Mindful Movement | How to Let go of Rules & Enjoy Movement


I’m currently in the middle of another week-long trip to the mountains of Western North Carolina, and I just HAVE to do a little follow up to my last post about my vacation mindset toward movement/exercise!

 I was thinking, as I was out on my walk today, about how I got to this place of permission, fun, and spontaneity with exercise. I remembered how SCARY letting go of my rules about exercise felt when I first shifted to this new mindset about five years ago. At the time, I had been working out with a personal trainer for years, but through discussing with my health coach how I currently felt about exercise and how I wanted to feel about exercise, I decided it was time to change things up a bit. I was going to give myself permission to exercise in ways that felt good, and step out of my 4 day/week 6am hour-long workout routine. I was also going to give myself permission to go back to that if I truly missed it or craved the routine.

 I was TERRIFIED that working out on my own would lead to weight gain and loss of motivation. My brain screamed at me about these risks – “you’re not a trainer, you don’t know just the exact right mix of exercises to tone and lose weight!” or “that 6am appointment was the only thing that go you to the gym, you’ll never be able to motivate yourself!” But I took a leap, told myself I could try something different without it meaning I could never go back, and started listening to my body (instead of someone else) for what I wanted to do exercise-wise.

 You know what happened? The OPPOSITE of what I expected. I lost weight because this freer way of moving and listening to my body led to less stress and less cortisol.  I worked out more often because I truly enjoyed what I was doing and it felt GOOD to my body and mind, not overwhelming or painful or exhausting. 

 I got to thinking about this today because when I set out on my walk, I planned to go a certain distance, thinking that would probably be enough for today and I had other things I wanted to do with my free time. Then I ended up going 3 times that distance, and adding some HIIT intervals and core exercises after my walk. Why? Because I listened to my body, started out on a walk, which felt so great, and I could hear my body ask for a little more today. 

 So if you’re scared that letting go of your workout rules will lead to less exercise, I’d like to say this to you: I truly believe that because of the mindset I have now, I ended up doing more exercise today than I would have if stuck in my old headspace. And I don’t usually think about it as much as I did today, but I bet that happens A LOT. In fact, most of the time I plan to do some exercise I end up doing more than I initially set out to do. If I went out on my walk today because I HAD to do a certain amount to “burn off my lunch,” or keep up with some exercise program I was sticking to, or prove to someone that I was motivated to work out on vacation, I would never have ended up ENJOYING it or adding on extra un-planned movement.  Why? Because I would have been entirely in my head about all my exercise rules, and I wouldn’t have been present enough to notice my body asking for more, or even recognize that I was enjoying myself. 

 Do you believe that relaxing your exercise rules could actually get you the results you’ve been struggling to get in your current routine, AND feel more fun, energizing and nourishing to your body? Or does that still sound terrifying to you? Wherever you are on your journey, I’d love to hear about it!