If you’re someone who struggles with overeating and emotional eating, and you wish you could just lose the desire to eat more food than your body needs, then daily exercise is KEY.
…But probably not for the reason that you think.
There’s a big focus on exercise in diet culture as being very important for BURNING CALORIES.
You know what they say…
You have to force yourself to go to the gym as “payment” for eating tacos or cupcakes.
You have to punish yourself with running because you drink wine.
You have to do painful, punishing workouts because you dare to eat food.
The memes abound. This gym t-shirt, for example. 👇
The day these memes go away will be one of the happiest days of my life.
First of all, exercising for the purpose of “paying your dues for eating” is a BORING chore. You know what else is a boring chore? Paying bills.
If exercising feels like paying bills, you are almost never going to feel motivated to do it.
Second, exercising for the purpose of burning calories is so frustrating that it makes you want to just give up entirely. Have you ever tried staying on the treadmill long enough to burn off the calories from just ONE cookie? It’s so demoralizing.
Last, research shows that your body naturally becomes more hungry as you increase exercise in order to replace the calories you burn. As you add more exercise into your life, your body thinks “Whoa! I’m expending extra energy! Must replenish calories by causing extra hunger and food cravings!” And that’s exactly what happens. So, exercising for the purpose of just burning calories is counter-productive.
So, then what exactly is the point of exercising? And how can it help overeaters?
➡ Food is the most overused drug for anxiety & depression, and exercise is the most underused.
Exercise is AMAZING at improving your mood, to the point that it’s been shown to be as effective as medication for mild to moderate depression. The vast majority of overeating happens not because you’re physically hungry, but because you are emotionally hungry. Anxiety, stress, and depression can all cause MAD cravings for food. Once you nip the source of the craving in the bud,( i.e. lower your anxiety, stress and boost your mood), cravings diminish BIG TIME.
➡ Exercise is also FANTASTIC for your health. It pumps your body full of oxygen, healing killer-cells that fight off infection, and basically turns your body into a bastion of health. Moving your body daily helps you have lower blood pressure, stronger bones, and muscles, and lubricated (and less painful) joints. I’m sure you’ve heard that “sitting is the new smoking” right? It’s true. Daily movement is key to living a long, healthy life.
➡ IT FEELS GOOD! When you do daily movement as a CELEBRATION of what your body can do instead of thinking of it as punishment, and with the goal of having FUN, everything changes.
Instead of focusing on making sure you get a “good” workout in to punish yourself for eating food, shift your focus to seeing how much FUN you can have in your miracle of a vessel each day.
- Wake up and spend 5 minutes doing gentle stretching and appreciate how good it feels to wake yourself up with gentle movement.
- Take a 10-minute walk in the sunshine on your lunch break to give your body a break from sitting and breathing in stale air.
- Spend 4 minutes dancing with your kids to a song that makes everyone smile.
- Think of the kinds of movement you loved to do as a little kid and bring them back into your life.
- Play on the playground, buy an adult-sized hula hoop, ride a horse, spin around until you get dizzy and fall into pillows.
Whatever type of movement feels good in your body, IT IS ENOUGH. DO IT!
Instead of thinking of 5 minutes of joyful movement as “not good enough because it’s not a REAL, punishing workout”, remember that research shows that short increments of movement throughout the day are JUST AS BENEFICIAL as doing one long workout.
And joyful movement is MUCH MORE beneficial to you than movement that feels like punishment.
So, how do you start to actually WANT to do daily movement?
👉 Stop thinking of exercise as calories, punishment, or “payment” for what you’ve eaten
👉 Change your definition of exercise and what “good” exercise looks like
👉 Focus on the joy of movement, and use it to celebrate what your body CAN do
👉 Think about what you loved to do as a little kid & bring it back into your life
👉 Shift your movement goals from burning calories and punishing your body… to feeling joyful, strong, limber, and pain-free
👉 Focus on movement that feels good to YOU, not on what kind of movement someone tells you you “should” be doing
👉 ANY movement is better than NO daily movement – commit to moving your body in a joyful way, DAILY. Start with just 2 minutes per day and build up as you crave more.
Today, I challenge you to do just 2 minutes of movement today that you consider FUN, joyful, silly, and “not a real workout”.
As you’re doing it, hear me telling you that this is EXACTLY the kind of movement that TOTALLY COUNTS and have a BLAST!
In the comments, let me know what joyful movement you’re excited to add into your day today!
Hugs and high-fives to the oft-ignored benefits of spinning until you’re dizzy,
P.S. Do you ever wish someone could help you figure out why food whispers your name when you KNOW your body doesn’t actually need it? And that someone could tell you how to make the whispering STOP so that eating healthy would just be… easy?
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