Updated: Jan 4, 2020
I work in the fitness industry, and I have for the past 3 1/2 years. I grew up as a dancer. I teach dance. I teach barre. I like to go for walks, and I like to do yoga. In other words, I like to keep my body moving. When it comes to exercise and fitness, I have been on quite the journey!
As I was growing up, I was active almost every day. I had hours and hours of dance classes on top of the recess, p.e. and of course riding bikes around the neighborhood with friends. Prior to going to college, I developed an eating disorder in which exercise became a form of punishment for eating too much, or a way to give myself permission to eat. (side note, if anyone out there is struggling right now and feels as if they have to go to the gym in order to eat dessert or even dinner, know this: food is fuel for your body. You do not need to punish yourself at the gym in order to fuel your body! I'll chat a bit about this more in another post).
In college, I competed in the swimsuit portion of the Miss America organization in which I felt the need to go to a trainer and get in the best shape of my life (while I was still struggling with disordered eating... not the best idea in case you were wondering). I felt guilty if I missed a day at the gym. Exercise and I's relationship was not on good terms.
As I started the recovery process from my eating disorder, I actually stopped exercising each and every day so I could learn that it's okay not to workout. Sometimes you just get caught up in cleaning your messy house, or doing homework, or meeting up with friends with good food. Exercise became less of a have to and more of a get to if I have time. Exercise wasn't a top priority and that was okay.
Here's the thing about exercise--you have to find the right fit for you! I. Hate. Cardio. With a fiery passion. Don't ever ask me to go to a spin class with you, chances are, I'll make up some lame excuse why I can't go. Cardio and I aren't bff's, and for me, it's not the most mindful exercise.
It took me a little bit of time to find a positive and healthy relationship with exercise. For me, I had to look at the reason why I exercise. I like to focus on forms of exercise that help me de-stress, slow down, and connect my mind to my body--aka exercises that help me be mindful. Yoga is one of those exercises that really helps me connect my breath to my movement and helps me to "check-in" as I workout. Walking around my neighborhood is also a way to 1) get outdoors and 2) get the blood pumping. Barre is another one of those exercises that focuses on the mind-muscle connection. As I teach barre, I encourage my clients to be proud of the strength their body has, not how they look, but how they feel.
So here's some things to think about when finding an exercise that works best for you:
Why are you choosing to workout? Do you want to change the way your body looks and burn calories, or are you wanting to feel stronger, healthier, and happier?
What is the reason you are picking the specific exercise you are picking? Are you doing cardio so you can lose weight, or are you doing cardio because you like the energy it gives you after you go for a good run?
Do you have the energy to exercise today? If not, maybe pick a less strenuous exercise, or take a day off to rest.
Are you just starting off with the exercise thing? Start small, your body needs time to adjust! Maybe just start with a walk around your neighborhood or a beginner fitness class. Ask questions from the instructor, and always check in to see how your body is feeling.
Now I know there are some people out there that are truly trying to get back "in shape" and lose weight. I get it. Been there, done that, but what I want you to think about is this: what is your healthiest self? Is healthy for you external or internal?
Honor your body, honor your health. Get that sweat on when you can, but don't forget to live life simply, and sincerely,