Archive for the 'Ask Janice' Category
SEIZE THE MOMENT
I don’t think I am being presumptuous in saying we all desire to be healthy; we all want to be strong and fit and feel good. Everyone wants to grow older with the use and the capacity to be mobile and able-bodied.
Recognizing this, what stops us from accomplishing this relatively simple task? What stops this course of action in your life? Maybe you started a “program” and then stopped (many times)? Or maybe you just let things go altogether but you think about creating a healthier life style? Why don’t you?
I am not pointing a figure at anyone and I am certainly not going to cast the first stone. If it makes you feel any better (and it won’t), according to the World Health Organization (WHO) worldwide obesity has nearly doubled since 1980. Obesity is a bigger (pun intended) health crisis globally than hunger. Our culture is getting fatter and unhealthier and no one likes it, yet we continue on this path. If we know something is creating discontentment and poor health, and we also know that by changing some of our actions and by doing some things like exercise and improving our eating will make us happier and healthier why don’t we do it? It is so frustrating and maddening how we are at times. I have been trying to figure this out. How can we “fix” this dilemma? What are the magic words to help others and myself? I am not sure but I have come up with some ideas to offer.
This is what is not: There are no magic words, there are no simple solutions, there is no amazing diet or any miracle exercise programs or pill or gadgets or anything you can buy. But what there is, is you! You and every part of of you, your mind, your body, your heart and your soul, nothing more and nothing less!
I think fear gets in our way and that is when we come up with excuses and reasons why we cannot do what it is we really want to do. At times of clarity and strength we can see and feel the changes we want to be and then… bam something stops us. So infuriating isn’t it? We see others make changes that we hope to make in ourselves, it seems seemingly simple from that view point. But what we don’t experience is their fear and the resistance and the doubt that life-changing goals come with.
Maybe the best way to deal with these fears is to walk right up to them, stare at them and then move right through them like they don’t exist. Strength and belief in yourself, in your power, because you are very powerful and that in itself is a bit scary but once you give yourself permission to feel your own unique strength you will experience a sense of liberation and self respect. Facing our fears robs them of their powers. This experience comes moment by moment. It is not always about getting somewhere. Goals are great and helpful but goals are only achieved by each step along the way. It does mean building incrementally; the challenge is in the moment and in the moment after that. Remember a “journey of a thousand mile journey begins with a single step” (Laozi). When you hear the self-talk that is self-defeating similar to “oh I use to be…” or “if I could only be…” and so on that is you leaving the moment and letting your fear get in the way. Step back and observe your mind as it offers many excuses for not taking action. This is your opportunity to take that walk through the fear.
It is the opportunity to making those life changing choices that give you the satisfaction and feel of success. It is as simple as ordering a meal at a restaurant, reaching for a healthy snack when you are hungry or putting your shoes on to walk out the door for a hike or walk. Each moment you choose to act in the positive life changing ways that you desire, you are choosing an action that will dissolve the fears you cling to. Try to quiet that noise and get back to You! By finding this strength you will get to enjoy the place live in – your body.
By Janice B Gaines BS LMT
As of writing this article I am presently recovering from THE FLU, and I mean the flu not a cold. I am sure I have had the flu before in my life but to tell you the truth I do not recall such a profound experience. After the first few days of suffering I found myself googling influenza to learn more and about this infectious disease. I was also thinking about the fact that I did not get my flu shot this year and I have in past years. I wondered if that is why I go the flu or would I have gotten anyways?
