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Creating a Buffet of Movement©

by Rochelle Rice

This information can be used by the health professional to discuss with a patient/client as well as for the person desiring to lead an active lifestyle that is NOT about going to the gym.

Running, jumping, skipping and laughing…all activities you may have done as a child. But as you got serious in adulthood or mobility became an issue, these activities may have been pushed aside. A variety of movement is essential to maintaining an active lifestyle and sustaining healthy numbers such as “A1c” for blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. You may find yourself getting stuck in a movement rut or challenged with beginning a movement program. All movement counts! Creating a Buffet of Movement© is in alignment with the HAES® Principle of Life-Enhancing Movement – physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.

  1. Choose movement versus exercise. Shift your paradigm to movement in order to embrace all that is around you. The word “exercise” seems to conjure up a “pay your dues” mentality and may not necessarilyhave a pleasant feeling associated with it. The word “movement” creates possibilities. It opens up more choices and options. You are always moving your body. Many of us disconnect completely from movement and use it only as an option to get from one location to another or toaccomplish an activity. You may have a thousand things on your mind you are trying to check off your “To Do” list. By connecting and being present to your activity, you can monitor breath, actively decrease stress, improve the efficiency of the movement by as much as 50% and make a solid body-mind connection forlong term health. From the moment we wake up until the time we go to sleep, we are moving. Roll out of bed (abdominals/core), make your way to the bathroom (lower body), sit on the toilet (legs and buttocks), coffee cup to mouth (biceps). Walking (mimics the treadmill), climbing stairs in your home or to access public transportation (makes like a StairMaster), carrying children or groceries (simulates kettlebell exercises), or even sitting down and standing up (involves modified squats) are all examples of traditional exercise. Become more conscious of the movement you are already doing on a daily basis and allow that information to set a solid foundation from which you can grow. Too many times we are being told we are not doing “enough” when the key is to recognize what we are ALREADY doing.The question now becomes: What type of movement does your body want to do today? Let it come from your body and not from your head. The movement should be pleasurable and remember – all movement counts!
  2. Identify activities that are fun! Try to create individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss. Make a list of all the activities you enjoyed as a child. Don’t be shy! Let your stream of consciousness flow with the joy of movement from childhood! Remember how those activities made you feel in your body – light, free, fun, joyful, exhilarated. Notice where you feel that sensation in your body and let that sensation be your driving force for movement.Movement offers many unseen benefits that will keep you engaged for a lifetime. The benefits include:
    – An increase in self-esteem and self-confidence based on the muscle use and connection to breath.
    – An increase in mobility and ability to move through space easier based on physical self-awareness.
    – A pleasurable experience associated with moving your body.   Two things to keep in mind while you are trying to move:
    Breathe. Easy to say, not so easy to master. If you feel challenged, focus on your exhale to get you started. Try inhaling through the nose and allow the abdomen to rise. As you exhale through the mouth, allow the abdominal muscles to draw up and in – navel to the spine. This is not a size issue but rather understanding diaphragmatic breathing and the natural rise and fall of the abdomen with breath (watch someone sleeping and see what happens to their abdomen on the inhale and exhale).
    Feet to the earth. Try and bring your awareness to your feet and the connection to the earth. Energetically connecting to the earth feels different than the feeling of tired feet. “My relationship to the earth is steady” is a nice mantra to repeat to yourself.
  3. List your ABCs. To invite possibilities, be sure to create this powerful list! Start with the letter A, and make a list of all the activities that come to mind that start with that letter. Continue all the way through the alphabet. For example, A: aerobics, archery, B: ballet, bowling, and so on. If you have children or a spouse/partner, then get them involved as well. Be creative and have fun with the list. Nothing isoff limits. To learn how todo the movement, try local recreation centers, DVDs and even YouTube. You certainly do not need to spend a lot of money to get started.If a disabling condition means not doing an activity that was once a pleasurable part of your life, or if you want to expand your repertoire of movement to accommodate different abilities, you may wish to seek out a Recreation Therapist who can identify adaptive equipment and alternative movements. Recreation Therapists are specialists that can be found on a variety of websites and they perform leisure assessments and adaptive consultations for just this reason.Post your list in a prominent place so you can use it frequently and wisely. Tune in to your body and listen. Do you need stretch, strength or cardio activity? Do you need to be indoors or outdoors? Do you need fast or slow movement?   Choose wisely and over time this process will become not only easier, but a powerful foundation of the success of an active lifestyle.Be sure to adjust your movement to match seasons as well. This will resonate well with your body depending on what types of movement you enjoy. For example, if you live in a four season region, you may try swimming/water sports in the summer, hiking in the fall, cross country skiing in the winter, and yoga in the spring. If you live in a two season or one season region, adjust the activity to be outdoors on the cooler part of the day and indoors when it gets too hot or humid.Most importantly, have fun and enjoy! As your body gets stronger and more flexible, it will continue to adapt to a number of different activities. Embrace the movement! You are certain to enjoy a lifetime of activity as you continue to create and expand your Buffet of Movement©.


Rochelle Rice is a nationally recognized speaker, author and educator for the plus-size population. She is the author of Real Fitness for Real Women and The Overweight Client: Size-Sensitive Training, Programs and Environments. She earned her Master’s degree at NYU specializing in her Plus-Size Exercise Program. Rochelle is a member of IDEA, BEDA, and ASDAH. She is the creator of the Size Sensitivity Certification program for fitness trainers and has worked passionately with the plus population since 1995. She believes no one should be discriminated against when it comes to movement. For more information:, 212.689.4558.

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