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How I Stopped Using Exercise as Another Diet
When I was filling out the enrollment forms for Green Mountain, I was questioned, “What are your goals for your time here at Green Mountain?” I quickly responded, “unhooking weight loss from exercise.”
In the past, during my diet-mentality days, I looked at exercise as a means to an end. That end being weight loss. If I wasn’t attempting to lose weight, exercise was not a part of my daily schedule. Exercise was sweat, hard work, feeling fat and unfit, and drudgery. What did I enjoy about exercise? Being done! Burning calories!
Stemming from my stay at Green Mountain, I now experience what exercise can really be like: joyful movement. I am able to connect with my physical body and focus on what it means to feel pleasure in the moment of exercise – not just being done!
Before my stay, I had begun to experiment with this philosophy of joyful movement. I participated in Anusara Yoga classes and walked outside in the summer because it made me feel good in my body. During my four weeks at Green Mountain, I expanded my means of joyful movement by incorporating upper and lower body strength training, as well as Vermonting and low-impact aerobics. Coming home, I fell in love with group exercise classes such as Group Power and Group Active and started actually using my gym membership instead of just paying my dues!
Today, I find myself moving joyfully most days of the week. I continue to enjoy my practice of yoga and walking outside when the Midwest weather permits. Not because of the calories it burns or as a form of punishment; rather, I do it because it is now a part of my life. What else is a part of my life because of movement? Sleeping better, more respect for what my body can do (as opposed to what it looks like), more energy and strength, and having peace that my relationship with movement is being healed.
Ditching the diet mentality includes ditching exercise for weight loss. I know the exercise I do may or may not lead to weight loss. I only participate in movement activities that bring me joy, regardless of the impact upon my weight. This decision has lead to sustainability.
Do you have to do joyful movement in a gym? No! First of all, there should be no HAVE TOs when it comes to movement. Find an activity YOU enjoy. Making the right match is not only important when it comes to finding satisfaction in the foods you eat, but also in the types of activities you engage in. You are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your own personal plan for movement.