Seeking Exercise as Pleasure Rather Than Punishment


Seeking Exercise as Pleasure Rather Than Punishment


“I have had a lot of positive experiences with exercise. I’ve done things I never knew were possible, like running a marathon. I’ve known the joy of being fully present in the moment, awake and mindful as I’ve searched for the next step on the trail. I’ve felt the endorphin rush, the raised self-esteem, and the proud feeling of being comfortable in my own skin. Exercise often takes me to nature, which is my favorite church. I feel connected to myself and to my surroundings in a way that I just can’t experience on the couch.

I have also experienced perfectionism corrupt this mechanism for health and wellness. I have experienced the voice that calls me fat and tells me that I had better get to the gym. I often want to rebel against exercise at these times, as it feels like punishment. It acts like a drill sergeant standing over me, saying it’s not ok to be me, in this body, exactly like I am, and I don’t want to collude with that nasty message. In this context, working against the prompt to exercise feels like self-care. By not dragging myself to the gym, I am working on accepting myself wholly, disengaging from the message that I need to be perfect.

Do you identify with this conundrum?

How do we love the bodies we are in, even as we step into exercise that might be aimed at toning those abs?

How do we stop comparing ourselves to billboards and step into our bodies in a way that embraces, nourishes, and frees them from hatred and perfectionism?

How do we take back movement as a vehicle for pleasure, because it feels good just to move, whether we transform our butts or not?” Continued…