In 1918 influenza virus caused a pandemic that killed about 50 to 100 million people in about a year’s time worldwide, making it the largest human disaster known. Influenza viruses weren’t known to exist in 1918, so there is no direct information about the virus and it is still a big medical mystery that is to this day being studied. Now we understand that the influenza viruses are known to circulate continuously and they cause small outbreaks every winter. And with great regularity, new forms of the virus arise in the population and spread throughout the world very quickly and with modern modes of transportation travel is faster than ever. The influenza virus is very clever, like a chameleon they can change their coats, so that what was going around last year is not the same as this year. These mutations tend to be sort of slow and steady but occasionally there can be a dramatic change that occurs in which an entirely new kind of influenza virus emerges. It is termed a recombinant, which is a mixture of genes of two different influenza viruses and it would be so different that no one on earth would have any kind of immunity and would be allowed to spread like wildfire throughout the population. Presumably this scenario for a pandemic, and there have been four them in the last one hundred years, 1918, 1957, 1968 and in 2009 the Swine Flu epidemic.
The good news is we are in much better off than we were in 1918. Research and technology has made it so we can keep a close eye on world health. Health care has come a long way as well as drugs that inhibit virus replication. We also now have (since the early 1930s), created a vaccine, which currently is the greatest weapon we have against the influenza virus.
The first documented idea of vaccinations was in 1721 with the introduction of an inoculation (placing a small amount of a substance to boost immune response), during the smallpox epidemic. There has been overwhelming success from large-scale vaccination campaigns. Smallpox which once killed one in 7 children, polio is nearly eradicated and a number of other less known diseases like meningitis. There are influenza surveillance centers around the world monitoring the influenza strains for trends year-round. This data is collected and new mutations are identified. The World- Health Organization (WHO) is then responsible for selecting three strains that they believe will continue to circulate and from this point the development and production of the vaccine begins. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states: “an annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get the seasonal flue and spread it to others.” Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infections with the viruses that are in the vaccine.
There has been strong disagreement every since vaccinations began in the 18th century. The first arguments against this practice of inoculations was religious based, many argued that diseases are sent by God to punish sin and that any attempt to prevent was seen as a “diabolical operation”. Now many sectors of the population present a worthy argument against the vaccine. Reasons vary from it being dangerous, non-effective and there is the position of individual liberty.
Unfortunately there are studies that show the performance of the vaccine in healthy adults is not producing the kind of results that the WHO and CDC hopes for but even with marginal results the public health organizations continue to push for widespread influenza vaccinations as the most effective means of prevention. The debate will go on for years, so it comes down for each of us to make up our own mind about whether to get that shot – or not.
Janice B Gaines BS LMTNo comments
It’s time to get back in the gym, summer is over and the rain is on its way or already here depending on when you read this. If you get going now you will be way ahead of the winter blues.
As a reminder (like you need it), here is the short list with the reasons why your body and your mind needs to exercise:
- Exercise controls weight
- Exercise combats health conditions and disease
- Exercise improves mood
- Exercise boosts energy
- And so and so on……
I can hear you now; “I would go to the gym but you just don’t like it”. Boy do I wish I had a dollar for the all the times I have heard these words: “I just get bored in the gym” or “I know I should lift weights but I just don’t like it – it bores me.” And this is the topic I want to address.
Bored? “What does that mean? Psychology boredom is a state of mind in which a person feels a lack of interest in where they are and what they are doing. Boredom means a problem or failure with a commitment of attention. Philosophically boredom is a condition characterized by one’s perception of the environment or task as dull and tedious. Boredom is essentially an issue with attention and awareness and in a sense this is how we connect with the world around us and this is a choice we make. When we choose to be bored we chose not to be successful. If you covet boredom and allow yourself to flounder in it than your ability to do whatever the task at hand is will not be done with any joy or success.
All too often I see people dispassionately lifting weights or doing their exercise program, chatting away, lifting a weight in-between a round of texting or reading a newspaper, anything to not be present. No wonder so many people tell me they find the gym boring – I would be too, if I spent my time as they did.
Without the mental connection or the emotional investment in what you are doing you are destined for boredom and disappointment. It may seem a bit harsh but exercise is exactly like life, if you muddle your way through with little focus you will get exactly that- MEH!
For me, however when I go to the gym or workout (not every single time but mostly), I feel a renewed sense of joy and excitement. This is a private time (or with friends that feel the same way), to attune my mind and connect with my body-my muscles whether it is my heart, lungs, legs or upper body. It is an opportunity to feel the genesis of growth and circulation.
