As an eating disorder dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor, my mission is to help people make peace with food and their bodies.

I do this by using a non-diet approach to health called Intuitive Eating. I truly believe that people can be healthy in any size body. In fact, studies show that people take better care of themselves when they have more positive attitudes towards their bodies.
On a personal note, I love movement, but most of the gyms I have gone to are steeped in “diet-culture” – with the goal of weight loss and calorie-burning, rather than “connecting” with your body. I want to find joy in my movement practice and I want you to be able to do the same. You can read my previous blog where I rant on my experiences rediscovering fitness.
So how can we approach movement in a way that supports our own self-care and helps us fight back against this harmful, diet-culture driven phenomenon?

Exercise to Feel the Difference

Erica Leon, Registered Dietitian - Are you Struggling with Compulsive Exercise?Exercise is the 9th out of 10 principles in intuitive eating. Exercise has so many different connotations in our society. Diet culture and healthism push the narrative that exercise is only valuable if it is used to “earn” our food, or to punish our bodies for eating “too much.” How many people can truly say they enjoy exercise with this kind of language constantly being perpetuated all around us?
Even the word exercise can sound like a painful call to action for many of my clients. To those individuals who may be disconnected from their bodies, the word exercise conjures up images of armies and boot camps, of pain and sweat, of embarrassment to be seen in front of others or in front of the mirrors. In addition, some people use exercise – or OVEREXERCISE- as a way of keeping their bodies smaller and perpetuating disordered eating issues.

So how do we find a way to move our bodies that is pleasurable?

It’s true! Movement can be an embodied, nourishing experience. We can find joy in moving our bodies just for the sake of moving them. Just watch a baby start to crawl, or a young child run and jump through puddles or hang from the monkey bars, and you will see the joy in movement. This is the joy that so many of us are robbed of.

Diet culture is the problem, NOT your Body

We, as a society, need to shift this narrative around movement. You don’t move so you can earn your lunch. You don’t move so you can only burn calories. Exercise can be a way of connecting to ourselves and to others. We can enjoy walking in nature, dancing to music, or swimming in a lake on a hot day. We can stretch our bodies instead of sitting.
In short, the Intuitive Eating Principle of Exercise: Feel the Difference, is an important shift in thinking about our own self-care. I invite you to think about how YOU want to move your body. When someone asks me what the best type of exercise is, I always tell them it’s the one that you will enjoy doing.
Take some time to think and reflect on your own movement and exercise. Are you doing what you enjoy? If not, can you find an alternative that you do enjoy? Movement and exercise are less of a chore when you are doing something that has reason and meaning and feeling behind it. It’s time to make that decision to practice the type of movement you want to do and just get out and move – on your terms and for your reasons.
And if you are working out in a gym, start to listen to the messages you are hearing, or have been missing. Are they ones you want to hear? If not, be sure to speak up – let the gym owners know how you feel and how their messages make you feel. The more we, as a culture of people sticking together as a whole with our own message go back to the gyms, the more we can help create places where people of all sizes can enjoy movement and exercise for all reasons, and not be driven only by the message our culture of diet and weight loss and the perfect body image have been saying. Together we can change the world. One movement at a time!
Do you have a story to share on this? Or maybe want a safe place to vent about your own experiences? If so, please connect with me and my friends on Facebook in the Eat Live Nourish Intuitive Eating & Non-Diet Support group on Facebook. This group is a 100% anti-diet culture, anti-intentional pursuit-of-weight loss, anti-body-shame, anti-restrictive eating. This is your place to be free of diet talk! Join us!

Intuitive Eating Essentials Online Course 

This program is ideal for new intuitive eaters and is built on concepts found in the groundbreaking book, Intuitive Eating and the NEW Intuitive Eating Workbook, by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN.

  • Eat all foods without guilt or judgement!
  • Stop bashing your body!
  • Listen to your body’s true needs & find creative ways to provide them
  • Live your life from a place of self-acceptance & compassion

By working through the Intuitive Eating Essentials program, you will see changes in yourself like:

  • Being able to enjoy all foods with satisfaction, rather than guilt
  • Feeling happier and healthier
  • Recognizing that your worth is not determined by the shape or size of your body — but so much more!

You can learn more here and register right away.
This program offers an alternative to on-one counseling OR a way to get added ongoing support.