spiritual

Why You Should Give Intuitive Wellness A Try

Exercise can mean many things for different people. For some, it means meeting with your personal trainer every week. For others, it means participating in a group fitness class on your lunch hour. Whatever the form of exercise, we know that the key to long-lasting health and a great physique is commitment.

Yet most of us approach our fitness as a chore we need to check off the list every day. Instead I think we need to rely on our intuition to guide our exercise routine. Intuitive exercise simply means moving in a way that makes you feel good in your own skin. Basically, allow yourself to think about exercise as a commitment to movement:“What does my body need today, what does my body crave today, within today’s crazy schedule — what type of exercise would be most beneficial to my body?”

In today’s fitness-obsessed world, it is easy to adopt the fear-based mindset — that you have to work out or you’ll gain weight. But, we have the power to shift our perception to: “I will honor my body today by moving in a way that feels good!” Giving yourself a choice empowers you to become more consistent in your routine. Here are some tips to get you on YOUR own intuitive path to fitness:

1. Tune into your body every day.

Take a deep breath and listen to how your body is feeling every morning. Doing a body scan can really help you identify what your body needs are for that day. Perhaps you are feeling really tight. Maybe you’re feeling the stress from your week building up in your body. Tune into your emotional state as well and analyze what is going on.

2. Be satisfied with whatever type of movement the day brings.

Whatever workout you choose today, embrace it. Do not let your ego talk you out of what you know you intuitively need. So, if you are feeling really strong, lift weights instead of doing cardio. If the only way you can fit in exercise is a few 10-minute walks throughout the day, that’s okay too.

3. Figure out your why.

It is normal to feel less then motivated when it comes to working out. We tend to bully ourselves into going to the gym. We try to scare ourselves with consequences. “If I want to eat those cookies, I better get my but on the treadmill” or “If I don’t run five miles today, I won’t fit into my bridesmaid dress!” This type of thinking is only going to push your mind and your body to rebel. We need to always remember that, exercise is a form of self-love. Write this on your fridge! You are working out because you deserve a healthy and vibrant life.

4. Move with joy.

This may seem like a shocking concept, but whatever exercise you choose to do, make sure you actually enjoy it! Exercise should never feel like torture. You should always feel good, energized and accomplished. Remember the more you experience joy while exercising, the more you will be willing to do it — and the more you do it, the healthier and more amazing you will look and feel.

5. Find satisfaction in every type of movement.

Know that whatever you did today was perfect and it is enough. Some days we kill our workouts, and some days our workouts kill us! No matter the outcome or the intensity, being consistent and committing to taking care of your body is all you can ask of yourself. There is no greater commitment than the one we make to ourselves. After every workout, you can feel awesome and proud of yourself for choosing to honor your body.

Treats, not Cheats

We are all familiar with the term or phrase, “Cheat Meal”. I hear it a hundred times a week and constantly throughout the day. “I eat clean all week, but let myself have one cheat meal”, or “It’s cheat day!” Lets, break down this idea, of the “cheat meal.” The word, cheat in its essence has a negative connotation to it. By definition:

Cheat verb

: to break a rule or law usually to gain an advantage at something

: to take something from (someone) by lying or breaking a rule

: to prevent (someone) from having something that he or she deserves or was expecting to get

When it comes to designing your health and diet for long-term maintenance, adopting an all-or-nothing mentality is a recipe for sabotage. In life, so few things are simply black or white, good or bad. When we put a negative spin on a behavior, like having a “cheat meal” it tends to affect that behavior greatly. In the case of food, it leads to the inevitable binge. The idea behind allowing yourself a “cheat meal,” is that you shouldn’t be indulging – that you deserve to be ashamed of your behavior. This kind of thinking is a slippery slope. Once you’ve cheated a little and you’re already feeling bad about yourself, why not cheat a lot? If you’re already feeling down on yourself for cheating on your diet, you are much more likely to feed your indulgences and overdo it.