Practice being present: when you walk into the gym, get on the treadmill, lift weights – stop for a moment, take a deep breath, observe, determine your goals for the day and pay attention. Turn your focus to where you want to go, start practicing and strengthening the muscle of determination and choice. If you choose to want to strengthen your body and improve your overall health then get started. Expect yourself to achieve results and in order to do that you must engage fully. What would you tell your kid if they were studying a math problem or practicing an instrument? Would you tell them to “go ahead turn on the TV, talk to your friends, do whatever you want just so you don’t have to pay attention to what you are trying to accomplish?” No you would not, so why would you allow yourself to be that way? Once you get started on this concept to fitness you will find it gets easier and momentum will take over and the happiness of feeling more fit will start to quiet the internal mind chatter and the desire for distraction.
The choice is yours and once you decide and commit you will be successful!
Janice B Gaines BS LMT
Fitness/ Health Trainer
A NEW KIND OF NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION
This New Year I would like to suggest a different kind of resolution. Instead of thinking of ways in which you can improve yourself, I suggest make a resolution that each day you do a random act of kindness and work towards improving someone else’s life.
Our New Year’s resolutions are often born from thoughts and feelings about ourselves; things we don’t like and want to change. I have noticed in my own life that when I am feeling bad it is easier for me to act in ways that are not so good for me, like eating the wrong things or drinking or other ways that actually can make me feel worse. I also have noticed that when I do something good for someone else especially during those hard times I feel better. As a massage therapist and fitness/health trainer for almost 3 decades there has been many times I have not felt like working because I was sad or mad about something in my own life but being work and having that responsibility I had to continue and to my amazement and gratefulness I would start feeling better almost as soon as I started either doing a massage and helping someone else out with their problems. You see we are all struggling and we all share the same challenges, the more we reach out to help others the better our own lives will be.
There was a study (you knew I would quote a study), published in which participants were asked to behave helpfully toward another person for just a few minutes a day. After six months, participants reported a much greater self-esteem and happiness than those in the control group. Not only is doing good deeds sure to spike your happy meter, but more and more research proves there are physical benefits, too. Studies have found that people who make a habit of helping others report better health than those who don’t, and seniors who do volunteer work may actually live longer. In 1890 William James (brother to author Henry James) wrote a two-volume magnum opus The Principles of Psychology and is still required reading for students of behavioral science. James paid attention to the relationship between emotion and behavior. Conventional wisdom tells us that your emotions cause you to behave in certain ways. James became convinced that this commonsense view was unfinished and he proposed a new theory which took 6 decades to become accepted. He hypothesized that the relationship between behavior and feelings is a two-way street. By changing behaviors you can change feelings. As Aristotle said “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
I found an article written by Dr Oz and DR Rozien, they explain that when people give to others, whether it be money, time, or some other act of kindness, they experience a rush of endorphins similar to a runner’s high. Even just thinking about helping people can boost positive emotion, strengthen your immune system, reduce stress, and decrease pain. In one study 20 percent of the people lost weight after they started volunteering. . Creating small acts of kindness is behaviors that can improve your feelings of self. It has been scientifically proven to have therapeutic that it can help those with depression disorders.
On Friday December 14th we as a nation had our breath knocked out of us. The grief is more than words can describe and it is almost beyond our abilities to know what to do or even begin to breathe again. A suggestion made by the wife of the Rabbi in Sandy Hook CT appeals to me. “What we need is a good flood – a flood of kindness, of caring, of compassion, of goodness, of warmth, of benevolence, of support, of reaching out. There are, thank G-d, enough of us on this planet to make sure that not one human being ever feels lost. We need a Flood of connections. Not just the trickles that come from time to time, but everywhere, all the time. We need to be at least as aware of the ecology of human behavior as we are of the ecology of the physical resources of the planet. It has to penetrate all aspects of our world – the worlds of business, the media, education, culture, science, the arts, medicine – we need a flood, a good flood. Every single one of us has to know that we can make a difference, and we need to put serious thought to how we can best do that.”
