So often clients ask me what I do for my workout and most of the time I feel a bit embarrassed sharing it with them. With a plethora of fitness training regimens out there and every fitness magazine promising you the best body ever if you just follow their set training program, most would assume that my workout routine is written out in a fitness diary that holds records of the number of lunges I did last Thursday along with the weight I lifted and number of sets I performed.
I hate to break it to you, but that’s not how I roll.
I have no planned workout routine. I do not follow a training schedule. And I love it.
If you think this sounds strange and contradictory for a personal trainer, then you are correct. Being in the fitness world for almost 13 years I really don’t know any other trainer that works out without a plan.
So the question that usually follows is why the heck do I not take the time to plan out my exercise? As a personal trainer, isn’t it kind of hypocritical of me to workout without a plan? And my answer to this is yes; it is hypocritical. I workout to feel good; I practice intuitive exercise.
What is intuitive exercise?
Intuitive exercise is just like intuitive eating but instead of acting intuitively around food you are taking an intuitive approach toward exercise and activity. The basic premise of intuitive eating is to listen and respond to your body’s cues regarding food. Eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full and not ignoring that little voice inside your head. On the surface, it can sound simplistic but in reality it is pretty complex especially in a world where food rules and serial dieting abound.
So what does an intuitive workout look like?
Below is a play by play of what goes on in my head when I get into the gym or studio for an early morning unguided (not a class) workout:
“What do I feel like doing? Cycling? Nope, too tired. TRX? Nope, too tired. Elliptical? That sounds good. I can wake up a little bit more with that and then see if I feel like doing TRX because I really feel like doing that today.”
After about 30 minutes on the elliptical I check in again.
“TRX? Sounds good – I think I will just do lower body today because I am going to be home later which means possibly carrying my toddler around and I don’t want my arms to be exhausted from my workout. OK- TRX lower body here I come!”
And that is how I workout intuitively!
So…… I can already predict what is going on in your head. You are thinking, “If I approached my workouts like that I would NEVER workout! I would just say I am too tired to do anything and stay home.” I totally hear you. The similar argument to this one in regards to intuitive eating is, “If I ate what ever I felt like eating and stopped when I was full I would weigh 500 lbs!”. Here is the BIG caveat to both intuitive eating and intuitive exercise. All decisions made within the intuitive realm are made out of love. They are decisions made in a place of self love and self care. When intuitive decisions are made in this way you will ALWAYS make the best and most healthy decision for yourself.
Think about it. Is pushing yourself so incredibly hard in a workout until you puke any more self loving and self caring than parking yourself on the couch day in and day out until you are stiff and can barely make it up a flight of stairs? NO! Both ends of the spectrum are decisions and actions that are not made out of love or self care.
With the no pain no gain attitude that is sweeping the fitness world as of late, people are pushing themselves further and further away from that little voice in their head. Are you one of them? Have you been ignoring your inner caretaker that is either saying please slow down and take a chill pill or hey buddy, you can catch another episode of house hunters international later, lets shake-a-leg?
Sometimes it is really difficult to hear that inner caretaker voice with all of society’s endless chatter about workout routines and exercise goals. How do you get past this external noise and discover if your workout or lack-there-of is really honoring your health? Here is the simple answer:
If you are emotionally attaching yourself to a workout it is NOT intuitive.
For example: “If I don’t get my cardio in today I will feel so guilty and miserable, but if I do I know everything will be OK and right”.
The minute we feel guilty or ashamed that we didn’t workout or we don’t feel acceptable because we missed a workout, we send ourselves the message that our body is not acceptable and we continue to rely on shame and guilt to motivate us to workout, which in the end never leads to lasting habits.
The first step to exercising intuitively is self-love. When you love something you take care of it. Learning to accept yourself and emotionally detaching from exercise is the first step towards practicing a workout that you not only enjoy but that you stick to effortlessly.