How to make this new years exercise resolution one that lasts

In the next two weeks, you will hear a lot of advice about how to make your resolutions last. How do you know what advice to follow? Starting or restarting any kind of exercise has its own unique factors to consider. Here are three questions to ask yourself so you can navigate the new year exercise start/restart well, and give yourself the best chance for success.

What is my body telling me?

Your body is your best guide for knowing what to do and how much is enough exercise. It is a huge myth that the start of exercise needs to be hard and painful. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to support this idea. There is a lot of motivation and exercise science to support a slow start that does not leave you sore and tired from day one. I am not telling you anything you don’t already know though. If you have ever started exercising and sufferered through the first two weeks until your body ‘got used to it’ you know what I mean. Its no fun. It slows your progress and it makes your brain resist doing it. Instead, start small and progress gradually letting your body tell you how much is enough to start.

Who is telling me what to do?

Get curious about the reason for doing an exercise. If the exercise or program was created for athletes or military professionals, it was not based on how your body is designed to function in daily life and improve health. You want exercises and programs that were made for you, not borrowed from other types of exercise! When exercises are based on the science of how your body is designed to move and to get stronger for activities of daily life, you will feel better right away. You will see clearly how each exercise you are doing will help you move better that day. Those instant results and benefits will keep your brain wanting you to continue.

How sustainable is this?

Programs designed for reasons other than health, like for athletes for military professionals do not need to consider sustainability of the exercise. Their goals are short term. Your body and brain are in a constant state of change, so your program needs to be flexible if it will be sustainable. Ridged programs designed for results in a certain number of days are set up to be short term. When you want lasting changes, there is no difference between a program to get to your goal and the program to maintain it. Listening to your body and adjusting what you do and how you do it so you feel better each time is the way to make it sustainable for both your body and your brain.

Plan to be successful with your exercise program all year long

Plan on these three key ingredients from the start:

  • listening to your body
  • doing exercise designed specifically based on the science of exercising for improved health and function
  • make it sustainable right from the start

Keep Moving, Be Well and have a very Happy New Year!

Janet

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by | December 28, 2021 · 4:39 pm

Too stressed to exercise?

This time of year with the holidays and the COVID rates rising, there is plenty of stressors to go around. What happens to your motivation to exercise when your stress level goes up?

Based on what neuroscientists tell us about the brain, it probably depends on how your body feels when you do exercise. Your brain is hardwired to repeat what makes you feel better and avoid what makes you feel worse. If you have extra stressors going through your mind, and exercise only adds to it, chances are your brain will throw all kinds of excuses your way to get you to not exercise right now.

If exercise means feeling better, chances are your brain says, “lets find a way to fit it in!”. Your brain wants you to feel better. It does not want you to be in a stressed state.

This is why we crave comfort foods when stressed. Your brain learned which foods make you feel better and wants you to eat them when you are feeling down or anxious. The foods we crave are specifically engineered to do this, so we have to outsmart the food industry.

The way to do that is to use exercise to keep your brain flooded with all those great chemicals by moving in a way that feels good for your body. Choose a type, a level, a location to exercise that makes you feel good. Add your favorite music and you have yourself some ‘comfort exercise’ to help you calm those cravings and feel better.

When stress gets in the way it is a sure sign exercise is a source of stress not a way to solve it. Make some adjustments and you can turn it into a great resource for managing stress and staying well.

Happy, healthy, calm holidays!

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

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by | December 20, 2021 · 11:22 pm

Exercise is a great time to practice gratitude

The research on gratitude is pretty impressive! The simple act of writing in a gratitude journal once a day can improve your:

  1. Emotional Health; more resilient, more relaxed, less stress
  2. Physical health; better sleep, less doctors visits, longevity, more energy
  3. Social skills: more friendly, deeper relationships, more friends
  4. Career skills; better management skills, improved decision making, increased productivity,
  5. Personality; more optimistic, less materialistic, more self esteem

What happens when you use gratitude during exercise time?

You get all these benefits while improving your relationship with your body, your physical health and your motivation to continue exercising.

