Last week, for the second time ever, I went to a Soul Cycle class with a group of new friends. Have you ever been?

Basically it’s cycling in a dark candle-lit room, with an instructor, that's also a DJ spinning awesome music and your spiritual guru for the hour as s/he shouts inspiring things to motivate you to give it all you’ve got.

I have to be honest, at first, a part of me hated it. At least for the first 70% of the class.

It’s been a while since I’ve pushed myself that hard in a workout (maybe since the last Soul Cycle class I attended?).  I just don’t typically enjoy hardcore workouts like that. I spent a lot of years pushing really hard through super intense workouts, trying to force my way to the body of my dreams and never want to approach fitness like that again.

Yes, I love a good sweat, I love the feeling of slightly (not overly) sore muscles the day after a great workout, and of course, I love moving and being IN my body. But hardcore — the type of workout where all you can think about is, “When is this going to be over?” is not my thing.

So, back to my workout at Soul Cycle. I'm on my bike, busting my booty, sweating like a maniac, feeling like I don't have anything left to give, and then something happened. The instructor put on this song, "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten

Holy shiiiitttttt it's amazing the emotion that a good song can create within you. Hearing the instructor riffing his poetic speech on giving everything you have to give and hearing this song in the background... it cracked me open deep down inside. I had this moment of completely emotional euphoria. I just let go.

I forgot about the burning in my thighs, my uncoordinated up/down moves on the bike, my heavy breathing, and the sweat dripping off my nose. I was numb to the pain and totally focused on the feeling of being more than “this." I tapped into a burst of energy even though previously I had thought I was tapped out.

I realized, “Ohhhhh, I get it. I GET why people do this.” In the span of an hour workout, you go from incredible resistance  — where you think you couldn’t possibly give any more — to a place where you show yourself that you have more to give than you think.

It’s like giving more than you thought you physically could in a workout proves something about ourselves — that we are more powerful than we give ourselves credit for.

I think that’s why we get addicted to “hardcore,” and why we post, re-post, and perpetuate the string of social media images that tell us that abs are not made on the couch and that in order to get the body of our dreams we have to fight for it.

We get addicted to the feeling of proving our worthiness. And there’s nothing wrong with that IF it's coming from a place of expansion vs a mindset of lack or "not good enoughness." I suppose that's more KNOWING your worthiness than proving.

In fact, I think I may give Soul Cycle a few more go’s and see if I like it more once my body gets conditioned to that style of workout and I get a bit more coordinated.

That said, my question for you is:

“What if we didn’t have to "fight" for the body of our dreams?”

Sit with that for a minute. What if what we want doesn’t come through struggle and strife (it can, but it doesn’t have to)? What if we could achieve our dream body desires through something else that is far more powerful?

Alignment.

Before we get into that, let’s first address where I think a lot of women that are trying to achieve a lean, healthy body get off track.

The problem isn’t in challenging our body and our mind to greater levels of endurance. The problem is that somewhere we learn that a workout is not a workout (you didn’t do it good enough) unless you hit your breaking point.

Every single workout doesn’t need to be hardcore, “give 110% and then give 10% more” style workouts.

This style of movement (exercise) everyday, all the time, is not sustainable and it’s not healthy for your system. Eventually your body is going to push back through injury, sickness, or you just frankly won’t be able to do it anymore.

So, in step two of my signature 3 Step Non-Diet Approach To Thighs You LOVE, we’re addressing how to create a fitness lifestyle that is the perfect fit for you, your preferences, and your desires.

Clear away what you think you’re “supposed” to do, and get ready for a totally different approach to fitness.

2. Design Your Movement (Fitness) Lifestyle

The reason I call exercise your "Movement Lifestyle" is because that helps us to shift any limiting beliefs about working out. Exercise is simply movement at its basis. Like I mentioned above, not every workout needs to be or will be hardcore. Moving your body consistently in ways that inspire you is what is most important (and most sustainable).

Tap Into Your WHY

Hardcore (in and of itself) isn’t wrong. When it’s coming from a place of inspiration (a connection to the deeper reason you are working out, beyond the number on the scale or that pinnacle achievement) AND it is balanced out with proper rest and a level of awareness and willingness to objectively listen to the signals from our body, it can support long-term wellness.

But that’s not how most of us approach fitness. We follow somebody else’s rules on what we should and shouldn’t be doing first and foremost (while ignoring the signals from our body) because we believe they know better than we do.

We sell ourselves short. Now please don’t misunderstand, of course you probably aren’t going to know what to do in a gym or with a Pilates machine until someone teaches you. Education and guidance is different than totally putting your power and choice in the hands of someone else. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.

What I want to focus on here is re-connecting with that deeper guidance within. That’s most important, and oftentimes we’ve become so disconnected we don’t have any clue as to what it sounds like.

The first step in re-estabilishing that connection with yourself and your body is in tapping into your WHY.

Pull out your journal and ask yourself:

WHY do I work out? Because…

WHY? Because…

WHY? Because…

WHY? Because…

Ask WHY as many times as it takes until you finally get to that root emotion or knowing. You’ll know when you hit it.

