Shock! I Achieved a High Level of Fitness with Gentle Exercise!

by Dr Rachael Hall

From the age of 9 to 17, I practised Judo twice a week, I learnt discipline, dedication, how to be able to do over 100 press ups, sit ups or squats, I learnt to channel my aggression (not deal with it), throw people, pin them down or stranglehold them until they either submitted or passed out. I loved it. The school bullies who used to pick on me for being small or too clever soon stopped hassling me when they found out I did martial arts. It gave me protection. It made me tough. I wielded it as a weapon and as my source of defence.

At 17 during a practice fight I simply paused for a moment to take a breath and in that moment I felt that this isn’t fun, it really hurts to be pushed around, kicked and thrown by another and it frightens me that I am doing this in return. Now that all happened in a split second and I didn’t really know at the time where the words or message came from. I continued with my ‘sport’ for a short period after this but each time the overwhelming feeling of “I can’t do this anymore” and the awareness of the pain I was pushing my body through became stronger until I had to eventually admit that Judo wasn’t for me anymore. My body was telling me to stop even though in my mind Judo made me fit and strong and protected. I wonder how long my body had been trying to say, ‘hey you’re hurting me’, before I actually listened and took notice.

This wasn’t the end of sport for me however; during my time at University I gained considerable weight so in an effort to get fit I took up running. Initially I hated it, I used to cry, I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I was going to die! Then one day I ran without effort, it was so easy and I was hooked. From there I went on to run 10k’s, half marathons and took up Triathlon and sessions at the gym lifting exceedingly heavy weights – proud that I could leg press four times my body weight and keep up with the men. The fitter and slimmer I became the further I wanted to push my body. I used to do events where I’d swim in lakes and rivers in the UK with water temperatures of 16 deg C and NO wetsuit. As my body hit the cold water I felt like I was going to have a heart attack! I told myself I was doing this for fun – not very intelligent considering I had two degrees in the medical field.

I competed in Triathlons for ten years training 10-15 hours a week whether I felt like it or not; even when I was exhausted, had the flu or was injured, I would still train or compete, it was like an addiction. I was slim and fit and could eat huge amounts of food without getting fat. Then aged 32 I started to notice that when I went for my training runs I couldn’t get into it: if truth be told, I kept stopping and starting, couldn’t find a rhythm but pushed on regardless. I found the same happening when I was cycling or during swim sessions. This went on for a few months until one morning five minutes into a run I pulled up with a voice in my head saying ‘I hate this and I don’t want to do it anymore’. I simply turned around, walked home, took off my running shoes and that was the end of my Triathlon days.

Looking back my body was communicating with me, sending me numerous signals telling me exercising so hard wasn’t working but I chose to override that by telling myself how good it was for me, that it was keeping me fit and that I enjoyed it. But in reality I was actually using exercise and sport as a form of self-abuse and punishment and by training so hard I was able to numb myself from feeling and used it as an excuse to eat as much carbohydrate as I could muster.

These realisations came to me years before I had attended any of Serge Benhayon’s presentations; I simply thought that exercise didn’t work for me so I had stopped exercising completely. But what Serge presented was that we need to look after our body, the way that you are with it, what you eat and how you exercise. That it is important to keep it fit but at the same time to listen to your body (I wish I had been a bit smarter at that) and that it is possible to achieve a high level of fitness with gentle exercise alone like walking and swimming for example. Never have I heard Serge tell anyone not to exercise, in fact the truth is quite the opposite.

I felt great resistance to exercising again, but started by going for gentle walks and doing light weight training, taking care not to push too hard, stopping when I felt to and not having any expectations of how far or long I would walk or how many reps in my weight sessions I would do. If it no longer felt gentle or I was getting out of breath, then I said ‘that’s enough, no more for today’, which was a massive shift from the ‘no pain no gain’ mentality I had previously entertained. I now walk most days for up to an hour at a brisk pace, weight train 2-3 times a week, swim now and again and feel really healthy, fit and strong. It’s great to have found a way to exercise in a more respectful and caring way for my body which no longer screams at me that this is not fun or it hurts, but instead shouts with joy that this feels wonderful.

