Abundantly Enough

Joyful Movement

This is a reblog and edit of a post from November 2017. You can read the original here. You know what I hate? Exercise. You know what I love? Joyful movement. And here's the difference:

Exercise is firm, regimented, and doesn't actually care how you're feeling that day. It employs phrases like "no pain, no gain" and "just do it" to push you past your personal limits. And it means well, because exercise is good for your heart and makes you stronger and faster. Some people really enjoy exercise and having a training schedule and that's okay too, because it's all about what truly sets your heart on fire. But to me, exercise is a distant acquaintance that you nod to on the street and automatically reply "fine" to when asked "how are you?"

Then there's joyful movement - the friend that grabs your hand and says "But how are you really?" after you say "fine." The difference is the lack of a rigid, day-by-day plan and the huge amount of listening to your body that is done. Which isn't to say that an exercise plan doesn't allow a certain amount of listening to your body, but there's something so refreshing about thinking, "I sat a lot today and my body is craving movement. I'm a little sore from moving apartments, so a walk and a yoga video sound great."

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ANY MOVEMENT IS BENEFICIAL

I want to take some time out and call attention to the fact that any movement is beneficial and you don't have to have a complex plan or big goals or any plan/goals at all for it to be good for your body. I'm guessing we all know some of the benefits of movement and fitness (heart health, joint health, etc) so I won't parrot those here. Exercise hasbeen shown to improve body image, and I think that's amazing. But I think it's also good to know that allowing yourself to find movement that feels good to you is a great place to start, and you don't need to try and run a half marathon or CrossFit your arms off just because your friends do. If you love those, that's cool! If you don't, that's also cool!

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Truth Bomb Tuesday (5).png

IS IT ALWAYS JOYFUL?

Let's dig into this question a little bit. I love that this whole up-and-coming concept of joyful movement is catching on. I think it sounds so positive and happy and freeing. But I also wonder to myself a lot - am I always supposed to be feeling absolute joy?

I think it's okay to not be ecstatic about every workout or class or exercise opportunity. The harm comes when we force our bodies to do things they don't want to, or when choosing movement takes away more from our day than it adds. For example - I know that my body doesn't feel great at the end of the day if I haven't moved a bit and walked around or stretched. So, I try to walk to deliver messages at the hospital instead of phoning for them, I use a restroom across the building, and I take a stretch break every hour or so while I chart. My heart doesn't soar with joy for any of these things, but they're quick, painless, and add up to feeling a little less physically tense at the end of the day.

Here's some questions to ask yourself to guide in your decision making:

  • Why am I doing this? (your why should not be your appearance)

  • Does this add to my day? Or add more overall stress?

  • Did I sleep well last night?

  • Is this a muscle burn or muscle pain? (there is a difference and pain is bad)

DISCOVERING WHAT MOVEMENT IS JOYFUL FOR YOU

Two words: try everything. And then sing this song in your head while you do it.

Just kidding about that song thing, but really - if your doctor says it's okay/you're cleared for movement/it feels right, trying all the things is such a fun way to make discoveries. I used to think all you could do at the gym was a combination of a cardio machine + weight machines, but having a friend teach me how to use the free weights/heavy weights was an eye opener for me! Then I thought, if this is fun, what else am I missing out on?

So, here's a list (that is by no means comprehensive) of different kinds of movement to try!

MOVEMENT EXPLORATION OPTIONS

BARRE

My absolute favorite form of motion for a full year was Barre3, a combination of pilates, yoga, and ballet barre. I especially love the body positivity vibes I get from the instructors (in person and online!) when they say things like "Here's what to do if this doesn't feel good in your body" and "Remember that your body is different every day, so it's okay to adapt along with that." Here's a free class online or the link to the full online workout library (the subscription is SO worth it if you love this - not sponsored, just a great value!).

YOGA

I will say, yoga is one of the kinds of movement that feels best in an actual class rather than on my own. I went to an intermediate class with a friend over the summer and it was so nice to be surrounded by people who were also centered on loving and moving their bodies for an hour! For at home, I love Yoga With Adriene on YouTube! Here's a 15-minute feel-good flow.

PILATES

I've never tried Pilates in person ($$$) but The Balanced Life Pilates with Robin Long is a great Youtube channel for equipment-free pilates options! I'll open a quick 10-minute pilates flow video for when I need to move but am feeling cozy and lazy at the same time (anyone else get that feeling?). Here's my current fave.

WALKING

Who can resist a tried-and-true (and FREE) favorite like taking a stroll? I usually bring Drew along if I feel like walking so we can chat, but a podcast works just as well if he's not around! Here's one that will give you all the food positive vibes.

