By Shannon Hayes Buescher, MS, RD, LD

Exercise, activity, movement—do all three of these words have the same meaning to you? If you have been a dieter, the only word that “counts” is exercise. Activity is something your kids do, and movement doesn’t count unless you are profusely sweating; then it can be called Exercise.

When exercise has been about changing your body, the only thing that counts is whatever burns the most calories and will give you the results that you are seeking. But have you ever considered at what cost this is to you? Our society has made pushing yourself to physical limits the norm of exercise. It’s made dripping with sweat and feeling physically exhausted at the end of a workout the marker of one that “counts.”

What I am asking you is to look at how you exercise and ask yourself, “Am I doing this activity to feel good in my body? Or am I punishing my body for its size, for what I ate yesterday, or to give myself permission to eat?” Shifting your mindset with exercise to enjoyment can change the why. It’s the intention of being mindful with movement. Consider feeling how you feel physically and mentally when you are moving your body.

There are many health benefits with exercise. But when you are only focused on changing your body, you lose sight of what you are doing for your body. Exercise helps to lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. It helps with stress, anxiety, sleep and mood.

When you are moving your body to take care of your body, instead of to punish or change it, you are coming from a kinder place. One that is respecting your body to honor it and focus on the health of it. You allow yourself to listen to how you want to move rather keeping yourself in a box that dictates how you must move.

When you actually like what you are doing, you have a much higher likelihood of staying with it. Sometimes this means you are thinking outside the box of a gym. Look at other things that you can do. Play tennis, jump rope or on a trampoline, go for a walk or run, take a yoga class, or dance to great music. There are so many things that can be fun and that you can look forward to rather than dread.

Your body has so much wisdom inside of it. You should be willing to not just run away from it or drown it out with “just 10 more minutes.” Don’t push yourself to that place of exhaustion. You can’t hear your body there. You hear the wisdom when you are kind, connected, and when you are willing to find peace with your body instead of war. So, move in a way that inspires and allows you to feel grateful for all that your body can do. That alone is worth a dance party!

Shannon Hayes Buescher, MS, RD, LD, has over 15 years of experience working with people to help heal their relationship with food and their body. She is a certified Intuitive Eating Counselor who is passionate in helping people heal from the diet culture. She has a private practice, located in Chesterfield and offers individual or virtual sessions, as well as online Intuitive Eating groups. Visit her website at for more information.