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Intuitive Movement: The Excitement in Finding New Ways to Exercise (Week In Review)

More and more, I’m learning how important movement is to me. 

Twice now in the last year, I’ve even had acting teachers, who’ve hardly known me, tell me that I need to find ways to incorporate movement into my artistry. Somehow, they could see something I’m just now beginning to see. 

 

 

Ever since I was super, super young, I was always found prancing around in my living room – either dancing or simply running circles around my brothers as they – much more maturely – colored and watched The Brave Little Toaster on our one channel television. 

I was at every track and field meet in elementary school and played on my school volleyball and soccer teams up until high school graduation. I also figure skated for over ten years, quite competitively, however it was never the jumps and free skates that I actually enjoyed. It was the ice dancing. The flowing routines of intricate footwork and swooping cascades, with or without a partner. Gah. They were so beautiful. Or it was the artistic solos where no jumps were required but rather an entertaining routine judged on artistic expression. Not surprisingly, however, my greatest passion was always for dance. I danced literally all my life, and even took my professional training through to college. That’s what I wanted to be. A dancer.  

Then, somewhere along the road of college graduation meets independent living meets the reality of life not going as planned, I started to lose all of these forms of movement. Even dance. 

It got to the point where it had been so long since I had played volleyball – which, I gotta say, I was pretty darn good at – swam, tried a new sport just for fun, or took a dance class, that the thought of doing so just hurt too much. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be nearly as good as I used to be. And that scared my perfectionistic self. But more so, I was terrified of the feelings of sadness, guilt, and regret that would arise when I realized how badly I missed this part of me. 

But through this time,  I had to find a way to appease this inner energetic need. So, I turned to something more tangible and regimented. Something where I could see improvements; quick results and an immediate sense of accomplishment in a life where I was feeling anything but. Something that would fulfill my desire to release myself through movement, but also something where there would be no vulnerability attached. 

I turned to the gym. 

Fast forward 5… 7… years, and to this day I still struggle to see other forms of movement as “exercise.” Through the worst of my exercise addiction, I would not feel like I had done enough exercise – worked hard enough, burned enough calories, what have you – unless I had literally been to the weight room and had done my planned set of exercises. Anything else – walks, bikes, swims, yoga, games – were just “extra activities.”  Very black and white. 

In the last few months, I’ve had so little motivation to go to the gym. If I’m honest with myself, I really haven’t wanted to be inside, strategically lifting weights, and then feel sore and tight. But, I’ve still wanted to move. Oh dear lord my desire to MOVE has been burning a hole through my skin!!!

But because the gym is a) free for me and b) can be worked into my scheduling and ideal timing, it has been very hard to choose other forms of activity instead of it. It still remains a way for me to move…

It just isn’t HOW I want to move. 

I’m tired of feeling tight and sore. I don’t want to feel tight!! I want to feel free and limber and energized! I want to find movements that are flowing, not static. 

But by damnit that pull of the gym being the only way to “stay healthy” still clings on very strongly. Old thought patterns take a long time to break. 

But. As this desire has been growing and growing over these last few months, I’ve been taking the courageous act of trying out other forms of movement, and letting this black and white idea of the gym get weaker and weaker. Things that maybe I did in the past and have been secretly longing – but too scared – to return to. Or maybe something new entirely. Anything that could potentially fill this desire in me to move my body and express myself physically.

Its a big act of trust. To leave something you know behind. That safety bubble you’ve built up over time. And instead, to take the risk in trying something new. 

Thanking Meg for the weekly link up!

Last week I…

Went swimming!!

For the first time in, literally, over ten years. I never really liked swimming, actually. I was always a very good swimmer and did my lessons up until lifeguard status, but it was never my chosen activity. And I hated… HATED… when we had to do laps. Oh god please don’t make me. 

But the other week I discovered there is a beautiful – and totally free – community aquatic centre less than 5 minutes away from me. So on a weird day where I was feeling pent up and anxious and really wanted to move, but knew in my heart I did NOT want to be inside a gym, I grabbed my swim suit and entered the pool before I could think my way out of it. 

