Friday's 5 Fitness Tips: Finding Your Path to a Fit Life

Body Image, Eating disorders, Fitness, JJ Levy, Therapy, Tips -


This week’s fitness tips come from psychotherapist JJ Levy. She helps women pave their own path to fitness by focusing on activities and exercise that make them feel happy and healthy.


1. Shed & Simplify. Shedding means saying “no” to things that prevent you from doing what you love. Simplifying is tougher. It is saying “no” to activities that you deeply value yet can’t do all of them well and have a rich life at the same time. For example, shedding may mean less holiday entertaining if it is onerous, or forgoing an event that is more work than fun. Simplifying requires selecting a highest priority over many “merely” high priorities. Such as volunteering for one organization rather than three, or having your child play one sport, not many, and thereby enjoying down time that would otherwise be impossible. Shedding and simplifying may initially be hard, yet eliminating the non-rewarding makes room for the very rewarding. Saying “no” is essential for making space to say “yes” to creating a richer life.

2. Learn to say “yes” to what you want to do, and “no” to the things you don’t want to do. 
Think about the things that you want to do that you don’t normally do. Dancing? Reading a novel? Hiking with friends? Say “yes” three times this week to those desired activities. And say “no” three times this week to things that you don’t want to do. Perhaps you’ll free up energy for physical activity, joy, and passion. No doubt you will shed and maybe even simplify all at the same time. It’s not easy choosing which activities to prioritize and which to let go of, so ask yourself: “Am I looking forward to this with relish?” I know that when I try to do everything on my to-do list, I feel worse. Furthermore, being too busy interferes with making time for physical activity, which actually gives me more energy to do more things or to just chill!

3.Wear clothes that feel good and fit well.
 It’s simple: if you feel good in your clothes, you’re more likely to want to move in them. When you’re comfortable, physical activity not only feels easier, but it feels good. If you feel confident in the clothes you’re wearing, you’re more likely to get out there and get active. So treat yourself to a few items you feel physically good in and by golly I bet you will feel emotionally good in them, too!

4. Never, ever, no matter what you do, set foot on a scale.
 I know this might sound scary, crazy, or nonsensical to you number minded women out there, but bear with me. Throw it out. The scale gives you a number. It takes you out of your body, which impinges on your ability to focus on how you feel. Your body knows if it is happy. It knows when it’s rested, thirsty, or hungry. Trust it. It always tells the truth. Many of us have learned not to listen to our bodies, and getting on a scale is just one more distraction from what’s reliable and important. The scale too often determines the mood of the day. Shouldn’t how you feel determine that, not a number on a scale?


5. Don’t count calories. I know, I know, this goes against conventional wisdom, but don’t count calories! It, too, takes you away from sensory awareness and your body. Listen to hunger and satiation cues. Is there a food that is humming to you for days on end? When working with my clients in my Women, Body Image, and Food groups, I quote Oscar Wilde: “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden itself.” Of course, this doesn’t mean to eat with abandon – which, I might add, doesn’t feel good.  Focus on eating mindfully, in connection with your senses of hunger, satiation, and pleasure. And again, when you exercise, think about how great the rush of endorphins feels, or how nice it is to be outside enjoying nature, and to be stretching your body–if you focus on burning X amount of calories, you’ll distract yourself from the pleasure of your body.

I like to encourage “eating what you enjoy and enjoying what you eat.” This thwarts that inner rebel that emerges when resisting food from an “I shouldn’t eat this” mindset. It is impossible to truly enjoy what you eat and overeat it at the same time. Really!
I know that many of these things are easier said than done–many of us (myself included) have struggled with them at some point in our lives. From the images of airbrushed, starving women in the media, to the pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect, it’s hard to escape these ways of viewing fitness. It’s always healthy to remind yourself to focus on living in the moment and doing what truly feels good. These tips are easy suggestions about developing new skills. Repeating a new, desirable skill becomes a habit. Habits have inertia on their side. They are hard to change. Why not make them pleasurable ones?!

Savor the joy of movement, every bite of food, the beauty of nature, and delight in what your body can do for you. Getting a Golden Retriever isn’t a bad idea either.

I sure hope you have fun!
JJ Levy, MSW, LCSW, ST,  is a Certified Group Psychotherapist and Certified Diplomate Sex Therapist, she specializes in women, body image, and eating disorders. She enjoys camping, cycling, walking, and Pilates. You can read more about JJ on her website.
JJ Levy with her therapy dog, Nico

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