Recently I had the opportunity to really appreciate the support that exercise contributes to my life, and to discover the relationship between my commitment to myself and my commitment to exercise.
I was quite the exercise fanatic for a large percentage of my life, but in recent years I had pulled back rather substantially from my exercise programs. Whilst I never stopped exercise completely, as I love my walks, I definitely reduced the amount, intensity and regularity.
In effect, I had experienced the two opposite ends of the scale – exercising too much for most of my life, and then in recent years, pulling back to a very minimal exercise program. But I felt that something was not quite right with my approach and with my commitment to exercise – and so I started to explore.
I began to introduce a regular gentle exercise program and I discovered that my body loved this new gentle and connected way of exercising. Listening to my body made me realise just how supportive and important exercise is and how it had such a positive effect on how I felt throughout the day. When I listened to the wisdom of my body and began to exercise for health and vitality, rather than weight management or body image as was the case in the past – I felt amazing!
I started a more regular and committed exercise program of cardio, light weights and some gentle stretching. I noticed how this supported my energy levels and thus my days in a very positive way. And it got me pondering:
- Why did I stop a lot of my exercise in the first place?
- Why do such a large proportion of the population do very little exercise?
As I began to honestly reflect on why my commitment to exercise had waned, I started to piece some things together. Apart from the obvious fact that I was exercising way too much and too hard, and then not exercising enough, I started to connect the dots of what was happening in my life and why these choices were made. It dawned on me like a big yellow light bulb, that…
There is an innate relationship between my commitment to exercise and my commitment to self.
My lack of commitment to myself was not something I was conscious of at the time: I didn’t go walking around saying out loud “I have given up on myself!” I discovered that this process of giving up on oneself seemed to be a slow chipping away over time that easily went unnoticed, as most of my focus was on getting through the day’s events.
On reflection, I can see that I went down the path of giving up on aspects of my life like relationships, family and friendships, because it all felt too hard or hurt too much. Over time, the self-doubt started to kick in, confidence and self-worth headed south, and the joy of life started to lose its sparkle and magic. My energy levels became erratic and my exercise commitment started to decline. I had to pull in more vices and outside motivation in order to get off the couch to exercise. Examples of vices I used were stimulating food and drinks (coffee, alcohol, sugary foods) to give me energy, or convincing myself off the couch to go for a walk even though my body was tired and unmotivated.
If I am really honest, the only reason I stayed in good shape during this time was vanity and my career. I wasn’t choosing to exercise for health and vitality: I was choosing to exercise for the purpose of a body image that I knew was accepted by society. But as I was to discover, like many others have, this approach cannot sustain itself long-term.
The relationship between the commitment to me and the commitment to exercise has become so clear to me now. The more I struggled with life, the more I struggled with committing to exercise. Now that I have seen this connection, my relationship with exercise is very different. Choosing to commit more to me and to truly living life has included dealing with the unresolved issues that were dragging me down. As a result of these choices all aspects of my life have changed… the way I eat, relate to people, my work, my relationships, energy levels… life has become a joy!
When I reflect back it all makes sense; of course I would lose interest in caring for me if I had on some level checked out or given up on aspects of my life. When we feel we are worth it and life is worth it, we pull out all stops to care for and nurture ourselves.
My newfound commitment has come from the understanding and claiming that…
- I matter in the world.
- I am making a conscious choice to make a difference.
- I am equally as amazing as anyone else because only I can bring what I bring and share with the world.
- I truly believe I am worthy of expressing my full potential.
Our daily choices really are powerful and have a big influence on our health and thus how we feel.
I have started to notice more and more how my body feels during, and after, my daily gentle exercise program. Here are the things that I am very much appreciating that regular exercise offers me…
- Increased endurance, stamina & energy levels
- Increased ability & ease to stay focussed on tasks
- A sharper mind with increased clarity
- Increased confidence in my body
- A content feeling in my body after exercise
- Improved quality of sleep
- Improved digestion & stool movement
- Reduced appetite, thus less likely to overeat
- Less likely to comfort eat, if at all
- An awareness of everything internal flowing with much more ease & efficiency (blood flow, circulation, digestion, assimilation etc.)
No longer is exercise a chore or something I have to do, but simply one of the many ways to support my wellbeing. It also confirms to me that my commitment to exercise is because of my commitment to me.
Without a doubt exercise is an important part of looking after ourselves, and we are all absolutely worth it!
By Marika Cominos, Fitness Professional / Yoga, Meditation & Complementary Therapies Practitioner, Melbourne, Australia
You raise some really great points here Marika that are worth reflecting upon. Recently I have begun to exercise more regularly as I could feel my body needed extra support due to the amount of shift work and long hours I do. I was quite reluctant at first to make this deeper commitment and I made all sorts of excuses that I didn’t have time or there was other important things to do, within a week or 2 I can feel the difference this has had on my energy levels and my vitality in the workplace and at home – I agree with you that are daily choices are truly powerful and can bring true change in all areas of our lives.
