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You’ve Heard of Intuitive Eating, But What About Intuitive Exercise?

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Sometimes, you just know that you need a day, or three, off. That's intuitive exercise! Credit: Perfecto Insecto

Over the last 10 years I’ve gone from regimented eater to intuitive-eating devotee. I’ve written about it before, but without consciously realizing it, I’ve also become an intuitive exerciser.

Back in my pre-FBG days (oh, what a confusing, insecure time for me!), I’d eat when I wasn’t hungry, not eat when I was and work out NO MATTER WHAT. Getting over all that and “seeing the light,” was what led me to the content that you’re seeing on FBG today: that life is about more than counting calories, pounds lost and gained and punishing yourself with workouts you hate because you ate a stinkin’ donut.

With that said, it wasn’t until the last year or so that I really started to trust my body completely when it came to working out. Of course I’d stop if there was pain and I’d take one to two rest days a week, but I still felt a twinge of guilt when I’d unexpectedly have to miss a workout. And, honestly, sometimes it’s hard to know if it’s your brain or your body that needs a day off from exercise.

What I’ve learned though? Sometimes they both need a day off—or three. And that’s okay. In fact, that’s totally what you should do. If you can sink down below the mental chatter that plays a ping-pong game of “yes, you should work out” and “no, I don’t want to work out” in your head and ask yourself: Self, what is best for me today? Not what you should do or need to do but, but what your self would benefit most from. The answer might surprise you. Like it did me this past week.

After confessing my undying love for this place, I got a little too gung-ho and admittedly pushed it too hard for too many weeks. A twinge here and an ache there isn’t that big of a deal, unless you just keep pushing right through them, addicted to the confidence high of doing more and doing better—until all of sudden you aren’t feeling good and doing better. It was a lesson I’d learned before, but apparently needed a refresher on.

So last Monday, feeling tired, crabby and generally lackluster after a workout, I made a point to reconnect with the part of me that really knows what I need. I embraced my inner intuitive exerciser. And in doing so, I traded my usual workout routine for sleeping in, doing easy yoga and going for leisurely walks with my dog. By last Friday? I felt as good as new again. Excited to push it hard and physically ready to work out, I had fun at my next workout. No aches or a dragging fit bottom—I was back.

So what did this all teach me? That my true self has never lead me astray, so I should listen to that broad. She’s smart. Also? Intuitive exercise is the way to go. Totally the way to go.

Would you call yourself an intuitive exerciser? Would you try it? Struggled with it? Tell me! —Jenn

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