I loved it. 

I just kept going! Lap after lap. It felt so good in my body. I was moving, gliding, using up my pent up energy, but in a way that was also calming and rhythmic. And it was cardiovascular so I could feel my heart working happily. 

I’m excited to make this a more frequent thing. Why have I not made use of this resource until now!?

I went to two yoga classes.

I’ve been craving yoga so much lately, and in my longing to find some way to move that is not inside a gym, I began searching out yoga class deals online (’cause those individual classes or yogi memberships are tooooo much mula for this one). I ended up finding an unreal deal through Groupon: 10 classes for 20$!

Groupon is amazing. If you are wanting to find new studios or classes – of any kind! – you can always find a spectacular deal. If you’ve never tried it out, I strongly urge you to. Follow this link to get 10$. I hope to look up other types of classes to try out for a first time – like pole dancing!

I find yoga to be mostly beneficial for calming my mind, but it does this through a whole body experience.  I’m slowly learning to trust that yoga is “exercise,” too. Even if I may not break a sweat in the same way as a hard core gym session, I know that my body is simply working in a different way and strengthening – while lengthening – my muscles with just as much (if not more) benefit for my health. 

I biked

Let’s be honest, sometimes my bike commutes are not that fun (after a long shift? please no….) But I have to see that, even though this is a means of simply getting myself somewhere, it is still exercise. Twenty minutes to and from work is definitely moving my body. I did this a number of times this week. 

And I went for a walk

Even in a big bad city there are always new places to explore, and surprisingly beautiful paths within a not-too-far distance. Plus, in the summer I definitely don’t want to be trapped inside if I can help it. So finding ways I can move outside are extra winners. 

Last week I took off exploring and got a bit lost, but discovered a trail that had just been revamped. 

Walking feels good on my hips – which are always tight – and as a whole body movement always makes me feel lighter and energized. It continues to be hard for me to choose a walk and let it be my “physical activity” for the day. But my intuitive desires have had me craving this movement far above a gym workout so much, that when I know I’ve listened to my true cravingsmuch like with foodI feel perfectly satisfied by the end. That is the huge pay off to being intuitive.

 

All this to say, as I’ve been trying out new forms of movement, I’ve found myself feeling very excited. I left my swim feeling thrilled about finding a new form of exercise that feels good, fun, and physical. I feel happy with the thought of seeing yoga as a physical practice, not just a mental one. And I love that I can really see how good my body feels after a nice brisk walk.

I’m sad that it’s taken me so long to let myself get back to other forms of movement. I’m sad that I let the gym overcrowd my intuitive self and let it convince me that it was the only way to move. And I still have a long way to go.  There are many other things I want to get back to or try. Like dance. And to join a volleyball team once again (god I will be SO awful). It still feels scary to leave something I know, or to return to something I once knew. It’s scary to trust gut and intuition, rather than head and habit. But I can feel myself slowly getting back there. 

Because when it comes down to it, I really just want to move. 

I want to move. Intuitive Exercise and the excitement of finding new forms of movement!… Click To Tweet

Tell me,

Are you someone that needs to move?

What forms of movement leave you feeling really good? What types of movement does your body crave? For me: Any sort of dancing, flowy yoga and brisk walks.

Are you okay with letting other forms of movement still be “exercise”? I’m working on it…

 

 

 

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43 COMMENTS

  1. Frances | 7th Aug 17

    One of the best exercises you can do is on the rebounder. You don’t have to do jumping jacks, etc. but even walking on the spot, great for the lymph system and can be done in all types of weather!

    • Cora | 13th Aug 17

      Never heard of it! I’m intrigued…

  2. Heather @ Polyglot Jot | 7th Aug 17

    YES! I NEED to move. I had to quit my career as a dancer and that part of me will never be taken away. Now I find joy in strength training, HIIT cardio, long walks, and dancing like a crazy woman with Aubrey 🙂
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…5 Ways to Stay Healthy with a NewbornMy Profile

    • Cora | 13th Aug 17

      Baby dances will give you SO much happiness!!

