EP: 74 - ARE YOU PUNISHING YOURSELF WITH EXERCISE?

(This video is recorded from a YouTube LIVE session)

Exercise and movement should be pleasurable. No matter how you choose to move, it should be for the purpose of experiencing and enjoying your body, regardless of your shape. We are entitled to this kind of pleasure.
— When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies

Have you ever heard yourself say: I’ll just work this off in the gym tomorrow. Or, man I’m going to have to hit the gym after this meal. Or I need to go do some cardio I’ve been bad this weekend?

So often we use exercise as a way to punish ourselves. It’s a way to do penance for being bad. A way to anesthetize the pain of our guilt. It’s something we have to do to relieve the shame from our bad behavior. It’s punishment.

But what this is doing unconsciously is that we begin to see our bodies as something to be beat into submission. Something we must tame. Something inadvertently against us. There is this connect or link that is created: exercise is a good behavior to make up for our bad behavior. And because we are adults, we don’t like to be punished. And so most of my clients end up creating a massive aversion to exercising. We avoid it. We avoid gyms. We avoid anything that looks like and smells like punishment - except it doesn’t stop there. Then we add blame and shame to it and feel like something is wrong with us that we can’t get to the gym. We’re lazy or undisciplined. We believe we just need to get some more will power and we’ll make it to the gym.

Or, most people were only taught to exercise to get a result. To lose weight. To tone up. To get ready for an event. Etc. It was usually extreme and short lived. So we associate it with temporary obsession that is incredibly intense and unpleasant. And so we live in the all or nothing camp.

So needless to say… of course we aren’t going to like exercise. THERE IS NOT SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU! This is not a willpower issue. Let me say that again, there is not something wrong with you.

The good news is we can shift this.

1st with our language. We have to change the word EXERCISE to MOVEMENT. Let’s take those trigger words out of our vocabulary and set ourselves up for success.

And the 2nd shift, is giving ourselves permission to shift our relationship to it. It’s not longer for weight loss or result. We’re choosing to move to celebrate our bodies. We can move our bodies for other reasons. For pleasure, for endurance, for strength, for some alone time, to work through our emotions, or to be outdoors more for example.

4 Ways to Reconnect to Moving Your Body:

Way #1: Understand Your Motivation

What’s been your motivation for working out? Or what do you think the purpose is?

These are the sticking points that make it miserable or keep you from doing it:

Is it to lose weight? (only do it when you are dieting)

Is it to punish yourself for what you ate?

Is it to be sexier?

Is it to feel better getting in to a bathing suit?

Eventually you will rebel.

That is diet mentality thinking.

IF YOU DO NOT ENJOY MOVING YOU are in it for the wrong reasons.

The point is to thrive.

The point is connection with your body.

Are you stuck in feeling guilty for not working out?

Are you binging on working out and then stop you can be sure you’re stuck in diet mentality?

Moving your body is a lifestyle.

Way #2: IDENTIFY YOUR PREFERENCE

What forms of exercise do I enjoy?

Get to know your preferences:

Do you enjoy exercising alone or without other people?

Indoors or outdoors?

Make it fun - diversify

We have to separate exercise from weight loss or a result:

If you did it simply for the love of moving what would feel amazing?

WAY #3: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

What would feel good today? What does your body need? How does it want to move today?

Honoring your body when you need to rest and listen to your body cues.

And then asses along the way:

How does it feel in the moment?

How does it feel afterwards? How is your energy? How is your mood? What’s your stress level afterwards?

WAY #4: DITCH THE RULES

What rules am I creating that aren’t really rules?

Identify your working out rules:

It doesn’t count unless I sweat.

It doesn’t count unless I do it for 1 hour.

It doesn’t count unless I burn X amount of calories.

It doesn’t count unless I X distance.

I have to work out 5 times a week for it to count.

Who put these ideas in your head? Who says?

It’s time to DITCH THEM.

As you restore your relationship to your body, it’s important to give yourself new rules.

It counts always.

It counts if you stretch.

It counts if you simply walk down to the end of the street and back.

It counts if it’s restorative.

It counts when you don’t sweat.

The goal is listening to your body, and moving it the way it wants to move.

What would it look like to come back to movement without the shame? Without the judgement. Without the fixation that you are broken and something needs to be fixed. But you did it because it felt GOOD. Because it brought you pleasure. That is my hope for you as you redefine moving your body away from punishment.


WATCH THE VIDEO OR LISTEN ABOVE TO GO INTO MORE DEPTH ON how to enjoy moving your body again.

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Mary Hyatt