‘The relationship between the commitment to me and the commitment to exercise has become so clear to me now. The more I struggled with life, the more I struggled with committing to exercise.’ – This is a great observation, our level of self care via exercising our body is a reflection of how much we value ourselves.
From someone who never used to exercise, I am learning to absolutely love my exercise program and can feel how supportive it actually is. Exercising is a beautiful way to be with ourselves.
A great blog Marika, I will go with a bit of appreciation today, ‘I am equally as amazing as anyone else because only I can bring what I bring and share with the world.’
I do wonder what it is energetically that is happening that makes so many of us resist exercising, yet when we start and do it there is so much enjoyment in it. Not in pushing hard, that can be unpleasant, but in making simple supportive movements of the body. I know for me this can change my thoughts, make me feel more centred and more at ease in my body. I agree totally Marika that a programme of exercise that is done for vanity or to create a certain look is much harder to sustain than one done from the basis that our bodies are worth looking after and exercise is a wonderful tool to do so.
During the cold winter months of Melbourne, I find it hard to motivate myself to exercise regularly however after reading this article it has inspired me to have a greater commitment to exercise
‘When we feel we are worth it and life is worth it, we pull out all stops to care for and nurture ourselves’. In a world where lack of self-worth is the starting point for so many, it’s no wonder then that a great proportion of gym memberships go unutilised or that vast numbers of people sign up for marathons to attain a goal or achieve the recognition.
Brilliant blog on exercise Marika. When we exercise or do anything for vanity or recognition there is always a push and drive. When we exercise to honour our body it feels completely different and the list you shared inspires me to commit to myself and to caring for my body through gentle exercise.
“I truly believe I am worthy of expressing my full potential.”
This is an amazing statement as for some reason, I see that each of us in our own ways, unconsciously sabotage our selves from living our true potential. I have just recently uncovered another layer of how I do this myself and it was liberating to nominate the exact way in which I do this. I am left wondering how incredible will my contribution be if I gave myself a chance to allow it to develop? It will be as incredible as I already know myself to be, in expression to share with others.
Shifting our exercise focus from weight management and body image to true self-care can take some time. I was fortunate enough to have the support of an amazing practitioner to assist me to move through the stages of surrendering to my beautiful body and letting go of the hardness, the push and the drive to be skinner, more flexible and stronger… the inference being that then I would be good enough and acknowledged as such in the world.
There was initially a letting go of the old forms of exercise and then a period of nothing…… I can see now that in the absence of that driving focus, I was left with the feeling of not being enough and hence giving up on myself. Having always had a strong body focus in life, it was the first thing that I really made a commitment to from that point: to exercising to confirm my beauty and self-love. It was this foundation that supported me to one by one, find my true commitment to all other aspects of life again.
Exercising gently with presence can be so lovely and very supportive. I have found this to be so true Marika, as I have recently started an exercise program and if I haven’t given myself enough space to complete my exercises and rush through them, I’m missing out on that amazing connection with myself through every step and it just does not feel the same, it feels empty and can feel I have just wasted my energy on motion without purpose or connection.
Yes, I can relate to this Julie when I push on through exercise because I want to get it done and get onto the next thing. Staying as present as possible while I am doing anything and that includes exercising, is something I am currently really putting effort into. It makes a lot of sense to me that, as Marika suggests, our approach to exercise is really a reflection of the level of commitment we have to our lives.
Like you Jade this is a great realisation for me that I too ‘avoid exercise to not feel something. Exercise does support me to connect back to the body and thus bring me back to honesty’ and now realising this I am more open to supporting my body and my awareness by regular exercise. As I connect more regularly and more deeply my awareness expands and this offers me moments to connect more deeply.
“I wasn’t choosing to exercise for health and vitality: I was choosing to exercise for the purpose of a body image that I knew was accepted by society” this is so common, many people get caught in this to build a image and to be accepted by society, most don’t realise the impact on their body they just keep pushing them selves. It is a really a bad trap to be caught into as it is more harming to the body.
Gentle Exercise by way of a commitment to ourselves is a much deeper way of looking at our overall health and well being, I have definitely used exercise in the past for an outcome, but never as a commitment by way of listening to my body and using its wisdom to exercise, a great commitment that offers so much.
It does indeed Sally offer us so much. I am finding that having a regular and gentle exercise routine is offering the time and space to connect to my body and allow myself the insight into how I have previously treated my body. It feels very loving to be offering my body a new way of experiencing life – one that truly embraces the whole – and not just parts of the body.
I love how you share Marika that when you listened to the wisdom of your body ‘and began to exercise for health and vitality, rather than weight management or body image as was the case in the past – I felt amazing!’. Your words are so inspiring and just so true. Awesome blog thank you.
