Thank you SO MUCH for this! I've been doing a lot of thinking about movement in my own life, because I'm at a lifelong weight peak right now and haven't been leaving my house for basically the whole pandemic. I've been trying to work through the tangled reasons for that (chronic pain, anxiety because pandemic, discomfort with being 'seen' moving through our tiny neighborhood on foot, lack of access to a gym where I would genuinely enjoy movement) and I keep coming across the 'joyful movement' idea.

But getting back into movement is a really daunting concept, knowing what a physical struggle it will be. And embracing the unavoidable pain that comes with any kind of movement is only the first hurdle--I also just can't stand walking where I live. I find it tedious, so I avoid doing it, even though I know I used to enjoy the fresh air when I got outside in the past. Trying to 'find the joy' has left me feeling frozen and unable to move at all, because the joy isn't there.

Accepting that even though I find taking a walk deeply boring, I could just do it anyway as one of life's necessary hassles...hadn't actually occurred to me like this. It is something that will improve my life, even as it requires difficult effort. Thank you again for the reframing.

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Such an important and helpful reframe/expansion of this concept. Thank you!

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Once again, THANK YOU, Ragen.

One really important point is that for many people with chronic conditions, movement of any kind HURTS. Because of lifelong neuromuscular problems (diagnosed only recently), even walking has always been painful for my feet and legs, as well as exhausting. I remember being puzzled by the story of The Little Mermaid when I was 4 or 5 because such a big deal was made of the fact that if she gave up her tail, it would hurt when she walked. I thought everyone's feet and legs just naturally hurt when they walked, because mine always did.

I haven't been able to run or even jog for years; my leg muscles just don't work that way. When I could, it was always extremely painful. When I persisted, I could increase my distance, but it never stopped hurting, even for an instant.

All that said, I regularly walk 4 miles a day, using walking poles, and resting every 15 minutes or so to let my feet and legs recover a bit. I walk because I love being outside, I'm lucky enough to live very near a forest with miles of trails and walking there is extremely important for my mood, and walking is also very important for controlling my blood glucose and improving my heart function (I have a whole slew of chronic illnesses to manage). But while I enjoy my walks, I do not enjoy walking. Walking hurts. Every now and then--maybe once or twice a year-- I will have a glorious day when for at least an hour or so it does NOT hurt, and that gives me just a glimpse of what most people's normal experience is. But usually, walking hurts, and so do all other forms of exercise I've ever tried.

So for me, the "find some form of movement that you find joyful" or "you'll love the way exercise makes you feel" and all those kinds of slogans were really just slaps in the face. Exercise NEVER feels good to me. I NEVER feel more energetic afterwards. It ALWAYS hurts. It is worth doing for all the benefits it brings, but for me the trade off for those benefits is continuous pain. I'm quite sure there are many other people like me.

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Thank you, when I was introduced to the idea of joyful movement it was liberating for me—and I’ll confess I didn’t stop to think it might not feel that way for others.

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