There are many different kinds of movement, and not all movement is really "exercise." Leisure walking is {in my opinion} the most natural and necessary kind of movement that exists. Slow, relaxing walking is incredibly primal and it has been shown to lower cortisol (a stress hormone that in our current world is often elevated in the majority of people). Then we've got strength training and cardiovascular endurance training, in addition to the other component of fitness, flexibility. Each component has it's purpose and we tend to need a healthy balance of all three for optimal performance. Flexibility can be as simple morning stretching and foam rolling or restorative, gentle yoga. I would argue that a fast-paced vinyasa yoga session falls more into the category of strength than flexibility, however the benefits of breathing with your movements and lengthening your muscles through the flow might lower the stress response compared to a typical strength training session. In strength training there exists even more variety - from typical body building splits with longer rest periods to the other end of the spectrum, something like a Crossfit style workout that challenges both strength and endurance. Endurance training would be things like longer distance running, road biking, or other sports that have shorter rest periods, however interval training like sprints can also be really beneficial for cardiovascular health while improving your endurance. 

All of that to say, it's important to choose which of those kinds of movement you do on a daily basis with intention. Each day, think about what your body needs to function at the highest level. How does the movement practice you are choosing fit into the rest of your life?

When I first started out on my fitness journey in my early 20's (I turn 30 years old this week!) I was living with the mindset of more is better. And I struggled with low energy and couldn't build the body composition I truly wanted. I was always hungry because of how much I was training and I just couldn't understand why I was putting in so much hard work going to Spinning classes six days a week plus a strength workout at the gym each day - while training for my first and last half marathon - and not seeing any results. Friends - the truth is that more is not better, but {like my friend Jade Teta says} better quality is better! Today I go for a leisure walk daily and I exercise for 20 intense minutes about five days a week. I look healthier and more fit and, most importantly, I feel better than I ever did years ago when I was overtraining. 

The biggest obstacle for me in changing my mindset around exercise was realizing the difference between functional training versus training for aesthetics. When I began to struggle with back pain and chronic tight hips, I learned this concept of moving in a way that is functional. For example, the hamstring curl machine - it builds some really beautiful hamstrings, but when do we every truly move that way?! And also, those machines are designed for six foot men! Learning about functional movement patterns has been key in strengthening my core in order to heal my back pain. And the coolest part - when you train with mindfulness about the functionality of your movements, I've found that you actually end up creating the body you wanted in the first place!

In order to change your mindset around fitness, you must shift your perspective around the purpose of exercise. Exercise and movement are things that should make you feel better rather than look better. How do you want to feel? How do you *need* to feel? Move that way. There needs to be a mindset shift around pushing hard through anything just for the reward of how you can change your body, versus the rewards of being pain free and healthy because you chose to move in a way that was appropriate for your needs in the moment. The action might even be the same, but the intention is different. When your intention focuses on how you will feel because of the movement, the movement will feel effortless and you will feel happier and more content with yourself no matter what you accomplish. 

Movement should be like meditation. Moving meditation is when you notice and let go of the thoughts and emotions in your mind while moving through the exercises, just like you would in a seated meditation. Notice your thoughts objectively and don't allow yourself to associate the thoughts with your identity. If an exercise feels really hard, or you look in the mirror and catch a glimpse of yourself and a negative thought comes in, or you feel frustrated that you are so out of breath - in every situation you can focus and breathe into the discomfort. Be present with the discomfort in order to allow yourself to learn how to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable.