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The Reclamation of Movement- Exploring Exercise Through a Lens of Intentionality

The Reclamation of Movement- Exploring Exercise Through a Lens of Intentionality

Our bodies are Incredible

Sometimes we can lose sight of that.

In a society filled with conflicting and confusing information heaved from every angle regarding nutrition and exercise recommendations, it can be difficult to sift through the noise and come back to what is helpful for OUR bodies.

I have seen an increase in struggles and frankly hopelessness in conversation around exercise as of late. This conversation is a beautiful place to get curious about all that we have been told and believed about exercise. I am excited to foster perhaps a unique way of thinking about our bodies experience of movement.

Let’s first explore the thoughts and assumptions surrounding exercise. If you can, reflect on what your thoughts/views/beliefs regarding exercise are.

Some examples:

  • I exercise to compensate/burn off calories 
  • I exercise to change my body/see “results” 
  • Exercise is tied to an outcome my body is performing not the process of movement 
  • I don’t truly enjoy exercise, I feel better after but it truly is a struggle each time and find myself dreading it before 
  • I have to exercise xyz times per day/week 
  • Exercise is my way of earning my food
  • I’m not healthy if I don’t exercise/I am lazy/I will gain weight 

Mottos and messaging we may hear/see/observe in spaces that focus on exercise vs. movement that are troubling

Push past the pain
No pain no gain
Burn it off
Earn your food
Beach body/summer body/shredded
Laser focus on calories/reps/sets/miles/kilos/pounds/goal weight
Morality tied to “health”
‘Strong is the new skinny’
You are what you eat
Lifestyle choice

What other slogans or ‘catchy’ phrases have you seen/heard/observed that are tied to exercise/movement?

Often an element of avoidance and pushing past the gentle or loud responses/feedback of our body is ignored, going on autopilot through the workout, a level of dissociation existing in those spaces and mindsets.

We can become hyper-focused on results and outcomes, missing the intuitiveness of such activities.

What movement isn’t:
A “badge of honor”

What movement can be:
The beautiful art of integrating your body/mind connection in a form of pleasurable cohesiveness.

What if…
What if your morality was not tied to something that is constantly changing- your body. From a molecular level and up, your body is fighting for you. Why are we fighting against it? What would happen if we accompanied our body? Paused? Befriended even?

Movement is not perfect
You are allowed to stay curious about the process of each movement and not the end result
You can joyfully move your body without focusing on results/reps/calories/the way your body looks
And if those thoughts pop up, hi…this is normal as our brains are neurologically wired to view exercise through a diet culture lens
We can acknowledge those thoughts when they pop up (not if…when) and return our focus back to self-compassion and the joy of the movement. The present moment. Checking in with your body and what it needs.

We can stop that movement if it does not feel safe for your body. You can do something different; you are not weak or out of shape. You are informed.

We can recognize that changing our relationship with exercise and movement takes time as again, our brains are brilliant and will want to return to the original thought process that has existed the longest. Luckily, our brains also have the ability to create new neural networks that different from how it previously functioned, also known as neural plasticity.

With every reframe, every opportunity that you allow your mind and body to connect, you are resetting, re-establishing, regulating. Relearning. Reconstructing. Liberating yourself from old messaging that may not serve you anymore.

Affirmations for reclaiming movement

  • My body deserves respect
  • I am able to move my body in the ways in which are safe and regulating for me
  • I have the ability to choose every action, making adjustments for what is best for my body and mind
  • Destroying my body never brought the peace diet culture promised
  • I do not owe anyone anything with the way my body looks/moves
  • I can set my own goals in relation to movement- I don’t have to set goals around destructive and self-defeating measurements that lead to shame and self-sabotaging thoughts (pounds, weight, etc.)
  • movement is not bad
  • I can trust myself and my body
  • When I listen to my body, I am relearning how to trust myself and my body
  • my body is perfect at this very place in my life. Not x amount of pounds ago or x amount of pounds more
  • I can critically think about the information I have accepted as truth in the past in relation to exercise and movement
  • I am allowed to revisit these thoughts as many times as I need to
  • I am allowed to be patient with this process

When should we engage in movement?

Some check-in themes to assist ourselves in staying curious about our relationship to movement prior to engaging in that activity that may be helpful:

  • Do I have the capacity and energy to move my body right now?
  • Am I honoring my bodies need for rest? Am I avoiding rest because my view of rest is tied to the assumptions that rest is slothful, lazy, unnecessary, unproductive?
  • Has my body had appropriate rest (subject to each human)
  • Have I nourished my body to ensure this movement is helpful and not hurtful?
  • hydrated?
  • What type of movement would be safe and regulating for me at this time?
  • If I knew this movement would have no impact on my weight/calories/body, would I still engage in this activity/exercise?

What other non-negotiables can you think of that you’d like to include in your personal check ins to guide your decision making process when including movement?

Movement is not just “hitting the gym.”
Movement is strolling with your neighbor
Yard work
Picking up your baby
Folding laundry
Going for a mindful walk
Playing with the dog
Horseback riding


Movement is a range of things, movement is so very personal as well as connective, joining us with others, animals, our surroundings.

I refuse to spend another moment engaged in movement as a slave to exercise compulsions and diet culture- do you?

Please know that you know your body best.
If you aren’t sure about how much rest/nourishment/movement you may need as that is completely personal, there are many individuals who can assist you in identifying that for YOU. A diet, recommendations from a nutritional label, even a statistic online is not accurate for you as many, many things impact our body’s needs. For more information or support, feel free to connect and collaborate with us. Every body is a good body. We are excited to explore curiously with you.


Written by Winter Groeschl, LPC

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