  3. Susie @ Suzlyfe | 7th Aug 17

    LOVE LOVE LOVE. We get so locked into thinking that only this or that is an acceptable way to exercise that we forget that our bodies just want movement and activity. And that can be accomplished in so many ways!
    Susie @ Suzlyfe recently posted…Travel Frustrations Balanced by My Sweat Pink FixMy Profile

    • Cora | 13th Aug 17

      Yes yes yes. At the end of the day it doesn’t even freaking matter how we moved. Just as long as we did and it felt good both physically and mentally.

  4. Cindy | 7th Aug 17

    Cora, I love this so much! I didn’t know that you were also a former figure skater – I skated all throughout middle and high school, and while I still love watching the sport, I can’t see myself going back to do it myself. Thank you for sharing this lovely and insightful post. All of the physiotherapists that I’ve worked with highly recommend swimming (next to walking) as one of the #1 best exercises. Low impact, 360 degrees of resistance, whole-body movement, and great for the cardiovascular system. 🙂

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post!

    • Cora | 18th Aug 17

      Looks like we have more in common! I really loved reading this about what your physiotherapists say about swimming. Its one of those exercises that don’t really feel like you are exercising… so you kind of just have to trust it?

  5. Kaylee | 7th Aug 17

    Hmm, I think I’ve learned to look at ‘exercise’ more as movement than as a form of working out. Though I have yet to do any form of exercise that I was doing while in the depths of my ED, I have learned to find new ways to incorporate movement in healthier ways: more mindful walks, biking socially, restorative yoga to name a few.

    The way you describe swimming makes me want to swim that much more!! AHH. Do you have a favorite stoke? And YES. Yoga is a full-body workout including exercising the mind. I would love to make more time for this in my life.
    Kaylee recently posted…Week in Review: It was a week where…My Profile

    • Cora | 18th Aug 17

      This is amazing that you have gotten to this place, Kaylee. That’s a lot of work. The fact that you can confidently say you see “exercise: more as movement is very inspirational.

      You know its funny, when I used to swim I totally only loved back stroke. But now I’m actually digging the front stroke! I used to HATE it.

  6. Emily Swanson | 7th Aug 17

    It’s been amazing and humbling in the last few years as the Lord has been teaching me to really honor Him more in the way I honor my in listening to its needs (instead of always pushing it.) It’s made me enjoy gentle weights workouts, gentle stretching, gentle walks, and such, and it’s been so freeing! I love that you wrote this, because I think we’re both learning the same thing.
    Emily Swanson recently posted…Week In Review: Healing, Hope, Running, VacationsMy Profile

    • Cora | 18th Aug 17

      Its such a powerful and freeing feeling when you recognize the beautiful feeling of gentle movement. It really fills your whole being up – mind body and soul.

  7. Jamie@TheMomGene | 7th Aug 17

    I am so very much a person who likes Bea to move. I played tennis and ran cross country in high school. It took having kids though to teach me the beauty of unstructured movement. We walk, we ride bikes, we even do a little yoga (something I LOVE that I only did for a brief time at a cool studio when I lived in NYC…because I had a Groupon!). I love that you are moving and shaking in a new way!!!

    • Cora | 18th Aug 17

      And I love that your kids have really taught you more about unstructured movement. They are the originals, after all. They don’t even think about it as anything but fun!

  8. Evangeline @Nutrition on a Mission | 7th Aug 17

    This is lovely. I feel like I say that about so many of your posts, but I only say it because it’s true. Your thoughtfulness and introspection is lovely. Your honesty about fear and change is lovely. Movement is so very unique to each of us, and it totally makes sense that not everyone would enjoy and thrive in a typical gym setting.

    You mentioned craving movement that makes you feel limber and energized, and that thought is so important. Certain people might leave the gym with that same flowy, free feeling, but for someone like me, I would leave feeling stressed and uncomfortable. I guess that’s where the intuitive aspect of movement takes the stage. We move how we want to move because it actually makes us feel good. Ahhh this is so simple and revolutionary at the same time!!

