If you live a healthier type of lifestyle good chances are you have heard the term intuitive fitness. However, you might be asking yourself, what is intuitive fitness. The word intuitive isn’t commonly heard so might have some a bit confused.
Intuitive exercise, or movement, is a part of switching to an intuitive lifestyle. If you have given up dieting and trying to change your body’s size through restrictions, a big part of it is going to be about honoring your body when it comes to movement.
Might sound a bit counterproductive to some but it’s honestly the best thing for your body. Staying in tune with your body and being mindful of your limitations. Here is a quick rundown of what intuitive fitness actually is in a book called Move for Joy.
Start With What You Already Know
Living an intuitive life is more than just intuitive eating it includes exercise as well. Here are some ways you can start moving your body and actually listening to your intuition when it comes to exercise.
It is always good to start within your comfort zone with the workouts you know you enjoy. Not just exercises you are used to in your routine, but the ones you actually want to do, regardless of how many calories they burn or what muscle groups they target.
You already have an idea of the workouts that are fun for you to do, and the ones you force yourself to do. This can be the difference between running on the treadmill for the calorie burning, and going for a walk around your neighborhood because it releases endorphins and is great exercise.
You Listen to Your Body When it Comes to Intuitive Fitness
The first “rule” of intuitive fitness is that you listen to your body. You can have a rough outline of the type of workouts you want to do. Such as local fitness classes, at home workouts, running, walking, swimming, etc. But you still want to be more in tune with your body and what form of movement you feel like doing.
This means if you had planned to go to a body sculpting class at the gym, but your muscles are sore and just the thought of lifting heavy weights for 45 minutes sounds excruciating, you listen to your body and do something a little more gentle. Sometimes, it means skipping the workout entirely to let your body rest. Also might mean that you take a gentle exercise day and do some yoga, stretching or take a walk.
Take into consideration what your body can handle before and during your workout. Sticking to a workout schedule isn’t what’s good for your body if you have injured yourself or are burned out from that workout schedule. Learning to listen and adjust is intuitive.
Get Rid of the Rules with Intuitive Fitness
Yes, even yoga has rules. You might not be aware of them, but they are there. This might be always doing yoga in the morning no matter how you feel, making sure you do a HIIT workout after a night out with friends, or requiring a certain number of minutes of cardio or weight training on specific days.
Think about what motivates you to move your body, and what you are thinking about when you do. Do you go to yoga class every week because you like it, or because you have been doing it for so long it’s just habit? Do you have it in your head that you must do cardio every day to burn calories or is that trip to the gym just for your health?
When you get rid of the rules, you get rid of the stress.
You No Longer Have a Strict Fitness Routine
This is going to depend on your lifestyle and goals, but for the most part, exercising intuitively is no longer about having a strict schedule or routine you must stick to. If you have ever been on a diet or weight loss program before, you know what this looks like.
You were probably given a schedule to adhere to, possibly multiple workouts each day, for 5-6 days a week. It might even have told you what time of day to do the workout and how many calories to burn during each workout.
This is no longer part of your lifestyle when you decide to switch to more intuitive forms of exercise. No schedule, plan, or charts to follow. Changing what you do, how you do it, and when you do it.
Waking up each day and listening to your body talk. How did you sleep? Is your body sore from the day before? Have you fueled your body with enough proper nutrition to get through a workout? All of these are questions you should ask every morning and then go from there.
If you wake up today and are worn out, tired and sore, you won’t want to hit the gym and try to beat a personal deadlift goal. That could lead to huge injury and would be very counterproductive on your part. This is where listening to your body every day will help keep you from injury.
Put a Pause on Challenges
So many times people think doing a fitness challenge or program is the key to losing weight fast. Well, it’s not. Putting the added stress on your body and mind can end in a bad way. Once you get a handle on your fitness, then you maybe can add a fun workout challenge to your life. For now, take a break from all that.
Weight and Body Control is Off the Table
This can be a hard one for people to accept, but in order to really be in tune with what your body needs as far as exercise goes, you have to let go of your “body goals”. It doesn’t mean you won’t get stronger and leaner and that your body won’t change, but you don’t pay attention to it as much. No more weighing yourself, before and after photos, or looking at body goals images on Pinterest for inspiration. Your motivation will be health, wellness, and happiness, not weight loss or changing your body.
Many ex-athletes or bodybuilders have a hard time transitioning into an intuitive fitness lifestyle as they are so set in their “structured” ways. Being that hard on your body and mind for years can really make change seem wrong. But, athletes can’t continue the strenuous and disciplined lifestyle forever. As people age, bodies change, needs change and so one must adjust. Adjusting and listening to your body, and realizing that a day off from a routine isn’t bad. Taking a day off from a regular routine, and adding either another form of exercise or just taking a rest day isn’t being lazy, it’s being intuitive.
It is a Way to Encourage More Mindfulness in Your Life
Intuitive fitness also allows you to become more mindful in everything you do. Start using it not just for fitness, but for nearly every area of your life. You start practicing mindfulness to understand what exercise would be best for your body, but then you begin seeing the benefits of mindfulness and use it for other parts of your life as well.