99 thoughts on “Shock! I Achieved a High Level of Fitness with Gentle Exercise!

  1. Dr Rachael, despite me not participating in the triathlons, I did some ridiculous things with my fitness too. Wrapping my face/mouth with a scarf so I wouldn’t breathe in the icy cold winter air so I could run, wear layers of clothing or even jog with a hangover.

    So it isn’t surprising that the body signals became louder and louder. And so it eventually stops you somewhere, some how along the way. Serge Benhayon did not advise me of this either, my body did.

    The body isn’t designed to do high impact or work outs in extreme conditions. It needs nurturing and love along the way. I am yet to get back into a rhythm of exercising as I’m recovering from back stop moment.

    But the body certainly needs to be kept supple and fit and there’s plenty of exercises that can be performed without impacting it. We can always commence with doing a gentle walk and reconnect with the body.

  2. I too have a background of lots of sports and competition and training many hours per week and thus pushing the body beyond its natural levels and limits. And so it has been and still can be a process to break this habit when I am doing exercise these days – I can still catch myself thinking: ‘oh just another 5 more goes’ even though the body is saying enough is enough. So I can say it is a work in progress and the more I learn to honour what the body feels, the more inspired I feel from how great I feel overall.

    1. I agree it is a work in progress. It is undoing what we have done to the body. But it is a thought fitness too. Listening to the thoughts and observing what is loving and what is unloving too. Now that’s another type of fitness we’re seldom taught…

  3. There is such a strong ‘no pain no gain’ attitude out there for so many things – be this sports, massage or even studies…but if pain is the way the body communicates to us that something is wrong or being damaged, then it makes sense to respect this and do things in a way that allows the body to benefit and get strong without the pain itself. No pain no gain is a myth that needs to be busted.

  4. Wow – this is really an honest revelation and I wonder how many others of us who have exercised as hard as we have, can say this too with honesty: “But in reality I was actually using exercise and sport as a form of self-abuse and punishment and by training so hard I was able to numb myself from feeling and used it as an excuse to eat as much carbohydrate as I could muster.”

  5. My approach used to be all or nothing, with more of the ‘nothing’ part for years. These days it’s little and often which works for me and feels supportive.

  6. I suspect exercise addiction, in part to numb ourselves, is big, ‘ I was actually using exercise and sport as a form of self-abuse and punishment and by training so hard I was able to numb myself from feeling and used it as an excuse to eat as much carbohydrate as I could muster.’

  7. The ‘go hard or go home’ and ‘no pain, no gain’ mentalities I’m sure puts many people off exercise. Pushing ourselves to a point that the body feels like it has to go through a recovery from the level of abuse it experiences as a result of exercising doesn’t make sense. What does make sense is listening to our bodies and taking gentle care when exercising.

  8. It’s really interesting it is not that we don’t know what our body is communicating, we do know all along but ignore and go against it anyway, to follow the mind’s lead instead only to go afterwards ‘I knew it’.

  9. Our body is a wonderful communicator, our brain is an interesting translator! There is something else at play when we hear and feel our body and choose to ignore the message.

  10. There is a way we can exercise which takes the body into consideration and is not about effectively beating and controlling it to achieve an external result. And best of all our bodies enjoy it.

    1. Yesterday I took part in some different forms of gentle exercise, and I ended up feeling so much more alive and wonderful, ‘ It’s great to have found a way to exercise in a more respectful and caring way for my body which no longer screams at me that this is not fun or it hurts, but instead shouts with joy that this feels wonderful.’

  11. I was brought up with the ‘no pain no gain’ attitude to fitness, and for several years believed this to be true, until I came across Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine where I was introduced to feeling the body first, and that changed everything for me, because the awareness of my body has deepened and I no longer constantly resist what my body tells me.