Enjoying a treat once in a while, on the other hand, means just that. By definition:

Treat noun

: an occurrence in which you pay for someone’s food, drink, or entertainment

: something pleasant or amusing that is unusual or unexpected

: something that tastes good and that is not eaten often

See the words they use. “Entertainment.” “Amusing.” “Pleasant.” It’s a treat! You deserve that cookie or that bowl of pasta – you earned it through days and weeks and months of maintaining healthy habits. It’s like taking a vacation. We all need a break to relieve stress and relax from the grind. We do this when it comes to our workout programs, don’t we? We take rest days when our bodies need them we should also take rests from our diets when our body wants a treat.

 Doesn’t that sound better? Can you imagine if you thought about food in this way? So the next time you are out with your friends, enjoying a glass of wine and a delicious meal, instead of the shame and last supper mentality, reclaim your right to eat what you want in the moment. Give yourself unconditional permission to have a treat when your body desires it, and then put it to bed. This shift in perception will prevent you from binging and also allow you to make the food choices that you truly desire and not just indulge for indulgence’s sake. It’s called balance, and that is how you really set yourself up for a lifetime of healthy living.

Breaking the Mirror

One step forward and two steps back can seem to be my motto some days when things don’t go as smoothly as I’d like them to. Last week my brand new love seat arrived in five pieces with nothing but a socket wrench and about one thousand screws to put it all together. It would only make sense that, once fully assembled, I would back right up into my full length mirror, causing it to crash into what seemed like a million little pieces covering every inch of my 200 square foot studio. After an entire year with no furniture, I had purchased and assembled a loveseat only to back into another piece of furniture and have it destroyed.

My normal reaction to such an event would be to scream a profanity, fists to the heavens and breakdown in tears. But for whatever reason a calm came over me and I actually chuckled over my unlucky stumble. I cleaned up every shard of glass, which was tedious, believe me. Suddenly I realized how incredibly bare the wall was. There was no longer anything staring back at me. It was literally just a blank wall with ten holes in it, from where I had attempted (apparently not all that successfully) to hang my now demolished mirror. The holes weren’t even straight. I don’t believe in levels. I’m an “eyeball it” kind of girl.

As the week went on I must have checked my reflection on that blank wall filled with holes about a hundred times. I became filled with an awareness of how much I actually examined myself on a daily basis. “Body Checking” and searching for an external confirmation of how I was feeling was something I was doing far more often than I realized. So I decided to do an experiment. I would not purchase a full-length mirror for exactly one week and see how it made me feel about my body. I’m not sure if the two are related but last week there was something inside of me that said. “ Take the week off from the weights. Stop your training program and see what your body feels like doing, and then Do That Thing.” I try to impart these lessons onto my clients, so I know it is important to check in with myself regularly, and make sure I am practicing them. Even for the most experienced trainers and wellness experts, mindfulness is an active pursuit, and if you don’t routinely check in with your mind and your body, it is easy to become distracted with day-to-day demands and stressors.

Every time I found myself with the breaks in my day ordinarily slotted for workouts, I listened to see what my body wanted. Whatever by body told me it needed, including rest, I did it. It turned out, that week my heart thumped – Yoga and WalkWalk and Yoga. So, I spent my week trying new classes and studios all over the city, as well as walking to all of my clients and appointments instead of taking the subway or catching the bus. Some yoga classes were restorative, some vigorous. Suddenly close friends were reaching out to me and asking if I had time to take a class with them, something that they rarely do, because my schedule often does not allow it. The social aspect of exercising and sharing a joyful challenge with a friend brought a whole different dimension to my workouts, which truthfully I had been lacking. As the week went on I began craving green juice, and so I drank it. At the end of seven days, I was actually feeling tighter and lighter.

The anxiety of going off of a program (be diet or exercise) can be frightening and daunting. The insecure thoughts of not “burning enough calories” or “not consuming enough protein in a meal” can derail individuals from listening to their body and checking in with what they feel their body needs or wants. Leading up to the week I broke the mirror, I had been putting an immense amount of pressure on myself and my body, as a professional and as an athlete. It is so easy to slip into the comfortable panic of over restricting and overworking our bodies. But pulling back the reins can often have the exact opposite effect you think it will. Once I let go of my routine, I felt that the universe was presenting me with opportunities to try new modes of movement – this inspired both my own workouts as well as my personal training and wellness practice.

