If you’re like many of us who are spending more time than ever scrolling through social media while sheltering in place and practicing social distancing, you’ve probably seen the memes encouraging us to spend this time working on getting our “summer bodies.”
I know just how it is to feel pressured into working on a “summer body.” I started my wellness journey attempting to squeeze into the boxes of society’s normative ideals. I used my weight to measure my worth until I realized I wanted to stop suffocating myself and truly focus on the gift of being alive. I no longer had space to be in a continual battle with myself. From this place I embraced being a plus-size athlete and started doing what I love, like running half-marathons, dancing, cycling, and yoga. My passion for holistic wellness translated to wanting others to see themselves represented and affirmed so I cofounded BK Yoga Club, a body positive yoga studio in Brooklyn.
Over the years I’ve come to realize that quick fixes—crash diets and intense, unpleasant (to me) daily workouts—yield temporary results and, in the long run, make me feel worse, not better. My time is better spent focusing on growing sustainable habits to improve my overall quality of life without the anxiety.
In fact, when we approach our movement journey through a body-positive lens, we give ourselves permission to find gratitude in the present moment. We can let go of self-criticism or punishment as the thing that drives or motivates us. From this place we are no longer working out from a weight-centered approach and we are now choosing to focus on what we’re gaining as we get more in touch with ourselves.
Of course, all this is easier said than done. But with some introspection and work, it’s possible to let go of the focus on weight and center your movement practice on something more rewarding. One way to work toward this is by using intention to guide the decisions you make about how you work out.
I’ve seen a lot of people and brands putting on the pressure to work out more, eat less, and basically come out of this quarantine with a body that fits into normative expectations of health and beauty. If you’re looking for something to motivate you or challenge you right now, that’s GREAT (and relatable!). But instead of taking the cues from influencers or brands that might not share your interests, values, or goals, why not source that motivation by tuning into what you want to do and what your body needs?
If you’re thinking about starting (or continuing) your movement practice during the pandemic but you’re feeling pulled in many different directions about what to do, here are three questions to ask yourself that will help you implement an exercise routine from a place of self-love instead of self-critique.
1. What type of movement brings me joy?
When we connect to movement because we enjoy it, exercise can make us feel energized, vital, strong, and confident. For just a moment, ask yourself: What movement brings me joy? Allow yourself time to come up with answers that include off-the-beaten-path options. Sure, it could be walking in nature or taking a yoga class. But it can also be having a Zoom dance party with friends or doing cartwheels in your backyard. Now is the time to get creative and center on the things that bring you joy! If you can find even one movement that makes you feel energized and powerful, you’re on the right track.