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How I shifted from compulsive exercising to Intuitive exercise and movement.

My relationship to exercise has changed drastically over the past 5 years of my life, but most significantly in the last year. It wasn’t until the last few years when my back kept going out the more I worked out. Even before that my last half marathon I ran I ended up in a boot with a stress fracture. I hurt my foot before the race and I still knowingly ran the race. I was so out of wack with thinking I had to take my cardio workouts to the extreme. But since we live in a culture that normalizes things like dieting and excessive exercise, it’s easy to be labeled as “healthy,” and even be applauded for the effort to “better yourself.”

I found intuitive exercise and committed to that journey of truly connecting and listening to my body and honoring it with what it needed.

We have to stop with all the numbers. Just like counting calories to guide our food choices is not honoring our bodies’ needs, obsessively counting miles ran, calories burned, etc. further disconnects us from ourselves. 

From they explain benefits to working out and the downfalls of too much. Exercise has been shown to increase energy, lower stress, increase restful sleep, improve bone strength, resistance to illness, and improve health generally. Proper exercise, done in moderation, and with intuition, is an important and healthy part of life, from the development of coordination in the toddler, to strengthening cardiac function in the elderly.

Then there’s the problem of exercising too much!

A little exercise is good for you, so a lot must be even better, right? Well, not always. At a particular point the body says “enough is enough,” and the results of not listening can be devastating. There are also real and present dangers in overexercising. The most common risk in exercising is injury to muscles and joints. This usually happens from exercising too rigorously, or for too long. Overexercise can cause injuries to legs, feet, and joints of the body.

The emotional and mental dangers of overexercise can be just as debilitating. These include potential development of obsessive compulsive behaviors of differing kinds. Compulsive exercise is an addiction of significant proportion standing alone.

Additionally, compulsive exercise can feed or fuel other related obsessive-compulsive disorders.

I used to push myself to the limits. Running 5 miles a day and then doing a 55 minute Pure Barre class or run 3 miles and go to a hot power yoga class.

Now for myself I don’t run more than 3 miles. I only do HIIT workouts for 15-30 minutes max. I practice yoga, Pilates, and barre, YogaBarre, and 30-45 minutes of yoga HIIT. I listen to what I need that day. If I have a lot of energy I can do a longer workout, if I’m tired or not feeling it I will do a 15-20 minute yoga barre flow or something similar or even rest.

I backed off hot power yoga classes even though I absolutely loooove them because I was leaving feeling done for the day and wiped out.

If you’re someone who can train six days a week without any negative impact, that’s great. But if three workouts a week is mentally and physically draining you, it’s time to check in.

If you love running marathons and your body can physically and mentally handle it that’s awesome! Keep doing what works for you!

So what exactly is intuitive exercising? “It means moving in a way that supports the body, and actually enjoying what you’re doing for your body.” Explains personal trainer Jen Elliott.

Intuitive exercising means listening to your body and understanding what it needs that day. “I think we get caught up in these ‘rules’ of this much cardio, this much strength per week,” explains holistic health counselor Natasha Uspensky. “But what works well for your best friend, might not work best for you.”

Say your BFF is HIIT queen and gets energized with every burpee, but the same class (and same moves) leave you feeling wiped. Well, that’s a sign your body isn’t happy with the amount of HIIT you’re incorporating and it might be smart to listen to how you’re feeling either by taking a couple of days off or simply by switching it up with yoga, Pilates, or a brisk walk.

You really need to listen to your body and respect what it needs.

Another positive benefit from shorter workouts is that longer workouts create free radicals and that ages us quicker so I like to think I’m doing anti-aging workouts! 🙌🏻

But honestly, listen to what your body needs that day. What works for one person might not work for you. We all need to start honoring ourselves and what we need that day.

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