Intuitive Eating Principle 9: Exercise - Feel the Difference


Not only does Intuitive Eating help you to find satisfaction in food/eating it also helps you to find satisfaction in movement again. To move your body in a way that makes you feel good rather than focusing on working out to burn calories or earn food is a way of respecting your body. When you move your body in a way that brings you energy, happiness, or joy you are taking care of your body and mind. There are many forms of exercise and movement and what one person may enjoy may not be something you enjoy and that is okay. Try not to compare yourself to what others are doing; find what works best for you and your own unique body! 

Even though this principle is all about moving your body, not everyone needs to exercise or should feel like they have to. If you have a disordered relationship with food or exercise, it can be helpful to take a break from exercise altogether until your relationship with food and body is in a better place. However, if you are interested in incorporating more joyful movement into your life in a nourishing way, there are a few ways to begin practicing this principle. 


Exercise offers many benefits for the mind and body such as:

  • More energy
  • Improved mood
  • Increased bone strength
  • Improved cardiorespiratory health
  • Better sleep at night
  • Better appetite regulation


One thing that exercise cannot guarantee is weight loss. However, exercise is frequently advertised to promote weight loss from big industries claiming to burn X number of calories in a certain workout or lose X amount of weight after completing a 30-day program. Not only are these workouts and programs most likely unrealistic but they can be unsustainable and perpetuate disordered exercise behaviors. When we exercise with weight loss goals, exercise can feel really punishing. It may feel like something you HAVE to do and not something you WANT to do, which does not lend to sustainable habit building. 

To practice this principle, try making a list of all the activities that you enjoy already, have enjoyed in the past, or that you are interested in trying. There are so many different ways to move our bodies aside from the more common physical activities we see people doing on social media. Some examples include: 

  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Dancing
  • Even cleaning the house!


Once you find movement(s) that you enjoy, it is important to prioritize:

  • Nutrition: adequate nutrition before, after, and sometimes during are key to feeling the difference in exercise. Diet culture often demonizes carbs in the diet, but they are essential, especially when engaging in physical activity. Before exercising, eating an adequate amount of carbs is crucial to provide you with energy throughout your activity. If engaging in longer duration activities, it is important to have carbohydrates to restore your energy. After physical activity, carbohydrates and protein are important to help with muscle recovery and repair.
  • Hydration: proper hydration is important to prevent dehydration and fatigue. During physical activity, we often lose fluids through sweat, so we must replenish them. Although water is great for hydration there are also other water-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables.
  • Rest: being in tune with your hunger/fullness is just as important as being in tune with your body when it needs a break from exercise. Pushing ourselves to exercise when we are already tired, sick, or sore can lead to burnout and even injury. It is important to take rest days and get adequate sleep at night. Resting is a form of body respect and an essential part of a sustainable exercise regime. 
  • Comfort: wear the clothes that you want to and that feel comfortable for you. Wearing clothes that you do not feel comfortable in can make physical activity an unpleasant experience. Along with comfort, be mindful of movement that is painful to reduce the risk of injury or strain. 


Shifting the focus on how exercise feels in your body instead of using exercise as punishment after you ate something “bad” takes time. If your exercise habits have been motivated by weight loss or trying to change your body, it can be challenging to be motivated to move for a different reason. Try to focus on the things you and your body enjoy. There is no right way to get started when moving your body and it is okay if movement that you used to enjoy no longer serves you as enjoyable. When we begin to move our bodies in an enjoyable way, that is when we start to feel the difference with exercise. Click here for more info about our services offered.

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