Why getting started is the hardest part of exercising

Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to get started with exercise? Maybe you have not exercised in years and you know that once you start again you will be motivated. Maybe you go regularly, but you always have to give yourself a big pep talk to get started.

Why is getting started the hardest part of exercising?

The fact is, it is not that starting is hard, it is that we make it hard. Starting does not need to be difficult. Unless you are an athlete being driven by a coach, you get to choose what you do for exercise. The problem happens when your brain sets a ‘goal’ of what you will do for exercise that day. That might be based on what you used be able to do, or the idea that you want to make progress so you need to push your body harder than last week. Your brain sets the goal based on the past or the future, but your body is only in the present moment.

Add the fact that chances are you are exercising at a time of day you don’t have tons of energy, such as first thing in the morning or right after work. Your brain is setting the bar based on some ideal of what you ‘should’ do and your body is saying “ugh, I don’t think I can do that right now!”. This is where the struggle happens. Your brains expectations are higher than what your body perceives as possible in that moment. Then it takes a lot of brain energy (AKA Willpower) to overcome this gap between your brain and your body.

What if you had an idea of what you might do, but no expectation of what you had to accomplish? What if you just decided to start exercising and listening to your body to decide what you will do that day? What if you started with what felt comfortable, not at all hard, and increased as your body felt ready?

The fact is, exercise does not need to be hard, painful or uncomfortable to be beneficial for health, well-being – or weight loss!

Starting easy is not a cop out. It will not diminish the benefits in any way. In fact, starting easy helps your body tolerate exercise even better. Starting easy lets your brain and body work together. Most importantly, it creates memories of starting exercise as not hard, but easy. That memory will start to become stronger than all those memories of exercise being hard. Those memories will create an upward spiral of motivation and getting started will become easier. This works with our best understanding of how your brain motivates with less energy.

Give it a try and let me know what happens.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | February 19, 2019 · 8:44 pm

Ready for a Resolution Reset?

February has become the month for taking another look at your New Years Resolutions. Have you noticed there are more and more adds now in February for weight loss programs, gym memberships, and diets? We know that those who started out the year with a sprint toward a goal are by now losing steam. Reality sets in. Oh yeah, my life is a bit full and I don’t have time for what it takes to reach that big lofty goal. Time to make it more realistic.

I have a good friend who is a career coach. Her advice is to wait until February to set goals for the year. She recommends taking January to recover from the end of year craziness. It gives you a some distance from the previous year, so you can use it to inform you about what you want the new year to be about.

I like that idea. It is more humane. It allows some space to breathe and reflect. What is the rush anyway?!

Are you ready for a resolution reset? Fast forward to a year from now. Imagine it’s February 2020. What changes do you want to see in yourself, your life? What do you want to make sure you keep in your life this year? What is no longer serving your well-being and needs to go?

Here is the best part. You don’t have to worry about the answers. Let the questions hang around in the back of your mind as you go through your week. This mindset is enough to help you see what is working and what you need to change to be able to enjoy life a bit more.

What does this have to do with exercise? Your body and brain are ‘use it to keep it systems’. Every cell in your body – muscle, bone, connective tissue, nerve – are adaptable. All parts of you are made up of cells that adjust each day to what they are given. Think about that for a moment. You are made up of about 35 trillion cells! Each one of them can potentially improve when you exercise. They adapt to when you don’t move and when you do.

One perfect example is bone cells. After about 20 years old your bone mass is at its peak. That means that you are at risk to start losing more bone cells than you are producing. When you contract your muscles during strength training exercises, your bone cells get a signal to produce more bone cells. When your muscles don’t pull on your bones, more bone is lost than produced. Use it to keep it!

Enjoy the ‘pause’ this week. Check in on what is most important to you about your well-being. Then set your mind to exercise in a way that gives you more of what you want in the coming year. Then step confidently into the rest of 2019!

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | February 12, 2019 · 6:12 pm

Why do “core” workouts?

How calorie burning makes it harder to lose weight(2)

Spot Reducing:  the usually futile effort to exercise one part of the body, as the thighs, in hopes of reducing the amount of fat stored in that area. (dictionary.com)

If spot reducing is a “usually futile”  why do we have “Core” workouts?

There is some very (very) limited scientific evidence that it might be possible to get “regional fat loss” with exercise.  It is so limited it would be a gamble to base your valuable exercise time on it.  

If you do core exercises to strengthen your back, there is pretty strong evidence there is not one specific exercise to help reduce back pain. Studies show that regular exercise in general helps to reduce back pain, but so far, no one type of exercise has been shown to be better than another. 

So, if core exercises do not reduce weight around your middle, and do not prevent back pain, why spend time doing them?

The job of your core is to stabilize your spine while moving your arms and legs. The core very rarely works by itself in movements of daily life.  So, doing exercises like planks do not ‘teach’ the core to do it’s job. The core muscles are also not there to lift your upper body when you are lying down, as in a sit up or a crunch.    Their main job is to stabilize, not move your trunk. 

