Self-Love and Self-Directed Kindness

And Now for Something Completely Different: Exercise So There is More of You, Not Less of You

This post is about exercise, but it is not what you think—or at least I do not think it is. I often have a love-hate relationship with exercise. On the one hand, I love how exercise makes me feel. I really like dancing—hoop dance, free-style dance and yoga-inspired dance. I am by no means a great dancer, but when I really get into the flow of dance, I feel graceful, exhilarated, and strong.

On the other hand, I unfortunately often have bad attitude about exercise. I think a lot of us do, and it is no wonder. There is a lot of cultural pressure, especially for women, to use exercise to make ourselves smaller—to shrink ourselves, it seems. In this mindset, exercise becomes a punishment for living or for enjoying life too much. When I have this mindset about exercise, it is pretty easy for me to figure out a lot of reasons to avoid it.

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Lately, however, I have been thinking about exercise as a way to make ourselves bigger, not smaller. The other day I was exercising/dancing, but I was doing it in a rather perfunctory manner (which is a very sad way to dance). Partway through I suddenly decided for some reason to concentrate on each action, considering how it made me feel. I realized I felt strong, graceful, open-hearted, joyful, fluid, and resilient. I enjoyed all of these feelings.

I felt connected to life and powerful. Suddenly I realized, “Oh that is why I exercise!” The purpose of movement and exercise is to make us bigger, not smaller. It is to give us a bigger heart, a bigger attitude, a bigger spirit, open to the world and to possibilities. When looked at this way, exercise is a generous gift, rather than a punishing chore we must do three to five times a week.

Hooping #3

So, move today in some way. You can dance, you can run, you can juggle, you can hula hoop, you can swim, you can do cross-fit. Whatever you do, rather than gritting your teeth and trying to get through exercise, think about the movements and the big-hearted feelings they generate. Own each of these feelings and think about how they connect you in a grander, more expansive way with life. Use exercise to enlarge your heart and mind and spirit. We need more of you, not less of you.

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19 thoughts on “And Now for Something Completely Different: Exercise So There is More of You, Not Less of You”

    1. Thank you Shelly. Your sharing about exercise to feel bigger in words is beautifully expressed. I agree so much.

  1. Reblogged this on Love is Stronger and commented:

    Summer is fast approaching, and many of us start thinking about getting out and exercising more. The last couple of years, I have been learning to exercise so there is MORE of me and not LESS of me. And that has made all the difference. This is an old post, but it seems apropos for this time of year.

  2. I love this, Shelly! You are so right that it is totally missing the point to dance in a perfunctory way! You have really helped me to be more expansive in my movements – in everyday life and not just in exercise. I love the concept of exercising to make more, not less of us.

  3. Love the idea of enlarging our minds and spirits through our chosen exercise – right now mine is some very serious gardening with lots of digging…makes me feel very good and much more ‘me’.

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