Tag Archives: mindset

The exercise mindset shift of a new mom

Inspired by Dr. Gitkind’s story last week, about how he used his fitness to help others, I decided to do a blog series about the real life exercise challenges and successes of UMass Memorial Weight Center Staff. This week I interviewed Anna Grotevant, one of our amazing dietitians.  As many of you know, she had a baby last year.  I asked her about how being a new mom has shifted her mindset about exercise.


Team blog series (2)

What was your mindset about exercise before pregnancy?

Before starting a family I exercised to stay fit and as a social activity. I wasn’t very consistent. I had more time to myself and tended to procrastinate. I didn’t really use exercise as a form of self-care because I had other forms of self-care that were more relaxing. Exercise felt more like something I had to check off on my to-do list. I would go weeks or months without exercising even though it is important to me.

What do you do now for exercise as a new mom?

After giving birth to my daughter a year ago, I spent time recuperating. I stopped exercising completely as I didn’t have the physical or mental energy to think about it. I also felt like I was so “out of shape” that my typical forms of exercise (running /yoga) were out of the question. Once I hit six months postpartum, I started with some walking. I built up from there, and now I’m walking, running, strength training and doing some yoga – usually something every day. I exercise on my own in the evening and with my sister on the weekends (we have “run dates”, which I really enjoy). I also walk on my lunch at work when it’s nice out.

How has your mindset about exercise shifted since having a baby?

My mindset about exercise has shifted. Since I have less time to myself, I tend not to procrastinate. If I’m going to do anything it has to be while my daughter is sleeping, so I get right on it as soon as my daughter goes down. I also have to multitask – I look at exercise not only as a way to stay fit but as a form of self-care and relaxation. I appreciate the time I have to myself a lot more. I’m a lot more gentle and forgiving in my workouts because it’s not about burning calories or running faster, but just about being able to move my body and have some time alone.

What is the biggest challenge about exercising as a new mom?

The biggest challenge about exercising as a new mom is the time that it takes. There’s always something I “should” be doing. Exercising during my daughter’s nap time means I’m not doing any of my household tasks. Having exercise dates with my sister on weekends means I’m not spending time with my daughter and husband.  That can actually make my life feel more stressful, especially if I’m falling behind in my responsibilities or it’s a particularly busy time of life. I try to manage this by prioritizing. I say no to some activities and requests from others so that I can preserve time for the people who are most important to me. I try to incorporate exercise into family activities on the weekends. Most importantly, I try to remember that no one is perfect. I can’t be the perfect mom, wife, sister, daughter, employee or exerciser. I can just do my best with what I’ve got and keep moving forward.

Thank you Anna!

Keep moving, be well,

Janet

 

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by | September 30, 2019 · 8:17 pm

How to lose ten pounds of gym guilt

how to lose ten pounds of gym guilt(1)

The trend in affordable gyms has made it so much easier for many people to exercise year round.

It has also expanded the problem many people have with a gym membership  – gym guilt!

In trying to get more exercise, you might be tempted to join a gym because it’s only $10 a month.    As you may have discovered, your exercise motivation depends on A LOT of factors so getting to that gym might be not so easy.   You may be busy right now and just cannot fit it in.    Often, when trying to lose weight, walking into the gym feels like a spotlight is shining on your extra weight. It’s just too embarrassing to go right now.   You might wait until you feel better about your body and then you will start.

The bigger problem with these low cost memberships is that they are not expensive enough to make you end the membership if you are not going.  When things calm down a bit, or when you lose some weight, you will go, so why cancel it?     In the meantime, that membership fee on your credit card statement each month is a constant ‘weight’ on your mind. Its a constant reminder that you are not exercisign the way you ‘should’.

(No, I am not reading your mind, you are just not alone in this. I see it all the time!)

Lets talk about how to lose the weight of that gym guilt.  Here are some questions to ask yourself so you can finally make peace with using, or losing your gym membership.