For example:

WHY do I work out? Because most of the day, I am sitting in a chair working on my computer. I like how I feel after a sweaty workout and I know I’ve pushed my body that day.

WHY? Because I want to achieve and maintain a healthy, lean body and to feel good in a swimsuit, and to be able to open my closet and choose what I want to wear that day, specifically, I want to be able to easily slip on my skinny jeans and feel that YES when they fit perfectly!

WHY? Because I think being able to do these things would allow me to feel really confident about myself and comfortable in my skin.

WHY? Because I would accept myself, and be proud of how I show up in my life, of what people see when they meet me. My physical body would be a true representation of who I am on the inside. And I would be able to focus on what I really want to focus on in life, and stop obsessing over my weight and food all of the time.

WHY? Because when I love and accept myself, I’d be the real me. I’d be at peace. Not hiding or feeling shame. I would finally allow myself to shine.

Your WHY may be different than this (but I’m betting it’s probably not far off). This is just an example to show you how to flow through the process, following the breadcrumbs to the root reason (of which you may have never thought about before).

Once you connect with the real reason why you work out every day, then it makes it really easy to check in with yourself and decide whether any particular workout or choice is moving you closer to feeling that way on a daily basis, or away from it.

You start to get clear on what you value most in life and sometimes that’s a real wake up call if you realize that some of the choices you are making on a daily basis and how you are treating your body aren’t in alignment with those priorities.

If you need more help with prioritizing your priorities, make sure to sign up for my free video series, “The Secret to ROCKIN' Your Dream Body For Life.” I get into the details of this in that series.

Connect With The BEST Instructor For YOU

Just because we’re on the bike (or in the gym, or wherever) and the instructor says give more if you have more to give… that doesn’t mean that you’re an underachiever if you check in with your body and she says, “Hey girl, I’m cool here. I don’t have it in me to push the limit today.”

Your body is your greatest instructor. It’s okay to try new things, research, look around and see what other people like and are doing, but ultimately before you make any decision, check in and ask your body what’s best for you.

  • Body, should I push harder?
  • Body, is this workout right for me today?
  • Body, what should I do today to best nourish and support you?

We don’t realize that constantly pushing our body to the extreme is often not supportive to our system. Consistently doing hardcore workouts day in and day out without rest and proper self-care and nourishment can put the body into a state of stress, and consistently being in a stress response, can cause all kinds of issues and imbalances in things like hormone levels, the nervous system, AND metabolism and digestion.

I know how hard it can be to give yourself permission to tone down the “hardcore” in your workouts, especially if you’re conditioned to thinking that hardcore = the only thing that is acceptable.

If you feel like this is touching on an area that is very sensitive for you, some more great questions to ask yourself are:

  • How are my current energy levels?
  • Does my body need a rest from working out?
  • Specifically, when was the last time I took a rest week?
  • Do I need to tone down the “hardcore” in my workouts?
  • Am I afraid of toning down my workouts? If so, why?
  • Do I need guidance and accountability in this area so that I feel safe and supported through these steps?

Sometimes we set the bar so high for what “doing it good enough” looks like that we become disconnected with what’s actually for our greatest good. And when we’re that attached to that level of achievement and action, it can be hard to let go.

My point is, get help if you need help. Not so that one more person can tell you what to do, but rather choose someone that can support you in learning how to tune in and connect with the knowing that is and has been always there for you deep within.

There are so many women out there that are eating less and less and exercising more and more in order to achieve that certain weight or number on the waistband of their pants, and the truth is that they are doing more detriment to their body that good.

The True Benefit of Movement (Exercise)

The last thing I want to leave you with related to creating your Movement Lifestyle is to understand the true benefit of exercise. That benefit is deep breathing. When you’re breathing deeply, you’re getting lots of oxygen into your cells, supporting them in doing what they do best (keeping you well, feeling good, and supporting you in achieving and maintaining your ideal body).

Throughout normal every day life, it’s easy to forget to breathe deeply. In fact, most of us breathe pretty shallowly, diminishing the levels of oxygen we bring into our system.

If you have read this far into this article, I’m guessing that your goals are centered around looking and feeling your best at your ideal weight and leanness.

And that happens through homeostasis in your system. You don’t need to trick your body or force it into giving it what you wants.

When you show your body that it can trust you, it will relax and work with you. When your body doesn’t feel safe, it will resist and try to protect itself.

Show your body that it can trust you. Challenge yourself, but tune into what workouts feel good.

  • How do you LOVE to move your body?
  • What workouts leave you feeling energized and excited for the day?

Mix it up. Add in a hardcore sweaty workout or two each week if that is truly your thing, but overall give yourself a variety of movement so that you are using your muscles, but also stretching them too.

Exercise is “me-time” meaning it’s self-care. Self-care isn’t about stressing the body out and making it feel unsafe, it’s about supporting it and loving it toward your goals.

Use these tips to design the Movement Lifestyle that is the perfect fit for YOU. Remember, nobody knows YOU better than you. So clear away the noise about what you “should” do and tune into the signal and guidance from within.

That’s it for Step 2. Tune in for Step 3, Emotional Health: The Missing Piece of the Formula next week. 

Read Step 1: Designing Your Food Lifestyle

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