  12. It is very interesting that we have so many pictures in our head e.g. like how our body should look like or how our way if living should be. With following this pictures we stopped to feel what is really the next step to do. Therefore I love what you have shared Rachel – the moments in your life when you have listened to your soul. When we are true to ourselves most of us have had such moments as well but did we really appreciate it?

  13. The no pain no gain concept is a horrid ideal to base exercising our body upon – for if we are being honest and really stopped and considered it it so does not make sense why would we ever intentionally want to inflict pain upon our own body.

  14. From ‘no pain, no gain’ to gentle exercise – such an amazing shift this is. We are so used to being goal-oriented and pushing ourselves beyond our comfort is often regarded as almost heroic. Very interesting how we champion disregard over self-love.

  15. What a huge turnaround Rachel, I can feel you shouting for joy now as you exercise, and it’s shows that it doesn’t have to be a chore. I’m now exploring exercise anew, simply walking on a treadmill daily and I’m enjoying the simplicity of it, and learning that this supports my body and I love the space of it. It’s a huge change from before when I’d start exercise and just hate it and give up, but what I’m learning now is that it’s an opportunity for me to be with and feel my body and how I am each day.

  16. Rachel it may have taken you many years to listen to your body but when you did that was it…. awesome to read of how you stopped abusing your body. From such a young age we are told to push through and just do it when we don’t feel to… and I’m not talking about cleaning! I disliked running ginormously but thought it was something I needed to be able to do, I remember either feeling like crying or crying in primary school after every long distance run. Like when I started working and I made myself swallow coffee, I hated it, and would even hold my nose to do it until I made myself like it! Crazy isn’t it? Imagine if there was someone standing there, or ourselves, saying ‘you don’t need to do that’ or ‘why are you doing that’, ‘what would your body like to do?’ it would be a whole different story.

  17. So interesting – what does it take for us to wake up and realise that what we are doing, and may have invested so much of our effort into, is not working for us or even damaging? I’ve been there, I’ve kept going for a year or so more after the realisation… and then felt bad when I gave it up. And yet it was the healthiest decision I ever made!

    1. There is a ‘digging your heels in moment’ (or it can be days, months, weeks or years) where you don’t want to give up if you have invested so much time, money or resources into something. You try to make it work so you don’t have to feel the pain of all that wasted focus and, let’s be honest, life force. No wonder we have an issue with exhaustion.

      1. Well said Lucy – the investments are exhausting to admit to, investments in things that do not work, but as you said it is the arrogance of not wanting to admit that it does not work that keeps us continuing down the same track trying to prove that this is not the case – how exhausting is this?!

  18. Pretty awesome to have listened to yourself, albeit eventually, that you simply do not enjoy running your body into the ground. I can think of many times where I have convinced myself with the power of my mind that I enjoy something that my body was telling me I very clearly don’t. I used to believe my mind was my greatest asset, that I could do anything with it. I no longer believe that and have a much greater appreciation for my body’s intelligence as it doesn’t have the ability to manipulate me the way my thoughts can.

  19. We can watch others pushing and driving themselves at sport and fitness regimes and know it is not good for them but how often do we stop and really feel how we are treating our own body?

  20. We’re so conditioned to thinking that ‘no pain no gain’ is the way to do exercise, that the very idea of exercising gently can seem totally pointless to start with. But this is the mind’s view, and not the body’s. When we exercise in a way that gently moves the body and raises the heartbeat, the body loves it, and we build strength and vitality in a way that supports and nourishes us.

  21. I had a similar experience Rachel, of training for a marathon and then just realising how exhausted my body was and just feeling like I couldn’t push it anymore. My body just said a loud ‘no, we’re not doing this anymore’ and that was that. It’s taken a while to change my relationship with exercise to one where I really listen, and see it as a way to reconnect, instead of the total opposite of using it to check out and not feel anything.