    • Cora | 18th Aug 17

      That’s so true. The gym/weights etc would totally leave someone else with a sense of energy and freedom – I’m sure. And some would leave feeling stressed and uncomfortable after a dance or yoga class. Each to our own. As long as we stay true to our selves and not do something just because others are.

  9. June | 7th Aug 17

    Wow, I’m surprised you didn’t consider walking/biking/yoga/swimming/etc. to be exercise! Personally, I used to have an addiction to running and that was my main “exercise” for a couple of year. Now, thankfully, all I do is walk (which definitely adds up!) and yoga (which can be pretty intense!). I’m happy you are listening more to your body and enjoying yourself! But also, be careful with overdoing it on the biking/walking/etc… it all counts as exercise and you could be burning lots of energy that your body needs and/or stressing out your system! Have a great week 🙂

    • Cora | 18th Aug 17

      Yep. Its sad to see that was/is sometimes still my mindset. And when biking and walking are such daily occurrences it is conscious work to continue seeing it as exercise. I know I still have work and body trust to to continue!

  10. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets | 7th Aug 17

    I love the focus on movement this week and that you managed to sneak in some wonderful exercise through swimming and yoga. To be honest, I’m a bit envious as you’ve seen what my exercise looks like these days. Hmm, maybe I can sneak in a yoga class or a swim this week since the Hubby is home, albeit a little hobbly.

    Also you need to engage in a full out kitchen dance party. Put on a happy song and bust a move.

    • Cora | 18th Aug 17

      Kitchen dance parties. The BEST way to move. A true healer for your body and soul.

      I hope you’ve been able to get some more you time, a couple extra walks, or maybe even a yoga class (?) since the hub has been home. Of course, you now have a child AND a hubby to watch over, so you can’t harp on yourself if that plan hasn’t exactly come to fruition. An extra dance party or two though… make that one a priority.

  11. Ellie Pell | 7th Aug 17

    I plan to go swimming on Wednesday at my parent’s house if it isn’t too chilly. I actually don’t really swim laps when I get in the pool, I float. That feels glorious! I don’t know if I think of running as exercise anymore when I am training for something. It becomes more than simply exercise. Yes, it is my favorite way to move my body, but also I think of it as more significant I guess.

    I’m not doing any formal yoga but take a lot of time to stretch while the yoga class goes on at my gym (I work the desk during that). I completely understand about not wanting to be in a gym. Ever since I came back to Ithaca and have run my own routes, the thought of the treadmill is BAH!
    Ellie Pell recently posted…Bumps In the RoadMy Profile

    • Cora | 18th Aug 17

      It would be interesting to hear more about how you don’t see running as “exercise” so much. Of course, we technically know it is massive exercise, but I can see how – since it is such a big part of your life in so many other ways (therapeutic, mental etc. ) that the physical elements would start to not be the main focus.

      Floating is so nice, haha. Did you know there are actual studios that you can go and pay to float in some sort of weird enclosed floating bed? For like… an hour? I’m not sure I could do that. But I am intrigued.

  12. Alyssa | 7th Aug 17

    walks are so beautiful… and you know i’m all about yoga. intuitive movement is amazing. don’t confine yourself to a weight room or a treadmill. I find so much beauty through my yoga practice and walking/hiking outside!
    Alyssa recently posted…Life Lately in PicturesMy Profile

    • Cora | 18th Aug 17

      Yes. The thing about walks, yoga or hikes is that they give you this beautiful sense of harmony and all over well being. I know a large part of that is the physical aspect of the movement. Something I’ve never sincerely received from anything to do with the gym.

  13. Hannah | 7th Aug 17

    My preferred forms of movement have always been intense but short. I played softball growing up, prefer sprints over distance runs, heavy weights over high reps. But I think mentally I have always used these types of exercise to force stress away, whereas something like yoga requires allowing myself to relax. And of course the physical aspects of less intense movement are important as well.

