When I quit my exercise boot camp about a year and a half ago, I had no plan on what I was going to replace it with. All I knew was that I could no longer force myself to do something I didn’t enjoy anymore – I was sleep deprived (waking up at 5am!), missing out on time with my husband at night because I had to go to bed so early, overeating to compensate for being exhausted, and injuring myself. It was around this time I really took a deep dive into my relationship with food and exercise to try to figure it out for good.
I realized that I had quite a few disordered eating habits, such as binging and overeating past my fullness level frequently for emotional reasons, far too often, and as my only coping mechanism. I also had a strange relationship with exercise—and realized that I had this strange relationship for years! Ever since starting my path in dietetics in college, I forced myself to exercise. Treadmill, elliptical, running outside, and lifting weights – none of which I truly enjoyed (or was good at). I forced myself to do it just because I thought I had to.
The biggest thing I realized and had to overcome was that I was exercising mainly for the reason of changing my body shape. I wasn’t running for cardio health or just overall well-being and warm fuzzies, I was doing it so I’d be at a weight number I thought I should be at, and have the ab definition I’d always dreamed of. Movement doesn’t exist to change our bodies—it exists for our health. Many people won’t ever reach their weight or muscle definition goals, simply because they’re bodies just aren’t meant to ever be in that shape. Hence the reason that no matter how much I exercised and “ate clean”, I was never able to get the defined abs. And when my body fat percentage dropped too low, I started having problems with my periods being regular.
Many of us waste a lot of our lives striving to be someone we will never be. And it’s time we realize that our physical attributes – body shape and size – have nothing to do with our health.
Long story short, that’s why I quit boot camp, and any form of exercise that I didn’t enjoy. I took a long hiatus from any form of exercise at all, and then when I started craving movement again, I did activities I actually liked. My number one favorite form of movement? Simply walking my dog.
Walking my dog brings me outside—and I absolutely love being outside and close to nature. I love the feeling of the sun on my skin, the birds chirping, and the wind blowing. Link loves going on walks because he gets out of the house and gets movement that’s important for him, too. Walking improves your mood, strengthens your bones and muscles, and connects you with nature. It also support cardiovascular and brain health. I would argue that it supports your mood and brain health even more than running, if running is something that you despise. Doing movement you enjoy releases mood boosting endorphins, which improves your overall health.
Walking is definitely not something to feel “ashamed” of or feel like you’re not doing enough. Any type of movement is good movement, especially when it helps you improve your relationship with your body and mind!
Hi! I’m Emily, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and self-taught intuitive chef. I firmly believe that cooking is the simplest and most important step we can take to improve our minds and bodies and build healthier communities. Join me and let’s bring food back to the kitchen!