faith moves you. Believe that your body will respond positively to you as you respond positively to your body.
The best exercise for your body is faith and trust, grace and gratitude. Be well.