The header at the top of this page is a collection of pictures of people who are on a weight loss journey. They are all at various stages on that journey, most are not at their goal weight yet. However, each of them are now doing things they could not do before losing weight. It is quite inspiring to see these smiling faces enjoying life while on the journey. How did they overcome their body and get so fit? It took changing their mind so their body didn’t get in the way.
The brain is a reality simulator. What you imagine can seem very real. Just think of how you feel when waking up from a dream. The feelings can stay with you for a while, even though it was all in your head.
When your body is carrying extra weight, it can hold you back from exercising and doing many other activities you once easily enjoyed. It can seem like you cannot exericse and it would be better to wait until you lost some weight to get started. What you are feeling in your body is very real. Just like a dream however, what your brain believes about how much is enough exercise may not be the reality. Your expectations could be based on your memories of what you used to be able to do and what you want to be able to do now. They could also be based on recommended amounts, which are really general guidelines. Just like your dream, your mind can hold beliefs about what your body should be able to do, even when your body is telling you that it cannot do it.
This can feel like your body is getting in the way, holding you back from exercising. However it is really your ideas about what it means to exercise that is holding you back. Your body does not know the recommendations. It only knows what it can do now, in this moment. Your body does not know how many calories you want it to burn, it only knows what it will burn based upon what will be keep you healthy and well. Your body does not know the numbers displayed on the weight machine or the treadmill or your activity monitor. It only knows if it can tolerate what you are asking it to do.
If it cannot tolerate it, your body will let you know through pain and fatigue. Pain and fatigue are a sign of too much too soon. Contrary to popular beliefs, pain is not a sign of progress (nope, not even muscle soreness). If you body has what it needs to do what you are asking it to do, it will let you know instantly through more energy, greater freedom of movement, more focus and a better mood. Basically, your body is smarter than your brain when it comes to exercise. Your body and brain work best when they work together, that means your brain observes your body rather than dictates what it should be able to do.
So the next time you start thinking your body is working against you, ask what it is trying to tell you. The answers may not be clear right away, and usually it is not telling you to stop exercise completely. It is usually telling you it needs less for a while until it has time to adapt. You will know you have found the just right level and type of exercise by how you feel during and after exercise. Your body will tell you if and when it is ready for more. Until then, keep the peace between your brain and your body, by trusting you body to tell your brain how much is enough exercise right now.
Keep Moving Be Well,