People often use fad diets to chase unrealistic weight goals. Often times exercise becomes part of this equation too. Remember that diets fail, not because you are undisciplined and failed at following them, but because the diets are flawed. Similarly, if you fall off your gym routine, it does not mean you're lazy, but it may mean you were pursuing an unrealistic or unsustainable goal. Consider these questions:
- Do you view exercise as a way to earn food?
- Do you exercise to punish your body for eating what you consider to be "bad" foods?
- Do you limit how much you eat in response to how many calories you burned?
- Do you dread going to the gym but force yourself to because you feel obligated?
- Do you exercise in excess or excessively when your fear gaining weight?
- Do you enjoy the exercise you choose to do, or does it feel obligatory?
- Do you push yourself to exercise when exhausted or through physical pain?
If you answered yes to any of these, you may want to consider seeking the support of a Registered Dietitian and/or other health professionals, to help you redefine what healthy exercise really should be. Remember that health is much more than the number on the scale. Exercise should be in moderation and it should bring you positive benefits, such as improved mood, flexibility, and sleep and overall happiness. Too much of anything - even physical activity - can be harmful to your health.
The 9th Intuitive Eating principal involves practicing joyful movement. Find forms of movement that you enjoy and focus on how it makes your body feel. Do not use exercise as punishment or because you feel obligated. This can lead to an unhealthy relationship with exercise, just as dieting can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. Movement can be many things besides going to the gym -- walking, yoga, working with a personal trainer, dancing, group classes, riding your bike, gardening, mowing the lawn, nature walks and hiking, swimming, playing with your dog or kids, playing sports, outdoor activities with your family, and so much more!
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