Yes, a choice to be body aware and connected is not just good medicine with exercise, but anything we do in our day.
I love reading your blog Marika, it shows just how exercising with body awareness and connection is definitely great medicine for us.
Indeed, our daily choices are pivotal and it is the simple and consistent choices that we do make every day that bring a foundation of re-connection and living this connection to our life, and it is upon these simple steps that a wonderful bridge is built.
I absolutely love my daily walks – they are such a consistent ritual in my life that supports my day and well-being. I especially love walking with the appreciation of me which feels so yummy in my body.
I completely agree with you here Marika and have started to feel the benefits of when I do exercise my body gently, that feeling of support is totally worth it. The main thing I felt from reading this blog this time around was how powerful that choice is to say ‘I choose to feel that I am enough’ – my whole body expands and says a great big YES! I am totally worth feeling that my truth is worth expressing. Thank you for this reminder.
The benefits of gentle exercise are many as you have detailed Marika. The main one being a commitment to self and we are all so worth it
Thank you Marika for sharing your experience with exercise, I am feeling inspired to really commit to taking the time to exercise gently, it is interesting how little by little sometimes lack of self care creeps in. There definitely is a relationship to commitment to exercise and commitment to self.
I have always noted the correlation between feeling more time and space in my day to those days when I have exercised and/or meditated. Logically it can seem a contradiction, but energetically it now totally makes sense to me.
Inspiring as always ?
Commitment to exercise being directly connected to self is a good one to really look at. I have only just got back into doing regular exercise in the morning before work, as I let it slip due to something else taking up my time but I wasn’t too concerned as I exercise all day with my job. I had forgotten how supportive it actually is and thanks to an on line exercise programme and a renewed commitment to myself my body is loving it. I’m starting to enjoy all the benefits of doing it once again.
” There is an innate relationship in my commitment to exercise and my commitment to self.” Great blog Marika I appreciate your highlight the relationship of exercise and commitment to self as I couldn’t work out my resistance to exercise, now I see it clearly.
“…this process of giving up on oneself seemed to be a slow chipping away over time that easily went unnoticed,…” Ain’t that the truth! I never knew I had given up on myself either. I just started to ignore myself and focussing on celebrities, movies or books became easier and easier. It wasn’t like I didn’t like myself because I always have, but I just kind of forgot about me, swept myself aside in favour of stuff outside of me like work or family (often encouraged too). Over some years now, I have come to bring me back into the picture and with that is the awareness that I haven’t been committed to being me and living me; my exercise regime was totally affected, so I see too the relationship. The thing I have learnt is that to be committed to myself and my wellbeing, I need to be committed to be committed in the first instance. It’s a mechanical choice, requiring a daily decision at this stage. I can tell though that with more and more self worth and self love in me, making choices to commit are easier, so that’s where I’m heading.
It makes sense that committing to life includes committing to ourselves and how we choose to live in the world. Gentle exercise in honour of what is true for the body, is a vital component of this… the remarkable benefits this offers us, many of which you listed, show the extraordinary power of this choice.
Re-reading your blog has been very timely for me Marika, as I have just come through a long period of illness where I did little exercise, but now I can feel my body is saying it’s time to get moving. What you have shared has really inspired me to do so, but I know that any exercise will be very considerate of my body, working with it, not against it. And as you say so wisely: “exercise is an important part of looking after ourselves, and we are all absolutely worth it!”. We certainly are!
The one relationship that we can never divorce from is that of ourselves. But really who would want to, it is the most gorgeous relationship that I have ever had.
Marika thank you. Reading your blog today was time perfect. I’ve experienced the yo-yo effect: exercising, stopping, starting and stopping again and feeling awful, because I’ve let myself down and my inconsistency. This is where I am now. Why would I stop doing something that makes me feel alive, vital, energised, gives me stamina and choose the exact opposite? Something I’m reflecting on right now.
I have been addicted to yoga and would practice every day because I wanted my body to be in a certain shape. This went on for several years until there came a point when I stopped and didn’t do any exercise at all for some time. These days I walk most days and have done some gentle exercises every day but unfortunately it didn’t last. I am at a point now to commit to some exercise and this blog has indeed inspired me to make this commitment. “Without a doubt exercise is an important part of looking after ourselves, and we are all absolutely worth it!” This sentence nails it on the head for me. We are all worth caring for ourselves and I am no different.
You are so Right Marika, commitment to exercise is directly related to commitment to life. I feel the Vitality and all the improvements in sleep, stamina, clarity, confidence, and all the things you mentioned. I would even say that if I take an hour to exercise, I actually get it back because of the increase in vitality I have more energy for other things in my life. If I find myself making excuses not to exercise, I also have not made the most of the day and feel flat. I also really get to know my body through regular exercise and can pick up on what is not good for me whether that be something I’ve eaten, or an issue at work that is disturbing me, or anything else, I feel it in my body.
