"Exercise not only changes your body, it changes your mind, your attitude, and your mood."
When I had a mental breakdown once, I talked to my doctor, who asked general assessment questions like "How is your taste?", "Do you sleep well?", and "How much do you exercise?". While all the questions were not an issue for me, I stumbled on the last one, "How much do you exercise?". I had to admit "unfortunately, not at all" and felt sorry that I didn`t take better care of my body. While I think the underlying reason was laziness, excuses I had found were "I don`t have time because of the long hours at work" or "I am so exhausted, I want to relax now" or "I have never exercised online with YouTube before" or "My friend has not responded yet to be my sparring partner". The doctor pulled me out of my thoughts with her recommendation to start practicing regularly and move my body. I thankfully nodded and went immediately into researching. For two months now, I have been practicing yoga daily (with "Yoga with Adriene"), and for one month, also fully body workout every second day (with Pamela Reif).
Here are three ways to start your workout routine mindfully, kindly, and sustainably:
1. Be aware of your motivation and incentives
Yes, one part of me wants to look good, but a bigger part of me just wants to feel fit and comfortable in my skin. I know that feeling comfortable in your skin is not / should not be dependant on your body weight and proportions, but I believe we all have our own comfortable feeling of our body, that just feels right. That makes you feel conquer the world. That brings you more into the present moment (rather than following your thoughts about your body). It is important for me to highlight that this is not a particular number or form, as society often suggests - however you weight or look like, as long as you feel loved in your body, this is how your body can best serve you.
I know that my motivation to look good (e.g. in that dress, for Instagram pictures) has never made me move from my couch to finally take a run. While this may be an incentive for some, for a healthy and sustainable approach, we can also find a motivation that is independent from other`s reactions and feedback. What is most important is how you feel (independent of others) and what matters to you. Ultimately, my belief that our body wants to be moved and taken care of, that exercise can strengthen our body to live life, that movement can shift our mind and energy, called on my responsibility to start.
2. Set the right parameters so your workout routine becomes your habit and an act of self-love
After being convinced, I looked up videos on YouTube to find the right tutorials and programmes. I remembered my friend had recommended "Yoga with Adriene" and that one of Adriene´s meditation videos had actually made me cry. Adriene offers several 30-day yoga series, so I started with that. They are only 20-25min long and very balanced both in terms of experience and ambience. What I liked about the 30-day series was that it kept me going naturally rather than having to find the next good video to work out with. The only thing you need is also only a yoga mat to start with.
I now do yoga every evening to close my day and relax my body. I can feel that my body enjoys the release and movement. With yoga, my body can both strengthen and relax. In addition to this, I have started with Pamela Reif`s Full Body Workout (for Beginners ;)) and while it was tough the first time, I can tell that my body got strengthened when doing the exercises again. So just experiment and find what works for you (or how Adriene would say "find what feels good") - while I appreciate a gentle voice of my trainers, you may prefer someone who pushes you to the limit. After all, don`t forget that it is about you and your body having fun, looking forward to doing the exercise, rather than seeing workout as an obligation or something to tick off the list. Having fun will also help you establish a new regular routine with ease. Set also the surrounding environment as easy as possible for you to get into your workout routine - find a time when you know you will less busiest, put your iPad where you can see it to remind yourself of the workout, or place your yogamat right next to your bed (as Jay Shetty shared). Whatever helps to trick your lazy self, make your environment work for you and soon your body already knows what to do.
3. Be kind to yourself in every moment
There will be times when life gets in the way and you will not find the time, feel really exhausted, and just fall onto your bed. And that`s absolutely ok, normal, human. Life already throws a lot of expectations and "to-do`s" at us, so we can choose not to add more, too. If you had to skip one class / video, don`t dwell in the past - let it go, be kind to yourself, do something else to nourish you, and look forward to the next day. If your mind thinks your body is not "there" yet where you would like it to be - be kind to yourself, you are loved in every moment, whether thin, fat, toned, or sluggish. Love sees through every person - did a mother ever judge a new-born baby and think "omg, you need to go on a diet now"?
Start also strengthening your relationship with your body - your body is the vehicle for you to ride on the flow of life. Your body is, as often referred to, a "temple" holding your mind, heart, and soul. How I`d like to see it, too, is that our body is like a friend, taking care of us (e.g. our skin protects our inner organs from external sensations), giving us energy, and also sending signals (e.g. intuition or first signs of pain). If you see your body as a friend, then you would also realize more that our body always knows when we think or talk about in a negative way. It is like a plant that we forget caressing - it will sooner or later die because of the lack of love, care, and attention. So be aware of how you interact with your body - if you notice a judgmental thought, just say something like "stop - I`m sorry I just thought this in an unmindful moment, I forgive myself and try to do better next time, I love you".
How do you strengthen and take care of your body? Let me know by sending an email to email@example.com – I would be very keen to hear your views! :) PS: Subscribe to my Newsletter to stay in touch for any upcoming posts and news :)
This week`s ...
Inspiration: Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Reflection: How can I follow a workout routine that serves my personal development?
Intention: I treat my body kindly, with love and appreciation.