In today’s day and age, we are constantly bombarded with messages about health and what we should be doing. Sometimes we forget to ask ourselves what we want to do, or what we like to do. We blindly follow the next best trend that magazines, social media, or the news are promoting, without even realizing we may be neglecting ourselves mentally and physically through our physical activity.
If your goal is to choose exercise that feels good for your body, improves your overall health and is enjoyable, then consider mindful movement. What does this mean? Utilize mindfulness skills (awareness, observation, nonjudgement, acceptance, in-the-moment) to improve your relationship and consistency with your exercise plan.
For exercise or movement to be good for our mind, body, and soul it is based upon four components:
- Rejuvenating the body, not exhausting, or depleting it
- Enhancing the mind-body connection and coordination, not confusing, or dysregulating it
- Alleviating mental and physical stress, not contributing to, or exacerbating it
- Providing genuine enjoyment and pleasure, not painful or punitive
Other questions to consider:
- What is your relationship to exercise like now compared to the past?
- Does exercise trigger negative behaviors (for example: skipping meals, exercising to burnout, ruminating negative thoughts about your body)?
- What does exercise look like for you when its supportive of your healthy self?
- In your dream world, how does physical activity fit in to your life?
- What are your thoughts on the “four components” for mindful movement?
- What are your core values for life, and what is one thing you’d like to start doing to align your relationship to exercise with your values?
Raise your awareness and observe your thoughts, feelings, and energy levels before, during and after movement. Compare the differences of before, during, and after and ask yourself if this exercise plan is right for you. Are you excited for it, or do you dread it? Does it energize you afterward, or exhaust you? Does it put you in a good mood, or does it make you cranky, annoyed, sad? If the answer to those questions is the latter, then it may be a sign that your exercise plan is not right for you, and it might be a good idea to explore something new and potentially better suited for you.
Danielle Johnson RDN, CDN, RYT is a registered dietitian who works in the Bariatric Center of Excellence at Mather Hospital, where she specializes in surgical weight loss and medical weight management. She is completing her Master of Science degree in Integrative Nutrition at Stony Brook University.