While I’m on maternity leave, please welcome my friend Karleigh Jurek, a fellow registered dietitian from Houston, TX. Karleigh blogs over at BeetsandBrews.com.
Hi everyone! Karleigh here from beetsandbrews.com and I’m so excited to be guest posting here on Zen and Spice while Emily enjoys some serious snuggles with her baby girl! Today I wanted to pop in and talk a little bit about my experience with mindful exercise and how I’ve learned one size doesn’t fit all. What I mean by this is simply, what works for one person, might not work for another person. It seems that this is quickly becoming a trendy term in the health and wellness sector, but it can sometimes be a broad and deceptive term.
Before we get too far into this, I want to quickly define what mindful exercise means to me. Please keep in mind that there are countless ways to define this and this is simply my interpretation. For me, mindful exercise is enjoying movement that makes me feel strong, confident, and provides a positive mental and emotional boost. One thing that I have learned through my experience in seeking mindful movement is the form of exercise I choose changes constantly depending on the season of life that I am in.
A great example of this, I am a runner and cyclist, but I am also expecting my first baby boy in a few months, and these forms of movement have not felt great or brought me joy during this season of pregnancy. For now, I’ve been enjoying extra long walks with my dogs and some gentle weight exercise as feels right. I tell you all this to help you understand, that sometimes your favorite form of exercise might not be what your body craves, and that’s one hundred percent ok.
Back to the one size doesn’t fit all. When I first started diving into mindful movement I really struggled getting on board with this mindset. The reason for this is because I felt like it was saying I couldn’t go to a sweaty spin class and enjoy it because it wasn’t “mindful.” Now I have to admit I haven’t had the best relationship with exercise, read more about that here. But as someone who has always enjoyed competition and feeling athletic, it felt like I was really suppressing a huge side of myself.
At the time, I probably really needed to take a step back from exercise and re-evaluate my motives, but eventually I really felt like I couldn’t practice mindful exercise and still enjoy things like a long run, a sweaty spin class, or a get-your-legs shaking barre class. However, I’ve learned over time that mindful exercise is not a one size fits all solution.
The key to practicing this new exercise movement is some self-reflection on why you are doing said exercise. If you are going to spin class X times a week because you are trying to hit a certain number on the scale or fit into a pair of jeans, it might be time to take a step back from these classes. If you’re going to an 8 am barre class on Saturday morning because you went to dinner with friends the night before and feel like you have to “work off” the calories you ate, this is not the right approach. The key to mindful exercise is participating in this exercise out of self-love and because it truly brings you joy. In addition, I firmly believe another key to mindful exercise is giving yourself permission to take a day (or two) off from exercise because your body needs rest.
Another key for mindful exercise is finding forms of exercise that you truly enjoy. As I mentioned, I love to run and cycle. But for others that sounds like torture, and that’s okay, you do you! It’s important to always have some self-reflection when exercising to help you determine if you truly enjoyed that exercise. For me, burpees are not my thing, and that’s okay. I choose not to do them and I move on. It’s important to understand your boundaries and respect those based solely on what YOUR body tells you.
Mindful exercise is a wonderful approach to staying active in a sustainable way, but don’t be afraid to create your own definition of what this means to you. But also, don’t shy away from embracing how this definition could change with the different seasons of life. What might feel right as exercise in your late twenties very likely will feel different in your late thirties or forties. Embrace the change! But also respect that your body is a beautiful thing and treat it with love and respect.
Karleigh Jurek is the person behind beetsandbrews.com! She is a Registered Dietitian who recently moved to Houston, TX with her husband and 2 dogs and will soon be welcoming their first boy to the family. Karleigh spends her time running, cooking, reading, traveling, and exploring new places with her family. She loves to promote a healthy lifestyle that fits for your individual needs as well as promoting a healthy relationship with food through intuitive eating. Prior to moving she worked as a retail dietitian for a local grocery chain where she learned about promoting overall health and wellness.