Exercise can be a flourishing flair of recovery, but it can also suck you back into an ocean of obsession like a riptide. How do we claim the first and not the last? It’s not “a fine line,” it’s an attitude adjustment.
Exercise should never be punishment. You should never run three miles to erase the damage from a slice of cherry pie. You should never repeat to yourself “please please please make me skinny skinny skinny” as you strength train. Exercise should never occupy a place of guilt.
Movement is at its most healing, nourishing, and beautifying when it is loving movement. I run because I love to run, because I love to feel strong and successful, and because I love to celebrate the muscles of my legs and my core. I am delighting in my body as it is today, a body capable of deep breaths and running more miles than I ever thought possible. I also delight in what I’m creating my body to be – healthy energetic, active, able to complete a 10k race.
Exercise isn’t always fun, even when done as loving movement, but you can still use exercise to cherish yourself when it’s hard and hot and painful. You know you’ll feel better later, and you know you are building strength that you will enjoy later (remember – hard workouts aren’t exceptions to the wonderful workouts, hard workouts create the wonderful workouts). You aren’t saying, “If you don’t run three miles you are a complete loser, a weakling, a lazy lump.” You’re saying, “Even though this is hard, I’m doing this for you.”
But some days you’re sick, you’re exhausted, or your beautiful labrador died. Some days it might be more loving to curl up with a blanket and a cuppa tea. Loving movement is perseverant, but it is also flexible.
Play! Try out zumba, yoga, rock climbing, running, dancing in your basement to Frank Sinatra. Find something you genuinely enjoy, something that won’t be a black hole in your to-do list.
Move your body, celebrate yourself.