Intuitive Movement: How to Build a Movement Menu — Registered Dietitian Columbia SC



 The client who made this list had a history of overexercising then burning out and being fairly sedentary (or injured) for periods of time. In fact, a knee injury had sidelined her for a period of time when she first discovered intuitive eating. After doing quite a bit of work around body image and her relationship with food, she wanted to explore what her relationship with movement could look like when she wasn’t engaging in it for the purpose of weight loss.

Through discussion, she was able to identify three big values guiding her movement choices. First, that she really didn’t like that her job was so sedentary, and felt like movement was one way to help her body feel better and more energized after long days of zoom meetings. Second, as someone who lived alone, and whose social life tended to center around alcohol, she wanted to start making plans with friends that involved movement. Lastly, she did care about her health, namely about preventing osteoporosis (which runs in her family, and she was at risk for with a long history of restrictive eating and amenorrhea), and helping her knee injury. She also recognized that work stress was something that affecting her mental health, and wanted to use movement as a tool to help cope with it. As you can see in looking through her menu, most of her “menu items” are centered around these goals.

In making a movement menu, I think it’s helpful to make sure you have a sprinkling of the following:

  • Movements you can do for 5 minutes

  • Gentle movement

  • Structured movement (if that feels safe for you)

  • Movement as part of life (i.e. walking the dog, gardening, etc)

  • Social movement

And while I’m no exercise physiologists, I do know that for general health it’s recommended to do a mixture of cardiovascular, strength and stretching. Please note that a.) it’s OK if you’re not doing formal exercise for one or more of these areas and b.) cardio doesn’t have to be vigorous, strength doesn’t have to be lifting massive weights at the gym and stretching doesn’t have to be super bendy, instagram-ready yoga poses.

After making a movement menu, I find it can be helpful to glance at throughout the day, especially when you’re feeling a little fatigued, antsy, or anxious. That’s not to say that movement will always be the solution or what you “should” choose, but it’s worth having it there as an option. I think visiting your menu throughout the day is a helpful reminder that little bursts of movement are an option, as there’s the tendency to discount movement if we don’t think it’s enough to “count.”

To decide what kind of movement sounds best for you, here’s a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • What sounds enjoyable right now?

  • What do I have time for?

  • Is there a type of movement that might be helpful for me right now?

  • Is there a type of movement I need to prioritize for health reasons, for example physical therapy exercises?

Before making a movement menu, please keep in mind that sometimes the first step to building a healthier relationship with movement is taking a break from it. If reading this feels like too much pressure, that’s OK! This movement menu is designed for people who are ready to bring physical activity back in a more intentional way. If you’re not there yet (or ever) it’s no sweat – literally lol. Movement is a lovely tool, and something that all people deserve access too, but it is not a moral imperative. That said, if movement is something you want to enjoy, I hope this is a helpful tool for you!

If you like this post on how to build a movement menu, follow my Pinterest board on joyful movement.



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