top of page

Joyful Movement - Intuitive Eating

Joyful movement woman swimming

Hi, everyone! I hope you're all doing as well as possible this spring! After having returned from celebrating my dad's B-Day in one of our favorite places - South Haven, Michigan - I'm writing about a topic that comes up a lot.

My experience as a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor is that it's pretty common for clients to have a history of obtaining physical activity only when dieting. For these individuals, once the dieting comes to an end, so does the movement. There are also clients who have exercised excessively to the point of injuring themselves. Can you relate to either one of these scenarios? If so, you are not alone.

Diet culture tells us that we're "good" if we obtain physical activity and are living in a smaller body, and that we're "bad" if we don't. None of which is true. ALL bodies are good bodies - and you are worth so much NOW, whether you move your body or not. You are not obligated to focus on your health. This is your body. Having said this, for those of you who want to obtain some physical activity, today I'm writing about joyful movement - which is incorporated into the 9th principle of Intuitive Eating, "Exercise - Feel the Difference."


This principle of Intuitive Eating revolves around the idea of tuning into how your body FEELS when you obtain physical activity - and selecting movements that feel good to your body, are fun, and help you feel empowered. Joyful movement! Additionally, this principle emphasizes moving your body for the sake of your well-being versus for weight loss.

When we put weight loss on the back burner and actually focus on how joyful movement helps us feel more energized, makes us extra happy, promotes our heart health - and more - it can be way more motivating to obtain physical activity more regularly.


Think about which activities make you happy and feel good to your body. In Intuitive Eating, joyful movement includes a wide range of activities. Joyful movement refers to any type of movement. It refers to more than simply the traditional activities that you might think of as exercise. Below are just some of the many options for joyful movement:

Joyful movement examples

Match your favorite forms of movement with your current level of fitness. Verify with your doctor that it's safe for you to obtain physical activity. Let's say you've been given the green light, and you're passionate about gardening - but haven't gotten your hands dirty for a while. Now is a great time to start out slow, listen to your body, and gradually build up - taking regular breaks to stay hydrated and rest your body.

Note how you FEEL throughout the entire process. Tune into how you feel before, during, and after your joyful movement. Does the activity that you're participating in energize or deflate you? Does it help you decompress or cause anxiety? Do you look forward to it or dread it? The point of asking yourself these questions is to find a few activities that you actually look forward to doing - because they add some happiness to your day and maybe help you feel more alert or energized.

Be flexible. Let's say you hope to fit in 30 minutes of activity into a day. You can always complete this amount of joyful movement in increments - versus completing it all at once. If you want to fit 30 minutes of activity into a day - but don't reach that amount - don't beat yourself up. Think about why you didn't complete the 30 minutes. Did you not feel well? Were you tired? Did an emergency come up? Did the thought of obtaining physical activity feel like a chore?

Here's the thing. Self-care should not feel like a bother. If your heart isn't it, take a break and get back to joyful movement when the time feels right. Again, you're more likely to move your body more regularly when you enjoy it! Remember, joyful movement includes a wide variety of activities. Are you someone who enjoys playing badminton? Count it!


Are you someone who enjoys cleaning? Count it! Are you like me - and feel like you're in your happy place when you grocery shopping? Count it! By doing a variety of activities, you add some spice to life and decrease the chance of experiencing an injury by reducing the amount of repetitive motion.

Honor your well-being by resting your body. Give your body some rest! Reduce the risk of injury by taking a day off. While moving your body regularly is encouraged, if you find that your feeling really tired or you don't feel well - then this might be a good time to skip the joyful movement that you were planning. The key is to listen to your body - and rest it adequately.

As I've mentioned in the past, if you have experienced an injury from exercising excessively, one way to honor your health is to refrain from exercising - and heal the root cause of compulsive exercising. If you're in this situation, you deserve to heal! It could also be helpful to start enjoying other activities - which are not related to exercise - that you've been passionate about in the past.

Remember, each person's body has a history - including a story with movement. No one body is the same. Honor the phase that you're in and your body's story by doing what feels right to YOU. If this means obtaining joyful movement, make sure that it feels good to your body and adds happiness to your life!

If you would like to work with me to develop a healthier relationship with food and your body, or address general wellness concerns, click here to learn more about my private one-on-one sessions.

bottom of page