Cornell University found that if you perceive exercise to be fun, you are more likely to eat less afterward. Whereas, if you perceive exercise to be work (as in, “I worked so hard, I deserve an extra helping!”) you are more likely to eat more afterward.
So when you say to yourself “I should work out more,” you’re actually setting yourself up for more work…and more overeating.
Here’s why: what does work out sound like? Yep. WORK!. The last thing anybody wants is more work after coming home wiped out from a day of… work.
Exercise sounds like work. Getting in shape sounds like a lot of work, too. More pressure. More stress.
The Trouble With “I Should”
Furthermore, every time you say “I should” you automatically set yourself up to feel bad about yourself, which may lead to comforting (or punishing) yourself with food.
This is because a “should” statement implies that whatever you’re doing just isn’t good enough. (And Lord knows, emotional eaters don’t need another thing to feel bad about!)
I realize it’s meant to motivate you to get off the couch and do something that’s good for you. However, “should” backfires because it builds resentment and rarely works as a motivational tool. Who wants to hear more of what they should do? Nobody, that’s who.
Use Words That Motivate
The key to finding your motivation is all in the words you use. If work out, exercise, and get in shape elicit any negative emotions, don’t use them! It becomes too easy to talk yourself out of exercise if the mere thought of it causes anxiety.
So let’s find better alternatives. Let’s start with “play.” Who wants more play? Everybody!
Oops. Hang on. Play is something you probably don’t allow yourself, is it? Do you set boundaries and step back from adulting to play, at least sometimes? If the thought of play makes you anxious, don’t use it.
How about joyful movement?
Here’s why joyful movement is important:
You’ve probably seen videos of baby goats in pajamas leaping to the top of hay bales, chasing each other, and frolicking with utter abandon. That’s joyful movement.
You’ve probably seen videos of dolphins racing a boat or leaping out of the water just for fun. That’s joyful movement.
You’ve probably seen children playing at the playground, climbing, running, and jumping. That’s joyful movement.
But joyful movement isn’t just for baby animals and little kids. Or dancers, or gymnasts.
Joyful Movement is a DIY Expression of Self-Love
Joyful movement is a DIY way to express the miracle of your body.
What do I mean by DIY? There’s no right or wrong way to move your body, as long as it feels good in the moment.
Some days you might be bursting with energy and a brisk walk/jog with the dog will burn some of that jet fuel. Some days, you can’t help but turn up the music real loud and dance around the house. Some days, a slow, sweet hand-in-hand stroll with your beloved will make your heart smile. Some days, you might feel adventurous and have a go at the town 5k fun run. Some days, you might want to rent a canoe and paddle around the lake.
Joyful movement is unstructured, zero pressure, pure fun, and only as challenging as you want. It’s something you can do whenever and wherever, as the spirit moves you!!
It’s 100% fun and it’s all for you. It’s never a chore that you feel obligated to do. It’s never a “should.” It never makes you feel klutzy or out of shape. It’s never a competition unless you want it to be.
My favorite thing to do is dance on my mini-trampoline with my earbuds in, listening to Pandora…the Megan Trainor station is my favorite. (Great dance tunes!)
The Benefits of Joyful Movement
The more you joyfully move your body, the more you will naturally get in shape in a way that is ridiculously fun. It won’t even feel like “getting in shape.”
Joyful movement cultivates unconditional self-love. How can you criticize a body that’s just groovin’ to the beat of your favorite song? How can you not smile at the thought of dancing around with no thought of comparing your body parts to other people’s body parts? You’re just doing something that feels amazing, something natural – we’re all born loving rhythm – and who cares what anybody else thinks?
An Easy Commitment… to YOU
I encourage you to make time every day for joyful movement… and use more positive words whenever you want to do something good for you.
Will you commit to just 15 minutes a day? That’s not a lot but it will have huge results if you do it consistently.
Think about some ways of moving your body that feel good to you. Think about an activity you’d like to try. Remember: no pressure, no stress, no challenging commitments…. just taking a playful attitude and using your body as it was designed to do. What a marvelous way to love yourself!