I have been processing this phrase of late ‘intuitive’. This idea of learning to trust yourself and to allow your body’s needs to direct the choices you make. This idea of intuitive eating has been starting to gain traction. That there is no one size fits all approach to food, that it’s dependent on your individual genetics, lifestyle and goals. The idea that we can’t cookie cutter a diet, caloric intake and all the micro and macro nutrients that every individual on the planet needs to consume to be healthy, but that it’s more of an individual approach, and that YOU can learn to be your own professional. You might work with a nutritionist to help get you on the right path, to be that outside perspective to learn how to detach emotions from running your choices to making actual intentional choices with your nutrition with longer term goals and nourishment in mind, rather than just impulses and immediate gratification.
Our relationship with food is complicated, and I’m not a nutritionist, but since a great many of us have spent quite a bit of time thinking about our relationship with food and wrestled out some of how we make the choices we make, I find it a great analogy to start with in regards to movement.
Movement is nutrition. Movement nourishes your cells with oxygen and builds strength. And we need variety to be healthy, just like diet, even if something is healthy, say avocados or kale, if you ONLY eat avocados or kale you will be nutritionally deficient. The same goes for movement too, if we ONLY do our one favorite thing, running or biking or swimming or whatever our thing is, no matter how healthy and awesome it is, we still need to find the balance of movement during our life outside of our exercise time.
I find that rather than emotional eating, we can approach movement with a lot of emotions too. Just like food has become so complicated and it takes a lot of work to detangle our beliefs and addictions and emotional reliance on food, often movement parallels in very similar ways.
To be able to lay the groundwork for living a more intuitive life with movement, we need to start with really understanding our own beliefs around movement and exercise. Does it need to involve pain for it to ‘count’? Are you ‘not athletic’ enough or something else ‘enough’ to participate in exercise and movement? Is your body a shape or age you feel like disqualifies you from participating in movement? Are you scared of movement, scared of not being good at it, of injury, of pain, of feeling uneducated? Do you run to excessive movement to numb or control emotions and thoughts? Do you run from movement when you feel big feelings and turn inward and small and still.
Ugh. The really questions, the tough questions, the actually getting to the root questions where you really face what you’re afraid of or wanting so desperately to control.
Fear cannot be at the foundation of a healthy intuitive relationship with (anything) movement. If fear or punishment or control is the driving force behind the why of your movement and exercise practice, that voice will always speak louder than the intuition, if they go unchecked.
The other force that comes into to play is Newton’s First Law of motion- Every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion unless and external force acts on it. How this applies to creating an intuitive movement cycle for ourselves is like this, if we’re inactive, there will be a massive pull to remain so, if we’re overly driven and over push ourselves, we will likewise be pushed to remain operating in that same state. There is massive work in shifting habits. Intuitive doesn’t mean easy or without effort. I think often it can be portrayed that way, but living in balance takes constant adjustments and lots of attention to details.
Why do it? Because all that effort leads to ease. Again, what? Health takes effort, in our diet, in our movement, in our relationships, with ourselves, if something is left to it’s own devices will move towards disorder. See the Second Law of Thermodynamics- all closed systems tend towards disorder. Combating and even reversing this ever increasing move toward disorder requires the input of energy. You will have to expend energy to find this balance towards intuitive living if this is something you desire.
Imagine living in a body, where you were so connected to it’s needs for nourishment, you were able to supply them without guilt or stress or anxiety. You never had to feel bad about what society says you should or shouldn’t do because you know you’re body. Imagine no longer being controlled by your emotions, no longer living focused on the immediate overwhelming urges towards disorder, but had a longer term perspective and made choices based off of those values. Imaging living with a set a values you have worked out for yourself and fully believe in, not just having a list of should’s and shouldn’ts that someone else created for you and that changed constantly and that you never measured up to anyway?
That’s what I mean by intuitive movement. I’m not here to be your guru. I’m here to offer questions, help you determine your goals, give you a pile of tools to play around with and explore until you settle into your intuitive rhythm, honoring your cycles and entrusting your body’s signals to help you navigate into a space of nourishment, joy and freedom.
It is possible? Absolutely. Is it a lot of work and energy and wrestling out the hard stuff? 100% yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Can you do it? Know you have what it takes, not perfectly, not tomorrow, but to move more and more towards living a fully intuitive life.