  22. ‘No pain no gain’ is indeed something I know too and I know I am not the only one. In a way it I see it as a tendency in our societies that we are learned that ‘pain and gain’ is needed to learn and grow. But I do now know that this is not true to me as it is not natural to the body that we in fact do hurt through this mentality and in that hurt is diminished in its tenderness and delicateness that actually is bringing a natural grow and learning.

  23. Holy moly! What a punishing regime that was, and what a turn-around. But we’ve all done our own versions of self-abuse. Same ice cream, different flavour.

  24. It’s amazing when what motivate us is not of love and our movement is coming from a place other than true love, it is just going to work against us as we are likely to be compromising what our body is communicating. When we move from and with love, there’s nothing to strive for and achieve, other than to keep confirming and magnifying the harmony and the joy our body holds, and that offers a totally different experience.

  25. Looking back I can see my body was communicating with me about how I was exercising, shin splints from running and other signs, but I overrode this thinking exercise was good, and the more, and the harder, the better. I have finally learnt my lesson, that my body is a wise and loving friend who I choose to listen to and honour.

  26. Listening to and honouring our bodies is a big step in starting to truly honour, respect and love ourselves.

    1. Sure Lorraine, it all starts with the honoring of our body, the temple of God we live in and from that we will never be able to bring hurt to it anymore. Living in honor of this will surprised us in showing us in how many aspects and levels of our lives we have overridden that divine delicateness we are living inside.

  27. Thanks Rachel, this has been great to read. I was never into sport or lasted long at any form of strenuous exercise, however I was not aware of how gentle exercise can support the body to be so fit and vital. I realised when reading how I still have outcomes based on my walks – it feels like there is an underlying belief that it’s all about how far I can go instead of the joy of simply being gentle, and being with and listening to my body. I’m not sure when the concepts of pushing and exercise came together but pushing is really not necessary or healthy. It makes sense to be gentle, pushing would no doubt cause damage and strain especially with the body communicating the opposite.

  28. The ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality never really works for anybody; I know I adopted this stance and ended up feeling exhausted and burnt out by exercise. What you share Rachel is very true and many would feel it’s impossible to be fit with gentle exercise but in fact it is possible and you are a shining example of someone who has loads of stamina and energy for their life without the push or drive of strenuous exercise.

  29. Very inspiring Rachel. The way you describe your experience allows me to feel what you are expressing really clearly – so much so it feels like i have a marker, a reference point in my own body as a result.

  30. I find it interesting what we go out to do to protect us from our hurts. The fear of being bullied, raped, drowning etc can influence us greatly to take up activities which we think in our minds support us yet they actually abuse the body. I learned to swim when I was a child to protect me because I was afraid of drowning if ever I got myself in a situation in water. I pushed myself and competed in gala’s and while I’m not saying that we should not learn to swim, learning to swim in my case and I feel in most cases was purely based on survival. Today I am learnIng to swim all over again but this time in connection to my body and not from any ideal or belief that is outside of me.

  31. I too “achieve a high level of fitness with gentle exercise alone like walking and swimming for example.” There is such a difference. One is training from the mind and you react and follow from there, while the other listens to the body honouring the gentle movement and detail of staying connected. As Rachel expresses “If it no longer felt gentle or I was getting out of breath, then I said ‘that’s enough, no more for today’, which was a massive shift from the ‘no pain no gain’ mentality I had previously entertained.” This gentle way motivates you to exercise not like the push that is always there in the otherwise ‘accepted’ way of exercising.

    1. No wonder so many people feel they have to push themselves to initiate exercise, deep down we may not like this approach of “no pain, no gain”, and the militant, hard way we are with ourselves. I’ve also noticed there can be put downs like “don’t be a wuss” associated with coercing people to push themselves harder in exercise. That just feels like another form of abuse, to a body that already would feel abused from the pushing. Gently exercising in connection to oneself and respect of the body is much more inviting!

  32. I love what you share here Rachel regarding your experience of judo for it is true, such fighting is merely a distraction to channel our aggression so we don’t have to deal with the underlying reason of why we are aggressive in the first place.

