How to Enjoy Exercise: A Guide For Womxn

How to Enjoy Exercise: A Guide For Womxn

How many people do you know who know how to enjoy exercise, how to have a natural, joyful relationship with it? The kind of people who openly welcome all kinds of movement — the people who sit on the ground instead of the couch, jump up and effortlessly move their bodies to play, or to physically explain something.

 

The kind of people who don’t even understand how cringeworthy ‘Dance like noone is watching’ is, because it wouldn’t occur to them to move any other way.

 

Probably not many, right?

 

And we don’t apply that reality when we think about our relationship to exercise.

 

So, why aren’t we those liberated movers, shakers, and wigglers? To understand this, we need to go through a method that changes our behaviour and actions. This starts with building awareness of the macro sociocultural forces at play in our lives, before we move into the rest of the method that brings us to the same place those liberated movers exist in.

 

 

Why we don’t naturally enjoy exercise:

 

> We live in a society that makes ‘comfort’ the goal.

The couch, the escalator, the delivery service. Those liberated movers – they were the exception that somehow defied the system with little to no examples of how to do this. Great for them, but they’re also a total anomaly, so let’s not beat ourselves up that we didn’t come out of the womb this way.

 

> We live in a society that makes ‘comfort’ the goal but also forced us to do the school cross country.

And now it tells us that we need to ‘no pain, no gain’ our way to ‘strong is the new sexy.’ Are you confused? Good, it IS confusing and the direct conflict IS real. How are we meant to enjoy exercise when we’re totally conditioned to see it as an arduous task?

 

> We live in a society that tells us we need to look good.

 

And it’s genuinely really important. It’s our social capital — it dictates how included we are, it carves out the romantic partners we have access to who are at our ‘level of looks.’ So, we start to use exercise as a tool to help us out here. And we build up a lifetime of problematic narratives that link how little or how much we exercise with how we feel about ourselves. Because, of course! Society shows us that exercise can modify our body and a modified, ‘upgraded’ body can help us be loved and belong.

 

> These days, we also live in a society that tells us we should accept our bodies exactly as they are.

That the desire to change your body is somehow wrong, or anti-feminist, or anti-body positivity. And so, the paradox continues.

 

> And we live in a society that tells us we need to feel good.

That we should be exercising for the mental health benefits. When our alarm goes off at 7am to get to the gym, society’s expectation, after all the conditioning above, is that mental health benefits are the catalyst that makes us leap out of our warm, cosy bed.

 

It’s not just that we’ve never been taught how to enjoy exercise. We’ve actually been conditioned to not have a great relationship with exercise. And we’ve been confused, contradicted, and totally conflicted with that conditioning.

So what do we do now?

 

There’s basically two real options:

 

  1. Tell ourselves it’s our fault – that we’re lazy and not good enough and then either fall into a state of paralysis and do nothing OR force ourselves into a gruelling exercise routine to try and change ourselves.
  2. Create a new story and take action on it.

 

Just kidding! That first option is in no way a viable option – that’s the story of our past, not where we’re heading.

 

How to enjoy exercise is, in essence, a ‘learning and unlearning’ process. And, as anyone who is alive in 2020 knows, that becomes overwhelming. Fortunately, there is a tried and true method of retraining our brain, our behaviour, and our actions to help us learn how to enjoy exercise. (And it’s an incredibly liberating process too).

 

That process is:

 

  1. BUILD awareness of the narratives above;
  2. DECONSTRUCT what we’ve been taught and REIMAGINE what we want; 
  3. DECIDE to say no to the bullsh*t society has served us – it’s not our story;
  4. BELIEVE that we have everything we need within us, and; 
  5. STEP INTO our power by creating a new story and taking action on it.

 

Let’s make sense of this some more:

 

BUILD awareness of these narratives

Reread the start of this article and then think about your own experience. Talk about it with your friends. Ask them for their stories. Get angry. Get frustrated. Repeat.

 

DECONSTRUCT what you’ve been taught and REIMAGINE what you want

 

It’s important to recognise that when we deconstruct and move away from these narratives and start to unlearn them that we don’t suppress them. Nothing ever got less confusing by ignoring it.

 

As womxn, the way we oscillate between all of these social forces is unique to each of us and to different periods of our lives. Even different days. We might feel so empowered and naturally inclined to exercise on Tuesday…and then have a totally low day on Wednesday. This happens.

 

Or, for anyone who has been locked in their house during a pandemic (i.e. everyone) — this happens very, very regularly.

 

Reimagining what you want from exercise means knowing what a great relationship with exercise could look like:

 

So, what does enjoying a great relationship with exercise look like?

