A lot of people approach movement as a primary way to control or to change their weight. Diet culture has been portraying physical activity as a way to lose weight and “feel better about ourselves” for a very long time. It often correlates physical activity to weight and self-worth which is SUPER problematic. It disregards to importance of all the other benefits that movement can offer, and instead, treats weight loss or weight changes as a side effect to “correctly executing movement”. Because of this, folks tend to feel very disconnected from all of the other benefits of movement unless they see physical changes to their body.
BENEFITS OF MOVEMENT
It’s no surprise that moving our bodies, in which ever way you are physically able to, offers a host of benefits.
Some of these benefits include improved:
When we start to intertwine movement with weight, people begin to move their bodies for those reason. However, it’s not guaranteed that their bodies will change, so they come to the conclusion that movement is not working for them while disregarding all of the health benefits they were experiencing!
I like to use the term movement over physical activity because of its connotation. Removing the term physical activity or exercise and redefining it as movement.
Movement: the act of changing positions, big or small
Physical activity/exercise: voluntary bodily movement
So, in other words, movement is the simple act of moving any part of our body, where as physical activity/exercise is usually an organized, structured and voluntary way of moving our bodies. Usually, exercise is more performance based and relies on different levels of intensities to be considered exercise.
But can the simple act of moving our bodies, such as walking around the grocery store or doing the dishes be considered enough?
EVERYTHING! You don’t have to squat till you drop to feel the benefits. It doesn’t have to be organized, structured activity. It can be, but it doesn’t HAVE to.
3 general categories to exercise:
You can do all of these or one of these. Whatever feels right for you.
Honestly, it’s different for everyone. Just like medication, there is not universal dose for everyone with the same condition. You may need to consider the person’s access to medication, or what other medications they are taking. Like movement, everything is unique to you and should be catered to what YOU prefer, what YOU enjoy and NOT what diet culture says you SHOULD enjoy.
“The best workout plan is the one that you will actually do”.
If you can only do 15 minutes of organized activity per week, that’s great! If that’s what’s most reasonable for you right now, then do what’s best for you! I am here to tell you that there is no shame or guilt for not “breaking a sweat” and “feeling the burn”.
Similarly to disordered eating, we can also develop a disordered relationship with movement where we sort of punish our body with exercise. When the focus is on controlling our bodies, it can lead to disordered thought patterns around food, our body and movement.
Like intuitive eating, you work on experimenting and trying new foods and new ways of eating that feel right for you, all while reconnecting to your body. Movement can be the same thing!
The idea of trying new things, while paying attention to how your body feels when you try different forms of movement after reconnecting to your body can be so healing. Experiment with different forms, intensities, durations of movement to see what feels good and what is really helpful to developing a better relationship with movement.
It’s important to remember that movement, whether it be going to the gym, doing housework, doing your groceries or going for a run, it doesn’t have to be super duper fun all the time. HOWEVER, it also doesn’t need to feel like a punishment or a way to earn food.
Personalize your movements to your current body. Yes, this is easier said than done, but it’s supper important to remind ourselves that we need to respect and honour what our current bodies are able to do for us. Be gentle with yourself and meet your body where it’s at. You are able to train in a way that meets your needs/desire without it being fuled by the all of nothing mindset of diet culture.
Taking a break from movement and coming back to it can be hard to do. Especially if our intentions with movement in the past were to lose weight, it can be difficult to navigate returning to movement for the purpose of enjoyment. Diet culture may tell you that your current body isn’t good enough and that it needs to change, but I’m here to tell you that YOU ARE ENOUGH today. You can be “fit, active and healthy” at every size.
As always, remember to practice self-compassion and kindness towards yourself.
Check out my podcast episode “Fitness at every size” where I have a conversation with Personal Trainer Jess Brock-Pitts about movement and diet culture. Learn more about how you can return to movement in a healthy way.
The Balanced Practice is a team of professionals specialized in eating disorder outpatient treatment, disordered eating. Our mission is to help as many folks heal their relationship with food and their bodies so they can live happily outside of diet culture!
We strive to provide evidence based nutrition counselling to support you, or your loved one, in achieving full recovery. Schedule a connection call now.
Marie-Pier Pitre-D’Iorio, RD, B.Sc.Psychology
Lead Registered Dietitian and Founder of The Balanced Practice
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