  33. The intention as to the reason for exercising is super important. We can either exercise to make us feel better by relieving us of our emotions which is always temporary or we can exercise because of purpose e.g. to look after our bodies so that we may serve also knowing we are taking care of our body for the future.

  34. I can relate to your resistance to start exercising again, Rachel, it is very interesting that we feel more comfortable to push our bodies for an greater ideal but when it comes to truly supporting it, it takes real commitment to do so.

    1. Thank you for saying that Judith. It’s really helped me to understand why I struggle to commit to regular exercise.

      1. Yes Lucy, for me it has become a marker of where I am at and how much I truly care for myself, my body and of course looking at the greater picture, how much I care for humanity.

  35. Wow, that is enormous what you did with your body over so many years, and all your body did was work with it and send you messages all along that this was not at all in line with its natural flow. Until one day you listened and let yourself be guided by your body’s natural rhythm. We make life sooo much harder than it is/needs to be.

  36. ‘My body was telling me to stop even though in my mind Judo made me fit and strong and protected. I wonder how long my body had been trying to say, ‘hey you’re hurting me’, before I actually listened and took notice.’ Our minds are not in anyway caring for our body and Iistening to our body comes when we connect to our inner heart and feel what is truly going on when we expose the body to pushing and fighting, how abusive this is.

  37. My body really loves doing the gentle exercises as it presents a warm feeling from deep within. When I compare this feeling with when I was training hard and pushed myself to achieve any target in the past, the feeling was more of an excitement in my body that I used to make me feel good and worth but it never sustained and I always had to repeat and improve my targets over and over.

  38. It is so gorgeous to know that our bodies are always communicating with us, sending us gentle reminders of what is supporting us or not until we are ready to listen…. and rewarding us so profoundly when we do.

  39. What actually does ‘being fit’ mean to us? For me it looks like what we call ‘fit’ is in fact a way to numb ourselves, but in a ‘good’ functional way. True fitness should be that I am aware of my body’s feelings and that I honour this. True fitness would mean to me that I am fit for life in any way – not just with my muscle functions. Being able to do anything I like to do does not make me fit. True fitness means to me to know what is needed to be done for the best for all and be able to do so – that my body is able to express the love that is needed for the world right now.

  40. This is similar to how it was for me Rachael – I’m amazed that even though we push ourselves there comes a point for many where we just stop in our tracks and give it up because we feel that it’s not worth it. But as you say the body has been telling us for quite some time up until that point that it’s too rough. If I look around these days I would say that we are not going in the right direction since everyone seems to be increasing the drive to make the body perform, lift more, do more. Men have been doing it for years and years – that is no secret but the women have not been as driven as they are today (in my opinion anyways). Many women are now way more physically strong and fit than many men and to me it doesn’t seem natural nor very loving to their bodies. And that is not saying that the way men are pushing their bodies are any better. The body can tell us what is best for it if we only listen to it. By pushing it we hush it from what it is telling us. And better to stop than having to be stopped by an injury or worse.

  41. It’s so interesting that you had these stop moments and actually listened to them Rachel. There comes a point when we cannot ignore how we are feeling and have to express and honour that.

  42. Learning to listen to my body and feeling the effect that every movement I make has on how I feel is fun and the more attention I pay to the messages from my body the clearer they are. Thank you Serge Benhayon for walking with me and showing me the way.

  43. Thank you Rachel, my judo days are also far behind me along with many other sporting endeavors, which I felt would carry me into old age. Thanks to the presentations of Serge Benhayon and Danielle Pirera I now exercise with lightweights and also walk daily, which is a fitness level that brings a joy to all I do. The simplicity of being with my body as I do these routines makes all the difference to the feelings I continue to experience, which is a vitality and strength that has become part of my Livingness!

  44. Because our bodies can tell us exactly what it needs to be healthy and fit. There is no need to have an exception on the time, reps and weight that will be done during any training session.

    I have found this extremely fun and makes me want to go back to the gym oppose to forcing myself out of exception.

