Life as an athlete is hard. Life as an athlete who’s time competing comes to an end is HARDER.
For most athletes, everything you do is to get better at your sport. Every time you step into the weight room or run a mile you usually aren’t just doing it for yourself. You are doing it for your sport and your team.
But, what happens to exercise when you are no longer an athlete that competes? What happens when you aren’t required to lift weights in the early morning hours or practice for hours in the afternoon? No one teaches you how life is supposed to be without your sport. It can take a long time to find the balance your body and mind needs.
Below are some things to explore on your journey to intuitive exercise.
You no longer are forced to do what your team, trainers, or coaches are requiring you to do. Just like intuitive eating, intuitive fitness is all about listening to your body and what best serves it in the moment.
This will take some time to really figure out what you like to do. Take your time to explore the following… What feels good to your body? Is there something you enjoyed as a child that you would like to go back to? What is serving not just your body, but your mind too?
Now, you can start working out whenever you want. You no longer have to train at a specific time in the morning or at night. If you’re body tells you “enough”, you can stop halfway. YOU are the only person that knows how long your body wants/can work out for. When working out on your own, you do not need to push pass that limit. You can now do your workouts on YOUR TERMS, and your terms only.
This will, of course, be a hard adjustment initially. You likely have spent YEARS following the guidance and instructions of others. Our recommendation? Start small. Allow yourself to leave 5 minutes early if you aren’t feeling it. Or, take the opportunity to rest during a set if needed instead of pushing past your limit. Practice flexibility and COMPASSION for yourself and your body.
No longer belonging to a team means you can pick your rest days. Instead of being on a strict schedule and working out when your team is, you are able to ask yourself: “How do I feel today?” and, “Does my body need a rest day?”
The key to intuitive movement is creating trust between you and your body. Over time, this helps build more enthusiasm and sustainability when it comes to exercise in the long-term. Taking rest days might feel wrong at first. However, keep in mind that they are essential for recovery, muscle building, injury prevention, and overall health.
Now you can ask yourself, why am I working out? Is there something I would prefer to be doing more than working out? Am I working out to manipulate the shape of my body or because I like the energy it gives me?
Being a former athlete, the pressure one can feel to fit the “body of an athlete” can be strong. There is often this idea that you NEED to workout to burn the most calories, reach your step goal daily, or push yourself past your limit. However, the main goal of exercise should be NOURISHING and MOVING your body in whatever way feels good for you.
When you shift away from that “win at all costs” mindset, exercise becomes enjoyable. It no longer feels like you are being forced to move and you can finally receive the mental, emotional, and physical benefits and discover joyful movement.
Navigating your way to intuitive exercise is HARD. There is no right or wrong way to get there and you will probably make mistakes along the way.
Think of this time as throwing spaghetti against the wall… what sticks for you and what doesn’t? It will take some trial and error but being able to work out for yourself is a great feeling. Don’t be afraid to try new things and step out of your comfort zone. As always, reach out to the support of a professional if you need extra support. See our services HERE to learn more about how a registered dietitian can help support you in your journey.