How to Exercise When You Hate Diets and Workout Culture


We all know that regular physical activity is important for improving our vitality and reducing our risk of chronic disease. However, interest in traditional, structured exercise programs is often dropped soon after enrollment, and militant philosophies such as a no pain, no gain attitude usually last only as long as willpower prevails.

With these limited options, there’s little room for movement motivation, so what if someone doesn’t like traditional exercise?

Walk in happy movement — a non-intimidating approach to physical activity that emphasizes moving with pleasure rather than measuring and encourages individuals to participate in activities that feel good about their bodies.

While it may seem obvious to some, in an age of diet culture, fitness trackers, and obsessive calorie counting where disordered eating behaviors are on the rise, this paradigm shift is truly revolutionary.

Joyful movement facilitates the transition from typically negative experiences associated with exercise, such as penitence over food choices, moral obligation, and competition, to positive experiences such as pleasure, mindfulness, and increased awareness. bodily.

Shifting the focus on movement away from performance-based exercise opens the door for individuals to explore movement from a place of self-compassion and curiosity, two key factors that embody overall well-being. .

If finding joy in exercise has been a source of struggle, here are four simple steps you can take to make your movement more rewarding:

Get out of the conventional exercise box

We live in a society that idolizes the “hustle for muscle” mentality. Thus, we have been conditioned to believe that only the most intense and grueling types of exercise matter. But all forms of movement are equal and beneficial to our health. In other words, the best type of exercise is the one you will do. And the genre you will do is the one you like the most!

Explore different types of movements that give you pleasure and joy. Whether it’s rollerblading, playing Frisbee or kayaking, every move counts.

Take a non-judgmental approach

Contrary to popular belief, you can participate in a movement simply because you enjoy it, not because you have to be good at it. Many of us give up trying new activities for fear of not excelling on the first day. Who knows! You can discover your new favorite activity or meet an exercise buddy when you step out of your comfort zone.

Let your body guide you

Instead of focusing your attention on external cues like time, heart rate, and calories burned to determine your exercise intensity, listen to your body to guide you. Achieving a new metric or a new goal is not a requirement to reap the benefits of exercise. Moving mindfully increases body awareness and puts you in control of your movement, instead of it being dictated by numbers or hitting records.

Prioritizing how you feel over how you look

Movements that feed your body instead of breaking it down will cultivate a healthy relationship with exercise. Take a moment before and after the movement to be intentional and check how the movement made you feel. Although the joyful movements are not necessarily effortless, you should feel invigorated or rejuvenated afterwards. The benefits of movement and its impact on your internal health will be far more valuable than short-term fitness programs focused on changing your outward appearance.

Although the type of movement that brings us joy differs for each of us, adopting the above approaches to your movement practice will ultimately lead to a healthier and more lasting relationship with exercise.

Kelsey Ellis is a Certified Personal Trainer, Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Professional Life Coach in Vancouver. Her focus is body positivity and helping people move with joy, build self-acceptance, and take the shame out of their fitness game. Find Kelsey on Instagram at @healthy_with_kelsey.


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