  • Is it the commute? Does it take more time to get to and from the gym than its worth?  If your time is limited, no matter how inexpensive the membership, you probably will not to choose to spend your time on a gym commute on a consistent basis.
  • Is it the environment? When you walk into the gym, how do you feel?  Happy to be there or counting the minutes until you can leave? That initial instinct about the gym is so subtle, you may not realize it is the reason your brain finds excuses not to go.  Either find a way to make it more comfortable for you or find a new place to exercise.
  • Is it the people?  There is a definite vibe in each gym.  Some are welcoming and friendly in a very authentic way.  Some are ‘friendly’ in a “my boss told me to say hello when members walk in so I am going to flash a fake smile and say a cool hello” kind of way.  Some gyms are meant for people with very definite exercise goals. If they are not the same as yours, you may feel unwelcome, no matter what you do.  Either give yourself a pep talk reminder that the attitude of others is not your concern or find a more welcoming place to exercise.
  • Is it equipment overload?  It seems that the less expensive the gym, the larger and more daunting it can be.    If you feel overwhelmed by the equipment choices in the gym, know that much of that equipment is not useful anyway.  Find the machines right for you and  stay focused on that.  You don’t need to do everything that is in the gym.  Get a comfortable routine going and do what you enjoy most. (well OK more than the sauna and massage chairs!) When you are ready for a change, learn only one new machine at a time to stay out of overwhelm.
  • Is it too crowded when you go?  Rush hour times at the gym are about as much fun as rush hour time on the highway.  If the crowds are getting in the way of efficiently enjoying your gym time, and you cannot go at another time, seek alternate routes to exercise.
  • Is your body not ready yet?   Some types of exercise are not great for starters.  The elliptical for instance starts at a higher intensity. If you are just starting out you are likely to feel like a failure in about two minutes flat.  Group exercise classes can be motivating but they also are more likely to make you do too much too soon. Gain skills in listening to your body before joining a group. Choose the types that feel best for your body to start and gain some stamina, strength and body knowledge before expanding to other more challenging forms.
  • Is it lack of know-how?  There is no time in adult life that we learn how to exercise correctly.  If you don’t know how to exercise, you are not lacking some skill that everyone else has.  There is a lot of useless exercise information available out there, much of it based on what is marketable, not how your body is designed.  If it does not feel good, it is not good for you.  If you are a UMassMemorial Weight Center patient, contact me to chat about how to strengthen your exercise know-how

Some times the healthiest decision is to let go of the gym membership and exercise at home or someplace else.  Most importantly, lose the gym guilt, it’s is not helpful for your mind or your body.  There are plenty of other options out there and exercising at a gym is not right for everyone.   Find a way to make it work or let it go.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

 

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by | April 17, 2019 · 7:13 pm

Exercise motivation from an unlikely source

How calorie burning makes it harder to lose weight(12)

This article gives a surprising yet research backed perspective about will-power and making changes that stick.  It is pretty clear that our old way of  making exercise a habit works against us.    If you think exercise has to be hard, and you just need more self control to make yourself do it until it becomes a habit, there is a much more effective way.

We’re using tools that aren’t only weak; they’re also potentially harmful. If using willpower to keep your nose to the grindstone feels like a struggle, that’s because it is.

It turns out too, this way also puts a drain on our health

Those who were better at using self-control did have more success when it came to resisting temptations, but at a cost to their health. Their bodies suffered not only from increased stress responses, but also from premature aging of their immune cells.

What is this unlikely source that is better for our motivation and our health than good old fashion self control?   Fostering emotions like gratitude, compassion and awareness of your own strengths has a better track record for both sustaining motivation and for promoting health.

This is one of the most challenging mindsets to change about exercise.  From my experience the belief in grit, willpower and self discipline comes from the place many of us learned about exercise – through sports.  Think about it, athletes make up the majority of our images and messages about exercise in our culture.    They have amazing self control and discipline and achieve amazing levels of fitness.  How could that model steer us wrong?

An athlete has plenty of reasons to push through and stay disciplined – the competition, team mates, coaches, records – all of these external motivators drive willpower.   We ‘regular folks’ don’t have all of those, so we replace them with other external motivators –  weight goals, challenges, competitions, social media, and accountability partners.

The research is pretty clear though.  Trying to make yourself have more discipline and willpower is stressful and not built to last.   That stress strains health and energy.  It works, but it is just not sustainable, nor is it helping with exercising for long term health.

The easier and more lasting way to motivation for exercise is to  practice the skills of gratitude, compassion and pride (awareness of your personal inner strengths).

If your New Years Resolutions have faded, it may be time to dust them off and look at them through the lens of our updated understanding of lasting motivation.  You could:

  • Keep a gratitude journal, writing down one thing each day that you are grateful for about how your body moved that day
  • Practice a brief self-compassion meditation a few days a week, so you are practiced up on your skill of self compassion for those times you might use self criticism to make you motivated to exercise.
  • Do a Strength Survey to raise your awareness of your inner strengths and how you can use them to keep you motivated to exercise when life tries to get in the way.

How to you use these tools already to keep yourself motivated?  What else could you do to move away from trying to have more willpower to applying these positive emotions to help you keep moving and stay well?

Keep Moving, Be Well,
Janet

 

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by | April 2, 2019 · 6:04 pm

Spring Training Check-in

How calorie burning makes it harder to lose weight(11).png

Back in October, I invited you to set some Spring-training goals. Now that the days are longer, and weather warmer, its time to check in on how it went.  Keep in mind, this check-in is not a pass/fail.  It’s all about learning, so you know more about how you can Keep Moving and Be Well all year long.