  45. Its quite shocking how we compartmentalize our life to justify one action with another. Doing lots of exercise to be able to eat as much carbohydrates as you wanted is just covering one abuse with another, but this is a mainstream approach of people to sport. I eat what I want and then I do exercise to counter this. Through Universal Medicine I learned to live from true harmony and in sync with my body, so everything is supportive for my body and I don’t need extreme activities to counter other extreme activities. For me this is true self-care, living to evolve with the body as our marker of truth.

  46. Rachel that is an amazing blog that clearly shows how abusive sport and exercise can be if it is not done in harmony with our bodies. I was the absolute opposite I didn’t do any sports as I always felt that it was painful and I didn’t like it. But this was abusive too as I was lacking core body strength and my vitality was low. Today I do gentle exercises which really suit my body always listening to what is needed each day. I now feel the absolute amazingness of becoming truly fit, how I hold myself, my posture, etc. And this goes together with all the other aspects in life, what I eat, how I sleep, how I am with people.

  47. I have never been one for a lot of exercise. I hated sport at school always ending up with a headache from standing in the hot sun. In my later years I have found walking and gentle stretches have helped, and stretch early in the morning and before sleep at night, help keep my body supple. I considered myself a bit lazy not wanting to do sport but I am glad I didn’t force myself into it. Glad to know you are looking after and listening to your body now Rachael.

  48. I love this Rachel and it’s so true there are so many things that we push through that when we’re really really honest with ourselves we dislike or as you found hurts our body. Thank you for such a real blog, because in reading this I have gained further understanding and insights on areas in my life where I push ahead.

  49. We are told that exercise is good for us which is true but what we are not told is how to go about the exercise eg. I am learning that there has to be a loving connection, an honouring, a respect for my body first and then to exercise which supports my body. I loved sport in my younger days but there came a point for me too when I stopped… I couldn’t push my body to be the best.

  50. Thank you Rachel, it is great to be inspired to exercise the body. It loves it I know and the change it can make to the way we feel throughout the day and in our lives is amazing.

  51. I see it in massage therapy all the time, the harder we are on our bodies the harder our bodies are. People say to me thats the point – to be hard. Must be what you are describing Rachel, it’s their toughness, their protection. What I notice is a deep tissue massage will create more tension in the body and a tender relaxation massage will create space and tenderness in the body. Same with exercise.

  52. I know the feeling of power and strength in over exercising from young age on until 5 years ago. I used to do a lot of different sports and can look back to a career as professional dancer for 17 years. Boy oh boy, I could dance like a man and I loved that feeling of being trained and being fit like that. My body hurt most of the time immensely after a show for many days after, but I loved the thrill in giving all that I´ve got during a show on stage. When I met Serge, he never told me to stop dancing but after a couple of years, I just couldn´t put my body under such a tension anymore. Since then, I can´t imagine, to put my body under such a strain ever again. To have let go of the hardness in my body, there is not an ounce in me that wants to dance like I used to. Feeling me in my body in tenderness and not in hardness is gold for me.

  53. Such a huge transformation in the way we can all look at exercise, as it has never made sense to me the way people push themselves through exercise in the way so many currently do. I can definitely feel the benefits of taking the time to exercise but in a more gentle way that respects our bodies. It just makes sense to treat ourselves with care, listen to our bodies and move in a way that supports who we are.

  54. Thank you for sharing your experience Rachel and I can relate to feeling resistant to starting to exercise again because I had always pushed myself so hard. I stopped going to the gym because my heart rate went up so much when I went all out on the machines and the GP suggested exercising more gently but I just gave up because I was too impatient – trying to get it all over as soon as possible. I now enjoy exercising gently as well as feeling the health benefits of looking after my body with loving care.

  55. It’s quite foreign for gentleness and exercise go together, unless exercise is for pregnancy, after illness or accident, or for elderly. I’m not sure why the fitness industry believes you can only get results from the “no pain, no gain” belief system, I’m sure it puts a lot of people off exercise. I love how you have gained so much from gentle exercise, it shows that we don’t need to be in pain or push beyond our limits to get benefits.

