A few years ago, I was in a cardio kickboxing class with a friend. It was my first time in the class, and it was definitely challenging. I hadn't been working out in a while, and the instructor was one of those fiery, high vibe firecrackers who makes you really want to push yourself to the limit. And so I did.
By the end of the class, I was dripping sweat and very out of breath, but feeling excited. Then, the instructor came over to me and asked me a question that completely shifted the way I think about workout out.
"How were you smiling during that?"
I paused, a little confused. Me? Was I smiling during the class? I asked, and she told me that yes, I'd apparently been beaming almost the whole time. Even during the final minutes of the most intense song, apparently I'd smiled and laughed. I was completely unaware that I'd done it, but even still something shifted in me.
I smiled because I love moving my body, I thought. Because it feels incredible to challenge myself and sweat and move around to some music. Even better if I like the music, but truth be told I can move and dance to just about anything.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I was taking a HIIT class from one of my favorite trainers. She looked at me in the middle of one of our intervals - I feel like it was weighted squats - and asked me, "why are you smiling right now?"
Again, I'd be completely unaware that I was doing it, but this time I knew at least that it was a thing I do. I fact, I even tell my yoga students to smile during challenging postures. I call it face yoga, and it definitely helps.
But the point of this post isn't just to tell you about how I'm an oddball who smiles when my muscles are burning and I'm dripping sweat. The thing is, we've let too much fear, avoidance, punishment and guilt creep into the way we view moving our bodies. Physical fitness has become a necessary evil in order to stay healthy, look good in a bikini, appease our partners or feel like we fit in with our friends. And that's such a detrimental outlook. Fitness should be fun! That doesn't mean it's not going to be challenging or make you sore and tired. But You should do things that you love doing - things that you could smile through.
This is a huge part of why I'm a big proponent of moving your body from an intuitive place. I believe that our bodies know what we need, and if we start to listen to their messages, we can shift into a place of much more grace, flow and ease. Sometimes, my body tells me to lay off the cardio. Sometimes I want to do nothing but yoga for a week. Sometimes I feel really motivated and I'll do two-a-days. Sometimes I'll rest and take leisurely walks. I listen to what my body asks for, and it has been so, so good.
But how do you start that practice of intuitive movement? Well for one, you've got to learn to heal your intuition – which I teach about in the Love Yourself First mini course and in my free FB group. Another one of my favorite tools is to ask yourself what you loved doing as a kid. Did you love playing capture the flag? Dancing? Swimming or kayaking? Skiing? Surfing? Trampolines? Climbing stuff? Every single one of those things could turn into a way for you to get your sweat on with a smile this week.
Get after it.