Welcome to this week’s Body Talk Conversation. To catch you up to speed, we’re talking all things “body”. Two weeks ago, we jumped straight into “Listening to Our Bodies.” And last week we discussed the not-so-fun-to-talk-about-topic of food. Why are we doing this again? We’re so glad you asked! The goal is to get us a bit more comfortable talking about and understanding our bodies. We how difficult this topic can be. I know a lot of us are constantly on guard when the topic comes up. But all bodies and everybody should be celebrated. We should love this vessel of life. We should cherish it and nurture it as best we can. Because let’s be real, at the end of the day, our bodies are one of the only things guaranteed to us in this life. So to continue on, let’s dive into the next topic: The Body and Exercise.
Exercise…Why Do We Need It Again?
I have a feeling that a majority of you will answer this question one of two ways.
- We should exercise to lose weight
- We should exercise to maintain weight, tone up, and lean out
Those answers aren’t technically wrong by any means. But for the sake of this blog post, I want us to think of answers that don’t revolve around weight. Because exercise does so much more for our bodies than hitting a certain number on the scale. So let’s try this again. Besides losing/maintaining weight, why should we exercise?
- It helps to improve memory
- You’ll have better posture
- Exercise helps to boost confidence
- It’s a great way to de-stress
- You’ll sleep so much better
- Exercising gives you more energy
- It will help improve your immune system
- You’ll live longer
- More endorphins mean more happy feelings
- It forces you to take time for yourself and be selfish for that 15-60 minutes
While weight-loss is a great benefit of exercising, that shouldn’t be the only reason you do it. And I think going into an exercise program with the strict goal of weight-loss often leads to burnout and “falling off the wagon. If we can be easier on ourselves and use exercise for the benefit of overall health and wellness, our bodies will transform in more ways than one!
But There Are So Many Kinds…
That’s true! There are so many different kinds of exercise styles and programs out there. It can be overwhelming to figure out which one to even start with. But I’m going to give you the “cheat sheet” answer.
No Exercise is the Wrong Way to Exercise
As long as you are moving your body and you aren’t in terrible physical pain, you’re golden. And I’m talking about pain in the sense of lifting weights that are too heavy. Or feeling terrible knee, joint, or back pain, kind of pain. Not the good kind of endorphin and adrenaline, “work through the burn”, a sensation of “pain”.
Remember reason number 10 from the above list? Exercise should be a selfish time for you to focus on yourself. Well, if you’re miserable during that time, you should probably try and find another activity to try. Exercising can be as simple as going on a walk or riding your bike. You can try free workouts on YouTube, sign up for classes at a niche studio, or get a gym membership.
You can do it alone, with a friend, or take the attention off yourself in a larger group. There are so many different ways to exercise as well! For the days you aren’t feeling it, you can do yoga or Pilates while you lay on the floor. There are bodyweight exercises you can do to a HIIT timer. You can lift heavy weights, or box, or dance, or rock climb. Heck, there are even trampoline classes now. There are so many options, and the more you try out, the easier it will be to pick a workout for whatever mood you’re in!
Please Just Remember to Rest!
Just with anything else in life, there is such a thing as too much exercise. As important as it is to move your body and break a sweat every once in a while, it’s also important to let your body rest and recover.
Many fitness experts try and give a rule of thumb on rest days. Some say you should only take one day. While others opt for 2-3. Personally, I think it’s going to depend on where you are in your life that week. If you’re super stressed, exhausted, and burned out, it’s okay to skip the gym to catch up on sleep. And this will take practice, but this all goes back to truly being mindful and listening to your body. If your muscles ache and are getting fatigued easily, switch your lifting session for some yoga or stretching. And if you scheduled a rest day but have so much energy or need to go on a stress run, go do it.
The Body and Exercise: The Underlying Message
Your body is your body alone. You are the only one feeling the things it’s telling you. Listen to it and let it guide you. And when we stop looking at our bodies as shapes, or as a weight, everything can start to change. If we can take a step back and remember that our bodies do everything for us, we can begin to appreciate it a bit differently. Our goals should be to aim for health, happiness, and fulfillment. Not a number or a size. It’s amazing what can happen when we can make that switch. And again, it’s not always the easiest switches, but my goodness is it the most rewarding.
The next time you are having an issue or negative thought about exercising, I want to remind you that it’s okay to have that thought in the first place. I don’t want you to judge yourself at that moment. It happens to the best of us. And if you find this happening often, I hope you give us a call. We all deserve to have healthy, and loving relationships with ourselves – and yes, that includes the body we live in.
Cristina Panaccione and Associates has two locations in the South Hills. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about the ways in which we can support you.
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.
Kristen Brozek is a masters level therapist with a degree in counseling psychology from Chatham University. She believes everyone has their own unique story to tell. Some of those stories are fun and exciting, and some of them are scary and difficult to share. It is her view to aid you expressing the many stories of your life, as they help to define where you have been and where you are going. Her clinical experiences include working with those suffering from substance abuse, depression, anxiety, relationship and family struggles, grief, bipolar disorder, paranoia, and PTSD. She focuses on aiding individuals in identifying their personal strengths and utilizing the skills they already possess to overcome the daily struggles that life brings with it.