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Mindful Movement

Workout Spotlight: Mindful Movement

Before I became a patient (and, subsequently, a mindfulness coach) at Sound Medical Weight Loss, I had about 900 excuses why I wasn’t physically active.

I grew up completely without sports, so it was “too hard” to learn to incorporate movement into my life as an adult.

I was embarrassed of my size and ability, especially when surrounded by others at the gym who all seemed more capable and smaller than me.

Workouts seemed geared toward “fit folks” – it felt too hard for me.

I couldn’t get out of my head during workouts, especially hard ones, and I felt like a complete failure the entire time.

I couldn’t find a movement type I actually enjoyed.  In fact, I didn’t think one existed out there – movement just wasn’t “for me.”

I never felt the “runner’s high” everyone talks about.

I didn’t see an immediate change in my body right after working out.

I didn’t have time.

I didn’t have energy.

I didn’t want to.

And on and on.

It’s no wonder I was struggling to enjoy movement, or to create a consistent regimen, when my mindset was completely stacked against it.

That’s when I learned about mindful movement.

A good definition of “mindful movement” comes from this helpful article:

The formal practice of mindful movement involves the following components:

Essentially, mindful movement helps align your movement and your breath, creating a rhythmic near-trance that allows you to get out of your mind and become completely present in your body.  Your focus falls away from others in the room, from how you look, from your relative ability, and drops deeply into how your body feels.  This is immensely helpful for patients like me, who can sometimes have major mental blockers around movement.

Mindful movement is a core part of a number of different exercise types.  These include:

In addition, you can bring mindfulness into nearly any movement type (even more intense ones!) just by focusing on your breath and gently bringing your awareness back to it every time your mind begins to wander. 

Although COVID-19 has thrown group exercise for a loop, most mindful movement is doable at home (as well as outdoors!) 

I had dabbled in yoga in the past, but largely as a way to lose weight – so when the pounds weren’t dropping off immediately, my consistency in going to class also dropped off.

When I joined the Sound Medical Weight Loss team, though, I began to focus on my inputs – on finding lifestyle changes that I’d love and that would feel like self-care to me.  I also began learning about mindful movement.  That’s when I returned to yoga with a renewed goal – to go to class 3x a week (to start) and be as present as possible.  That’s it.  I didn’t have a goal of going to the hardest classes, or to be in an upside down handstand within a month – I just gave myself the goal of showing up and allowing the rhythmic trance to take me over.

And it has!  My yoga studio has become my true home away from home.  The smell of the studio’s essential oils and fresh, laundered towels always brings a smile to my face.  I no longer judge myself on how I’m doing versus anyone else in studio.  I’m in my own world when I’m there, focused on my breath, my body, and on relaxing my mind completely.  No matter what my day throws at me, I know yoga will balance me out completely.  I always enjoy the experience now.

What’s more – I’m now able to take this newfound mindset to other workout modalities, including hiking, spin and more. 

Let us know in comments – are there mindful movement types you’ve tried and enjoyed?  How do you get out of your head when you’re working out?  What are your tips for staying consistent with your workouts?

Mariel Ilardi  Mariel became a weight loss coach with SMWL after being a patient herself -- having lost 65 pounds through the program! In addition to coaching SMWL patients, Mariel is the founder and CEO of Haven Coaching, an executive and career coaching company.

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