Transform Your Relationship With Exercise To Nourish Your Body And Mind

Imagine if, without drugs and their side effects, you can start feeling expansive states of well-being; a reduction in depression and anxiety; a feeling of personal self-mastery; and delicious, regenerative sleep. Consider how much more emotional capacity you could build. Greater resilience, like a fully charged battery, can help you handle life's surprises. You'll still get sad or angry from time to time, but you may recover way faster.


If you predictably elevate your endorphins — the "feel-good" hormone — every day, you can get easier access to a bright, positive mood as your new normal. Then, over time, you might also notice a decrease in the swirling, repetitive, and negative self-talk that many of us experience. Your stress and anxiety levels could become more manageable, and perhaps, so could your ADHD symptoms. Oh, and you could be on your way to becoming physically stronger and losing weight, too, all while properly engaging your core.

All these results are very possible when we embrace a full-on, daily commitment to exercise that deeply nourishes us, body and mind. If only it were that easy.

What gets in the way of exercise and what to do about it

Most of us experience some degree of cognitive dissonance — the tension that results when our behavior doesn't align with our stated beliefs or aspirations. 

Put another way, we all say we want one thing but don't act on it, feel discomfort, then find a way to justify being out of alignment with ourselves. A great example — truly wanting to eliminate pre-diabetes through a healthy diet yet indulging in a secret midnight slice of cherry pie regardless.


When our actions are out of sync with our values and preferences, it feels crummy and erodes our self-trust. A good first step to changing your relationship with exercise is becoming aware of these inner conflicts through journaling. Name the conflicting segments of your life without any judgment, then actively send them love in meditation instead of batting them away. Another possible transformational step we can recommend is making a grid with your conflicting options. In a spreadsheet, list two or three options and the benefits or consequences for each, then rank them from one to 10, with 10 being the most beneficial or consequential. One option could be getting up an hour earlier to do at-home yoga, jumping jacks, and weightlifting; another option might be sleeping in. Consider what the benefits of the first and the consequences to your life of the second could be a year from now.


Other transformational steps to incorporate more exercise

In "Atomic Habits," James Clear's bestseller about behavior change, he said, "The only way to make progress, the only choice I had, was to start small. Small habits helped me fill my potential."

Rather than overwhelming yourself with a New Year's resolution-sized, all-or-nothing blowout, try adding exercise in small increments — 10 minutes of at-home yoga or running per day could definitely do the trick. Also, stick with exercise you like, not what you think you "should" do. Remember to allow for optimum-quality exercise recovery time. Hot and cold therapy is an exercise recovery technique for the brave. 


Move away from only external motivations like weight loss or clothing size. It's okay to have these goals, but you may find yourself dropping the whole endeavor after reaching them. Then you're back to old habits. An internal motivation might be a decision to clear your brain fog and mentally and emotionally feel your best so you can truly rise to your full potential. Then you've reframed exercise as a meaningful life choice instead of a chore. You can do it.