Tag Archives: exercise motivation

The real way to exercise to get results

Getting results is the big motivator for exercise isn’t? When you see the scale, your measurements or clothing size go down, when you look better in the mirror it means exercise is working. Yet, the lack of these results means it’s not working and your motivation takes a nose dive.

We all want results. Its the whole reason we are motivated to do anything. The more instant and the more tangible, the more your brain lights up. But exercise results are not instant. The scale, measuring tape, and clothing size makes them feel tangible. But, have you ever stopped to think about who decided those are the results of exercise?

We live in a culture where being fit is a look. We measure exercise by the calories it burns or the steps you get (which is another way of measuring calories burned). We have been led to believe that the feeling of the burn in muscles is your body burning off fat. This has led to a whole list of exercises and machines for the sole purpose of burning fat off certain areas of your body so you can sculpt it into the shape you want.

Along the same lines of melting fat, sweat has come to mean a ‘good workout’. It has been assumed that if you are sweating you are burning more fat, melting it off your body.

Pain has also been associated with progress. The ‘no pain no gain’ mantra that was invented to tell athletes pain is just a side effect of gaining a competitive edge has morphed to mean that you need to feel pain to make progress.

So we are inundated with media images of people doing exercises and looking ‘toned’, sweating and looking trim and in pain and looking fit. These images trick our brain into believing that our body can be molded, trimmed and sculpted if you are just dedicated and tough enough to push your body to exercise in this way.

Keep in mind, the whole premise of marketing is to make you believe you are not enough. The way the body changes slowly is just not marketable. The facts about how you really cannot choose where your body burns fat is also not going to make anyone millions of dollars.

With this awareness, you can look at everything you see in the media and question if its marketing science or body science.

The fact is exercising a certain area will not make you lose fat in that area of your body. That means toning is a term that is marketing based not science based. There are only a handful of scientific evidence that you MIGHT be able to change the look of your skin through strength training. Cardio machines that ‘work’ certain areas of your body and ‘toning’ exercises’ made to give you long lean muscles have no scientific basis.

Another fact is that more is not better. Exercise does not need to be high intensity for weight loss. Soreness does not mean you are making progress, it means you have slowed progress in getting stronger. High intensity and muscle soreness make more work for your body to heal and repair. More than is needed for health and for weight loss.

Exercise works best when you do it consistently. Your brain is hardwired to avoid what makes you feel worse. If high intensity exercise leaves you feeling physically or mentally worse, it will not work for lasting weight loss. Real results come from consistency not intensity.

The results you really want from exercise for weight loss is to feel and function better. What good would it be if you got to a goal weight but felt worse and could not do all the great things you wanted to do? The purpose of exercise is to make you feel better now, and function your best in the future. Those are the real results from exercise, based on body science.

Take a moment to question what you consider results from exercise. Define your own results based on how you want to feel and what you want to be able to do. Any time you see results in the media and are tempted to do an exercise that looks hard and painful but that promises to change the look of your body, question the motive. The job of marketing is to tell you all the ways you are not enough so you have to keep coming back for more, never feeling satisfied with how you look. The job of exercise is to remind you that you ARE in fact enough, no matter your size, so you want to keep coming back for more because it makes you feel better every time.

Keep moving, be well

Janet

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by | June 1, 2021 · 9:12 pm

Now that the weather is better… Learn how to be an all-season exerciser

This is the most wonderful time of the year to be an exercise physiologist! Everyone I talk to is more motivated to exercise now that the weather is better!

In this lovely time of year, you have two choices with how you think about exercising that can make all the difference in your future springtime enjoyment:

  1. Enjoy spring and summer and don’t think about winter. Hopefully next winter will be better…
  2. Enjoy spring and learn from what you are noticing right now to help you become a self-motivated all season exerciser

Option number two may seem like more work, but when you think about, its much less work than option number one. The discomfort of being in a body that is not ready for the spring activities you want and need to do takes a lot of mental and physical work. The guilt of not exercising all winter when you know you should is a big energy drain too!

