The Exercise Balance

As both a dietitian in the field of eating disorders and a certified personal trainer, I’ve observed first hand what a complicated issue exercise can be for A LOT of people.

 “Working out” is often associated with punishment for eating or punishment for not looking a certain way.  It’s easy to feel that your exercise regimen is never “good enough” and that you never worked “hard enough.” Often, our motivations for exercise stem from a negative place, but then we wonder why we can get excited about doing it!  Many people have abandoned exercise all together while others work out so excessively their body is begging for a break.  And many people vacillate between these two extremes.

If you can relate to anything I’m saying, you may want to check out a useful workbook “The Exercise Balance: What’s Too Much, What’s Too Little, and What’s Just Right For You” by Pauline Powers MD and Ron Thompson PhD.  Here’s a blurb from the book: 

Healthy exercise means finding a balance between overtraining and inactivity. By using a combination of clinical studies and real-life examples, this book shows readers how to develop their own personal prescription for discovering that balance. Written by two specialists in the field of eating disorders, it details both ends of the exercise continuum, from compulsive exercisers who push their bodies to the limit to people with little or no physical activity in their daily lives.

Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, authors of Intuitive Eating, talk about the concept of Mindful Exercise.  Below are four components to keep in mind:
1. It is used to rejuvenate the body, not exhaust or deplete it
2. It enhances the mind-body connection and coordination, not confuse or disregulate it
3. It alleviates mental and physical stress, not contribute to and exacerbate stress
4. It provides genuine enjoyment and pleasure, not to provide pain and be punitive

Hopefully these words will help guide you in finding an exercise balance that’s right for you.  Just as Aristotle’s quote on my homepage says “For both excessive and insufficient exercise destroy one’s strength, and both eating and drinking too much or too little destroy health, whereas the right quantity produces, increases or preserves it.”

Consider making a list of 5 reasons you like to exercise.  But here’s the catch, they can’t be related to burning calories or trying to shape/change your body into something it’s not.  I’ll start you off with my personal favorite:
1.) Helps to reduce stress and anxiety

Good luck and let me know how it goes!