Fitness need NOT be painful, and it should never go against you. That’s one of the core principles I’ve learned throughout my intuitive fitness journey.
I’m an average guy, a bit overweight, definitely not the sporty type, and with a sedentary job that takes up most of my day. But still, I’ve changed my relationship with exercise – and the relief and gratitude I feel is enormous!
Exercise is natural, it should not be considered a burden or another item to cram into your hectic day. You can actually go smoothly at your own pace and in your own way, creating opportunities to express yourself through exercise, instead of imposing rules to regulate what you should do every time.
That is intuitive fitness, and with this model, I feel much more comfortable than I used to: I don’t dread exercise, make excuses to skip the gym, or feel time pressure to reach various milestones. I’ve lost a few pounds – I don’t like to keep constant track, but the weight change is clearly visible. I’ve changed my sleeping and eating habits. But most importantly, I’ve realized that there are many ways to increase our physical activity every single day, sometimes without exercise. Interested?
Intuitive Exercise builds your self-discipline
another obligation on your schedule, it is entirely versatile and depends on what your body needs to grow healthier. It also depends on the type of activities you enjoy the most – or at the very least, the ones you don’t mind doing.
In my case, I hate the environment of the gym. I’m a shy guy, and I always feel like everybody is watching. So, I don’t like to be surrounded by people doing exercise. I feel awkward and uncomfortable in this type of environment. But that doesn’t matter because I don’t have to go to the gym to lose weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Which Exercises to Choose?
However, I needed to know what type of exercise I really liked, and the answer was swimming. When I was a child, I took swimming classes, and it is excellent for me because nobody bothers you and you don’t need to interact. I can pretend Im in a lake or the deep blue sea and the rythyms of my body just take over. If I’m really in a pool, I just stay in my lane and that’s it – no distractions, only imagination.
Also, my friends often invite me to join them for soccer or even softball games, and even though that was never ‘my thing’, I have started to accept their invitations more often and you know what? Even for me, It’s fun! It doesnt matter that I’m not very good; I’m enjoying the company of my friends and exercising at the same time – and sometimes I’m even on a winning team!
Plus, I bought some implements to do exercises at home. For example, a medicine ball, a yoga mat, a few dumbbells, and a pull-up bar. See here and here. I use all of this for my daily exercise in a combination that depends on how I feel and what my body needs to grow healthier.
But I also have rest days, and I’ve realized I have to be very careful with that. Too often I think I’ve had enough for the week or feel my muscles still exhausted from the day before. Sometimes I have psychological reasons to take a rest day. But in all of these cases, I’ve realized it is essential to have self-discipline and evaluate your real body condition. For example, maybe your legs are tired from the day before, but your shoulders are fine. So, you won’t do any leg exercise today but focus on your shoulders and biceps. Or maybe you feel angry or emotionally blocked. Still, instead of skipping one day, you could just adapt your exercise to what you feel, throwing a medicine ball, for example, or swimming, which usually helps me calm down and makes me feel relaxed.
As you go ahead and explore how your body feels in response to physical activity, you will get more and more alternatives to those tentative rest days. And of course, you need to rest, which I do 2 and sometimes 3 days a week. But if I were complacent with my sedentary nature, I would only workout 2-3 days a week instead of 5.
What I’m trying to say is that intuitive fitness builds your self-discipline. Otherwise, you could be neglecting exercise every time with the usual procrastination tricks we all know too well.
Mindfulness and body scans as a critical element
Throughout this time, I’ve also found that if you want to reach that level of consciousness and realize what your body needs to grow healthier, you need to perform regular body scans. We don’t usually listen to the body, but it talks, and you can actually hold a conversation.
If you don’t believe me, just go ahead and try it. These apps help me a lot. Try to find somewhere comfortable to sit, and relax. Focus on your body parts as you breathe in and out, with your eyes closed. Feel the weight of your body and how gravity draws it to the floor. And then, start evaluating every part of your body, starting with your head and finishing in the toes. You will probably find muscle tension, pain, nervous feelings in the stomach, and many other symptoms. But you will also find muscle groups prepared to exercise, and if you’re curious and talk back, you may even find a solution to these negative symptoms. In my case, swimming when I’m nervous or practicing yoga or tai-chi when I feel tense.
I can’t tell you all of the variants because intuitive fitness is about knowing yourself, and that’s the beauty of it. You will have an exercise routine that works for you and you only. Not meant for me or anyone else. And that’s why it works, not only helping you to stay fit, but also improving your mood and making you feel more content with life and with yourself.
Intuitive Movement: Not every day is a perfect day
Joyful Movement, Intuitive Eating
An excellent coupling with intuitive fitness is intuitive eating and drinking. It is basically the same thing, but instead of exercise, we’re talking about food. For example, one day, I realize I have gone two days without any berries, and I know they have a lot of antioxidants. So, I just go to the grocery store and buy them for the rest of the week, consuming them in smoothies and the like.
Or maybe I go to a night club with my girlfriend and try to eat the least bad option, as in vegetarian pizza or pretzels and popcorn. To compensate, I decide to have a very light breakfast and lunch the day after.
This is a great way to enjoy yourself without feeling guilt and always staying in control of what you’re doing. Once again, do not expect a perfect day because you probably do not earn money with your body. You don’t live for fitness. So, what you want to do is figure out options that let you stay in control of the situation, but always living your life and seizing the moment.
What I recommend if you’re starting with intuitive fitness
If you’re interested in this alternative type of fitness, my first recommendation is perseverance. Of course, it is easier to choose a strict exercise routine, which you can find easily in a google search or at your local gym. Sticking with it is not as easy, and many of us can get frustrated – but it becomes both easier and more fulfilling in the long run. Intuitive fitness is about finding your own way, and it is done by trial and error.
Along the way, you will encounter obstacles. So, I recommend writing them down, maybe use a diary or a journal for the first couple of days. That way, you will see how exercise makes you feel and what to do in each case. You will also be able to go back and evaluate what you did and how to do it better.
I also recommend practicing meditation regularly because it is something that will help you get in touch with your body, connect it with your mind, and get a realistic perspective of what you need every time. Again, I remind you of this post.
But above all, I think the right attitude is the key to success. You can make the sun shine, even in cloudy weather. Don’t give up and remember that you’re doing this for yourself, so be happy about it and keep a positive mindset. Even when everything falls apart and even if you lose control sometimes, it is still possible to get yourself together and cultivate peace with your own mind and body.