  56. I too used to push myself in the gym and was also an aerobic instructor. I ended up with lots of injuries because of being so hard on my body and putting it through some punishing workouts. I now also have a greater respect for my body and exercise in a way that is caring and respectful of how it feels. At 53, I do a gentle daily workout for 20 minutes at home every morning. I also walk and occasionally go for a swim. I feel stronger and fitter now than I used to in my 20s and 30s. Thanks for sharing your story Rachel.

  57. Very Inspiring Rachel, I do love that what you share about your body giving signs to stop, and that you eventually listened.

  58. Since I began doing gentle exercise, stretches and light weights, like you my fitness has improved out of sight, a far cry from the hardness of some of the things I did to myself in the past. I also gave up on hurting myself deliberately and started loving myself instead. It is a beautiful thing to do what the body has been longing for all along – for me to listen to it.

  59. For me, this gentle exercise has no drive, no ‘body beautiful’ driven outcome, but rather a loving approach to looking after our bodies. And, as you have shared Rachel, you do quite a bit of exercise, but as nourishment for your body, not as protection.

  60. How clear and loud the body speaks to us when we’re prepared to listen, yours is an inspirational story Rachel, thank you for sharing it. ‘No push no pain – all gain’!

  61. When I walk or do gentle weight training, I still breath very gently through my nose. This supports me to stay very steady, connected to my body and not push or strain myself. If my breath becomes laboured I know I need to take it slow, be more gentle, or perhaps finish for the day. I have a very big hill to walk up on my way home, and it is a great marker for me to feel how my body responds at the end of the day, I feel fit, strong and steady, and not out of breath at the top of the hill. It is lovely to feel that and not the pain and exhaustion of forcing my body to do more.

    1. That’s lovely Laura. I was walking uphill the other day and realised how natural it is now for me to breath gently through my nose when I am exercising – something that I found so hard to do when I started. I feel so much fitter, stronger and healthier for exercising in this way rather than my old attitude of pushing my body to the max to get it over with as soon as possible.

  62. It is amazing that you could feel your body not liking doing judo, then you made a change – or shifted to other types of exercise, then you felt again your body not liking it – this feels like a classic way I made most of changes in my life too, like changing a job, relationships, moving to another country – I never thought it was me that had to change, I thought it was something I was doing, something outside me, that was a problem therefore needed to be changed. Luckily, like you, I have found another way to make a real change – from inside out.

  63. Hey, Rachel, amazing how you were able to listen to your body. And it is such a confirmation for your love and for Serge Benhayon’s love that later on you could build on that foundation, when attending Universal Medicine courses. How beautiful.

  64. Hi Rachel, thanks for sharing the addictive nature of sport , and how abusive we can be to our body in the name of ‘sport’. It’s great that you felt to listen to your body and are now enjoying exercising in a way that is more honouring and loving to your body.

  65. Wow Rachel! What this brilliant blog makes clear is how much sports can be a tool to confirm and deepen a self-abusive way of living. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  66. Gentle walking offers me such support. My body loves it and I have a chance to be with me and the magic of nature.

  67. Your story was fascinating to read Rachel. I loved how you realised that you were using exercise as a form of self-abuse and punishment and yet now choose to listen to your body and exercise in connection and in respect for what is truly healthy for you. Awesome.

  68. Thank you Rachel for sharing your experience , what amazing changes you have made in your life. I have not been an exercise person , but since doing Danielle Pirera’s gentle exercises classes I have come to experience the joy my body feels in gentle exercise.

  69. I appreciate how you write of learning to listen to your body and your experiences where your body communicated that it had enough and you did listen. “Serge presented was that we need to look after our body, the way that you are with it, what you eat and how you exercise. That it is important to keep it fit but at the same time to listen to your body…” How we do exercise is an interesting question, I go to the gym regularly and the way I exercise is so different from how I used to approach it, it is much more sustainable now because I do not put my body under pressure, I really enjoy it.

