It’s January and I have not been moving much at all. A jog once a week maybe but other than that it’s been a pretty sedentary last month. Or maybe month and a half.
It’s tempting during these times for me to think of myself as lazy. Or to consider if there might be something wrong with the way I approach exercise-especially during this nauseatingly “New year, New you” piece of calendar real estate.
It can also be easy to slip into the dominant consciousness by believing I ought to be atoning for the pleasure of the food and beverages of the holiday season. But just like I am no longer able to force myself into any kind of food restriction, the healing of my exercise disorder has made it near impossible for me to push my body to move when it simply does not want to.
My psyche will no longer allow movement feel like punishment.
It just won’t.
So I wait.
For my body to call for movement again. For the thought of a walk/jog or my boxing dvd to feel light rather than heavy. For my body and it’s infinite wisdom to signal to me when my energy and my physiological systems might find joy and nourishment in a workout as opposed to it feeling taxing or like a chore. I wait to feel true and honest desire once again.
Even though it’s been years now since my body and I came back together in a way that feels more whole and collaborative, the resistance borne out of a lifetime of disconnection and hostility still finds a way to rise when these sedentary periods occur. I guess that’s what a lifetime of never feeling like enough will do...
Bottom line is that rest still feels indulgent. Wrong even. I didn’t grow up religious at all but it's possible that whole sloth as a deadly sin thing may subconsciously be coming into play. Any way, despite my very intentional work around what feels like true health and wellness for me and how movement fits into my personal health paradigm, my mind’s initial reaction to not wanting to work out is still to push back against it. It goes something like this;
Body: “I don’t feel like exercising today”
Mind: “Is this really how I’m feeling? Let's dig a little deeper.”
Body: “Yep, this is how I'm feeling”
Mind: “Hmmm, I'm not liking this response, maybe if I go in and check again. Anything?”
Body: “Nope still not feeling it”
Mind: "We haven’t really been doing much moving lately. Maybe I’ll just put my workout clothes on.”
Body: “Sure, you can do that”
Mind: “How’s that? Are we feeling it now?”
Body: “Sorry, still no”
Mind:“Ok well surely tomorrow the desire will return, right?”
Body: “Yes, let’s check in again tomorrow”
Body: “I don’t feel like exercising today”
Mind: “Is this really how I’m feeling?”
Well, you get the idea.
All this brings me to one of the core messages of my work, one that continues to prove itself to me over and over again, despite the ample conditioning for me to believe otherwise.
My body loves and wants to move!
(Sometimes it just doesn’t like to do it as much or as often as our decidedly thin and "health" obsessed culture would like me to think .)
So, I listen and I rest and I rest and I rest and just when I begin to think my body has lost any appetite whatsoever for movement , there it is again. The craving, the pull, the impulse to contract my muscles and move my joints and challenge my heart and lungs with increased beats and deeper breath. It is here, in this place, where the complete trust I have put in my body is validated once again and I am brought home to the truth of the beautiful rhythms of human nature.
Why wait for that desire?
Fitness leaders and health advisors would have you believe that pushing your body to get up and exercise even when you’re not feeling like it, is, well honestly, just what you should be doing. They, just like you and I, have been brainwashed into believing that we as a species possess an innately sedentary nature that must be constantly overridden through tactics such as berating and shaming our bodies and bulldozing over the wisdom within.
This is a good time to remind you that there is no human imperative to perform fitness. The idea that we all must always be striving to be fit is a construct. And a ridiculous one at that.
Here’s the thing. There is something that happens when we listen and move from a genuine thirst for movement and that something just happens to be Magic.
Meeting a deep soul need vs checking “workout” off of your to do list is magical.
Experiencing the movement of your body in space without any thoughts about the size of your thighs is magical.
Engaging with nature while out for a walk when you have no where to be and no step metric targets to hit is magical (and holy).
When we allow the constraints of fitness culture to fall away, WE become magical beings in our movements.
It feels different to exercise or move from authentic desire because it is. Because energy matters. It feels easier, I’d even go as far as to say, effortless, to exercise or move from authentic desire because that negative voice in our head that seems to always be focused on the physical also matters. Trying to force what isn’t truly there is wildly unsustainable ( I know because I spent two decades on that ride).
So I encourage myself and all of you as well to connect with the vibration of your body and to ease into honouring it honestly as often as you can. Even if that means being sedentary longer than you "think" is reasonable. I encourage myself and you to wait. And to allow that patience and stillness to be rewarded with a desire for some honest to goodness nourishment and the experience of mind, body, soul and nature alchemy. This magic is available to us all.
Lori Race is a healer, health clinic owner and writer with a passionate message to share from her past as a fitness instructor suffering from compulsive exercise disorder.