This is the first in a 7 day diary of my ‘intuitive fitness‘ activities.
I always struggled to lose weight, and when I did, it was almost impossible to stay fit for long. My weight was constantly going up and down, and my doctor told me this was not favorable for my metabolism.
But what could I do? I mean, I would want to have a perfect summer body and radiant health, but that was not the case.
What I didn’t know was that I had a really bad relationship. It was a toxic relationship that was affecting me, but not with another person. I didn’t get along with exercise, and I was constantly loving it and hating it.
But then I understood a new concept called intuitive fitness, and everything changed. I realized that we can have a very good or bad concept about exercise. We can also have an ambiguous position about it. Unknowingly, this can be the reason you don’t reach your fitness goals.
I was not sure whether I loved or hated living a healthy lifestyle. It felt more like hate, but I loved the benefits, especially the aesthetics part. Now I understand there’s not a love-hate situation. It’s about what your body really needs, what your psyche will enjoy, and learning to examine yourself and do something about it.
I needed a change, for real
I’ve always realized how bad I need to change. Here’s a little about me.
As a young boy, I was always overweight. I don’t recall being lean at all, and I grew up feeling ashamed of my body shape but feeling it was normal for me. In other words, feeling it was normal to be ashamed of yourself.
I wasn’t popular at school, but I don’t feel it was that bad, either. I had two girlfriends who loved me regardless of what I hated about myself, and they lifted my self-esteem a bit. That was one of the reasons why I decided to make changes and improve my looks. Back then, I only cared about my physical appearance, but it was a great place to start.
But every time I tried to stay in the routine and work out for summer, something happened along the way. I was constantly on and off, here and there, living a healthy lifestyle and then doing all of the opposite.
Then, my metabolic syndrome diagnosis told me I had to make a real change. This is a problem with insulin, where your body responds very slowly to the signals and starts having trouble keeping sugar inside your cells. Diabetes is the next step, and I didn’t want to have that present for my 33-year-old birthday.
Luckily, the metabolic syndrome can be reverted by losing weight, eating healthily, and doing exercise. But I needed a change because otherwise I would keep being on and off a healthy lifestyle, and following the same path.
That’s when I met intuitive fitness.
Obstacles I’m facing, like many of you
I started practicing intuitive fitness instead of the usual all-or-nothing model with strict weight and cardio protocols. But I was the same guy, with the same work, and the same bad habits.
As a part of my intuitive fitness practice, I need to remember who am I, visualizing my obstacles, and they are very similar to those many of you face every day. I’ve made a list that goes something like this:
- I love fast food: It is one of the reasons I tend to quit every time. I usually start with a good foot, and then leave everything as it is when I fail in my dieting for the first time.
- I’m not disciplined: I’m easily motivated by videos or words by other people. But I’m not very disciplined. Motivation is temporary and drives me for a little while. But sometimes I lack the discipline to keep going when I don’t want to.
- My office work doesn’t help: Being stuck at work for 8 straight hours, usually more than that, doesn’t help me at all. Specially because it is office work, sitting on a chair, and indulging in sweets to cope with my anxiety.
- I’m easily driven by emotions: I tend to feel depressed every now and then. When I do, I struggle a lot to get out of my bed.
- I’m definitely not a sporty guy: I don’t enjoy sweating. Actually, I hate it, and I dislike feeling sticky and smelly. Not my thing.
But even if I had all of these “problems”, I still go on, and have lost some weight and reduced three sizes in my pants. It’s because now I’m listening to my body and acting in consequence.
But, how does that work?
My intuitive mornings
Intuitive fitness starts every morning. You can wake up and rush to the bathroom or take time to be mindful and prepare for the day. I understood that taking time every morning to feel your body is very important, so one of the first changes I made was waking up a bit earlier. Not one hour, only 10 minutes. In 10 minutes, you can sit, breathe, feel your body, and plan ahead your day.
During this time, I use the timer function in an app called “Insight Timer” – see our app review here. 5 minutes, with a 2-minute introduction, and 1-minute intervals (a bell ringing to mark the introduction and each interval). After this set up, I go ahead and meditate for 5 minutes.
- During the introduction, I ground my mind and bring it back to the present moment.
