When you think about exercise or moving your body in general, what comes to mind? Is it something you always look forward to doing? Is it something that truly makes you feel better? During a recent candid conversation on the Moms You Meet podcast, movement expert Jenna Zaffino said, “exercise isn’t a punishment.”

Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of our minds go when we think about exercise. We think about it as something that off-sets another thing in our lives. It’s a ‘have to not a ‘get to.’ So how do we change that? Here are a few things that Zaffino recommends in order to eliminate the punishment aspect to your movement routine:

Adopt A New Mindset

There are certain ideals that are held as the goal of what exercise is for. That our bodies need to look a certain way, or that it’s not real exercise unless it hurts. Unfortunately, these untruths distract us from what movement could really be about.

“Adopting a new mindset and being open to doing it without judgment, it’s been a game-changer in this stage of my life,” says Zaffino. “I wish I would’ve done more of this in my 30s—it would’ve saved me a lot of inner-critic heartaches. We gotta go for happiness.”

Everything Counts

So where can you start with this new mindset? Zaffino says: “Everything counts as movement. Even a deep breath.” This can help to reframe your definition of what exercise, or helpful movement, is.

Listen to what your body is saying. It’s hard to turn off the mentality of trying to look like an image on a magazine cover, or ‘no pain, no gain.’ “It’s because we’ve been fed an ideal for a lot of years!” says Zaffino.

Do What Makes You Feel Good

Her final piece of advice: choose a movement practice that actually makes your body feel good. Having a goal of technical accomplishment of tricky/fancy physical activity is totally fine, but if it doesn’t leave you enjoying how your body feels, then it probably won’t be a sustainable activity for you.

“It’s much more about the experience and making it something that feels qualitative and interesting. If you can find a thing that makes you feel good. If you can find a thing you want to do more—same with the little ones—you’re going to be much more apt to repeat and be consistent.”

Interested in hearing more about the relationship moms have with movement and exercise? Check out the Moms You Meet podcast for the Moving For Yourself and Your Kids episode, and so much more.

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