KETTLEBELL

I bought a kettlebell shortly after moving in with Drew and it has been such a satisfying way to enjoy a sweaty workout at home! Sometimes I want slow stretching, and sometimes I want my heart to pound - and this workout definitely makes it happen.

WEIGHTS

Weights have brought me a similar enjoyment to kettlebell lately when I'm looking for a deeper muscle burn. This workout is a great arm circuit and this is a killer lower body workout.

HIKING

We live in the mountains of Idaho and hiking trails are plentiful and beautiful! AllTrails is great for finding a path, or just googling around works too! If you're ever in the Tetons, we liked this Jenny Lake hike - lots of milage but relatively flat so it's not too hard on the legs.

SWIMMING

I haven't swam (swum?) in a while, but Kylie posted a lot about it when she was pregnant with her sweet little girl, and it looked so good that I'm pondering a trip to an indoor pool...or maybe just a hot tub. ;) I love how weightless swimming makes me feel, and it's so easy on the body! Basically a spa day plus a workout in one.

ABUNDANTLY ENOUGH

This post is part of the Abundantly Enough blog series, where my girl Amy Shen and I chat about all things HAES, intuitive eating, and wellness. Join us in our Facebook group for more discussion + weekly videos! Note: this Facebook group has since closed, but you can find related content by searching "Abundantly Enough" in the sidebar!

3 Quick Tips for Gentle Nutrition

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Hello, friends! It's Food/Gentle Nutrition Week over in the Abundantly Enough group that my friend Amy and I run, so I'm stopping in to share 3 tips for gentle nutrition. If you're looking to read more about the background and what "gentle nutrition" even is, read this post

GROUND YOURSELF IN THE PRESENT

One helpful way to guide your eating is to focus on the present. The restrictive mindset tends to let the past and future dictate what can happen now ("I'll make up for this" or "I earned this", etc) but if you treat each eating opportunity as a unique event, it can help lead to natural balance.

You can ground yourself using guided meditation, a body scan, or by asking some of the questions below (or a combo of all of these!):

  • Do I feel my hunger in my mouth or my stomach?

  • What is my hunger level? (use the scale above)

  • What foods sound good? (or, if this is too broad - hot or cold? Spicy? Sweet? Savory? Do I want my food to feel filling or light?)

When actually eating, trying to set aside at least a few mindful, screen-free minutes during a meal can help you enjoy!

If you have anxiety about treating each meal individually, visualization can help. Think about the meal or snack you're about to eat, and picture/visualize yourself enjoying and savoring the food in a calm way. How do you currently feel when you eat? How would you like to feel? What are some ways you can get there?

MAKE HYDRATION ACCESSIBLE

I find a lot of posts about hydration talk a lot about why it's important and how much water we need - and we've all probably already heard most of it. So, let's chat about how to make it easier to hydrate - even if you don't like water.

  • Drink from a straw | this can help boost your intake just by making it easier to take longer sips!

  • Add flavor | fun ideas include flavor drops, packets, or sliced fruit

  • Make it part of your morning routine | setting a water bottle or glass next to your bed and taking some sips before you get up can be a super-easy way to start your day refreshed!

Wondering about intuitive hydration? Check out this post.

EXPLORE SIMPLE SWAPS

I want to start by noting that I think ingredient swaps get a bad rep, and sometimes it's justified. The whole cauliflower-for-pizza-crust thing makes no sense to me - it's not nearly as satisfying or tasty. Give me all the doughy texture of bread, please and thanks.

But there's some fun ways to play around with food that can up the fiber, protein, or nutrition content without sacrificing satisfaction. If you try these and hate them, get back to your roots and eat the stuff you like. Ain't no thang.

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And that's it! Keeping it short and simple today since things are crazy lately, but let me know in the comments how you incorporate gentle nutrition into your life!

ABUNDANTLY ENOUGH

This post is part of the Abundantly Enough blog series, where my girl Amy Shen and I chat about all things HAES, intuitive eating, and wellness. Join us in our Facebook group for more discussion + weekly videos!

Other Abundantly Enough posts:

Sleep, Hormone Regulation, and Health

I'm finally getting into a routine with sleep lately, and y'all it feels goooood. I'm typically pretty all over the place with the amount of sleep I need/quality of sleep I get, but one thing I'm focusing on lately is actionable steps that can help with both. Before we dive in, I want to say (as someone who was fairly recently a student/intern): sleep is important for everybody. Even people who think they don't have time for sleep. And even when your life truly limits the amount of time you can sleep (hi, mamas), there's steps you can take to fall asleep faster, maximize that time, and sleep better. Isn't that the best news?!