    • Cora | 18th Aug 17

      Interesting!! I don’t think I’ve ever been a “short and sweet” kind of gal when it comes to movement. So interesting to know different peoples’ preferences and what feels best to them.

  14. chasetheredgrape | 7th Aug 17

    YAAAAS!! Oh how I love this! I love to move and my favourite forms of movement are things I used to do all the time as a kid – dance and prance around whilst listening to music in the kitchen, go on walks, walk along walls rather than the pavement and if I do walk on the pavement I always try not to step on the cracks as a game! And I can never walk past a play park without having a go on the swings!
    Anything I can do where I breathe in the fresh air makes me my happiest 🙂

    • Cora | 18th Aug 17

      Eeeeeeee!! I LOVE how you make movement into such a JOYOUS thing! And I love how you are always inspiring me to go back and do what I used to love to do. Thank you!! <3

  15. Naomi @ Naomi Why: Roots | 7th Aug 17

    I love that you’re tapping into what your body feels like doing, doing what you love, and trying new things. I used to do swim team, but it’s been a few years now. There are days when I really feel like a good swim, but then think, “oh, it’s been so long, I probably won’t be as good/fast/whatever anymore.” Which is probably true. But doesn’t really matter. So your example is serving as an inspiration for me to do the things I feel like doing!

    I’m also still working on letting other forms of movement be exercise. I’m on my feet a lot at my summer job and I usually walk or bike there, but there are still times when I get home tired and ready to sit (or sprawl on the floor) yet feel like I shouldn’t be physically tired because I haven’t worked out. So yeah, definitely still working on it…

    Thanks for this! So glad you’re finding joy and excitement in new forms of movement!
    Naomi @ Naomi Why: Roots recently posted…weekend: work and play and restMy Profile

    • Cora | 18th Aug 17

      Agh its sad how our embarrassment/pride/fear can keep us from returning to something we once loved. I mean we loved it because we loved how it made us feel, right? So chances are those feelings should still be there, even if some of the “skill” isn’t.

      And yes I hear you with the acceptance of being tired after a day of work that wasn’t “physically active.” We have to remind ourselves how much energy our brains use to get us through those big days.

  16. danielle | 8th Aug 17

    so much joy in these words, i am loving it all very greatly.
    you are so talented, your inner glow is lit up just through these typed words, dancing is your spirit’s love language!!! it’s truly amazing. i hope you get to dance as much as possible. you body loves to be mellifluous and flow, and that makes sense that you enjoyed swimming.
    i love walking to get centered. i grew up loving dance, gymnastics, acrobatics, anything fun and bendy. i then got into martial arts quite heavily when i got diagnosed with severe scoliosis and found out life had other plans for me. i said goodbye to anything dance related and became interested in intense martial arts and loved the acrobatic side of it. eventually i had full spinal fusion and learned how to walk again, that is where i really got to love walking. it’s simple yet meditative.
    somehow i went from just walking to running to biking and swimming….. i just dance for fun. i had to give up martial arts after m y surgery but it’s ok, i had quite enough of sparring and that life.
    i’m excited for the next chapters, it is quite true what they say your body changes every 7 years… quite interesting indeed 🙂

    • Cora | 19th Aug 17

      Mellifluous!!! You, my love, have just given me my new favorite word!! Ahhh so lovely!!

      Martial Arts. Wow. So you found the acrobatic side of it felt good even after being diagnosed with scoliosis? Its true that walking has some very healing properties, I believe. Like kayaking – its something about those movements can connect both our left brain and right brain, and both our minds and our bodies, that enable us to feel more of a whole being. We would have a lovely love walk together, I know it.

      You body changes every 7 years? I’ve never heard someone say this. I want to read about this…

  17. Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy | 8th Aug 17

    I love this post so much! 🙂 Sometimes our bodies just crave new forms of movement – when I’m burned out from running (kind of like you said you just didn’t want to be in the gym), I turn to walks, yoga, or a workout class with friends. That’s the beauty of having so many options. I really want to make more time for swimming, too. It sounded so freeing for you.
    Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy recently posted…What I Learned About Water Buffalo Cheese and Organic Farming!My Profile

    • Cora | 19th Aug 17

      I love that you are free with yourself and that, even though you are very much a runner, you know when you are in a phase where your body just doesn’t want to run. And then you let yourself do other forms of movement. You don’t bound yourself to only having “one type of exercise” because it is the “best exercise.”