Exercise is typically at time to notice what your body cannot do. The purpose of exercise has become a way to improve your body in the future. This future focus mindset during exercise can take us in the opposite direction of gratitude, not only missing out on the benefits but limiting the health benefits of exercise. Exercise can quickly become a reminder of how far you have to go or how much you don’t measure up to the person next to you or the person you used to be or want to be. When it becomes a time of practicing self criticism and negativity. Those traits are not leading you toward health and wellbeing, no matter how fit your body becomes!

The simple fact is, what you practice gets stronger.

You might say sure! but if I don’t push myself I wont improve. I need a goal to be motivated.

While that may be true for athletics, it is not the truth for exercise motivation for heath benefits. You can set goals, but when you are exercising, keep your attention on what you can do today. This makes it more likely you will stick with it to get to that goal, while improving your health each time you move.

Research consistently shows that mindful self compassion leads to lasting motivation and self criticism leads to short term motivation.

If you are exercising to be healthy, the best way to improve your health and your long term motivation is having gratitude for what you can do now. You will be using mindfulness and self compassion, improving those skills known to improve eating and stress management skills too.

Give it a try and see how it goes. Move your body and focus on what you are grateful for that it can do now, today. Post what you notice in comments!

Keep Moving, Be Grateful, Be Well

Happy Thanksgiving!

Janet

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by | November 23, 2021 · 7:52 pm

Functional Strength Training

This video is a great way to show what strength training for function and health is about. Often the images in the media for strength training are ones of body building and ‘aesthetic’ fitness. These are certainly uses of strength training exercises but they are not the only reason. In fact, for most of us, strength training is not about looking better, its about functioning as well as possible for as long as possible.

When you want to be healthy, it means more than having a clean bill of health from your doctor. Being healthy means being able to do what you enjoy, with ease and without fear of injury.

When strength exercises mimic movements of daily living, rather than isolating muscle groups, it is strength exercise for being healthy.

In this video, she is lifting heavy (or at least big) weights, but don’t let that give you the wrong idea.

The benefits she is getting is mostly from the muscle memory she is building for all of her muscles working together to do these movements with more ease when she does them in daily life. That does not require lifting large weights. It does require your full attention though so your brain and body can learn to work together. Although there are added benefits of gradually adding more resistance, but only when you have the muscle memory and core strength to do movements with ease.

So strength training for being healthy means doing movements of daily life, incorporating your core in each movement, doing them with full focus, and practicing them on a regular basis.

Keep Moving, Be Well and Stay Strong!

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by | November 16, 2021 · 10:00 pm

How to be ready for Spring 2022

In the last post I invited you to write down three physical activities you want to be easier or more possible in Spring 2022. What did you come up with?

Winter is a time exercising can become extra challenging. How do you meet other challenges in your life? Exercise is no different. It takes a bit of planning to ensure you will stick with it year round. Why is that so important? Because your body is a use it to keep it system.

“You are what you repeatedly do” Aristotle

When you start with what you want to be able to do in Spring 2022, you know what you need to “repeat” this Winter to make that happen. If there are activities on that list you cannot do right now, treat that activity like you would a small plant that you want to grow. Give it just a bit of what it needs, consistently, and watch for signs it is thriving on that level of movement.

Lets say you want to be able to hike in spring. If your stamina is low and climbing hills is painful right now, start at the level you can do now. Starting with hills and speed and distance wont make your body stronger, it will just set back the process of growth. Just like a small plant only needs a small amount of water, just enough done with consistency is the key to progress.

While this may seem like a ‘no brainer’, raise your hand if you tend to be an all or nothing type exerciser. You likely can trace that all or nothing mindset back to athletic performance goals somewhere in your past. We all want to make progress but our body can only grow at its natural rate. When you want to be healthy, its time to be a ‘something is better than nothing’ exerciser.

Take a moment now to:

  1. Sum up what you want for Spring 2022 in one word. For example; calm, strength, stamina, energy, flexibility, balance
  2. Choose one time each day you will set aside at least a few minutes to practice that skill
  3. Choose one simple movement you can do intentionally each day; walk, dance, stretch, balance,

Keep it super simple and arrange it so it feels like a celebration of what you CAN do each day. Put on music, invite a friend to join you, or add anything to remind you this is a time you are taking for yourself. When you use this season well, the next one is mostly likely to be filled with activities you can enjoy with more ease.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

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by | November 9, 2021 · 10:34 pm