 

There isn’t a one size fits all model for this but these are some key indicators of how to enjoy exercise. It’s also important to note that everyone feels closer to some of these feelings than others. You might be a lot closer to feeling like you *want* do exercise but still feel quite disconnected from the idea that it could be a natural impulse.

 

As you read, try and notice what seems like a totally foreign feeling to you, versus something you think you’ve already started the process towards.

 

This is all part of creating that new story where movement empowers you to enjoy your life and your experiences through your body and with your body.

 

When you think about your relationship with exercise:

 

 

➕ Enjoying exercise feels natural, instinctive and primal

  • You think of exercise simply as part of your instinctive need to move.
  • You schedule in fitness and movement as naturally as you schedule in going to work.
  • You know instinctively what your body needs.
  • You listen to your body’s wisdom and act accordingly.

 

➕ Enjoying exercise feels like a way to access your power as a person

  • You explore personal powers through movement and exercise, calling on discipline, determination, perseverance, resilience, and strength. This is found in everything — from doing the physical movements themselves, to showing up to do them.
  • You deeply understand the relationship between these personal powers and how they manifest through your body as *presence* as you move through the world.
  • You know how to enhance and embrace your sexual power through exercise.
  • You challenge your ego by doing things you’re not very good at.
  • You embrace, harness and unleash these personal powers as your Goddess powers without shame, self-consciousness or embarrassment. (Like Beyoncé)

 

➕ Enjoying exercise feels like a ‘want to’, rather than a ‘have to’

  • You move free of the feeling of ‘I must do this to lose weight’, or ‘I should stop being so lazy.’
  • When you move, it comes from an internal desire, rather than an external obligation.

 

➕ Enjoying exercise feels like a deep and loving relationship with yourself, free from shame

  • You enjoy the feeling of working out and getting sweaty.
  • When you puff up and go red — you feel sexy in that place.
  • You don’t feel the need to hide the wobble anymore.
  • You deepen your understanding of your menstrual cycle and embrace exercise that nurtures it.
  • You know how to use your mind-body relationship to understand its signals and respond more wisely. Knowing where and why you have tension, how to move to release it, how to prevent it.
  • You can feel when you need to rest, to relax, to push, to challenge yourself. That balance point is something you cherish to prevent burnout or stagnation.
  • You appreciate and lean into the discomfort or challenge of exercise as something that helps your body as well as your mental and emotional wellbeing as we navigate a life that provides moments of discomfort.

 

➕ Enjoying exercise feels playful and fun

  • The foundation of how to enjoy exercise, is of course — joy!
  • You feel like moving for pleasure, rather than punishment.
  • You’re willing to try new things with your body because the idea of being a beginner again, and accessing that childlike state, is something that brings you great joy.
  • You relish movement as a chance to laugh at yourself, to giggle, to explore new things.
  • You use exercise as a way to create new access points for creativity, rather than being locked into the same patterns and habits.
  • You can access the deep primal joy that comes from free flow movement, like rolling on the grass in nature.
  • You know how to explore thrill and excitement in a way that’s right for you, whether it’s a dancehall class or cruising down a halfpipe on a skateboard.
  • You embrace your inner toddler by re-exploring basic movements like scrambling up a wall at a climbing gym.

 

➕ Enjoying exercise feels like something to be proud of

  • You make progress and know how to motivate yourself in ways that aren’t damaging to your sense of worth.
  • You can talk about your progress with movement without self-consciousness, understanding the balance between pride and humility.

 

➕ Enjoying exercise feels like a way to connect with people and the world

  • You see exercise as a way to find your community where you can feel accepted and safe to progress in your own way.
  • You feel like you can ask this community for support, particularly on those low days, and you know it will be given.
  • You learn more about yourself for self-development – how you relate in groups and in competition.
  • You have courage engaging with people, even when you are trying something you may not be good at.
  • You can roll with wherever the world is heading by making the current global situation an opportunity – by joining team sports in the evening as a way of balancing your remote office job, or carving out space for yourself at home and cherishing that alone time.

 

 

This. This is how movement should feel – instinctive, playful, loving, connected, powerful.This is how you enjoy exercise.

 

But, be honest with yourself. How many of these felt a bit impossible, a bit too deep, even?

 

If you felt any of those things, that’s completely normal. 10 years ago, I would have read this and laughed out loud. 10 years ago, the idea of being in touch with my menstrual cycle was eyeroll-worthy.