  18. Kat | 9th Aug 17

    I absolutely love that you’ve been finding different ways to move. That is one of my favorite things to tell people who hate the gym. Like, who said you HAVE to go to the gym? Because you don’t! There is so much more that our bodies can do, just as you discovered! My hubby and I have actually been wanting to get bikes so that we could start biking together more, but its just too dang hot here right now to even think about that…
    I’ve gotta admit though, my body craves the high intensity/heavy weight stuff. I just feel best when I do it! Nothing makes me feel more empowered or strong than a set of heavy deadlifts or an AMRAP workout – especially when burpees are involved!! 😉
    Kat recently posted…Superfood Chocolate Cups [Vegan / Paleo]My Profile

    • Cora | 19th Aug 17

      “Who said you HAVE to go to the gym?” Aghhhh. Right!?! Somehow – I don’t think I’m the only one in society that has been lead to believe “the gym” is the only way to “get healthy.” Its so nice that even as a trainer and gym advocate yourself, you recognize this and are so encouraging to others to just find whats best for THEM. I also love – and this is why I love blogging and communicating with others – that for YOU, the gym/weights/heavy lifting IS what makes you feel best. The gym for you is like a dance class for me. And that is so cool!!! I’m so just happy to know that you have an activity that sincerely fills you up and makes you happy.

  19. Joyce @ The Hungry Caterpillar | 9th Aug 17

    I love this post. I love that you are so excited to move in a way that brings you *joy*! Movement is joyful! Wasn’t playing, running around, scrambling up and down the jungle gym, splashing in the pool, dancing around the funnest thing about being a kid?
    I never played sports as a kid, and I was terrible in gym class. But now that I think about it, I loved bouncing around my room listening to music or scrambling around my back yard. And swimming–I always loved swimming underwater, and roller skating.
    I think this is one of the reasons I love swing dance. It just feels *good.* I feel like I’m flying. I can imagine that must be what ice skating feelings like, when you’re good at it.
    Joyce @ The Hungry Caterpillar recently posted…Birthday WeekendMy Profile

    • Cora | 19th Aug 17

      Kids just love to MOVE! Not everyone is “athletic.” Not everything likes sports. Pff of course not. But every kid, I think, knows the beauty of our bodies just needing to move. And move in a way that is not forced but plainly joyful.

      Swing dance is SO freeing. Its so so awesome you have this as part of your life. Gah I would love to find a class. These are the types of things I want to incorporate more of – instead of the gym. Also your biking and hikes. I hope those also make you feel all sorts of good.

  20. Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table | 9th Aug 17

    I am definitely someone who HAS to move. I don’t even car what it is. I just need to GO… basically all the time. Since my surgery last Friday, just getting out of bed to pee is a struggle. It’s been frustrating and humbling. I can barely swim, but Vegas says she’s going to teach me (she was a diver in the Navy) since that’s about the only cardio I can do for a while as I recover. I should be able to get in the pool by week 6. Here’s hoping…

    Anyway, I’m glad you’ve found freeing ways to move. Sometimes just changing up your routine is a huge help!
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted…Recovering from ACL Surgery, Week 1My Profile

    • Cora | 19th Aug 17

      Oh Laura. I knoowwww you are someone who needs to move. And you are someone – correct me if I’m wrong – who feels totally fulfilled and awesome after gym workouts, specifically. That’s what’s so cool – everyone is different and everyones’ bodies love to move in their own unique ways.

      But that being said, this is obviously making your recovery that much harder. Bah. I hope you can find ways to continue doing as much as you can – just to fill that soul of yours – while your knee recovers. Must be feeling pretty damn hard.

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