As much as I will say ditch the diet and face the feelings, you will also find me saying ditch the gym and move your body. Well, ditch the gym if you hate it. Stay if you really enjoy it!
The most important thing is – are you moving your body? Are you enjoying movement?
Consider a toddler or a 4-year-old: they aren’t worried about doing exercises or “do I look fat in this?”. They are busy having fun, moving around, wiggling, dancing, running, jumping, and stretching. They move because their body hungers for movement.
And so does yours. Are you listening when it asks?
Perhaps you’ve felt a small twinge in your lower back – that can be your body asking for more movement. The same as that slight ache in your knees. And sometimes, it’s more than that.
Imagine how many times your body asks you for movement, and your response is to get up and walk to the fridge. Now, you satisfied the request for movement, but then you went and ruined it by actually opening the fridge and getting something to eat when you weren’t hungry!
And the only reason I’m giving you that example is because that is me. Or rather, was me.
I even found myself this morning, while working on this, wanting to get up from the chair and go to the fridge. Now – when I recognize it for what it is… it’s not hunger or a request for food: it’s a request to get out of the chair for a moment and move. To take two minutes to walk around the house.
The question I ask myself, when I find myself doing this, is what necessity the movement has. Sometimes, I want to move from anxiety. Have you noticed that when you’re anxious or stressed you walk and move more quickly? As opposed to when you are tired or depressed, and you move lethargically.
On the other hand, when you are tired and want to move slowly, have you ever made yourself walk briskly? What happened to the way you were feeling? And if you were stressed and anxious and you slowed your movement down, have you noticed that you calmed down as well?
The same way that you mind can rule your body – your body also has the power to influence your mind and your mood.
Physical activity and the human body
It’s all tied together – every organ, your emotions and thoughts, and even your senses.
Consider a recent finding by doctors that were studying fight/flight. The protein Osteocalcin is responsible for triggering our response. So, you know that saying of excitement or fear “I can feel it in my bones” – well, you have no idea how true that is! You CAN feel it in your bones!
There are so many studies now happening about the relationship between our body, movement and all the impact that it has with the interrelationships between organs, emotions and movement. Consider that doctors are now prescribing running, yoga, tai chi and qigong for depression, as different types of movement have been found to help move the body out of the depression.
Of course, we know that depression might also be linked to the gut and gut bacteria or flora, and movement is essential in bowel movements and the digestion of food. Given that about eighty percent of your immune system is in the gut, what do you think is the effect of movement on your immune system?
But also consider how movement can give your skin a healthy glow, as more oxygen is pumped through to all of your cells. But not only is your blood flow affected, so is the lymphatic system of the body, removing toxins more effectively when you are in movement. This allows all of your cells, including your skin, to filter metabolic waste more efficiently.
When you consider that movement improves the flow of blood to your cells, remember this also means that your brain is receiving more oxygen – clearing out the brain fog, and allowing you greater focus. A side-effect of regular movement is that it reduces anxiety, making the Fight/Flight system less reactive.
Movement for life
Are you convinced yet that moving improves your thinking, helps you build stronger relationships and provides you with the ability to focus on your priorities and purpose in life?
While some people really enjoy “exercise”, I don’t really. And I don’t believe in exercise for the purpose of weight loss, fitness and looking better, although those are all awesome secondary effects!
I think as a society we need to focus on movement, as those who are able to move easily and freely have more confidence in themselves. Just knowing you can keep up with your toddler is a boost in self-esteem! Believe me. I’ve been there!
As you keep moving, you find that movement frees you from fear and anxiety, as you are able to shake it off more easily. Notice how dogs or cats, even after a fight, walk away and then shake. They literally shake the anxiety, the fear and the stress or tension out of their bodies as they walk away. They don’t carry that away with them!
Have you tried to shake it off? Literally. Yes, by movement and shaking!
When we have greater movement and flexibility, a whole new world of choices and options open up for us. Activities that were previously out of our ability and comfort zone become possible. This allows us to feel more empowered, more energetic and focused.
When your body works, you have more choices and can choose to do more things.
Born to run – or just made to move?
Let’s me clear – not everyone was born to run! Personally, I love
running jogging. But you don’t have to smash out the reps or train for a marathon in order to be fluid in movement.
The more you move in a particular way, the more your body learns to be fluid in that particular movement. For example, if you are only training your biceps, that’s the only muscles in your body that are getting fluidity and training. There will be some small benefit for your back and shoulders, but the reality is that you are ignoring the rest of your body.
Exercise is optional.Anonymous
Movement is essential.
Are you using exercise as your “get out of jail free” card – because you don’t have an active lifestyle?
Movement is ancient – consider how the human race has
All since the beginning of time. Movement is essential to remaining healthy, even if it’s just leaning over to pick up the toys, or hanging out the laundry!
Find movement that you love!
Forget about the calories burnt – focus on how your body feels. Consider the possibility of simply “training movement” rather than taking up a particular exercise regime.
If you aren’t interested in becoming a body builder, then why limit yourself to only those movements and muscle groups?
In March 2019, Sarah Whalen and I did a challenge of “Move through March” in which each day we suggested a new type of movement within our Facebook group. It was an exploration of movement – rather than an organized workout. So, some of the examples included:
- Try out a class at your local gym/YMCA/Community center – something that you have never done before
- Go and play with your kids – whatever they are playing, you have to play!
- Go to your local museum and enjoy walking through it all to explore it.
- Start your day with 2 songs of dancing
- Go extreme – what’s the most extreme sport you’ve ever tried?
- Try out an online Yoga or Qigong video
- Go and visit a local historic site or gardens that you have never visited
- Get in 10,000 steps today
- Try out a team sport – indoor soccer, volley ball, basketball, etc.
- Connect with nature – visit a local gardens, lake or park.
- Try a kettlebell workout or something with weights that you’ve never done before
- Go for a walk, even in the cold weather
- Can you do 20 squats?
As you can imagine, there were 31 activities in total! It wasn’t about getting fit. The invitation was to experiment and find a movement that jived! To try things outside of your comfort zone and see what you discovered you enjoyed.
What movement do you enjoy? Start small and build from there!
Now, keep moving!
It doesn’t matter what you discover that you love – whether it be salsa dancing, karate, tai chi or walking. Perhaps you enjoy the social nature of exercise or a team sport.
Whatever it is, start with what you know and then gently expand from there. Play with your strengths – so if you are naturally competitive, find something that pushes you to compete.
If you are social, what activities can you do that incorporate movement and social aspects of life? If you love animals, perhaps you want to walk a dog, visit a rescue centre that needs dog walkers, or try out horseback riding.
Find the movement that you love, and then keep moving. Your body will respond with gratitude, appreciation and joy! The benefits will surprise you!