Exercise and My Body

by Nicole Serafin (40 yrs old), Nutritionist / Dietician

In my mid twenties, after having a lower back and shoulder injury, my physiotherapist suggested some gentle stretching and Pilates exercises to rebuild the muscles and tissues – to strengthen those areas. I began first at home with the exercises she gave me, and then looked into doing a few yoga and Pilates classes.

My body became strong and my core strength was amazing, but I had become so obsessed with strengthening myself that I had stopped feeling what all of this exercise was doing to me – I had totally lost touch with how my body was really feeling. My body had become so hard and disconnected that I was unable to feel when it was time to stop or when I was pushing it too far.

I had gotten into the frame of mind that the more I could stretch and the stronger I was, the better I must be.

In fact I was causing more issues for myself without realising. I was no longer able to feel the pain my body was in, due to the way I was exercising, and that my focus had completely changed.

Every time I went to a class the pain would be relieved, so the more classes I did, the less I had to feel it. I became addicted – the more I did, the more I wanted to do, and it became the basis of my day. In the end I was exercising at home TWICE a day and at a studio FIVE times per week!

But the pain was still there – it was just being masked.

I began attending some Universal Medicine workshops and in time, some of the courses and retreats. I began experimenting with living in a way that was more supportive of my body, feeling what I needed to eat, the way I felt and the time I felt to sleep, amongst other things. The next natural step was to look at the way in which I was exercising, as it was not correlating with how I was now living in other aspects of my life; I was still pushing my body on a daily basis to the extreme.

Yes, it was true I needed to exercise for the wellbeing of my body, but I wanted to find a way that allowed me to feel what it was my body needed, just as I was doing with these other aspects. I realised I needed to do it in a way that supported me.

So I began changing the way that I approached the exercises – much to my teacher’s dismay! She could not see the point of doing them if I was not challenging myself. Eventually, I began doing them at home in a way that I felt was more nurturing and caring for my body. To my surprise, over time, I began to feel more supple, gentle and willing. I realised I was just as flexible – if not more so, now that I was connecting to what my body said it actually needed. Along with this I also received the support of sessions with various Universal Medicine practitioners…. and found my pain level began to lower, to the point where it is now non-existent.

It has been amazing to discover that by allowing myself to feel exactly what was needed, in both the way I did the exercise as well as the sorts of exercises I felt to do, I could support myself better than ever before. I find I still have the core stability I had developed, but I also have gentleness within my body that I had never felt before. I am now able to do exercise when and how I feel to, and when I’m finished, my body feels expanded and open.

127 thoughts on “Exercise and My Body

  1. I can so relate with what you share, thinking, ‘that the stronger I felt in my body the more healthy and fitter I was, but in becoming so hard and through pushing myself I too disconnected from feeling just how sensitive and truly delicate my body is and how harming it is when I push it beyond its natural limit.’

  2. I used to be addicted to exercising, and all at the expense of my body, ‘I became addicted – the more I did, the more I wanted to do, and it became the basis of my day. In the end I was exercising at home TWICE a day and at a studio FIVE times per week!’ The more exercise I could do the better.

  3. Yes, I agree, ‘enjoying being so present with myself felt far more supportive than all the pushing and striving which only hardened and drained my body.’

  4. I don’t think I will ever stop being humbled by how intelligent the body is. It knows how to live in a way that is not detrimental to itself in every aspect of life bar none.

  5. “Every time I went to a class the pain would be relieved, so the more classes I did, the less I had to feel it” – oh wow. That’s where we think exercise is good for us and get addicted. Pain is one of the ways our body communicates to us, it lets us know when it is being compromised. It is actually very useful.

  6. I never liked exercise as a kid because I didn’t like pushing past what my body said it could cope with then be in pain for hours or days after. I didn’t like how people would tell me what to do and disregard the fact that my body would be saying otherwise. These days I love to exercise as I stay more with my body than ever before. Even if in a class where we have to follow the teacher I still do my own thing in line with my body and make it look roughly like I am following.

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