- Minute 1 is for conscious breathing
- Minute 2 is a very quick body scan to detect how my body parts feel today
- Minute 3 is to find out what I want and what my body needs for this day
- Minute 4 is to reflect on my relationship with the world around me and my connections with everybody else
- Minute 5 is for breathing once again and coming back to my morning routine
This is what I did today, and with this short meditation I wasn’t trying to obtain a very deep understanding of myself. It’s more like a quick overview and a mental setup for the day ahead. I’ve found that, throughout the day, I come back to my morning meditation and start making deeper conclusions about how I feel and what my body needs to be healthier and fit.
After this short meditation time, I took a shower and found out my timing was optimal for my schedule today. So, I took time for my breakfast, sitting at the table without any distraction. I was trying to be mindful in chewing my food properly and imagining my body being grateful for the nutrients. This may seem unnecessary or even silly to some, but believe me, it’s helpful.
That’s when my roommate came out of his room, rushed into the kitchen, turned on the microwave and sat at the table with me. He’s extremely talkative and I couldn’t go on imagining things, but I made efforts to keep eating at a slow pace, which is sometimes harder when he’s around. I enjoyed his company, his talk about last night, and waved him goodbye for work.
Office work with a positive attitude
My commute to work always feels stressful. Traffic during morning hours is not ideal, but I’ve tried to make things better by listening to audiobooks. Usually non-fiction. This morning I’m listening to a woman saying that you need the right combination of perseverance and passion to get things done. Otherwise, it will only be a strenuous and tiring job. She’s right!
When I’m on it and stuck in traffic, I take some time for breathing exercises and some light stretching. Today my commute took more time than expected, but I felt I was doing something valuable and found some inspiration to write. I took 10 minutes in the car to jot down some ideas after I parked.
My office work today was slow and tedious, a lot of data analysis. Some projects are more interesting than others – occasionally, they really excite me – but we do have a friendly yellow lab (Oscar) at work, who always brightens everyone’s day (that photo is not Oscar, but they both do look like they’re smiling, don’t they?!)
I have found that taking breaks from sitting keeps my positive attitude. Like Oscar, I’ve learned to detect body cues that let me know my body needs a stretch. Sometimes it feels like numbness in my feet or legs, or a sensation that I need to change my position in the chair very frequently. It is sometimes my mood changing or an uncomfortable feeling similar to fear or nervousness rising up my chest. When I start feeling like that, I will usually stand up and either do some sit-ups or walk up the stairs to use the bathroom, or do some gentle stretching. Today I didn’t want to exercise my lower body because it felt a bit crampy from my gym workout the day before, so I spent the day alternating between working and stretching. While doing so, I realized that my calves were hurting a bit more than usual and decided to pay more attention to my calves for the next leg day at the gym.
Preparing for exercise
The commute back to my home is usually not as stressful because it’s not at peak hours. Today it was very fast, gladly. I usually take this time to go to the gym after work. I find out that doing so relieves accumulated stress and improves my mood for the evening. However, as a part of intuitive fitness, it’s not always the same routine. Sometimes I decide to have a rest day. Sometimes I decide to join my friends in a soccer match. They always invite me and I rarely want to play sports, but sometimes I do. Sometimes walking around the block is enough for the day and makes me feel oxygenated and fresh.
When I turned the ignition off in the parking lot of my apartment building, I stayed there for a while like I always do. After a few seconds of deep breathing exercises, I performed a deep scan of my body and how I felt.
After a quick body scan, I discovered this:
- My legs were still aching from leg day at the gym
- Fresh muscle groups included my back, chest, and arms
- The weather felt hot, I was sweaty, and I strongly disliked it
- I felt stress from work and wanted to be left alone and be quiet
After realizing this, I decided what to do next. I went up the stairs to my home, prepared my bag with a change of clothes and my swimming suit, and walked 7 blocks to the nearest swimming pool. I felt amazing in the water. It was exactly what I needed.
As the lights go out
I was swimming for less than one hour and came back home to get ready to visit my girlfriend, Isabella (not her real name). I felt fresh, no longer bothered by work stress, and my mood was fantastic. We laughed, watched a TV series we’re watching together, and I came back home. It was a normal evening, nothing fantastic, but I came back -a bit late- with a smile.
Intuitive fitness is not about forcing yourself to do what you “have” to do. It’s about learning what your body is asking of you. Deciphering what you need to feel great and stay healthy can be challenging at first. But if you become more mindful your mind will eventually stop wandering around while your body does “what you’re supposed to do”. Instead of forcing yourself, you will know what will make you happy and contribute to your health and your goals.