BY LORI KLEIN
For the longest time, I viewed exercise as a way to “bank” calories so I could eat without guilt. “If I run 5 miles, I can have wine with dinner.” “I have to work out twice today because I had birthday cake.” A daily workout was an imaginary “get out of jail free” card for me.
Boy, did I have it all wrong. You can exercise until your biceps weep and your quads are too sore to lower your bootie onto the potty. (Raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about). For me, exercise has evolved to be much more about self-care and a way to love my body. At whatever size I happen to be.
You don’t need a gym or fancy equipment to get your move on. Here are some easy, inexpensive ways to incorporate the joy of movement into your daily routine:
If, like me, you spend a lot of your day sitting at a computer, stepping away a few times a day to walk for 10 minutes will give your body a much-needed break. Think of it as a moving meditation. Focus on breathing in deeply through your nose and exhale it out through your mouth to eliminate all the stale air. When I get back to my desk, the big hairy project I was wrestling with somehow seems more manageable.
There are many reasons why stretching is amazing for your body, and reasons why yoga has been around for thousands of years and is more popular than ever. There are benefits for everyone. You can do it in a group class. You can do it at home. You can stream yoga videos or find a simple yoga class On Demand. It requires no equipment. While a yoga mat is delish, I have also done yoga on a dock, in hotel rooms with a towel under me, and on my living room floor with nothing beneath me. There are countless varieties including slow and restorative classes for deep breathing and deep stretching. There are also classes where you practice in a heated room using light weights. There is no one way that’s “better” or “worse.” It’s really a matter of what your body needs at any given time, and simply doing what feels good.
Put on some great music (or listen to the tunes in your head. No judgment here) and dance it out. Tanesha swears by belly dance, which is great for the core, back, and entire lower half of the body. The key is finding music that literally moves you.
Physical activity is a joyful expression, and we were made to move, not to sit still all day. Think about little kids. They are little wiggle worms and will break into a sprint or start dancing simply because it feels good. Think about the last time you did that for no reason at all. We don’t. As adults, we’d probably be institutionalized if we started dancing simply because we felt the need to move. I don’t know how or when we started to put ourselves into neat little well-behaved boxes, but we definitely do.
Fortunately, physical activity is widely accepted as healthy and normal behavior, and we can do that without explanation.
For a long time, I ran every day. My typical run was about 3 miles unless I was training for a half marathon. I ran three of those (and lived to tell!). I don’t run much these days; my lower back and knees prefer that I didn’t. But I still make time to be active every day because I find that I am calmer, kinder, have more energy, sleep better and am more emotionally balanced when I do. On days when I am unable to exercise, everything seems to get stiff and achy. I become irritable and less patient.
My digestive system even seems to slow down when I skip a day! Our bodies were made to move, and daily movement keeps synovial fluid flowing to lubricate our joints, delivering oxygen-rich blood and nutrients much more efficiently than if we were sedentary.
With any of these, showing up is the hardest part. We do so much for everyone around us. This one is for you. Love yourself enough to show up.