stretch. walk. dance... just move, and let it count.


As I’ve written about before, my favorite fitness routine is a barre method developed by Suzanne Bowen (founder of BarreAmped), which I do from the comfort of my own home. I could rave for hours about Suzanne’s work and her personal integrity. (Also, how cool is it that I got to work out with her when she came here in November and participate in recordings of two of the workouts posted on her membership site?! See photo above ;D)But recently, I’ve been dealing with a bit of a nuisance: pain in my hip that I’m pretty sure is bursitis, and it makes certain movements and postures — especially anything in wide-leg second position (turnout) — slightly painful and difficult.

My doctor (I get 1000 adult points for finally getting a primary care doctor!) advised me to take ibuprofen for the inflammation and to not do anything that feels like it aggravates it. It started feeling mostly better when I was resting it, so I started exercising again and — ta-da! — there’s the pain again. So, I’ve decided to truly not do anything that aggravates it at all, and my doctor has referred me to physical therapy. He thinks I may only need to go once and they can make some suggestions and show me some stretches and exercises to do. In the meantime, I rest.

As I’ve rested, I have been aware that my little guilt gremlins are peeking out and whispering in my ear. I’m happy to say that my motivation for exercising these days actually has nothing to do with weight and very little to do with body shape. I like the feeling it gives me, I like knowing that I’m taking care of my body in a way that feels good (when I’m not injured), and I feel proud that I have a more consistent fitness routine than I’ve ever had before. The guilt is not about burning fewer calories, but more about worrying that if I get out of the habit I’ve built, that I won’t ever get back in it again as consistently. On some days, I practice yoga instead — but I have to be careful even with that, because it’s easy to stress my hip joint.

Yesterday evening, while watching one of my current favorite TV shows, I stretched. It may not be a “formal yoga practice,” and thus, I could let my mind ascribe less value to it. But I write this post to remind myself, and you, that stretching counts.

And walking counts. At work, I’ve been taking gentle walks on dirt roads alongside serene pastures,  watching cows cool off in tiny ponds. This helps me refresh and reconnect to myself and the earth amidst a day of heart-heavy work with clients.

Sometimes, what I really need is a 5-minute dance party with myself (Spotify’s Throwback Thursday playlist is where it’s at) — and that counts, too.

As I take this time to let my body heal, I want to remind myself and you that the most important thing is just to move. Our bodies were not engineered to lay down 8 hours a day and sit for the remaining 16 hours. Five or 10 minutes of movement here and there throughout your day is much more valuable on many levels than sitting all day and going to the gym once a week.

I’ve been encouraging myself to toss out the traditional ideas of “exercise” and “working out” in favor of movement — and best of all, movement that brings me joy and helps me feel more connected to my whole self. How do you move in a way that feels good? What kind of movement do you do that you need to acknowledge instead of brushing it aside as “not enough”? On that note, time for a little stretching.


Valerie Martin

Valerie Martin, LMSW, is a Primary Therapist at The Ranch residential treatment center, where she works with eating disorders, addiction, trauma, and co-occurring mental health issues. Valerie focuses on a holistic treatment approach of mind + body integration, using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), somatic and bioenergetic therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), psychodrama, 12-step, and shame resilience. She is also a Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT) Candidate. Valerie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Master of Science degree in Clinical Social Work at the University of Texas in Austin. She is an active member of the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashville, and emphasizes spiritual exploration in her work with clients.