Here’s an important but difficult truth to accept: caring for your body doesn’t have to be boring, and it certainly doesn’t have to be painful. It’s time to unlearn all the toxic beliefs that have been fed to you by diet and wellness culture and build a body care practice that’s kind, personalized, and dare I say it, even fun.
Here are 10 ways to start rethinking and reinventing your fitness routine.
1 / 10
Move your body in pursuit of pleasure, not punishment
Physical activity doesn't need to be done in pursuit of a weight or fitness goal. Moving your body can be as simple and joyful as dancing in the kitchen while you wait for the pasta water to boil, or taking the extra-long, more scenic route home from work. Pay attention to the way your mind and body feel when you're doing something active. Maybe you feel miserable after a 20-minute sprint on the treadmill but rejuvenated after a leisurely hour-long walk around your neighbourhood. Notice when an activity makes you happy and find ways to incorporate it into your regular routine.
2 / 10
Try some hands-on hobbies
Make a list of all the hobbies you're interested in trying and keep it on hand for days when your restless energy is at its peak. And don't limit yourself to sports or exercises! Learning a tactile, creative skill like pottery or embroidery can be just as engaging and rewarding as any fitness class. If money is tight, ask a friend to teach you their favourite hobby (bonus: extra one-on-one time) or seek out less expensive classes at your local community centre.
3 / 10
Eat food you actually like
You don't need to eat a Marvel diet (i.e., boiled chicken and rice) to feel good about your body! Seek out dishes that you genuinely enjoy the taste of and, more importantly, have the time and energy to make. Write your tried-and-true recipes down in a book or on cue cards, or use an app like Notion to help you track and plan your meals. If you find cooking overwhelming, snack plates like charcuterie spreads or hummus and veggies can be just as satisfying as a complex batch cook. Keep your favourite ingredients on hand so you can throw a nourishing meal together with minimal stress.
4 / 10
Make time for a skincare routine
Bookending your day with a soothing skincare routine is a wonderful way to care for your body. Plus, self-touch (such as a facial massage with a gua sha or jade roller) releases muscle tension and may even be beneficial for your mental health. Cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen are the foundation of any good skincare routine, but you can kick things up a notch by seeking out products that you love because of the way they smell or the way they make your skin feel. Whether your routine is minimalist or ultra-luxurious, be sure to set aside some time to show your skin a little TLC.
5 / 10
Create a sleep schedule you can stick to
Sleep is just as crucial as diet and exercise when it comes to your health. But just as no two people are exactly alike, no two sleep schedules should be either. Not an early riser? That's OK! Knowing and honouring your body's unique rhythms is the best way to build a sleep routine that works for you. If you're a night owl, evening might be a better time to flex your creative muscles than early morning. Plus, low-stress and screen-free activities like painting, journaling and reading are great ways to relax your brain and ready it for sleep.
6 / 10
Explore your city on your own two feet (or two wheels)
Playing tourist in your own city is a gentle, everyday way to move your body. Maybe there's a cafe or shop you want to check out, or maybe you've never explored that park a few blocks away. Seeking out new places to visit and things to try will not only give you an excuse to go for a walk or bike ride, but also give you a whole new appreciation for the place you call home. If you're out of ideas, try going on a colour walk. This calming and somewhat whimsical pastime involves choosing a colour and letting it guide you through the world. You never know where it might take you!
7 / 10
Practice mindfulness in a way that works for you
You don't need to be skilled at (or even like) meditation to practice mindfulness. Noticing how different emotions feel in your body, focusing on your breath, practicing active listening — these are all equally valid ways to be more mindful. Mental health benefits aside, fostering a stronger connection between your mind, your body and the world around you may even lower your blood pressure and improve chronic pain and gastrointestinal issues.
You may also like: Why we’re obsessing over mind gardening.
8 / 10
Choose an accountability buddy
If you're struggling to keep yourself fed, watered and cared for (we all do sometimes!), ask a friend, partner or co-worker to help keep you on track, and offer to do the same for them. Plan regular check-ins or choose an activity to do together on a regular basis. Learning a new skill or exercise is much less intimidating with a friend by your side.
9 / 10
Develop a healthcare support network
If you have health benefits, use 'em! Seek out practitioners like massage therapists, physiotherapists and nutritionists who can help you care for your body in a holistic way. Finding healthcare professionals who you like and trust can be a process, so ask friends for recommendations or scour your city's subreddit to get honest opinions.
You may also like: How to stop feeling guilty for taking time off of work.
10 / 10
Be kind to your mind and your body will follow
Negative self-talk can be an incredibly hard habit to curb, but being kind to yourself isn't just good for your self-esteem — it can also decrease your blood pressure and cortisol. Investing in your interests and setting aside dedicated, quality alone time is a great way to show self-compassion. Get to know yourself the way you would a new friend by taking yourself out on solo adventures or asking questions that get to the heart of what matters most to you (a great one to start with is, "What does my ideal day look like?"). Treat your mind well and your body will thank you.
You may also like: How I connected with my family’s Jewish past to find community.