How to Love Moving in 10 Steps
(which is a whole lot less than 10,000)**
I often hear from clients that they wish they could be that person who loves exercise. To be clear: you are not required to love moving! But in case you want to…
1. Say “movement” instead of “exercise.” There’s nothing wrong with the word, but if “exercise” brings up feelings of drudgery, “shoulds,” punishment, or weight loss, stop saying it.
2. Watch babies and toddlers move. Even before crawling, babies move constantly, and they’re not just trying to “get their steps in.” They joyously work to understand the expanse and limits of their body.
3. Think about your own childhood; What kind of movement did you love? Would that still bring you joy today?
4. Take weight loss off the table. Studies show that weight loss is not a sustainable motivation for movement; people who exercise solely for the purpose of losing weight are unlikely to maintain that exercise long term.
5. Get in touch with your reasons for wanting to move; Is it to sleep better? Improve your mood? Have more fun? It’s okay if a part of you keeps saying, “I want to exercise because I want to lose weight!” Acknowledge that part of you while putting additional emphasis on your other reasons.
(Image: a toddler with a walker, loving life)
6. If you like lists, make a few; Make a list of the kinds of movement you hate. Make a list of the kinds of movement you love. Make a list of the kinds of movement you are curious about.
7. Apologize. Apologize to yourself for the years that you were pressured to move in ways that didn’t bring joy. Reassure yourself that those days are over. (And stop taking on the role of self-pressurer).
8. Ditch qualifiers and ableism. In our afraid-of-disability culture we often think it’s only exercise if it’s fast, or hard, or involves a lot of running. Forget: “It only counts if I sweat!” Or: “It’s only a workout if it’s an hour+.” Movement is movement is movement. Release the narratives and binaries. Give yourself permission to walk for 5 minutes. To dance for 1 song. To bike for 3 blocks. To do it at 20%.
9. Think of the long-game. It’s fine to have short bursts of energy around a certain activity (shout out to my one summer as a rock climber), but give yourself all the flexibility you need so that you can love movement long-term.
10. Be planful, not rigid. Trust in your ability to return. When you know why you love moving (and detach it from weight loss), it gets easier to know the difference between: “It doesn't make sense to move today,” and “I don’t feel like moving, but it’s probably a good idea.” Loving moving doesn’t mean it’s always full of joy. But it also shouldn’t suck. Don’t stress about exercising during an exceptionally busy time or a vacation. When you love moving, you trust that you’ll always return. When you love moving, there’s no such thing as falling off the wagon.
**This joke is just so-so. Anyone got a better one?