Winters in New England can be some of the most challenging times to exercise consistently.  Yet, it keeps coming back every year.  Adopting a mindset about your exercise plan in the winter is a key to use exercise as a tool to keep you feeling healthy and well all year long.

Mindset it so powerful.  It has been shown to change  how medications, foods and treatments work in our body.  What was formerly known as the Placebo Effect, is now called the Belief Effect because it has been proven to be real.  How you think about something changes how it effects your body.  It is shown to hold true for how you feel about exercise too.

This is why each year we address the winter exercise mindset and call it Spring Training here on Keep Moving Weekly.  Seeing winter exercise as a form of Spring Training changes the whole outlook and motive for exercising through the winter.  With a clear vision in your head about what you want to be ready to do when the weather is better,  you are no longer just waiting for spring, you are actively in training for it.   When that is connected to the activities that are most important to you in springtime, the whole approach and motive for exercising in winter changes.  When you design what you do for exercise in the winter as the way to be ready for all the activities you want to do in spring, your motivation gets a nice little boost of energy.

So, how did your Spring Training go?  What did you do this winter that is making your more confident you can get out and enjoy the spring activities?

What do you wish you had done more of so you had more strength, stamina and mobility for those things you want to do now?  If you fell short of your goals for your winter exercise plan, it is not failure. Simply learn from it and apply it to next winter.

Take a moment now to write down what you learned about your 2018-2019 Spring Training Season your calendar for October 2019.  We will use this valuable info to make your 2019-2020 Spring Training season even more motivating.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | March 25, 2019 · 1:54 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

As the cost of medication is goes up, the cost of exercise stays the same.

The prices of the 20 most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs for seniors have risen nearly 10 times more than the annual rate of inflation over the past five years  CNN Report March 2018

Blog images(2)The rising cost of medications is in the news a lot isn’t it.  There are many ‘angles’ to these news stories,  but the one you care most about is how it is effecting your wallet  As you watch the cost of your medications rise, what can you do?  You need them, but they can be so costly.  This puts many people between a rock and a very hard place these days.

As you may have heard, the 2018 government guidelines for physical activity were released last week.  While that might not have been big news for you, it could be when you put a dollar sign next to those recommendations.

The amount of exercise recommended has not changed – 30 minutes five days a week (or the equivalent in terms of totaling 150 minutes a week) of moderate intensity exercise.   In terms of your time investment, it comes to less than 2% of your total time per week.

To put that into a dollar return for your 2% time investment, a 2016 study estimated a cost savings of $2,500 in medical expenses per person per year for people who do this amount of exercise.    You could think of exercise as a ‘tax rebate’ you receive a little bit every day.

Even better though, that ‘rebate’ is not only in the form of dollars, but an even more valuable resource – your enjoyment of life.  Designing your  150 minutes of exercise a week in the right way means you have a bit more energy for the people and things you love.  It means less days of missing out on life because you are not feeling well. It means you have an easier time enjoying life because of a better mood. (I could go on…)

These are the things you cannot put a dollar amount on – they are priceless!

Keep moving, Be Well,

Janet

 

 

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by | November 19, 2018 · 10:08 pm

When your body is limited, start with your mind

Blog images(1).pngCarrying extra body weight can weigh you down physically, and mentally as well.  When you have been trying over and over to lose those extra pounds, your mind can get especially fatigued.

Neuroscientists are mounting the evidence that “the mind and body are not separate; our thoughts have remarkable control over our bodies; and our mindsets are capable of improving our brains’ performance”  This article outlines some of the powerful research on how our thoughts change our body.

Fatigue from weight loss becomes a viscous cycle then.   Your mind that is fatigued from years of trying to lose weight, it can make your body extra fatigued as well.

In many cases, thinking that we are limited is itself a limiting factor.

However, this research reminds us that the opposite is also true.  Changing your thinking, can also give you an energy boost.

Next time you are feeling “lazy”, procrastinating exercise, don’t move.  Yes, you read that right,  don’t move.

When your body is limiting you, start with your mind.

Start by noticing your thinking. (without judgement, just notice) Is your brain full of all the things you cant do, all the things that are going to hurt, all the ways you are limited, all the reasons not to exercise?  Before you try to move,  shift your thinking to what is possible right now, what feels OK in your body right now and all the reasons you want to move. Fill your brain with encouragement and watch what happens in your body.

Then, and only then choose to move in ways that help your body feel better and more energized.  This will take some time and practice, but it is pretty clear, you can change your brain and your body with this mindset about your body.

Bottom Line:  Start by changing your mind and your body will follow!

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

 

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by | November 12, 2018 · 3:32 pm