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A short definition could be: focussing on your body and using internal signals to help guide what it needs in terms of movement and activity. By listening to your body (and with a bit of mindful awareness) you can work out what, how much and how intense your movement should be on any given day. Intuitive movement means finding joyful, energising activity that gives you real pleasure and that makes you feel wholeheartedly good.
e.g. “It doesn’t count if you’re not sweating”
“I have to go for
a run this morning, even though I don’t feel up to it”
“I feel so bad, I haven’t been to the gym this week”
e.g. “I feel kind of run down today so I’m going to go for a walk instead of the gym”
“It’s okay that I haven’t worked out this week, I’ve had other priorities”
“I know moving my body gently right now is what it needs”
Often what comes with the diet mentality is the belief that brutal exercise is a necessary evil on the weight loss journey. An activity to be crowbarred into normal life and undertaken religiously; only to be completely ignored again when the diet is given up. A lot of us approach exercise like this (even when we’re not dieting), like something we have to do, even if we hate what it. Using exercise as a calorie-burner instead of joy-giver is part of the reason why many people struggle to maintain consistent routines with exercise.
Finding enjoyable activity that energises you and makes you feel good (rather than dragging yourself to the gym and hating life while you’re there) and getting sufficient sleep can help to keep stress levels to a minimum, benefiting both physical and mental health. Focusing on health rather than weight may or may not lead to weight loss, however health improvements can occur independently of weight, regardless of what we’re often told.
• Be flexible in your thinking around exercise; even housework or taking the dog for a walk are beneficial for health
• Do a quick body scan taking in your mood, energy and stress levels, how your gut is feeling etc.
• Ask yourself what will really feel good today – Stretching? Getting a bit out of breath? Rest?
• Tune in to how different movement makes you feel
• Get yourself some comfortable clothes to move your body in. Nothing fancy; old t-shirts are ideal or trawl some charity shops to find a bargain workout kit.
Use these techniques together to guide what you want to do to move your body and remember to be kind to yourself on top of everything. Heed these words: not going for a great long run today isn’t going to harm your long term health!