Elle's Principles of Intuitive Movement
You might be wondering: what is Intuitive Movement? Well first, I’d like to say that I did not coin this term and I am certainly not the first to talk about it. But as a weight neutral exercise physiologist, it felt well, intuitive, to explore this concept and share my principles of Intuitive Movement
Intuitive Movement can simply be defined as a practice to help you have a more peaceful and joyful relationship with movement (or exercise, working out, fitness… whatever you want to call it!).
UNLINK MOVEMENT FROM WEIGHT (OR BODY) MANAGEMENT
It’s no secret that diet (and fitness) culture profit off of our insecurities. It puts thinness on a pedestal while selling you an often temporary and harmful “solution” under the guise of health. As long as our motivation for movement is extrinsically motivated, ie as a way to achieve a certain body ideal, we’ll forever be stuck in the on-again-off-again loop with exercise. When your motivation to move comes from within, your desire to move comes without strings and you continue to do it because it brings your joy, satisfaction, comfort, or something else you might need in this moment.
IMPROVE INNER ATTUNEMENT
Improving your inner attunement is pretty much the cornerstone of practicing intuitive movement; and it’s much easier said than done. Put simply, this means learning how to listen and respond to what your body needs without judgement. This at times might mean switching up your plan for the day or week. This might mean up-leveling your workout, and this also might mean taking an impromptu rest day. Often this means embracing modifications and knowing that taking the “easier” (as diet culture might define it) route might also be the healthiest choice.
MODIFY MODIFY MODIFY
This is an especially helpful principal if you’re someone who enjoys follow-along type movement practices like group exercise classes, workout videos, or yoga. Modifying exercises so they are appropriate for your body and your ability level does not mean you are taking the easy way out. Modifying is just one more way you can practice listening and responding to your bodies needs, and therefore strengthen your intuition!
If we’re not comparing ourselves to the person next to us, it’s likely we’re comparing ourselves to our former selves. Having the thought “I used to be able to do this…” or “When I was [smaller, stronger, etc] I was able to do this…”. It’s easy to get caught up in these loops, but it’s important to know that intuition only works in the present moment. It’s near impossible to approach movement from an intuitive place when we are chasing what once was. There are so many reasons our bodies change. Physical disabilities, disease progression, injuries both chronic and temporary, pain, pregnancy, surgery, and mental health issues can all play a role in how we move. Practicing presence simply means that we don’t have to harp on fixing or striving to “get back to where we were” but instead, we practice honoring our body where it is now and working with our bodies instead of fighting against them.
The concept of intuitive movement can become the answer that you might be looking for. If you struggle to find joy in movement, maybe you need to approach it more intuitively.