If you grew up overweight, chances are you were “encouraged” or even forced to participate in sports or certain physical activities by family or friends. This is, of course, an idea rooted in the diet culture that says being active automatically equals weight loss.
As research has been conducted and as many of us know, exercise does not always lead to weight loss and that is not the most important reason to be physically active.
Have You Heard About The Joy Movement?
Joyful Movement is an approach to physical activity that focuses on choice, happiness, celebration, intuition, joy, and flexibility. First, you should find an activity that you really enjoy. It can be as simple as taking your pet for a walk outside or dancing or going swimming.
We often have great ideas about what exercise “should” look like, but the truth is that moving your body in any capacity is beneficial for both your mind and your spirit. .
There are many benefits to being active that are not related to weight loss. Whether you’re looking to improve your sleep habits, reduce stress, or improve mindfulness, it’s important to find something that works for you. Not everyone likes the same type of movement and that’s okay!
If you are lucky enough to have a friend who is interested in the same type of physical activity, do it together! It’s always more fun to bring a friend.
Setting realistic goals can be important as you begin your journey of fun movement. Like we mentioned earlier, the purpose of shifting the focus to honoring your body includes not focusing on losing weight or burning calories. A realistic goal might be like committing to 15 minutes of activity each day to start, and tweaking that in the future when you find something you love.
Some thoughts from fat activists
This is not an easy transition to make, and it won’t happen overnight. According to Danielle, @confidentfearlessworthy, “I’m starting to realize that being active makes me feel better physically, but I prefer to move my body in certain ways over others. I discovered water aerobics and it’s one of the only things I really enjoy doing. Water combined with music doesn’t even sound like exercise to me. My suggestion is to try different things because moving your body in a fun way doesn’t necessarily have to look a certain way. Recently, my goal was to walk around Disney with my family, so I found an 8 week walking program that focuses on walking time rather than mileage and that really helped. Completely changed for me.”
Lindsay, @fantasticalfatty, which often hosts fun movement lives on TikTok and has a lot of thoughts on the subject! They declared, “The most important thing is to learn the science behind exercise and weight loss and discover that exercise doesn’t actually lead to weight loss. Once we understand that, it will change our entire perspective on movement and exercise. If we could think about motion [exercise, sports, athletics, everything] as something we do for fun, connection with ourselves and others, mental and physical health, and because we really love it, we will begin to choose activities that we feel comfortable with. The more we focus on exercise for weight loss, the more we lose sight of the REAL benefits of being active and why exercise is so essential to our human experience.”
Lindsay makes a very important point regarding science behind exercise and weight loss. According to an NIH article titled “Healthy lifestyle habits and mortality in overweight and obese individuals,” healthy lifestyle habits were associated with a significant reduction in mortality regardless of baseline BMI.
Individuals are divided into groups based on their BMI and the amount of “healthy behavior” they’ve been doing it for over 14 years which includes not smoking, eating 5 servings of fruit and veg a day, drinking alcohol in moderation, and exercising 12 days a month.
When all four of these behaviors were practiced, regardless of the person’s BMI, their overall health risk dropped, and there was virtually no difference between all BMI categories. Most importantly in our opinion, the weight of the participants did not change over time regardless of the “healthy habits” adopted.
Lindsay also recommends starting the fun movement slowly and gently. “Movement is about feeling good, even when we’re trying to push, and we shouldn’t push as much as our body can, as that only leads to pain and injury. The only way to do this is to slow down and listen to our bodies. Talk to our body. Be gentle and kind to our bodies. Don’t ask it to do what it can’t just because we could do it five years ago or because someone beside us can.”
How do you enjoy honoring your body through movement? Let us know in the comments section!