Hi, friends! My husband and I are currently overseas on a two-week long adventure in Ireland, Scotland and London. Follow our adventures over on Instagram! While we’re away, I’ve invited a few of my blogger friends to share recipes and intuitive eating posts! Today’s post is by my friend Courtney

Hi there! My name is Courtney and I am the owner of the nutrition consulting business Real Food Court where I do seminars and speaking engagements, media work, and individualized one-on-one sessions with clients. I blog over at my website www.realfoodcourt.com/blog. I am so happy to contribute to Zen and Spice today! I am sharing info about a topic that is near and dear to my heart: Finding fitness freedom. Not sure what fitness freedom means? Read on and find out!

It is so important to listen to your body and honor what it is telling you. If you are working on improving your relationship with food and be more in touch with yourself then the role of exercise can’t be overlooked. Fitness freedom, some call it intuitive exercise, is the term I use to describe the state you are in when you are enjoying exercise without stress, guilt, or fear. Consider these questions: Do you ever skip social functions to fit in exercise? Do you feel immense guilt and mood changes when something in your day unexpectedly gets in the way of your workout? Do you exercise to achieve a certain “look”? Do you try and spot treat your muscles (this is impossible by the way)? Do you lose sleep for exercise? Do you exercise to make up for what you ate? If you answered yes, maybe, or sometimes to any of these questions then exercise has control over you.  

Before your defensive shield comes up, I need you to know I am not saying exercise is bad. Exercise is inherently good. Exercise is healing, it helps our body be strong and resilient, it improves heart health and mood. There are endless benefits! What is bad is when exercise becomes a source of stress. Movement doesn’t exist to give us six-pack abs and perfectly rounded delts, it exists for our health, and while some people may find that muscle definition through exercise, many won’t. We can accidentally waste a lot of time in our life striving for things that will never be. Physical attributes have nothing to do with our health.

If you are feeling like exercise may have too big of a hand in your day to day life I want to assure you there is hope! I am sharing 5 simple tips you can implement right now to help you start your journey to fitness freedom. As with intuitive eating, it won’t happen overnight. But just increasing your awareness of your thoughts around exercise will begin the mental shift.

  1. Unfollow. Social channels that bring up comparison thoughts or just make you feel bad about yourself have to go. That food blogger who loves to post extremely lean bikini pics…no thanks. The gym rat who spends hours in the gym in her makeup and curled hair to shoot a video of herself squatting…bye. If it makes you feel negative, you don’t need it.
  2. Prioritize. Make a list of your priorities. Be honest. I don’t want to tell you what to prioritize, but I will say that unless you are a physique model a chiseled appearance probably shouldn’t be at the top, or even close to it.  Knowing these priorities is so important to starting to shift your mindset away from guilt. Next time a hang out with friends or a child’s event comes up you will have permission to go, be present, and enjoy without the guilt of a missed workout because you know you are sticking to your priorities.
  3. Find your why. Every time you are planning or considering doing exercise ask yourself why you want to do it. Is it because you ate a cookie after lunch? Is it because you are supposed to do it? Is it because you want to lose weight? If the answer is yes to any of these then do not exercise. Seriously. Every time you recognize your punishing response to a negative thought you must not give in. This is how you eventually move into mindful and intuitive exercise selection.
  4. Slow down. Replace one of your high intensity days with yoga or walking. Walk with a friend to a new coffee shop, or try a yoga class at a local studio. These activities increase mindfulness and connection which will be vital on your fitness freedom journey.
  5. Find exercise you enjoy. It sounds like a no brainer, yet so many people struggle with this. They spend too much money on trainers who make them do circuits and move weights, which they hate. They run because they think it leads to calorie burn. Stop the madness! Listen to your body. What feels good? What do you enjoy? What relaxes your mind and helps you unwind from the day? THAT is the exercise you should be doing, and don’t worry, it can change everyday. When you’re not stuck to a plan or schedule you have the freedom to explore. Once you enjoy an activity you will want to do it again and again and soon it will become a habit.

What part of your relationship with fitness do you need to work on most? Which tip is going to be easiest for you to apply? We would love to hear about it.

1 Comment

  1. unfollow for me has been HUGE. We are bombarded with this message that exercise has to be this extremely strenuous thing, which is so so false. all great points here, thank you :)

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