Finding enjoyable methods of movement can help exercise become a more steady presence in our lives. (Emily Gonçalves)
Finding enjoyable methods of movement can help exercise become a more steady presence in our lives.

Emily Gonçalves

Intuitive Eating with Mimi: Intuitive Movement and a couple other housekeeping addresses

Ways to move your body without forcing exercise

January 23, 2020

(Photo by Drew Baxley)

Before I delve into the next topic of intuitive eating, I would like to address my previous article briefly. While I firmly believe in the Health at Every Size paradigm and the Intuitive Eating movement, I read every one of your comments: sometimes with smiles, other times with tears; I hear you. It’s okay if we have differences of opinion; I still choose to write what I know and believe. I have worked with several registered dietitians through internships; read through masters and doctorate level studies and research into the topic and combed through much of my own research on the topic to come to my conclusions. I am always eager to share what I have learned with you all, and trying to spread what I believe is a healthy approach to the body

So, I have a confession to make: I accidentally skipped two of the principles of intuitive eating (oh what it is to be human), and want to loop back to them. The third principle of intuitive eating is to make peace with food. Food is not bad or something to be afraid of; it nourishes our bodies and sustains our lives. The fifth principle is to discover the satisfaction factor. Discovering the satisfaction factor looks a little different for everybody, but it is the feeling of happiness after eating a good meal. It is a beautiful thing to feel happiness and satisfaction after eating a meal, and this ought to be available to people in all bodies. Joy can be found in eating satisfying foods, and paying attention mindfully to what we are eating. 

Another important way to build a healthy relationship with your body is to exercise. How do you move your body? Do you like the way that you engage in movement? Or do you find yourself forcing movement in the form of exercise on yourself because of what you have seen in the media?

These are all important questions to ask yourself as you reflect on your relationship with exercise. The ninth principle of intuitive eating is movement. I encourage you to feel the difference between rigid exercise and intuitive, joyful movement. Our bodies need movement, and activity is really good for our bodies. In addition, exercise can be helpful for both our mental and physical wellbeing. However, it is important that we find ways to move that we enjoy, as this will allow us to keep doing that movement because of our intrinsic, rather than body-focused motivation for it, which can ebb and flow.

Ice skating, walks around our beautiful campus and sports games are just some examples of ways that you can joyfully move your body. Simple or slow movements such as walking around campus or cleaning up the house can also count as forms of exercise. Anyone in any body can work out without making weight loss the focus. I try to view exercise as a way to take care of my body and do things that I love. Begin by thinking about what forms of movement make you happy, and go from there. 

You do not have to punish yourself by exercising. You do not have to make up for the food you ate yesterday or the day before or ever. Your body is smart and uses the food you give it as energy in complex manners that are far less simple than the notion that you are what you eat. 

So, what does it look like to incorporate joy and intuition into our lives on a college campus? It looks like celebrating the moments and taking time to be proud of our progress; our relationship with food is a journey. Incorporating intuition includes honoring our hunger and fullness cues, our bodies’ desires and needs for movement and having joyful experiences around food. If you like to run, that is awesome; campus is a beautiful place to walk or run around. Try discovering the satisfaction factor with new foods around campus and Nashville. Discover yoga, ice skating and kickboxing courses offered in Nashville and/or classes at the rec center. Most importantly, focus on connecting what makes you happy to what you love to movement in our bodies. 

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