Let’s make option number two easier. Take a few minutes to go through these three steps. Writing them down increases your chances of success:

  1. Write down what you notice about what your body lost this winter, based on how you feel now. Do you wish you had more strength? Stamina? Mobility? If you feel great and ready for spring, write down what you did that helped you keep your strength stamina and mobility through the winter.
  2. Write down what you want to enjoy now that is challenging. If you are able to enjoy what you want, write down what worked to keep you ready for that activity all winter.
  3. Brainstorm all the things you are thinking you could have/should have done this winter for exercise. If you did exercise all winter, write down what kept you active.

Tuck this away in your September calendar. In the fall you will be so glad you have a personalized guide to get you started with a motivating plan for exercising through the winter. I will remind you to look at this list when the weather starts getting colder and the days get shorter again.

Now, let’s get out there and enjoy this beautiful weather!

Keep Moving be well, and enjoy spring!

Janet

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by | April 19, 2021 · 7:09 pm

You get more results from exercise with gratitude than with guilt

Exercise guilt works.

The problem is, exercise results happen when it is done consistently. That means you need a source of motivation that is renewable, not one you have to use a lot of energy to churn up every day you need to exercise.

Guilt will produce short term motivation, but it takes a lot of brain energy. Its just not an efficient way to stay motivated for exercise. In the end you wont really get results from exercise because you are less likely to do it consistently.

Gratitude however, has lasting effects on motivation as well as mental and physical health. Plus, it feels way better than guilt!

Guilt is the feeling you ‘should’ be doing something different than you are in this moment.

Gratitude is the feeling of deep appreciation for something or someone.

This time of year we hear a lot about gratitude. In January, we hear a lot of guilt producing messages about exercising and eating healthy, losing that holiday /pandemic weight.

What would happen if we started using gratitude to motivate for exercise now, and just kept it going in the new year? Studies show motivation would be easier, both through the holidays and in 2021.

“We found that across the participants, when people felt more grateful, their brain activity was distinct from brain activity related to guilt…simply expressing gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain.”

The Greater Good

Look, we’ve been through enough this year! There is no need to add guilt to the mix. Take this week to move your body as a way to take care of it, shed some stress and notice something you are grateful for about that time you took for yourself.

Keep it simple. One unique thing you are grateful for each time you exercise. Whether you do a five minute walk to to get away from your computer, a fifteen minute dance party with your family before dinner, or a set of strength training to start your day feeling strong and confident, take five seconds to write down your one thing from that time. It will tell your brain this is something to repeat and that means next time motivation will be that much easier.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Keep Moving, Find Gratitude, Be Well,

Janet

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by | November 24, 2020 · 10:05 pm

Attention All-or-Nothing Exercisers; this is your big chance!

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Is exercise is the first thing to go when life gets stressful?  Do you feel like 10 minutes of walking or one set of strength training does not count as a ‘workout’?  Do you think unless you can’t work up a sweat or don’t ‘feel it’ the next day, why bother? These are all signs of being an all-or-nothing exerciser.  The good news is, when you exercise, you give it your all.  The challenge is, those stressful times when you need exercise the most to keep your body and mind calm, you think you can’t exercise.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us all many challenges.  For many regular and dedicated exercisers, the stress has shifted them into the ‘nothing’ state of being. This is an unprecedented time.  With so many parts of our lives changing at once, it defiantly has been a challenge for many to maintain an exercise routine.  This time has also presented us with many opportunities.  If your exercise routine was derailed by the change in your lifestyle, I invite you to use this as a chance to get off that roller coaster of exercise motivation once and for all.  Here are some facts that can help shift your mindset from all-or-nothing to the more sustainable and success-producing mindset of ‘something is better than nothing’.

It only takes…

  • ten minutes of exercise to churn up those great brain chemicals that make you feel better mentally when you exercise.
  • one set twice a week to of a good quality strength training program to improve strength and once a week maintains your hard earned strength
  • 15 minutes three days a week of cardiovascular exercise to maintain stamina

Clearly, something is way better than nothing!