What I took away from this week was to reminder to not neglect the strive for balance that all of us crave. I continued to devote my time to my body, but leaned in and listened a bit more. There were definitely times I had the pangs of “Oh crap, I should be doing this or that”, I let these thoughts pass over me with the reassurance, the proof, and the knowing that all acts of wellness are just as beneficial to your body as exercise. Nutrition, movement, and self-awareness work together to create the symphony of healthAs I move into the upcoming weeks, I plan on taking this lesson to heart. Knowing that I have a plan and a program to follow, but also that I am in control and can choose to make a change at any point if that is what my body tells me when I tune in and take a moment to really listen.

Listen To Your Body

The idea of “listening to your body” is one hardest concepts to master when it comes to living healthfully. We hear this phrase uttered all the time from doctors, trainers, and magazines. But what do these words really mean? We have become incredibly impatient creatures and instead taking a minute to stop and listen to what our bodies are telling us when we are tired, hungry, sick or anxious, our first response is, “Okay how can I fix this? What can I take?” We look for both problems and answers in the most convoluted places. “What’s wrong with me? Why am I like this? I must have a weak stomach. I think I’m carrying too much tension in my shoulders.” We just want to keep moving and get back to our normal routines.

This approach is greatly flawed. It is mind-blowing how once you turn your focus and reflection inward and listen to your body, how much you can truly understand about what is going on in your life and health. By nature a lot of us are rule followers. We look for guidelines from the outside. The only problem is, when it comes to health, the rules are different for each person. There are unique routines and limits and tricks that will bring each individual to their perfect picture of health and wellness. The only rule that remains steadfast for each and every person is that if you listen to yourself and the rules your body sets up for you, naturally, you will deepen your access to feeling good and wellness. Still, you have to know what to look for.

Below I have laid out Four Simple Ways To Listen To Your Body. As soon as I began following these signposts, I understood what it meant to truly be in my body. I knew myself in ways that I never did before and my stress was reduced with my increased understanding what was going on inside my mind and physical core. Our bodies are very wise; we must learn to trust them. However, like everything else in life – consistency is key. The simple tasks listed below need to be performed regularly until listening to yourself if your your instinct; until your way of life involves checking in to see what your body needs.

Eat Mindfully

While you are eating, take a minute to ask yourself how hungry am I? Once you are finished with your meal or snack , note your level of fullness and separately check in with your level of satisfaction. Actively searching for these three feelings will help you tune into your physical needs and will also help you determine the right portions for the future. (For example, before I eat a meal I take a moment of gratitude and try to eat slowly. It really helps! J)  

Create A Morning Routine

The morning is truly a special time of day (and also my favorite). Before the world comes at us and our hectic schedules begin is the perfect time to take a few moments to set your intentions for the day. It is also a great place to do something special for yourself. Do some stretches. Read one chapter in a good book while sipping your coffee. Drink a cool glass of water with lemon. Calming rituals provide your body and mind with comforting regularity. In blogs to come I will share my morning routine with you and how it has completely changed my life.

Breathe

When you find yourself unable to connect with what your body needs, closing your eyes for just a few moments and taking deep long breaths will not only calm you down, but can also reveal answers to your questions. Meditation has proven benefits, both physically and mentally (and beyond that, too). However, beginning by just asking yourself a simple question, closing your eyes and taking five slow breaths can have a huge impact on getting to the bottom of what you need and want. I have found that this practice helps create a sense of control and a deep relationship with your body.

Let Go

This is a simple one: Let go. That’s it! Let go of what you think you know and create what your body wants. Forget about the rules and tricks you have read in magazines and diet books, and allow your body the space to crave the movement and rest it wants and when it wants it, the nutrients it desires and in what amounts and combinations it does, and trust me – you will be on the truest path to wellness you can imagine.