Exercise: The Power of Play

For a long time, exercise to me meant punishing myself for eating something I shouldn’t have. It meant being on an elliptical for an hour and a half mindlessly numbing out to the repetitive movements while (ironically) watching the food network on the machine’s built in TV. And it meant obsessively planning in a workout even when my body was screaming for a break.

I never pondered the beauty of simply moving your body – just to celebrate its ability to do so. I never relished in how each step aerobics class I took improved my heart health and I certainly didn’t see activities like yoga, gardening, or even walking as real exercise –because it simply didn’t burn enough calories to be worth it.

When I started raising little babies, I was shockingly brought to reality that my exercise regime had to be modified to accommodate the increasing responsibilities of my growing family. But instead of trying to go easier on myself, I simply became even more obsessed with trying to figure out the exercise could still be my priority.

I distinctly recall one evening: My husband coming home from work at 6pm and me rushing out the door, barely saying hello, to make it in time to attend a 6:15pm body pump class – leaving him with the young children and no plan for dinner.

Something had to change.

When I found my current gym, I was introduced to the idea that moving your body can actually be joyful – that it can be playful and that you can burn massive amounts of calories while also being fully present and having fun at the same time! This was utterly groundbreaking for me! Within a few months, I was doing inversions on gymnastic rings, front and back rolls and learning tricks that I had no idea I was capable of doing.

It was also at that time when I gave yoga another shot and fell in love with it faster than the 2 final contestants on a season of the Bachelor. Except, instead of breaking up 6 months later, this love is here to stay. Yoga, much to my prior unawareness, gave me so much strength and flexibility and appreciation of my body. It brought about calm, empowerment, and yes even joy.

Today, exercise means simply moving my body in ways I never thought possible. It means that a day at the playground with my kids can also mean a work out for me. It means that I can enjoy a hike in a beautiful locale in nature and feel just as content if it’s a short jaunt or a challenging mountain.

Now, when my kids start an impromptu dance party or cartwheel competition in the backyard, I don’t furiously write down the burned output of calories in my food log. And I don’t yell at my fit bit for not accurately indicating the effort. I simply enjoy the moment, and most importantly…

Have fun!

Jenny Berk

Deep Listener. Empathetic. Devoted.

Jenny is the founder and owner of Jenny Eden Coaching – a coaching practice devoted to help men, women, and teens create a more healthy and sustainable relationship with food and their body image. She is an Eating Psychology Coach, a mindful eating instructor and health and wellness blogger. She specializes in kind and gentle weight loss, unique binge eating cessation techniques and mindful eating practices.
Jenny received her Masters from the University of Pennsylvania in Psychological Services from the School of Education and was a Health Educator at Health Management Resources for thirteen years prior to launching her practice. She earned her certificate from the Institute for the Psychology of Eating in 2015 and her MB-Eat certificate in 2016.