As per usual, let's get into the physiology of sleep + how sleep deprivation affects us, then we'll talk about those actionable steps.

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sleep cycle

WHAT HAPPENS DURING SLEEP

If you've ever read about sleep before, you know that sleep happens in stages, in a cycle. You're not getting deep sleep the whole time you're out, but each kind of sleep/stage is important in different ways. In a nutshell, when you first fall asleep, you go through NREM1, 2, and 3, then REM. Sleep becomes deeper as you progress (NREM3 is deeper sleep than 1). REM sleep (rapid eye movement) is the stage at which dreams occur. As you're asleep for longer, you spend more time in NREM3/REM, the deepest stages of sleep.

The whole cycle can take 90-120 minutes, with ~4-5 cycles in a night. This variation in cycle length is why some people feel better on less sleep than others - their sleep cycles are likely more "efficient" and take less time.

You'd think that our brains would "turn off" and enjoy the rest, but in reality it's more like the brain is using the energy it would normally use to be conscious... and cleaning house/fine-tuning things. Here's part of the brain's to-do list while you're snoozing:

  • Cementing new memories/cleaning out unused, unneeded ones
  • Your body relaxes and blood pressure/temperature drop
  • You make and release growth hormone
  • Hunger (leptin + ghrelin) hormones are regulated

INADEQUATE SLEEP + HORMONES

I almost think it's easier to examine sleep from a perspective of what can happen when we don't get enough, rather than what happens when we do. Primarily, there's a lot of dysregulation of hormones that can cause a cascade of other symptoms.

IL-6

IL-6 (not a hormone, but something called a cytokine) is typically low during the day/high when we sleep. But without enough sleep, its daytime levels can increase + it stimulates our hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This, in turn, leads to an increase in cortisol (the stress hormone). Bottom line: it's physiologically stressful and inflammatory if we keep getting inadequate sleep.

Quick note on exercise: exercise is a positive stressor, meaning that it raises then lowers your cortisol in a way that's overall helpful to your body. But if you don't get enough sleep, your baseline cortisol is already high - and exercise becomes a negative stressor. Don't work out if you don't sleep well!

GROWTH HORMONE

Ready to hear something crazy? I already mentioned that growth hormone is produced/released during sleep... and one of the strangest (IMO) effects of interrupted or inadequate sleep is that children with sleep apnea have stunted growth.

I'm not bringing this up to scare y'all, but rather to highlight that sleep is more powerful than our culture gives us credit for. In adults, growth hormone helps regulate metabolism - still important + worth prioritizing sleep!

HUNGER HORMONES

Sleep deprivation has been associated with low leptin (the fullness hormone) and high ghrelin (the hunger hormone), meaning that we're more hungry if we don't sleep a lot. I think about it as the body's way of helping get enough energy (if we're not getting it from sleep, we can compensate to a degree by eating more energy aka food). 

It may help explain why you need more food after days you don't sleep well, and it can also explain why perpetual sleep deprivation can lead to us perpetually eating more than we'd want or need if we got enough sleep. Note: the takeaway is always still to tune into those hunger/fullness cues, but it's important to be curious about things that may affect them.

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WHEN YOU SLEEP BETTER, YOU DO BETTER

It wouldn't be a Satisfy post without me saying "actionable steps", so here's some actionable steps to fall asleep faster and sleep better!

  • Invest in blackout curtains
  • Put cozy sheets on your bed
  • Charge your phone across the room (or outside of it) and use an old-fashioned alarm clock instead of your phone to wake you up
  • Create a quiet environment by picking up a white noise machine or putting in earplugs
  • Designate specific clothes/pajamas for sleeping
  • Only use your bed for sleep and sex
  • Turn off screens/blue lights at least 30 minutes before bed
  • Avoid caffeine after 2pm
  • Try a sleep-centered guided meditation (I like this app)
  • If you're restless and don't fall asleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed and read/do another calming activity, then try again so your brain doesn't associate bedtime with restlessness
  • Diffuse lavender (or roll it on in a roller ball) // note: did you know that essential oils can be toxic to cats? I just found this out + now I opt to roll on oils instead of diffusing them to protect Pascal!
  • Check out this podcast where a soothing voice reads you nonsense bedtime stories
  • Create a bedtime/wind-down routine to help signal your body and mind every night that it's time to rest

How do you prioritize sleep in your life? I'd love to hear in the comments below!

ABUNDANTLY ENOUGH

This post is part of the Abundantly Enough blog series, where my girl Amy Shen and I chat about all things HAES, intuitive eating, and wellness. Join us in our Facebook group for more discussion + weekly videos! Note: the Facebook group associated with this series has since closed, but you can find related blogs below!

Other Abundantly Enough posts:

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