This third part of the mini-series explores the final three principles, which I believe are some of the most important. As with the earlier principles, incorporating these into your movement patterns can be difficult for some people. If you are finding this to be the case, you might prefer to begin by just increasing your awareness, rather than actively trying to change your thoughts or behaviours. There’s plenty of time and intuitive movement is a practice – not an achievement required by a given deadline.
#8 MOVE YOUR BODY FOR NOURISHMENT, NOT AS A MEANS OF PUNISHMENT
Intuitive movement is created when one can approach movement as a way to care for and nourish their body and mind. When punishment is the motivation for movement – such as the desire to “burn off” or “earn” foods – decisions about the type, duration, frequency, and intensity of movement are rarely made with consideration of what your body and mind really need at a given point in time. Rather, it becomes about exercising until a given number of calories are “burned” or for a duration deemed sufficient based on external rather than internal cues.
Moving your body for nourishment allows you to consider movement choices based on factors other than energy expenditure. Maybe your mind needs some fun movement because life has been really stressful lately? Maybe your neck and shoulders are quite sore and some postural work will be beneficial? Maybe your feeling out of breath whilst chasing your kids/friends/dog/budgie and so some cardiovascular exercise will help? Maybe you really want to be able to carry all the groceries inside in one go and so building strength in your “shopping bag muscles” (aka your biceps) is a goal? Maybe you haven’t seen your friends in a while so a social walk and chit chat is more nourishing than a gasping-for-air run?
Letting go of the idea of movement as a means of changing your body weight or shape is a great way to begin choosing movement as a means of nourishment, rather than punishment. Yes, this is easier said than done – remember, you can begin with awareness before thought or behaviour change.
#9 INTUITIVE MOVEMENT INCLUDES INTUITIVE REST
Movement and rest sit together like yin and yang – you can’t have one without the other. The intuitive movement paradigm also includes being able to listen to your mind and body and honour their requests for rest when it’s needed.
At times, this rest might be in the form of an active recovery rather than complete rest. For example, if you normally train at high intensities, you may include regular gentle walks and stretching sessions throughout the week. At other times, rest may be complete rest – taking a day off from purposeful movement altogether and watching your favourite movie whilst laying on the couch.
Your body is pretty amazing and will clearly let you know when it requires a more gentle approach to movement or complete rest. If you’ve been disconnected from these signals for a long time it may take a while to notice and hear them again, however it is possible to reconnect. Some common signs include:
- Muscular aches that last longer than normal (for most people, greater than 2 days)
- Increased injuries or injuries that won’t heal
- Dreading the idea of movement
- Lower than expected improvements in fitness
- Fatiguing quicker than normal (for you) when exercising
- Frequent ill health
- Difficulty sleeping
- Decreased appetite
- Increased resting heart rate
If you’re experiencing the above signs, or if you are feeling anxious around the thought of taking rest days, please check in with your GP or appropriate health professional (e.g. exercise physiologist, physiotherapist, psychologist).
#10 MOVEMENT IS NOT A MORAL OBLIGATION
Whether you choose to move a little, a lot, or not at all does not determine whether you are good or bad, worthy or unworthy, kind or unkind… Movement is wonderful, however the way in which you do or do not incorporate it into your life is your choice and not something owed to anyone. Full stop.
TIME TO PRACTICE…
If you are feeling like intuitive movement is something you’d like to try, begin to reflect on all ten principles covered in parts one, two, and three. You might like to pick just a couple to focus on or you may have been working progressively on the previous principles and are now happy to add the final three. This is your experience and your choice on how you’d like to play with intuitive movement.
For these final three principles – can you take some time to think about your motivations for movement, what shared or unique cues your body offers when it needs some rest, and even consider how media and marketing may influence your views on movement and morality.
If you’re feeling really stuck, please feel free to get in contact for individualised support that focusses on your autonomy in movement and empowers you to make choices that best align with your own values.
“Well this intuitive movement stuff sounds great, but I’m currently training for an event or rehabbing an injury – how do I move intuitively when I also have to follow a program?” – The answer to this!