Since time is one of your best commodities, you have to ask, is it worth it to spend time doing a core exercise routine?

From all we know about how the body works, it is clearly more effective to incorporate core stabilization into your strength training exercises. This not only teaches the core to do its job, but saves you time too! 

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

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by | February 4, 2019 · 7:55 pm

How calorie burning makes it harder to lose weight

Calories in Calories out. No matter what, we seem to come back to this belief that weight loss is about how many calories you take in and how many you burn each day. If you burn more than you take in you will lose weight. If you eat more than you burn you will gain weight. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple. And even more unfortunate is that this concept is causing us to exercise in ways that work against lasting weight loss!

The thing is, our body is not like a cash register. At the end of the day it does not tally up how much you took in and how much you burned to see if you should lose or gain weight.

This is how the concept of calorie burning makes it harder to lose weight. When you believe that you need to exercise to burn more calories to help you lose weight you are much more likely to:

  1. Push your body to do more and more exercise. This leads to doing too much too soon, which leads to pain or injury, which leads to not exercising, which leads to frustration about your inability to lose weight.
  2. Choose an exercise because it is best for burning calories. This leads to doing too much of one type, such as cardio, and not enough of the other types of exercise your body needs, such as stretching or strength training. The end result is a body that does not feel great, has more pain, less muscle mass, less strength and less bone mass because of weight loss.
  3. Think exercise is not working when the scale does not go down. When you are exercising you expect you would lose some weight. When you don’t, you think exercise has failed you – even when you are feeling better and have more energy (which, ironically is the reason you wanted to lose weight in the first place). When this happens you are more likely to push your body harder and end up in scenario #1 or do more of the types of exercise that burn more calories and end up in scenario #2.

Let’s ditch the idea that exercise is for calorie burning. Let’s focus instead on all the great stuff that happens in your body instantly each time you exercise. When you do a well-balanced, consistent, exercise program at the just right level for you body, right now, you will feel better on your way to a healthy weight and it will be much more likely to last!

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet


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by | January 30, 2019 · 4:05 pm

Keep Moving Forward

Keep moving forward. These inspirational words remind us that setbacks will happen. It is part of being on the journey. It’s part of life. Keep moving is the title of this blog, to remind us that movement is a key to health, but also to remind each one of us that setbacks are normal. They are just part of the process.

Looking back, have you noticed that the setbacks lead to the best ‘ah ha’s’? Learn from what is not working and you will find the path you need to follow for lasting weight loss. Focus on what you can learn from setbacks, and you will keep moving forward.

Learn from when your body is saying “no thank you, I cannot do that right now”. The ‘right now’ is a critical thing to remember. Your body is in constant change. Ignore it and it will ‘speak’ louder. Work with it, listen to it and you will keep moving forward. Focus on what your body can do right now, and you will keep moving forward.

Learn from what your thoughts are creating. Negative thoughts will drain your energy faster than anything. Your mindset changes your body. Focus on what is going well each day, and you will keep moving forward.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | January 22, 2019 · 7:05 pm

Exercise and your immune system

There seems to be a lot ‘going around’ lately. Exercise has been shown to have a very positive effect on the immune system in many ways. Keeping up with regular exercise is one of your best ways to keep your immune system strong, especially this time of year. Studies show this for both cardio and for strength training. This study also showed and immune system boost for meditation. Try a variety of types of exercise, including mind/body types such as yoga and tai chi as they could give you the best of both benefits in one.

If you feel something coming on, it could help to exercise, as long as you listen to your body. Pushing your body harder does not seem to help when your immune system is working overtime. But a little bit of exercise could go a long way to help give your immune system some help in protecting you. Your body will tell you so trust it! Just don’t sacrifice the other important immune system boosters. The number one is sleep. Arrange your exercise to best help you sleep. For instance, exercise earlier in the day if exercising later makes sleep more difficult. Add some mind/body type exercises later in the day to help calm your nervous system through your brain and your body.

When you are returning from an illness remember that the loss of fitness is invisible. Assume you have lost strength and stamina and start back with about fifty percent of the duration and intensity that you were doing before you took time off for the illness. Pay attention to your body and remember you cannot speed up the natural growth rate for your body. Give it time as you regain your level of fitness.

Keep moving, Be Well (and stay well!)

Janet

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by | January 14, 2019 · 10:34 pm

How to use 2% of your time to make the other 98% better

Have you ever thought “I just don’t have time for exercise”?

Check out this five minute video for a shift in perspective.

Don’t have five minutes? I will give you the big take home message – 20-30 minutes a day of exercise benefits all other parts of your life. More than that does not have that much more benefit for health. Exercise is the best way to invest less than 2% of your time in something that can make the other 98% of your time better.

Something, done consistently, is way better than nothing and more is not that much better

(It is still worth the five minute investment to watch the video)

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet



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by | January 7, 2019 · 6:50 pm