 

But also, 10 years ago, the idea that I could enjoy exercise, that I could get to a place where I moved instinctively *just* for the pleasure and the challenge was inconceivable. The concept of being totally ok with my body wobbling and jiggling in front of others made me tense, anxious, and sick.

 

And now?

 

I’ve gone through the process in my own individual way. I got angry at the narratives I was fed. I started to deconstruct them, research alternatives, and experiment with them. Then, I decided enough was enough — I decided to create my own story. I began the process of making myself believe that I was capable (and this really was quite the process!) and now, every day, I step into my power and I move to fully, wholly, and completely, experience my own life through my body.

 

Exercise makes us feel wonderful — it helps us live the rest of our lives. We have better relationships, eat better, have more energy, and are more focussed at work.

 

But that natural impulse to move is missing for so many of us.

 

Or at least it’s missing at the moment.

 

We reclaim it by working through the process.

 

We’ve started 1 and 2 in this guide on how to enjoy exercise:

  1. BUILD awareness of these narratives;
  2. DECONSTRUCT what we’ve been taught and REIMAGINE what we want; 

 

Now it’s time to:

 

  1. DECIDE to say no to the bullsh*t society has served us – it’s not our story;
  2. BELIEVE that we have everything we need within us, and; 
  3. STEP INTO our power by creating a new story and taking action on it.

 

All of these steps are what I call the Body Bliss Revolution. This Revolution is about us, as womxn, reclaiming what we want our lives to look like and actually doing the work to get ourselves there. Noone else is going to hand it to us.

 

We do this work for ourselves, but we also do it for each other. You inspire me; I inspire you; we inspire other womxn, especially those younger than ourselves.

 

We revolt against what society has fed to us. We rewrite our story. We learn how to enjoy exercise. We lift others up to do the same. We work through the discomfort, the frustration — at times, the anger. And we show up with compassion and support for ourselves and one another. Because that’s what womxn do.

I’d love to hear what you think, comment below and let’s talk!

 

Made with love,

 

Kelley.x

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Hatha and Nidra Evening class

Hatha and Nidra Evening class

Two time only classes for these winter evenings in Berlin.

Come and join us in Tai Chi Neukölln December 14th and 21st at 19:45 until 21:00.

Class available on Urban Sports Club or walk in rate.

A soft and gentle Hatha yoga practice suitable for all levels followed by a 30minute relaxing Yoga Nidra session.
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Come wind down, release tension, roll around then lie down and experience stillness and rest.
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Leave the week behind you and find some peace.
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We listen to music and sounds, everyone is welcome, non judgemental, non dogmatic, safe space for all
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Bring warm clothes, socks and an eye mask or scarf.
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Write me with any questions
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Made with love by Kelley.x

I stopped drinking and everything became easy…

I stopped drinking and everything became easy…

NOT TRUE! Haha. Gotchaaa….. 😉 I haven’t nailed sobriety, it’s not really something that you just do.  I haven’t clicked some switch. I didn’t ‘figure it out’ and just stop. It was hard work. But that’s not true really.  It isn’t was it is. It IS hard work. But hard in a different kind of way than before.

I don’t have to keep myself away from pubs anymore and live in an alcohol-free home, locked in alone at night teaching myself to sew from youtube to distract myself from the fact that 1000’s of people are out-on-the-town having ‘fun’ and getting wasted and I’m missing out on all of it.

I don’t have bi- weekly meltdowns anymore about my ‘lost life’ and a deep shuddering fear of the unknown abyss, of sober life. Fear is largely about the unknown and because I know exactly what the sober life is like now, I’m no longer afraid (I’m scared of different things).

 

Sober living is nearly as shit-filled as the drunk life – but with a lot less lost credit cards to replace, people to apologise to and bruises to heal. Pain doesn’t cease when you sober up and stop active drug use; I’m sorry to spoil the dream –  the verdict is in – when active addiction is over, suffering isn’t – that remains.

 

You move past one kind of suffering and dive into a whole new kind. One where you have to confront your demons, your memories, your mind, other people and a world of badly conditioned internal narratives and behaviour patterns. It’s a fucking minefield. In the beginning I really did think maybe I should go crawl back into my K-hole and snort myself into a delirium to forget about all this ‘dealing with shit’ shit.

 

I did feel like that for the first 12-18 months, like seriously guys – WTF am I doing and why is this so hard. Why the hell am I trying to do this – I had to battle hard, long and hard, to keep in the front of my mind the reasons I wanted this, to keep reminding myself with stories of hope that gave me the impetus to change, in the beginning, along with countless hours spent crying, sitting in NA and AA meetings and hiding in my bed, I had a very simple and beloved list that helped me stay strong. And I called it the Sanity List.