  70. The point you have made about extreme exercise being addictive is so important – when I was in school I was addicted to long distance running – I feel addicted is a great word because I would sit in class twitching just wanting to go to the track. Looking back I think it gave me a sort of numbness to everything I felt pent up inside me. I don’t think I’ve found the perfect balance of exercise yet, but with taking more care of myself the compulsions to run and the problems in my body as a result have gone.

  71. I can relate to all that you say here, Rachel. I used to be an elite athlete and became very proficient at sticking my fingers in my ears when it came to listening to my body screaming at me to stop pushing it to its limits and beyond. I was addicted to exercise. Now, I have a new relationship with gentle exercise 2-3 times a week that is not based on addiction or punishment or abuse but a great support to my body. No longer do I have my fingers in my ears but am listening very carefully to my body and all its signals all the time when I exercise and it amazes me that I feel fitter and healthier and better now then when I was an elite athlete!

  72. Hi Rachel, thanks for sharing this – because during school the way of sport and exercise was to teach us to push push push! – and I hated that. So after school I wouldn’t exercise because I knew I hated it. Through writing this you’ve helped me realise that I can still exercise and not hate it – but rather do it gently at a pace I can handle. Music to my ears!

  73. Dear Rachel, love your blog! I used to be a swimmer and used to swim like a speedboat: until I was completely out of breath and almost all of my body hurt. I now enjoy swimming like a turtle and I love to float. My trainer died this week, as a result of cancer in his pancreas. Although he was still in swimming competitions and used to train about 4 times a week at 65, doctors told him that his heart and lung functions were very weak. What I’m trying to say is that pushing yourself to the limit is obviously not the way to a healthy body. Thank you, Rachel.

  74. I have begun to feel a tremendous vitality in my body lately, and strength, and all I do is walk and do very gentle exercise on a mat using my body as resistance. Yet, I find I now can lift weight (bags of cement for instance) with my whole body and not just with my arms and there is no strain. I can carry them without holding my breath or even losing gentle breath. It amazes me – all the investment I used to put into very strong exercise. The only explanation I have is that in treating my body gently, it has responded by building great vitality, which now provides me with the quality of life that I was seeking from punishing it, and never got.

    1. Love this Simon – how different our relationship becomes with the physical world when we get our whole movement behind it. Like you I’ve developed a way of moving where I can lift, move, and work much more but without expending anything like the effort or force that I used to. The only difference is I’m more conscious of my body.

  75. I often get looks (some inquisitive, some not so) at the gym because of the way I exercise. I use those machines in a way that is definitely unconventional but I just feel what my body wants to do and I do it. Some great stretching exercises came out as a result (although those machines are not design for stretching – hence the looks. 🙂

    I have a friend in South of France who is 83. She is super fit yet she only swims, walks and does very light weights every day. It is such a myth that one has to lift heavy weights and sweat profusely in order to keep fit and healthy! I find very gentle stretching extremely beneficial and effective and I love working with weights very very slowly – it is so powerful!

  76. So true how our body speaks aloud and we don’t listen to it! I was also once ‘addicted’ to running, even though my body was begging me to stop: once I fell on the street and had a painful and huge bruise on my hips, knees and elbows; then I was diagnosed with medial tibial stress syndrome / periostitis for the excess of physical activities which made me stop running for 1.5 months; later an injury on the fascia plantar after a 10K’s.. .and finally a serious knee injury which lasted for 1.5 years made me really stop and listen to my body and stop running. I was a bit (or a lot?!) resistant to stop running because I was concerned I would put on weight… what an illusion. Nowadays I also walk daily, in a gentle rhythm and just recently I introduced a program of weight training (super gentle) and I feel fit, health and I have lots of fun doing it!

      1. Thank you Lisa, when I read ‘now I run like a girl’ I instantly went into reaction and thought how does a girl run? Society for me has always picked on how girls run – it’s an embarrassment, it’s weak, it’s unco. It can also be tender and playful.

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