I know, I know… “no pain no gain” is sexy! The just do it and go full beast mode can be very intoxicating and the 30-day challenge to [insert big goal here that usually has to do with appearance or the dread “toxins”] are exciting and instagrammable.
But I haven’t ever actually seen someone’s life change because of this approach (well at least not in a positive way!).
On the other hand, I have seen people’s lives change in truly breathtaking ways through gentle, kind and enjoyable health practices.
Every time I post about joyful health or joyful movement I am always really encouraged, and honestly sometimes a little surprised, by the response. They usually range from “Thank you – that was exactly what I needed to hear” to “I never thought of it that way” and I honestly think people are tired of the health as punishment paradigm. What if we started listening to ourselves more and started doing things we enjoyed instead.
I know.. going to bed 15 minutes earlier or going for a gentle walk along the river isn’t going to win any competitions, but they can make a huge difference over time. It is usually the small change over long periods that have the power to transform and I see this all the time in my practice.
We all have unique constitutions and varying current health pictures. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the huge amount of often contradictory health information you are being bombarded with, I recommend this simple exploration:
What do you want to do?
How do you feel afterwards?
Let’s take exercise: things like Bootcamp and CrossFit might light you up. Perhaps you love going and feel great afterwards – and this is often the case for people who find they have stagnation in their lives, emotions or physical health. The explosive and varied movement can feel so much better.
But perhaps the idea of going makes you actually want to weep and you feel like you have been hit by a bus for three days afterwards – a common occurrence for people who are incredibly depleted. If this is you, consider more gentle and spaced out exercise/movement.
Either way, listen to yourself! You are unique and you deserve to feel great. Health practices shouldn’t be a punishment you dread (unless you are actually honestly into that and then, by all means, go to – no judgement!).
What are some simple health practices that have been calling to you? Don’t worry about if they are impressive to others – what do you truly want to do? Can you add 10 minutes gently each day to meditate, have a hot bath, go for a gentle walk, draw, sing, laugh, etc?
Try adding that in and enjoying the process. You may be shocked to find that this little thing makes you feel a little better; that you can trust your body to heal. You may find that this gives you the little lift you needed to add another health practice you enjoy and then all of a sudden 4 months have gone by and you are itching to go for a longer bike ride then you have in years – but this time it is joyful.