reframing what it means to ‘challenge’ yourself with movement

Movement is something that’s been on my mind majorly these past few months…

Probably because I’m working on something brand new — and all about movement — to bring you toward the end of 2019 (eek! I can’t wait). 

So, let’s talk about movement today:

What does your relationship with movement / exercise look like?

Do you enjoy it?

Is it something you feel obligated to do?

Does it create stress in your life?

Help you relieve stress?

Take a moment to really think about your relationship with movement — what does it look like on the outside? How does it feel to you on the inside?

My relationship with movement is one that started with feeling like I wasn’t very ‘good’ at it.

Growing up, I wasn’t a ‘natural’ at any sports and I wasn’t at all motivated by the competitive nature of athletics (if anything, it was UN-motivating to me). I avoided more traditional sports in my early years until it became more central to social life in middle and high school. Then, I played sports as a way to hang out with my friends and to feel like I was part of a group.

By ‘played’ I mean I mostly (1) had two hour long anxiety attacks (which everyone else called practice) where I felt like the one who wasn’t good enough and (2) sat on the bench for a lot of our games (which is where I preferred to be haha).

I once scored a goal at a soccer game (my only one!) when a ball accidentally ricocheted off my foot while I was running and magically went right in! That was a special night because my dad was at that game and he was a soccer fanatic. I like to think it was God throwing me a bone 😉

When I got to college, I had a basically non-existent relationship with movement. At that time, I thought that moving my body (even on long walks) was for people who were athletic. Since that wasn’t me, I mostly avoided it (with the exception of a hilarious Carmen Electra striptease workout video I’d sometimes make my friends do with me on a weekend night — sorry guys! But you have to admit it was ridiculously funny…)

After gaining some weight during my freshman year, I felt really unhappy in my own skin. My body image was something I’d struggled with off and on for years, and this was a big trigger. My clothes didn’t fit, I was uncomfortable with what I saw in pictures, and I felt out of control.

It was then that I started running with some friends. Everything in my relationship with movement changed when I started running.

At first, running was so hard and I was slow… but I was also hooked. My lungs would burn, my legs felt heavy, but at the end of every run I had a feeling of accomplishment. I did it! It made me feel like a superhero — like I could do something I never believed would be possible for me.

So I did it more. And then some more. And then some more.

And my body started to change. The clothes that didn’t fit before suddenly did again. And with that, running was no longer something that made me feel a sense of accomplishment, but a way that I felt like I could CONTROL my body — something that had felt uncontrollable before. Something I had struggled with for so long.

So I did it more. And then some more. And then some more.

And, training for half marathons turned into marathons, which turned into training plans that took over my life (my mind, my attention, my energy, and my time).

I’d feel devastated if I ever had to miss a workout. I schedule my life around workouts. And, I was always looking for ways to do more.

This went on and on for years.

I talk so much more in depth with all of the above experiences way more in Letting Go of Leo: How I Broke Up With Perfection.

But, for the purposes of this email, I’ll just say: what started as a healthy exploration of running turned into an obsessive and incredibly unhealthy relationship with it. 

During that time, challenging myself in my relationship with movement ALWAYS meant: harder, faster, more. 

It took work and time to heal my relationship with movement. 

I took intentional and extended rests from running. I did lots of body image work. I tried new ways of moving and found things I love that also feel so good to my body (hey barre + long walks!). And I learned how to reframe what ‘challenge’ meant and looked like for me when it came to movement. ​

Slowly but surely my relationship with movement shifted in so many cool ways, and today:

  • movement is one of many ways — not the only way — I care for myself;
  • movement is a way I connect with my body (rather than trying to control her);
  • movement is FUN;
  • rest is seen as a necessary and enjoyable compliment to movement; and
  • there are no movement rules, no guilt, no shoulds — my relationship with it is open and flexible.

If you’re in the place where you feel like the only way to feel challenged is to push harder, go faster, or do more — and it’s feeling exhausting, obsessive, or isolating — I’d love to share how to reframe the way you think about ‘challenging’ yourself with movement. 

​I love to reframe challenging myself with movement from ‘more, more, more’ to… 

Seizing an opportunity for GROWTH in a direction that feels meaningful. 

Where do you want to grow right now in your relationship with movement? 

Do you need to get more comfortable with rest? 

Would it feel good to seek out more fun? More joy? More play? 

What about practicing more flexibility? 

Or letting go of rigid rules? 

Is it time to untangle your sense of self worth from how many hours you spent at the gym, how many calories you burned, or what your heart rate monitor said?

Or, is it time to carve out a little more time to move because your body is craving it? 

Would it be brave + loving to give yourself permission to modify in a class because it’s more supportive of what your body needs today?

Do you want to try something new and get out of your comfort zone? 

Or perhaps your workouts feel great physically but, if you’re honest, it’s your self talk that could use some growing?

THIS right here is the powerful + positive reframe: a reframe to GROWTH in a meaningful direction. 

Challenging yourself in your workout doesn’t always have to mean harder, faster, or more. 

In fact, for so many people, TRUE CHALLENGE (aka real growth) often means shifting from always trying to ‘do more’ to being truly present with yourself and discovering that ‘less’ or ‘different’ might be the answer, instead. 

A shift from control to connection — one of the most powerful shifts of all.

What do you really need in your relationship with movement? Is it more, more, more? Or is it something else?​

Take some time to be with yourself and really listen to the answer that comes up for you. 

xo, Sim

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