• Stephanie Dorfman, MS, RD

How Would you Define your Relationship with Exercise?

Time to chat - do you have a healthy relationship with exercise? Similar to what diet culture has done to our relationship with food, has society created an unrealistic view of what exercise really is? Continue reading and let me know! (P.S. this is all totally normal and understandable!)



Benefits of Moving

Generally speaking, exercise is an important activity we should try to incorporate into our schedule. We are all familiar with the health benefits of exercise that have been engrained into our minds - combating various diseases, promoting better sleep, relieving anxiety or stress, improving your mood - but did you know that the biggest benefit is that exercise can be fun! Where is this line? When does exercise take a turn and become more harmful than helpful? Here is where the relationship aspect comes in.


What is Your Definition of Exercise?

When did exercise become a chore we have to do, rather than something we want to do? If working out had NO IMPACT on body shape or size, would you still do it?


I have noticed clients hanging on to diet culture by a thread, with the hopes that exercise will be the turning point for them. If they were able to exercise and move their body more frequently, that would be the golden ticket. Does this sound familiar to anyone??? Does this sound like the vicious diet cycle and hoping that the next diet (aka exercise in this case) would be exactly what you need to meet your weight goals?


What is your definition of exercise? How do you typically incorporate exercise into your day? Does it only “count” if:

  • You are sweating?

  • You exercise for a certain amount of time?

  • You do cardio?

  • You lift weights?

  • You physically go to the gym?

  • You feel sore afterwards?

If exercise had no impact on weight - would you still make it a point to do it?


What is your Exercise Goal?

I have also found, from self-reflection and from speaking with clients, that any type of forced, strict exercise routine (like a forced, strict diet), is never enjoyable and tends to make us feel badly about ourselves if not accomplished. This strict routine is not a successful way to listen to your body and may lead to over exercising and injury - just to stick to the strict routine.


I would love to learn - what are your exercise goals? If it is to change your body, burn calories, “make up for” what you ate the day before, I would ask you to rewind and reconsider. Having unachievable, forced, or self-deprecating goals can make you resent movement and exercise all together. Is that the end goal?


How Can We Make Movement Joyful?

After exercising, take note of how you physically and mentally feel.

  • Do you feel happier?

  • Did you have a good time?

  • Do you feel energized?

  • Is it something you would want to do again?

Joyful movement approaches moving our bodies with the emphasis surrounding pleasure. Intuitive Eating Principle #9 is "movement - feel the difference." Focus on the way movement feels in our body and appreciating the fact that our body is able to physically move! The more you enjoy what you are doing, the more regularly you are likely to do it.


Let's start shifting our mindset around exercise - focusing more on joyful movement (and no, this will not happen overnight). I would also like to give everyone permission to NOT ENJOY exercising!!! I know, crazy right? Allow space for kindness and compassion as you start to discover what movement you like and don't like - it is completely normal and ok to not enjoy exercising.


Finding activities you enjoy doing, is more important than forcing yourself to do things you hate. What makes you feel good mentally and physically? Everyone is different - it is important to discover what makes you feel your best. When discovering joyful movement, don’t forget to incorporate rest. Resting is important and allows us to become more in tune with our body - listen to it (like with hunger and fullness cues) and start to learn when it is asking for rest. During this rest time, you may have better insight to what type of movement you do find joyful - what is your body craving when it is resting?


I Want to Hear from You!

So - what did you take away from this post? What are you now considering when looking deeper at your relationship with exercise? What are some ways you participate in joyful movement?


Looking for someone to chat with about intuitive eating? Hi there! I am here to listen and provide a safe and supportive space for discussion. Feel free to schedule a free discovery call to learn how we can work together.