Mindfulness for intuitive fitness sounds overly complicated, but it’s not. Break it down a bit. The word mindful means focusing your attention on what you are currently going through. It doesn’t matter if you are eating a meal, going for a walk, or reading a book. The key is to just want to be in the moment and be in a mindful state.
This is helpful in nearly every area of your life. But, especially if you are working on developing a healthier relationship with your body, and want to start working on intuitive exercise. Using mindfulness to give your body what it needs on a fitness level is good for you in many ways. Connecting with your body and mind, and having realistic goals.
How Does Mindfulness Work for Intuitive Fitness?
Mindfulness is a state of self-awareness to put it simply. When you are being mindful, you are not distracted by other things. Instead, you are focusing on the one thing you are doing. Being mindful and participating in your exercise of choice.
There is a wide range of benefits to practicing mindfulness with your intuitive fitness. From deciding what type of workout to do each day, to understanding when it is time to stop because your body is no longer feeling good about it.
Connect With Your Body Using Mindfulness Techniques
Mindfulness not only helps you connect with your body during your workouts but when you are deciding what type of exercise would be best for your body. This is a big part of exercising and living intuitively; getting to know your body and what it needs.
Choosing workout routines that fit your goals, and what you know your body can handle. Some people like to run, while others know their bodies just can’t handle it. Many people have health challenges that might hinder them in certain fitness areas. Finding what works for you, your body, and your mind is part of being mindful of your body.
In the beginning, it might not feel much different, but over time, you understand so much more about your own needs. You will know when your body wants yoga or to go for a walk, the signs you get for getting stronger with weight training, and how to know when something is good for you, and when you really are just not enjoying it anymore.
When it comes to the point of not enjoying the workout you are doing, that is your body and mind saying, time to move on. That is being mindful of what your body needs. When you lose interest, you won’t give it 100% and in that case, your body won’t benefit from the exercise.
Notice When changes Need to Be Made
Another way mindfulness is going to help with your intuitive fitness journey is by helping you understand when it is time to make changes to your workout routine. It can be easy to just get used to a certain routine, and not think much about it. But with mindfulness, you are much more in tune with your body and your mindset, so you know when changes should be made to your routine.
Joining a Facebook burpee challenge or the 22 pushups a day for 22 days challenge are great! But, challenges can sometimes turn into bad habits or routines. Setting goals help people stay on track, but can also lead to bad habits. Exercise for you, not for someone else. Set realistic goals and expectations. This way, you are never letting yourself down.
Stay Away from External Motivators
An external motivator is similar to what’s mentioned above. Joining a challenge that a friend or someone on social media is doing. Things like this can be good and bad. Most of the time they can jump-start someone’s mentality. But, they can also lead to unrealistic fitness goals.
Checking out fitness social accounts online, or looking at fitness magazines is unhealthy. Reading about fitness is one thing, but looking at airbrushed images of women with bodies that are perfect, not realistic. Doing this can give a person unrealistic goals, and end in one beating themself up as they can’t meet those goals. Being counterproductive and spiralizing out of control.
All of this is exactly why using mindfulness for intuitive exercise is healthier on many levels. Yo-Yo exercising is just as bad for someone as yo-yo dieting. Nothing good in the long term comes from either.
Find More Satisfaction From Your Exercise Journey
Do you not only want to exercise because it’s good for your health but for your energy and happiness? To feel that joy and satisfaction from moving your body, you need mindfulness to help you truly appreciate how it makes your body feel.
Love your body, and let your body show your love back. Don’t hang onto what you may be used to be able to do. As we age, our bodies change and that is all part of being mindful and knowing what we need at every age.
Seek health and not appearance. When you achieve health, the appearance will follow. Find happiness in the exercises you choose. When a person is happy with their choices, that’s when a body starts to change. All of this is part of being mindful.
Final Thoughts on Intuitive Fitness
Turn off the infomercials with all those exercise DVDs that will do nothing but drain the bank and give you unhealthy expectations. Stop looking online and in magazines at people with bodies you once dreamed of. Airbrushed bodies are not real, your body is. Don’t try to be someone else, be you, love you, and embrace yourself. When you dig deep, use mindfulness thinking and enjoy your choices, you win!
Being mindful can help in things like saving money. If you are one who enjoys a Starbucks daily, but could also use that $5 a day times 30 (if you drink one daily), then being mindful could save you $150 a month. Just changing something small like that, is an intuitive change in your life, and if it’s cutting out Starbucks it’s also a benefit in your intuitive eating lifestyle.
Simple things can make a huge difference in your life. Just stepping back and listening to your body and mind. Not overthinking, or jumping without considering all the pros and cons.
Don’t beat yourself up because you know your body can’t handle a certain fitness routine on a certain day. It’s better to listen to your body than to regret it later.
The great thing about being a intuitive fitness is that you get to try new things, even if they don’t fit your “workout program”. Now you have the freedom to move your body in any way you want, from Pilates and elliptical workouts, to taking a new dance class or bringing a friend to go for a hike.