 

I haven’t really evolved past the sanity list after nearly 4 years being clean. I still have it – the difference is that these days it is a lot longer because after some serious introspection and self-observation it became impossible not to admit and somehow accept that I have more shortcomings than I previously thought….shock shock horror… and so, the list of things I need to remember to think, do, learn and experience is longer now.

 

In the past it said, remember to take – wallet, keys, phone, packed lunch. Now it says – eat, sleep, be grateful, go for a walk, rest, be kind, dance, draw, enjoy, meditate, be generous, etc etc and it grows and evolves as I learn what I need to do to keep myself afloat.. And then, slowly as the days go by I forget I have a list and my world begins to fall apart and then at some point I realise I’m about to come on my period and that is probably why I feel tornado emotional, then I, at some other point, also remember the list, find it, read it, start doing the things that it tells me to do and slowly start feeling better and finding those pockets of bliss that we seek and also just feel a lot less miserable.

Because most of the things on the list are ‘new’ and things that I accepted only recently as being the key to staying grounded, centred, in some sort of balance and that help create an enjoyable experience of life.  I still need reminding – daily. I’m trying to slowly recondition half a lifetime of living like a dick-head with little to no self-respect or ability to look after myself, although I would never have admitted it at the time, and to become a better person and live a life I love or at least respect and want to have.

 

It has taken a long time to just ‘know’ instinctively what to do and what I need. In the beginning of my ‘clean time’ I felt like a first-time mother alone with a baby that I wasn’t totally sure I wanted or could love. I had no idea what to do and how to survive and I was terrified. Absolutely terrified. How would I live without my vices and without my old patterns. I knew I needed new ones, but I had not idea what they should be. You can ask the internet what to do but it’s a shitpit of bad information and can be trusted almost as much as an addicts internal-narrative-manipulation-mind. People say trust your instinct, but when that’s been shot to shit by years of snorting shit and shooting the shit and your internal compass is completely bent out of shape – what do you do? It’s scary. You have to get brave. You have to try new things, meet new people, explore new places, learn new skills and be honest with yourself about how you feel.

 

It turns out you have to experiment a lot to find out what works for you – no one can give you the answer – what works for her doesn’t work for him or me or my mother and so, taking people’s advice or copying what they do isn’t really the way to go. You have to become an adventurer and a scientist. Out in the wild, experimenting. But a small-stepping cautious adventurer that takes lots of breaks and rest and sleeps a lot and hopefully has a strong community of people to support you in the process.

 

You need to take a little bite of something, then sit and try and really really listen to the body and what it’s telling you – not listen to the brain that’s polluted with your past – listen to your gut, your insides and ask – how does this feel?! Is this conducive to the life I want to live – does this support me? Does this respect me and my choices? And if it doesn’t you have to be strong enough to leave it and walk away.

 

And so, when you do find something you like or that you know works or feels good, or doesn’t feel completely awful – write it DOWN – write it on a fucking post-it and put it on your mirror babes! Or hide the post-it notes if you live with ‘normal’ people who you don’t want to know that you need a post-it note reminder to get you to empty your mooncup – you found that out the hard way doing handstands in the gym didn’t you…mmm hmmm, we know.

 

Keep a journal – make lists, write this stuff down in a spreadsheet, whatever works for you. I write it down and then hope to god I don’t lose the paper. I take a photo and make copies and write things in books that I also hope I won’t lose. In reality I’ve got reminders everywhere now and that makes life a lot easier. I have buddha pictures here and there to remind me to be kind and compassionate, cook books all around to inspire my food, yoga mats craftily left out on the floor the night before so that when you wake up you know what you must do. I have inspiration quotes written on study cards scattered around the house and funny postcards of cats and weird cartoons that make me laugh in places I can see them – and then before you know it you were about to cry on the kitchen floor with the peanut butter in your lap because you think the rest of the world is having fun on a Friday night and you’re the only one home alone without a cat – and then you see that postcard of a cat in a wig with the brilliant caption and you cannot help but start laughing and then snorting whilst intermittently spooning peanut butter into your happy mouth. And then things are a little better. You might even put the peanut butter away (or take it with you through the house because it’s FriYAY) and find that on your bedside table is a little stack of cards, with quotes from your favourite Buddhist teacher, that pull your head back out of the delusional cloud just long enough for you to remember that things aren’t that bad, you do some gratitude meditation and feel better, phone a friend because the list told you to, you listen to their worries and feel super useful, they listen to how you’re feeling and then a load is lifted from your mind. The world isn’t ending – I have a post-it somewhere that tells me that as well although I need it less regularly these days.

