Amelia Island, bikes at b&b

Yesterday, I mentioned how much I desperately needed physical activity in my life after a few weeks without it. I really felt out of sorts and very much disconnected from my body.

Then I went to Pilates – and it was like a magical elixir. I walked out feeling so much better than when I sulked in. Sure, I’m a bit sore, but it really made a big difference in my mood and day – and, best of all, I reconnected with my body.

We all know the countless benefits of physical activity. But many of us don’t realize that we can do it on our terms!

I used to hate exercise. Part of the problem was that I viewed exercise as a vehicle for weight loss. As a tool to get thin. As a punishment for eating. As an all-around chore.

I dabbled in different kinds of activities but it was never for the joy of it, so I resented moving my body.

And I stopped. Cold turkey like some addict.

Then in grad school I gained weight. I was deeply ashamed and disgusted. (I shouldn’t have been, but the negative feelings came from years of being too hard on myself.)

My weight gain wasn’t healthy (like it was after I’d lost weight when my father passed away). It was a symptom of a bigger problem: namely the sad state of my self-worth, my habit of soothing stress with food and the lack of physical activity in my life.

I turned to a fitness trainer who showed me one very important thing: my strength.

I’ve written before about how I saw myself as a weakling and that was demoralizing to me. That was my persona, I believed.

But this post isn’t about weight loss or my trainer or whipping yourself into tip-top shape (whatever that even means) or forcing yourself to like exercise.

It’s about the physical activities that thrill you and make you feel alive. The ones that help you feel empowered and excited.

It’s about finding activities that you love, that nourish you. Anything from walking to hula-hooping to belly-dancing to hiking to swimming to Nia.

I’m going to share my top 10 physical activities and I hope you share yours in the comments or at least consider for yourself what movement makes your day and makes you happy.

Without further ado:

  1. Pilates (I love it!)
  2. Biking (I ride my pinkish purple Target bike proudly.)
  3. Frolicking in the water (I can’t call it swimming exactly because it’s more like treading water and playing in the pool. 🙂 Sometimes I do swim laps; other times I just enjoy the cool and calm of the water. It’s really an amazing feeling.)
  4. My large collection of workout DVDs (I’m really into barre classes lately; it goes back to my dream of being a ballerina. No, I’m serious.)
  5. Shopping (Hey, it involves walking around and doing some heavy lifting. 🙂 )
  6. Yoga
  7. Taking a leisurely walk and actually paying attention to my surroundings. (Especially when I’m away from home, where everything is bright and new.)
  8. Playing ping pong or badminton
  9. Getting on the elliptical with my iPod on and just going into my own little world
  10. Stretching

If you’re not sure about how to find the joy in movement, check out this post (with tons of great expert advice!). Also, it can be hard to rediscover movement after suffering from disordered eating or an eating disorder. This post might help.

What are your most favorite ways to move your body? I’d love to know your top 10!