Why Make Joyful Movement Part of Your Fitness Plan?

Jul 27, 2021

By Su Beler

I’ve always loved to work out like a beast! I would sleep five, maybe six hours a night, and lived on 1,200 calories a day. If I didn’t leave a workout feeling physically exhausted, it felt like a waste of time. This lifestyle worked for me for decades until it didn’t.

Last year, I turned 50, and my body started to feel alien to me. I was rapidly gaining weight in the weirdest ways, so I upped my game. Since gyms shut down due to COVID-19, I started trail running outside long distances and pushed myself as hard as possible. I invested in weights and downloaded fitness apps. I cut more things out of my diet and became highly restrictive, but the weight came no matter what I did. All the usual methods I relied on in the past seemed to fail. Hello, perimenopause!

Thankfully, I’ve always had a strong prayer and meditation practice, which brought me comfort during last year’s painful pandemic and waves of civil unrest. I was inspired by many mindfulness podcasts to accept my new normal. I wanted to pivot my relationship with my body, my attitude toward food, my ability to rest without shame and find new ways to love myself.

Here’s what’s working for me today — I’m settling into a healthier mindset and am no longer concerned about being super lean, but rather strong, flexible and relaxed. Here are a few things I’ve learned that may help you, too:

Try fun activities. You don’t have to go for a run if you hate running and only do it because you want to lose weight. You don’t have to lift weights if you hate weightlifting and only do it because you want to gain muscle. It also means that you absolutely should run and lift weights if it makes you feel great! I became a dog mom last year, so I hike alongside my cattle dog puppies for 60-90 minutes a day wearing a weighted backpack. I absolutely love this time. I don’t care if it’s raining or hot or cold; I can’t wait to get out on the trail with my dogs and watch them discover the world. It brings me tremendous joy.

Set realistic goals that are not attached to calories or body size. Would I do this exercise if there was no resulting weight loss? This question helped me decide how I wanted to spend my time. I do like to sweat. I do like to challenge my body, and those endorphins are real. But, because I didn’t always have a great relationship with food and exercise, joyful movement principles can be difficult to embrace. Every day I try to choose joy.

Remember that movement comes in all forms. If you’ve had a negative experience with movement or feel you’re not “good” at anything, or maybe you have chronic pain. Keep an open mind. Do you like gardening? Would you like to master the hula hoop? Are you interested in joining a drum circle? How about dancing in the kitchen to The Go-Gos? That’s all movement, too. All movement is valid; it doesn’t matter how intense it is or how long you engage in it.

Hear real-life inspirational stories from the inclusive fitness world. Fitness comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. There are so many stories that gave me confidence and new ideas for activities to try. I recommend the podcast by Rich Roll: “Redefining Running + Confronting Racism: Mirna Valerio.”

I hope this inspires you on your fitness journey!

About the Author
Su Beler is a Partner Development Manager for Technology Source. She’s been an active member of the Alliance of Channel Women since she joined the industry in 2013. Presently, she’s a member of the Events Planning Committee and acts as its liaison to the Communications Committee.