THE BLOG

Stop Working Out and Do This Instead

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In college I used to drag myself across campus at 5:30 p.m. in the cold wearing my sweat pants, boots, and a giant coat to the women's gym to burn off the calories I had consumed during the day. The women's gym was a poorly-lit, badly-ventilated hallway inside the recreation center where six ellipticals, four treadmills, and three bikes were lined up in a row with just enough room spaced in between, so you would just scarcely brush elbows with the person working out next to you as you pushed through your workout.

Nothing about this was a good time. In fact, everyone there looked unhappy and depressed. This was because we were all there for the same purpose, punishment.

Punishment for snacking too much, for not being skinny enough, for partying too much the night before. It was the price we paid for excess and an essential evil.

After college I lived in NYC, and it was more of the same routine except I got to run in an upscale fitness center. Then one day, I worked up enough courage to try a hip-hop dance class my gym offered. I avoided them for so many years because I was sure that people were going to look at me and wonder, "Who does that awkward fat girl think she is?"

But in the class I felt like myself. I was so taken away by the movement of the dance that my fear of being judged disappeared. The class flew by and after I felt ah-mazing! Not that old feeling of "you could have tried harder, you could have burned so many more calories" I used to have.

I never stepped onto another elliptical or treadmill ever again after that day. For real.

I stopped working out, and I started moving my body.

I was working out to punish myself for everything in order to look "perfect." And it never worked. I just ended up feeling fat, depressed and like a total failure.

When I started my hip-hop class and moving my body I did it because it was FUN and EXCITING. And I FELT fantastic. After just ONE workout I felt flexible, bouncy, invigorated and sexy. And because of that, I wanted to go back all the time, as a result my body was stronger and healthier than it was when I was going through a punishing workout every day.

Now, even when we find a way of moving our body we love, it can be hard to make the time to do it everyday. For me, it is so easy to persuade myself that I have too much work, I should spend more time with Marshall, I'm too tired, I have company -- I'll just go when they leave, I just don't feel like it -- I'll go when I feel up to it.

Today, like a lot of days, moving my body seems intolerable. I have so much work to do, my nanny has to leave early, Jonathan is working late and my mother and sister-in-law are visiting.

There are so many reasons not to go, and one vital reason to go.

There was an extended period of time after I had Marshall when I just stopped moving my body. And although I didn't see the relation, I started to feel really depressed. I was getting easily overwhelmed, I felt less connected with Marshall and I just wasn't happy.

People in my life started to notice the change, and suggested nicely that I start moving my body. Of course my inner 13-year-old came out and threw a fit, "ARE YOU CALLING ME FAT?! OH HELL NO!"

But I collected myself, and looked into what I really needed. I knew deep down that moving my body was going to help me feel alive again, so I committed to just going to one yoga class. This small goal was the first step, because when I make big extensive ones like, "I am going to move my body four days a week... forever," then I easily slip up.

Even going once can feel overwhelming with a company to run and a baby to take care of. And then I remembered... we have to be so dedicated to taking care of our body that we are willing to move earth to make it happen.

I had to cancel some meetings, extend some deadlines and ask my nanny to stay late. All things I hate doing. I felt guilty, and lazy, but as soon as I sat down on my yoga mat, I started to cry.

My body was taken over with thankfulness that I was back; that I remembered to take care of her. It was the return I needed. I felt a little stiff during class, and it was hard for me to not go into opinions about how I didn't look like the elegant woman next to me who probably practiced multiple times a day for the past ten years, but I just kept bringing it back to be about me and my body.

At the end of class I felt like a new person. I felt relaxed, grounded and happy.

You see, when I was making myself workout to lose weight, I missed the amazing feeling after. It was also so simple to put it off because in the end of things, one workout did not do much to move the numbers on my weight loss. It was easy to just let it go till tomorrow.

But when I understood that I needed to move my body to feel amazing today, it was so inspiring, and above all else it became significant. More important than my work, than my exhaustion, than spending an extra hour with Marshall. Moving my body is what helps me to be a good mother, a good coach, and a good wife.

Today think about WHY you want to move your body. Is it to better your mood? To feel crafty? To feel alive? To help your achy body? To have a good time? Please tell us in the comments below.

And promise me that you'll stop working out and start moving your body. Click here to check out my free online workshop to help you get out of Body Jail. A non-diet approach to Live More, Weigh Less and Feel Amazing In Your Body NOW.

Love,

Sarah