Wellness: Make Feeling Good Your Goal, And You’ll Change The Exercise Game

At Visual Therapy, we’re all about Mind, Body, and Soul. As we work with clients to line up their optimal wardrobes and help them to be the best version of themselves, we’re huge believers that it’s not the dress, but what’s in the dress that matters. And even though clothes can help you feel like a movie star, there’s something that needs to be taken care of first on a deeper level. Welcome to “Wellness Wednesdays”: our weekly feature to bring you tips for a healthy, whole and fulfilled life.HM_Sport_AW15_960x640

Image: H&M Sport FW 2015

Want to change your life? Change how you exercise.
Sounds easy enough, but it’s not about just what you do, it’s how you do it, and how it makes you feel.
We all know exercising is good for you. But have you really asked yourself why? And what kind of exercise is the most effective for you? If all of your friends are doing hot yoga or SoulCycle, it doesn’t mean it will give you the same mental and physical results.
According to Strala Yoga co-founder Mike Taylor, what we practice — in one part of our life, one part of our day, one part of our body — cascades across everything we do, and everything we become. It’s all about the mind-body-connection, so we create ourselves in how we exercise, how we move. How we move sets up a cascade of the most profoundly life-impacting health choices — both good and bad — that we will ever make.
Mike says that you can either become disconnected and confused about what your body needs to feel great and be healthy, or you can step into your role as the world’s leading expert on you. Here’s how.

This post was originally published on mindbodygreen.com.

What Kind Of Exerciser Are You?

How do you feel when you get your move on? People typically fall into one of three categories:

1. Top athletes.

For a few people out there, exercise is a fine-tuning process to reach the top of world. These people are training hard to get that last 5% of race-winning, competition-killing performance out of their bodies. These people are amazing, and it’s really fun to watch them on TV!

2. Happy movers.

For some other people, exercise feels great. From start to finish, it’s your happy time, hitting the road, the pool, or climbing that mountain. It sets your entire day up to go a whole lot better. It sets your entire life up to go a whole lot better. If you’re in this group, it’s a great place to be. The good news is, we’re about to figure out how we can all be in this group, even if right now you’re in #3!

3. Calorie-Killers.

You know what? Exercise doesn’t feel good at all. In fact, let’s be honest. Who gets on a bike that doesn’t go anywhere, for fun? A whole lot of people hitting the gym machines are there to burn it up. They’re not thinking “The Ironman isn’t long enough, so it’s time to fine-tune for the Ultraman!” Not even close.

We’re thinking, “Oh boy, I shouldn’t have eaten that! That extra drink? Maybe I didn’t need it. And wow, those were some good cookies!” That’s me on the cookie part, although Dr. Mark Hyman’s revitalize talk on sugar as a recreational drug has me rethinking my long-time status as a confirmed and addicted cookietarian.

The truth is, for a whole lot of people, exercise is time to deal with what already happened. It’s time to burn those calories, and fix what they did wrong. In this case, exercise is a corrective action.

There’s a problem with that. It doesn’t work. And we even know it doesn’t work. Let’s look at why.


Image: H&M Sport FW 2015

Why Exercise Won’t Work For Calorie-Killers

1. You can’t burn enough.

There’s no way we can undo the calories we consume with the calories we burn through exercise. There is no way exercise can make up for a bad diet. It’s just not possible. One muffin kills an eternity on the stationary bike. It’s why calorie-burning will never add up in our favor.

2. Calories aren’t just calories.

Our bodies are much better at processing foods found in nature than foods made in a factory. This is why avocados, bananas, and coconut water are far better for us than fast food, chips and soda — even if the calorie count is the same. It’s not about the calories. So if we’re going to get to healthy and happy, it’s also not about burning the calories.

3. Ignoring how you feel is a conversation-killer.

Here comes your mind-body connection. If what you practice in your exercise is ignoring how you feel, you kill the conversation with your body. Your body is wonderfully communicative. Your body loves talking to you! And on top of it, your body is extremely smart. But if it’s telling you “Hey this doesn’t feel good, please stop!” and you just keep ignoring that because, after all, exercise is supposed to be miserable — then you lose that conversation. You disconnect from your body, and things don’t get better from here.

So how do we turn it around? How do we get in front of the choices we make, rather than follow them around and try to fix things?

How To Change The Exercise Game

Now that we know calorie-burning is not only no fun at all, but just plain doesn’t work, we have a big opportunity. We can switch from playing a game we hate to playing a game we love. To switch games, let’s change the goal. Let’s change how we play with exercise. Here’s how:

1. Forget corrective calorie burning as the goal.

Forget “The worse I feel, the better this is for me!” Because we know it doesn’t work. The more we ignore how we feel — the more we practice feeling bad as a good thing — the more we disconnect from our body’s brilliant messaging about what we need to be healthy and happy.

What we practice while we exercise is pretty much how we live all day long. Practice ignoring how we feel, and we lose the chance to feel good. So let’s stop ignoring, and thinking it’s OK to feel crappy when we exercise.

2. Make feeling good your goal.

This is the heart of everything, so let’s get into it. How do you feel good while you’re exercising? It’s actually easy, but it takes practice, because it’s not what we’re used to doing. Here it is:

Listen to your body, believe what you’re hearing, and respond. The best part? You’re going to respond in the direction of feeling good. Believe that you are worth responding to, and that you can feel really, really good in everything you’re doing.

We’re still going to play the game. We’re going to get our move on! But now we’re going to play happy. We’re playing a game we love: one that feels really good, right here, right now! Whatever it is you’re doing — running, cycling, swimming, hiking — keep listening to your body. If it doesn’t feel good, find another way! There’s always a way to do what you need to do in your body, and feel good doing it.

How do you find it? Relax and explore. Try things. Inch by inch, day by day, you’ll get to know everything you’ve got, and get really good at working with it. The exciting part here? You’ll discover that’s everything you need, to do everything there is.

Image: H&M Sport FW 2015

What Happens When You Make Feeling Good Your Goal

When you feel good, you can’t help but become your own best health care provider. Moving to feel good will change how you eat. It will change how you live. It begins a cascade of the most profoundly healthy and life-supporting choices you’ll ever make. These won’t be hard choices, and they won’t ever feel like suffering, because they come from inside you. They are your body talking to you, saying, “Hey we like this feeling good, and guess what, this is how we can keep it going and make it even better!”

All of a sudden, you’re eating more kale, drinking less soda, and you’ve discovered that pumpkin seeds make you feel so much happier than cookies!

Well, that’s me. But I know it’s you, too. We all have this amazing human body. We’re all really a lot the same. We’re all inspiring health and happiness creators, when we realize how simple it is to feel good — just by moving to feel good! Knowing this, there’s all kinds of wonderful we can do now, from right where we are.

Want to switch up your exercise game right now? OK, let’s practice together. Have fun! -Mike Taylor