Thank you Marika for the inspiration to be more consistent with a gentle exercise program for my overall wellbeing. Exercise is not something anyone else can do for you, you can’t go to the pharmacy and get an exercise pill so we have to take responsibility for our own vitality and fitness to live every day.
Fantastic point Mary. There is no quick fix here, and perhaps rightly so. With most other things in life we seem to have managed a way to pass by the self responsibility aspect of truly looking after ourselves and have found someone or something to aid us in our way. Exercise still, on the whole, takes a consistent commitment on our part, and thus is a great reflection of our commitment to ourselves.
I agree Jenny – both about Mary’s comment and what you have said about consistency and commitment – I am slowly learning the true value of both. It feels that as the consistency and commitment grow I am connecting to the true joy of self care and taking responsibility. Commitment has become an honour rather than a duty.
Dear Marika, I can so relate to your journey with over exercising and then under exercising. The realization that you made between your commitment to exercise and your commitment to self is gold.
Recently I have been aware of how weak my body is. When in the sitting position I can feel how my spine slowly collapses down and have to continually sit myself up. Through gentle regular exercise my muscles are gradually strengthening so that the body can feel supported in any position. Having a connection with my body when I do exercise allows me to feel when to stop and not over do it.
When we see that our body is offering us a moment to connect with it and through that connection a connection to God, it offers us yet another opportunity to confirm the true wonders of the Universe. How stupendous when we can feel that we are part an integral part of the greater universe and to appreciate all that we have been given.
Thank you Marika for sharing this gorgeous insight into exercise and how we use it, coming from the no pain no gain method of madness for many years and used exercise to numb and create a body that was hard and said don’t mess with me. Through the support of Universal Medicine I now exercise to confirm the lovely tender being I now know I am and a body that will support me through a day of work and play in my amazingly full life.
What a beautiful comment Paul. It feels as though as this blog expands it is connecting us more and more to the true benefit of exercise which for me is about building an amazing connection to my body and to appreciate every little moment and the detail of information that I am being offered via my body. It has encouraged me to really look at the intent of exercise and also how much that can support me to remain vital and connected until the end of the day. For me this is still a work in progress – and I am enjoying the unfolding.
Yes I agree Stephen, gentle and regular exercise is far more enjoyable and makes much more sense on many levels. To assault the body on a regular basis by pushing through cannot be great for the adrenals either which eventually show its wear and tear on the bodies endocrine system and thus energy levels. There are so many reasons to respect our bodies limits and listen to the wisdom that our body is continuously sharing with us should we choose to listen.
Yes so true Marika – and if we continually ignore our body then there is an ultimate stop moment where we are given no option but to face the assault made on our body by the constant arrogance and ignorance that wages war against our body – and against our evolution.
Marika, when you list all the benefits of being active is seems a wonder that we don’t all do it on a regular basis. Making the connection between being committed to loving ourselves and how physically active we are is I feel going to be become a huge topic for the exercise industry once we rid ourselves of the idea that no pain no gain has any value to our bodies health. All the exercise we have promoted to us at present focusses on pushing through and feeling the burn, in this it is no wonder that there is no consistency. I used to lift weights and make myself sore, in doing that it just meant that I didn’t want to lift again so I never consistently did it and my exercise regime would be stop start. In making exercise more gentle it has become more consistent and less extreme, and this is where I feel the health benefits of exercise actually lie.
Dear Marika, I have come back to your blog many times. Sometimes I came back feeling very uncomfortable as I knew deep down I was not honouring my body – I chose to not embrace exercise and to make the time to really feel what I was doing to my body. However, having read your blog I realised that this was a commitment that I would make – and yes I am now feeling how lovely it is to support my body and the way that it moves. I love to feel the changes as my body responds to the commitment of regular exercise. Thank you so much for the inspiration you have offered so lovingly.
Love your honesty Susan…thank you for sharing and making the commitment to you as we all benefit from that.
When we exercise, it is not just the body that we benefit. It also confirms oneself as being worth it, vital, playful. It is committing to self, but also is building a body to be in the world and, as such, it is about the quality of reflection we offer to others.
Eduardo that’s a lovely line ” It also confirms oneself as being worth it, vital and playful. I haven’t embraced exercise and it has me look deeper into why I’m not confirming myself in that way. It feels sad even to write that as I am revealing an aspect of not being worth the commitment to connecting with my body to support the quality of a true vital reflection for all to see and feel.
I agree Merrilee, that particular line in Eduardo’s comment is certainly a reminder of how powerful exercise is in our lives. Since first reading this blog I have followed the comments and through this I have gradually been inspired to find a program to support me. Exercise is such a beautiful and expanding way to connect to my body and to honour all the many blessings that my body offers me throughout the day.