What fills you up?

It’s this time of the year that the gyms are traditionally overflowing with exercise newbies looking to fulfill their New Year’s Resolutions. As a recovered gym-rat, I would watch the spin classes and equipment fill up for a few weeks and then by Spring, it was usually back to the core group (plus a few new enthusiasts). Whether it was lack of motivation, not enough time, injuries or boredom, unfortunately not everybody was able to make exercise a routine.

As a nutritional therapist and health coach, one of my goals is to help my clients see the value of movement and exercise, however the more I talk with others the more I hear about the barriers they face to make exercise a routine. And it reminded me of some advice I got from my integrative medicine doctor during my cancer treatment. While I was boasting about all the hours I exercise and spend torturing my body, she reminded me to choose things that fill me up, rather than burn me out


And then I thought about my own experience. For the last 15 years I skipped sleep and got up at 4:30 a.m. to burn some calories. I tried it all, from the globo-gym, to spin classes, to crossfit and OrangeTheory, home workouts and yoga. I took a step back and thought, what is the purpose of exercise for me? And I made some changes 


  • I prioritized getting outside and into the fresh air, whether it was walking my dog, rollerblading with the girls or running a few miles, the fresh air, vitamin D and nature filled me up more than cranking up the treadmill; 


  • I started hot yoga – although it was still hard, the breathwork combined with the mobility and detoxification filled me up mentally, spiritually and physically;  


  • I built a home gym to continue to strengthen my muscles. I know I am at high risk for osteoporosis as I was forced into menopause at a young age due to my breast cancer risk. Weight bearing exercise is one of the best ways to keep my bones and metabolism strong; 


  • I re-engaged old passions, but a little bit differently. I started playing indoor soccer (after 20 years of not playing and boy, that fast-paced game really makes my heart pound). I also got back on my bike outdoors and used my rides as a time to think and decompress. And then I jumped back on my snowboard with my husband (which gives us some nice kid-free bonding time). My effort or reason for these are a little different than in the past but they fill me up in a  more playful way;


  • And because I am a competitor at heart, I still like to sign-up for races but I have found that doing it with a team gives me more joy than competing by myself 


So now my perspective on helping others has changed a little bit. I know for many people exercise is something they have to enjoy to keep it as a routine. I also know there is a host of benefits for different kinds of exercise, from more frequent daily movement and steady-state fasted cardio, to high intensity intervals, weight training and yoga/mobility. My goal in working with clients is to be purposeful about exercise and help them identify options that fill them up whether it’s igniting an old passion or building a new one. 

So leave a comment below, what’s an exercise or movement that fills you up? Are you purposeful about making it a part of your life?