Sweat With Love: Three Ways to Rejuvenate Your Workout
God, do I love to dance.
I love the way music feels in my body. It’s like the boom, boom ka of a drumbeat calls my cells to celebrate, which call to my bones, which call to my muscles, and before you know it, I am movin’ and groovin’ with pure abandonment.
I loved to dance so much that, in 4th grade, I decided that was it. Move over Jennifer Beals: There’s a new flash dancer on the way. The boom boom ka and I were going to be wed forever.
I spent countless hours in dance studios, pointing, stretching, turning, and jumping. However, at around 16 years old, the magical rhythm of the music that once soothed my soul turned into the ringing of Pavlov’s bell. It became the signal that I needed to work harder, turn faster, be thinner, jump higher, and plie my way to perfection.
I spent several years moving my body with one intention. Do better.
Even getting hired to tour with a renowned dance company didn’t quiet the, “This isn’t good enough” voice that joined me every time I slipped into my dance shoes.
But in 1996, while I was battling it out with myself in dance class, my mom was presented with her own battle. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
She took on the challenge like a warrior goddess presented with the task of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Determined. While she did what her doctors told her, being a child of the 60’s, peace love and everything in between, my mom employed her family as part of her healing team.
We went to meditation and tai chi classes, changed our diet, and found a way to love each other on a deeper level.
My mom was certain that the way to heal her body was through a whole lotta love and tenderness.
So, strange that at the same time, I was certain that the only way to get my body to what I wanted it to do was to beat it into submission. If I didn’t crack the whip on myself, wouldn’t my lazy butt end up on the couch, eating ice cream and watching hours of television?
My mom’s approach was the opposite. She allowed herself to have days of “Well, this really sucks” that were always followed by days where she would paint on her eyebrows and proudly walk out the door. When asked how she was doing, she said, “Gettin’ better every day.” And she meant it.
My mom’s healthy vibrant cells won out over ovarian cancer.(They won out again over breast cancer six years later! A miracle indeed. ) I learned that she did not win because she beat, prodded, forced, or made herself do anything.
She was kind to herself, every step of the way.
When I finally took on this approach in my own life, not only did my body change, but my whole life changed. The extra pounds I hung onto melted away. The self-criticism that spilled into other areas of my life was transformed to a sweet, steady voice reminding that I am doing pretty damn good.
If you’re looking to make radical changes with your body, whether it’s to heal, lose weight or even train for a marathon, it starts with radical kindness and compassion.
Here are a few radical ways to move your body:
1. Get on the love train: We choose our thoughts. You can’t get to destination I love my body by riding the I can’t stand my ______ (insert body part) train. That train ride will only lead to one place: where it is dark and murky and the sun rarely shines.
It starts with love and absolute appreciation for what you are able to do today.
Do whatever it takes to make appreciation for what you can do your primary thoughts. You might have to slow down to access these thoughts, or you might need to ramp it up, but be determined to catch that love train.
2. Set your intention: Instead of jumping on the treadmill or into your favorite exercise class with the intention that you have to burn off the calories you ate the day before, try something different.
Try sweating with the intention that you are going access your power. Intend that you are going to open your heart. You are going to heal. You are going to shine. You are going to become more of who you are meant to be.
This philosophy can be applied to any kind of physical activity you’re doing.
The more you sweat with love, the easier it becomes to be loving even when you are not exercising. This new behavior changes your brain chemistry, which, without doubt, spills into all areas of your life.
3. Add affirmations: I created a playlist and recorded spoken affirmations over it so that when I go for a walk, a run, or even dance around my apartment, I am moving with specific intentions.
I started sharing the playlist with my clients and friends, who love to incorporate it into their workouts.
It’s one thing to think affirmations. It takes it to a whole other level when you are moving and saying them to the rhythm of music. The affirmations become a part of your muscle memory, and they get embedded into your cells. This is where the real change happens.
Bottom line: Decide today that you are moving to celebrate your life. Let the boom boom ka fill you with joy as you move to any rhythm, cherishing the body you’re in and all that it does to support you. It’s has taken you this far. What a blessing.
Money-back guarantee that your body will change, your life will change, and moving will feel more like the final scene in Flash Dance … What a feeling!
Erin Stutland is a life coach, personal trainer and fitness instructor. She is the creator of SHRINK SESSION: 30 Days To Tighten Your Body + Rewire Your Mind and Air In Sculpt. She is one of four Premiere Intensati Leaders in the world.