 

There is no shame in admitting we need help. And we can help ourselves. I finally, some years back, surrendered and admitted I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, I was completely miserable, I didn’t like the way I lived my life and I had no idea what I wanted. I stopped pretending I had it sorted and that life was great. I cut the crap and fell apart and then slowly slowly started shuffling through the pieces and asking for help and putting myself back together in a way that felt good and that I respected and liked.

 

It’s easier said than done – but it’s possible. It’s totally possible. CHANGE IS POSSIBLE. You can change your thoughts, your actions and the way you experience life. Transformation is possible. For years I didn’t think it was and had relinquished my life to the bits of doom and gloom, but when I finally opened my eyes to the living examples of people who had done it in around me – a friend and a loved one – and really listened to their stories, I was filled with hope that I could do the same. And that hope started to warm me on the inside and lift my eyes up and out and lift me to a place where I could finally start on my journey, because I believed there was a journey, where before I didn’t. With hope rekindled I started to crack and fall apart only to be able to put myself back together again – that is often how the cycle goes. Not always, but often.

 

And so, this is a little message to anyone that thinks there’s no hope, or that they can’t change, that it’s too late blah blah. It is not too late – it is totally possible- but it’s totally scary and you might turn out to be a peanut butter eating, post-it note splattering, moon-cup jiggling, freaky booty shaker, Buddhist obsessive that ends up quitting the circus and learning German – who ever wanted to learn German?! – and you might realise that you don’t actuallylike pubs, grimey clubs, smoking, binge eating until your sick, being hungover and in debt all the time and pissing people off or whatever it is you do now….

 

You might have to come to terms with a completely different life – and that is amazingly exciting – I have created a life I love, slowly, patiently and somewhat painfully, and it is the best thing that I’ve ever done. And it’s fucking hard. As I say I haven’t nailed it, not nearly, but I’ve got some golden tips and books to recommend and practices to share. You are not alone! We are not alone. We are all in this together. You can do it!x

The Wheel of Ashtanga Yoga – John Scott

The Wheel of Ashtanga Yoga – John Scott

Do you want to develop a deeper knowledge of yoga philosophy and an understanding of the 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga?

As much as I can read the Yoga Mala and other texts, and do, it helps to have an aural and visual explanation. It helps me so much, to hear someone with an understanding of the theories and practice, to explain it and bring it to life. Also, I love the diagrams and little white board drawings. My brain loves infographics.

If you are interested in what yoga has to offer beyond (and including) the instagram-appealing visual postures, give it a listen. Yoga is a rich and deep philosophy for developing as a human and to ameliorate our body, our mind and our experience of the world and our impact on it!

Also, John Scott is a dude 🙂

Youtube video here

Fitness Classes in English with Urban Sports Club

Fitness Classes in English with Urban Sports Club

Are there any fitness classes in English in Berlin?

You Me Body Bliss is now running fitness and stretching classes in English through Urban Sports Club.

Yes! Join me on Wednesday afternoons and Friday evenings in Neukölln.

We make fitness fun and we listen to awesome music.

Fitness classes

Body Blitz – interval training and body weight strength set to music

Stretch it out – deep stretches for the whole body, no sweat, amazing music

Booty Burner – a fast-paced fitness class set to dancehall music – twerk out

 

Are you an M or L member of Urban Sports Club?

Then you are welcome to join 4 or 8 of my classes each month respectively.

Not a member of USC?

Not a problem there is a drop-in rate and a monthly membership option available. Contact me to find out more 🙂

The Proper Way To Take a Probiotic And The Mistakes That Are Wasting Your Money"

The Proper Way To Take a Probiotic And The Mistakes That Are Wasting Your Money"

Really interesting article about probiotics and reintroduction into the diet.
Read in full here

” Your intestinal tract is a long tube filled with a lining made up of good and bad bacteria. This bacteria alone weighs three pounds, the same weight as a brick. If you spread it out flat, it would cover a tennis court. When the good bacteria is killed off from antibiotics (against life), birth control pills, GMOs, pesticides, and other damaging elements, it must be rebuilt through probiotics (for life).

Probiotic foods, such as fermented coconut water, sauerkraut, kraut juice, kefir, kombucha, yogurt, kim chi, etc. are easy to make. The biggest challenge is your own fear. In his book Wild Fermentation, Sandor Katz says there is no danger in fermenting fruits and vegetables. Most importantly there has never been a reported death to the FDA from fermented fruit and vegetable products. Fermented fish and meats are different and are susceptible to botulism.”
Read in full here

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