The Love-Your-Body Workout

Studio 5 Health & Fitness Contributor, Melanie Douglass, R.D. shares a unique workout to help you LOVE your body… and your workout.

Sometimes we are a little tough on our bodies – we pick on our shape, size, abilities… whatever it is we think is not good enough. Then we take that negativity into a workout, and feel even more frustrated. It’s not productive or motivating, so let’s all stop doing it. Here is a mindset and a workout style that changes all of that… it’s all about LOVE!

Your body is amazing in every possible way. Your heart pumps about 100,000 times every single day; your lungs power over 20,000 breaths, your intricate musculoskeletal system works in perfect harmony to help you move and do the things you need to do… and so much more! That’s just the tip of the iceberg. But your body is working hard for you – every single day. So don’t complain; don’t hate it; and find something positive to say about it – right now.

So first of all, love your body – or find one thing (as a start) to love about your body.

Now, try these 5 tips during your next workout to help you love your body… and your workout. (You can also do this exact workout as a start, then incorporate these features into your own workouts.)

1) Close your eyes and think about how the moves FEEL… not how they look

· Try a squat to a front kick (or side leg raise). First do the move with your eyes open, then close your eyes, take it slow and just feel the movement. Take a deep breath and feel how it’s making you stronger.

2) Do exercises that expand your chest and open your heart, for deeper breathing and a better mind/body connection

· This can be done with any move – for example jumping jacks, instead of the classic up down with the arms, you can do big starburst circles with your arms that open your chest wide and allow you to take a giant deep breath with each and every rep.

· Or try a yoga move; my favorite is a revolved crescent lunge. Lunge your right foot forward and make sure that your right knee is directly over your right ankle so that your right shin is perpendicular to the ground. Balancing on the ball of the left foot, press the left leg straight. Draw your hands together at your heart, twist from the waist and hook the left triceps on the outside of your right thigh, rotating to gaze up over your right shoulder. Make sure to keep your spine long and chest lifted off of our thigh. Keep pressing the palms together. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on other side.

3) Imagine yourself stronger with every rep

· Try this with a simple bicep curl, shoulder press or triceps kickback. With a bicep curl, close your eyes and think about the muscle you are trying to work: your biceps! Make it contract on the way up and on the way down. Imagine that muscle building stronger with every second of the contraction.

4) Add a human connection (friend, kid, parent, spouse)

· You can do this by working out with a positive buddy – the ability to talk through the workout will make the whole experience feel more positive – for both mind and body. If you can’t be in the same room with a positive friend, try calling them before, or after your workout just to tell them that about your positive workout, or why you are working out, or one thing you like about your workout.

· You can also do some fun partner exercises, for example, the partner plank:

· Get down in plank position on hands and toes, about arms length from your partner. Now put your right hand (their left, or inside arms) on their shoulder and hold! You will depend on each other and help each other finish the move. And you can talk positive all along the way… try it!

5) End with a little self-massage

· This is the best part! Find a tennis ball, a foam roller, or a massage stick and take 5 minutes to roll out sore, achy body parts. Take deep, cleansing breathes while you do this and massage any sore spots for 20 – 60 seconds each. It’s not too good to be true – massage is good for your body and your mind! So do it and don’t feel guilty. It helps you end your exercise session on a high note, enhancing the entire workout (even though you may have been fighting every rep earlier).

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