'Listen to Your Body,' Huh?

I was in an exercise class the other day, and the instructor was giving suggestions of different exercise movements to make and said “just listen to your body.”

It isn’t only in exercise classes that you will hear “listen to your body,” you will hear this message floating around by people in the field of, you guessed it - nutrition. “Get good at listening to your body” is one of the biggest takeaway messages to my clients, and it sounds great! And for some reason I feel like many of them are just thinking “Oh of course, this whole time I was busy listening to the birds chirping, starting tomorrow I will just put an ear out for what my body is saying to me” (insert sarcasm).

Listening to your body is like staying in meditation for more than 5 minutes - it is super freakin’ hard. The same way after 2 minutes of following your breath, you’d rather just think about what is for breakfast; finding the patience and desire to really tune into your body can be mildly frustrating and irritating to say the least.

And then comes the real kicker, when you do start to listen, there is NO WAY you want to trust it. How does your body know best? YOU know best. Absolutely no way, nada chance, couldn’t be, that my body is asking for a piece of chocolate at 11:00 am - ain’t going to listen to that.

But the same way that neglecting to take the short daily time for yourself to breathe and relax because you “just don’t have the time” ends up leading to you burnt out, sick, and depleted for months; is how refusing to just have that bite of chocolate you are craving at 11:00 am ends up leading to you bingeing on it at 11:00 pm.

So, what does listening to you body really mean? I will give you some examples:

  • You wake up at 6:00 am to go to your HIIT workout class, but you are EXHAUSTED, like 10/10 still dead to the world and your body is aching and so clearly needs more sleep. BUT you tell your self not be such a wimp and get to the class (that is not listening to your body)

  • You are desperately craving a donut from your favourite donut shop. You walk right past it. This has nothing to do with emotional eating, you just truly are desiring a donut. BUT you tell yourself that donuts aren’t good for you, so you don’t go get one (that is not listening to you body)

It might sound like I’m suggesting that you shouldn’t exercise and that it is a great idea to eat donuts all day everyday - but that is definitely not the case. If you exercise regularly and are often motivated, when your body speaks to you and says “please let me sleep a little more,” it is okay to listen because tomorrow you will likely wake up with way more pep in your step and be ready to hit your workout even harder. And if you are someone who understands the general guidelines around nutrition, and aren’t having donuts for every meal, when your body is really just wanting one, then there is no harm in going for it, cause you will be much less likely to binge on sweets down the road.

By listening to our bodies, we start preventing the pendulum swing. We start preventing the tireless push that eventually lands us feeling so depleted and resentful of our lives. And that is why listening to your body, and TRUSTING what you hear, can be so amazingly useful.

Andrea Zimmering