Jillian Michaels

No Pain. No Gain

I am a swimmer. It's been my whole life since I was a kid. 

This is based off the Tao 66 quote. You can find that  here .

This is based off the Tao 66 quote. You can find that here.

Swimming is sort of a masochistic sport. The joy comes from hard work, seeing how hard you can push yourself. And when it comes to competition, it's all about swimming faster and better. It's taught me to compare. 

When my competitive career finished by college, I started to play with yoga.

I was drawn into yoga by cool inversions that showed off how strong my upper body was, like crow-to-headstand. It was like gymnastics with breathing. 

In the poverty of post-grad life, I found the cheapest exercises were running and donation yoga. I hated running and when my shin splints got worse, I went to yoga. 

Let me tell you, in comparison to 5000 yards of swimming, 1 hour of yoga feels like nothing. I'd be down on myself because it wasn't so demanding cardiovascularly. However, each day I went, the instructors would remind me to focus on my breath and my practice. 

"Don't pay attention to what those around you are doing.Focus on your body. How does it feel in YOUR body?" 

"Try not to judge today against yesterday. Some days the same poses are not available to you."

"Whenever you lose your breath, child's pose is a space where you can always resume your breath." 

"Yoga is a moving meditation." 

"Savasana is the most important pose."

Inhale. Exhale. They reminded me to focus on me, close my eyes, and listen to my body. 

Making the transition from someone who always had her eye on the next lane to somebody who closed her eyes and listened was amazing. 

I found myself enjoying yoga. Doing regular exercise felt good. And the best part: nothing came crashing down. I'm still strong. I can still walk up stairs two-at-a-time. My blood work is within range. 

Yoga has taught me that exercise doesn't have to be about pain and suffering. A yoga practice isn't "No pain, no gain." It's about getting to know your body and listening to it. 

This was a crucial step for me in believing in intuitive eating. Dieting culture teaches us that we must be hungry. We must be left wanting. You cannot achieve what you most want by "taking it easy." (I blame capitalism, the American Dream, and Jillian Michaels). 

Yoga is not about hurting and punishing the body. It's about listening to this amazing creation that manages to never miss a heartbeat. 

And, rumor has it, yoga shouldn't stop on your mat. 

Work it out

Exercise. Well, that's a loaded word. 

The 9th Principle of Intuitive Eating is "Exercise--Feel the Difference."

At the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, we were instructed to try "movement" instead when talking to clients because people have a lot of thoughts and feelings about exercise. Many people are perfectionists about it. 

Before I changed my relationship with exercise, here's something I might've said: 

"Well, I was supposed to get up at 5 am starting on Monday but then I didn't. Now, to make up for it, I have to run at least 40 minutes on Friday and then next week do Jillian Michaels 2x/wk and my diet really needs to be on point. Oh and also, I should probably swim after running because I'm planning on eating pasta for dinner on Thursday."

 I used to see intense exercise as a prerequisite for adequacy in my own life. I needed to exercise exorbitantly to feel good about myself. When I couldn't meet this unrealistic requirement, I use to amp up the quantity of exercise as a penance for my "bad behavior" around food and exercise. Eventually I worked myself up into such a tizzy, that exercise started to feel like a term paper that I procrastinated all semester on. 

Changing your relationship with food means also changing your relationship to exercise.

When shows like NBC's Biggest Loser exist, many Americans tend to believe that exercise is synonymous with weight loss. This idea is a whole other blog post. Exercise does not equal weight loss. 

The simple way to explain this whole idea is through my own story about exercise. I've been through enough ups and downs with exercise that I know this: 

When you hate your body, it's hard to exercise. When you're exercising to take care of yourself, exercise feels easy. 

Exercise is GOOD for you and it can be an enormous part of your self-care routine.  Exercise can also HURT you. It can mess up your hormones, joints, tendons, and muscles if you overdo it. 

 Exercise has felt very difficult for me when I'm motivated from a place of self-destruction. If I'm exercising because I'm trying to achieve some ideal weight or I'm working out for a "bikini body," it just doesn't happen. Sometimes, even unrelated to body image, I would feel like I "should" work out because I ate too much or I needed to achieve some kind of external validation. This immediately took all the joy out of it for me. 

Exercise needs to be a joyful and immediately gratifying experience in order for you to want to do it. That's just science or human nature or whatever. 

When I've been in "good shape" or exercising regularly, here are some reasons why: 

  • I'm working inside a dark windowless room all day. I'd like to get up early to see the sun and yoga is easy to do early in the morning. 
  • It's summer and swimming is fun. I'm going to get up early to swim at the local outdoor pool. Also, I can get some Vitamin D. 
  • I'm super motivated to go below a 1:06 in my 100 butterfly this season.
  • Doing yoga with my friends is a great way to catch up.
  • It's nice that I get to spend quality time with my mom early in the morning doing weight training.
  • I'm so excited to be on this beach. What are all the possible ways that I could explore it? 
  • Exercise is an escape from this really busy and intense schedule. It's nice to not have to think for a little while. 
  • I really enjoy playing water polo
  • My summer club swim team is really fun. I love the community and the fun workouts my coach gives.
  • Getting up early and exercising makes me more productive and calm at work. 
  • Going for walks with my loved ones is quite enjoyable. Also, it's nice outside. 

I'm sure you savvy individuals reading this blog post know that exercise is good for you. 

So, here's the action item for this week:

In the comments on this blog post, tell me: What motivates you to get "moving?" When you've been consistently active, what do you notice about yourself? 


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