There are three big myths that keep the all-or-nothing approach alive:

  • Myth: You need to work up a sweat:  sweat only means your body is cooling itself off. It does not mean you are burning more calories or fat.  Sweat is a byproduct of some types of exercise in some people, but if you don’t sweat it does NOT mean exercise is not worth your time.
  • Myth: No Pain, No Gain:  Pain is also a byproduct of working your body harder than it was ready to do. Being sore the next day does not mean you got a better workout, it means you did too much too soon. This saying was meant for athletes, to remind them that pain is part of the process. For you and me, who just want to be healthy from exercising regularly, pain is not required.
  • Myth: Go Big or Go Home:  This saying too is for athletes or others who are exercising for a competitive edge.  Those of us who want to be healthy, we can go ‘small’ and know it’s enough.  In fact, several studies show that a few smaller bouts of exercise spread out throughout the day can have a better result for benefits like blood sugar control and building bone strength.  Go small and go often could be our motto!

So,  for all you all-or-nothing exercisers out there, this pandemic creates a tremendous opportunity to leave that stressful roller coaster behind and strengthen your  ‘something is better than nothing’ mindset.  Rather than seeking bigger and better challenges to get you motivated to start again (and again and again), take on  the ULTIMATE challenge of exercising in this ever-changing thing we call life – being a CONSISTENT exerciser.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

PS:  If you have transformed yourself from an all-or-nothing exerciser to a something is better than nothing highly consistent exerciser, post how you did it in the comments section.

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by | August 4, 2020 · 9:55 pm

Tips for finding an online cardio workout that is right for you

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (1)Online exercise has become a lifeline for exercising during the COVID-19 outbreak.  It’s always a good idea to have as many options for exercise as possible.  This challenging time is an opportunity to find new ways to exercise when time and equipment are limited.   I am hearing from many people how they are discovering old favorites and new ways to exercise.

Here are some things to look for when searching for online cardio exercise:

    • If the cardio involves using hand weights or bands to add upper body toning or more calorie burning, do the exercises without anything in your hands. Studies show adding upper body resistance does not burn more calories and puts more strain on your upper body joints (shoulders especially).   Just enjoy moving and do strength training separately to strengthen your upper body.    The same goes for wearing ankle weights when walking or doing cardio; the risks far outweigh the benefit
    • High Intensity Interval Training is very ‘in’ right now.  Some people love exercising at a super high intensity. For most people, it is NOT a positive experience.  Considering that your brain is hardwired to avoid what makes you feel worse, you may want to reconsider HIIT training if you don’t love it.  There is  more research that shows moderate intensity cardio has plenty of benefits and it is much more enjoyable for most people.  You can still do intervals, just keep them between moderate to comfortable challenge for your breathing and stay away from the uncomfortable levels.
    • If the program has very complicated moves that limit your ability to keep moving, choose something that has more simple moves.  (examples below) The goal of cardio is to move continuously. If the moves in the cardio program are so complicated you end up standing still until you figure them out, it will not be as beneficial as something that keeps you moving.
    • If your lower body is limited by pain, try seated aerobics (links below) or doing a hybrid of seated and standing.  This is a great option to improve stamina without straining weight bearing joints.  If it seems like it won’t be challenging enough, I challenge you to give it a try.  🙂

Here are some free resources you might try for cardio:

Basic aerobics:  Walk at home has great videos for free online as well as a subscription for more videos including an app. (Reminder, skip holding onto anything in your hand when doing the ones they include bands)  They even have a video with all men, which is not easy to find with aerobics videos.  Body Groove is a paid subscription but there is a sample you can try. If you like to dance, you might enjoy this approach that is very body positive and friendly for all sizes.

Seated aerobics videos free online: Fuzion Fitness is a great seated dance exercise program.  Paul Eugene  offers a wide variety of videos that are higher intensity (and his smile is contagious).   The Walk at Home videos are simple enough they can be done in seated as well.

Kickboxing:  Tae Bo on YouTube is offering some fresh workouts just for the pandemic.

Next week we will focus on  what to look for in strength training videos online.

Keep Moving and Be Well

Janet

 

 

 

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by | May 4, 2020 · 6:34 pm