THE HOLIDAY GIFT YOU DON’T WANT
We all know about the holiday weight gain syndrome; they say “10 to 15lbs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s”. I wanted to find out if that was really true, so I did some fact checking. In my research I came across some pretty alarming “statistics” about the average American’s holiday-season weight gain. I found reports of everything from 3 to 20 lbs. Howe
Holiday Weight Gain Facts: There are only a small handful of real studies that have actually gone to the trouble of methodically and scientifically measuring holiday weight gain trends in American, the findings suggestion us some good news and bad news.
Good news first: it appears we tend to gain only about 1lb. of body weight during the holiday season on average. This figure comes from a highly respected and cited research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study followed 165 racially diverse people whose average age was 39 and whose average weights reflected those found in the general U.S. population, from the pre-holiday period through the post-holiday period.
Now for the bad news: what we do gain during those magical 7 weeks is a gift that does not go away in January. This study and other respected studies suggest that this seemingly harmless holiday gain of just 1lb may add up over the course of years and contribute to the bigger (pun intended) problem: the upward creep”. In addition the studies show that those whom start the holiday already on the heavy side end up with more like a 5lb gain. There is more; when we look closer at the research we see a trend in body compositional change; meaning the results of holiday indulgences lead to higher fat mass and a decrease in lean body tissue, the consequences of which contribute lowering metabolism. So you see even though one may not gain very much weight from Turkey day to January 1, some other things change and can be a bit sneaky.
The 1lb holiday weight gain syndrome is of real concern. We have all heard ourselves say and we have heard our friends say it. Every year we get fatter and fatter, but often we don’t feel like we can put our fingers right on the source. So I am going to make a suggestion (I am sure you knew that was coming).
I am not going to suggest that you should not eat any goodies over the holidays or even over indulge once or twice. I try to practice what I preach and I personally enjoy the holidays and all the wonderful fares and treats. I would hate to miss that. Family and friends gathering around food and sprites is delightful. I want you to enjoy the holidays but I also want you to start 2013 feeling good. Decide now to enroll these guideline and we you do just fine.GOOD ADVICE FOR THE HOLIDAYS
1. Drink Lots of Water: water naturally helps you not eat much, sleep better, process food and being hydrated burns more fat.
2. Eat Slowly and Appreciate: take a deep breath and control your excitement when you see all those goodies.
3. Do Not Skip Meals: this messes with your metabolism and leads you to overeating at the next meal.
4. Protein and Simple Carbs: If you are going to “pig-out” reach for the proteins and the simple carbs.
5. Workout in the Morning: (or anytime you can), but if you work out in the morning you will perk up your metabolism for the whole day. I have an annual tradition of a harder than average workout on the big eating days of the holidays. I remember back when I worked at
Gold’s gym in Portland, one of my most favorite workouts was the morning of Thanksgiving. I would walk into the gym and the energy was fantastic and every treadmill or elliptical was taken, you had to wait in line and everyone was just having a blast. So go for a long walk or hike or jog, get those engines revving. You can add weight training to build muscles; they increase your metabolism even more.
6. Friends: Hook up with some friends and make it a group effort. More the merrier!
Lastly happy holidays!
This time of year is the “primo” time of year for getting outside, taking a deep breath and going for a walk. Summer and all its commotions are over and winter is just around the corner.
Time to slow down a bit and be reflective and maybe think about how you want to end 2012 with some new habits and begin 2013 with a healthy bang.
Taking in the colors of autumn has continuously been one of life’s simplest pleasures. Here on the Oregon Coast we have great fall colors, maybe not as they do inland but what we do have some of nature’s other magic. Fall offers particular tones of light and the distinctive way it falls (pun intended), through the trees and across the ocean. The coast also offers an amazing air quality and there is something extraordinary about it this time of year. The combination of these three characters offers an amazing gift of nature that is so accessible and affordable to us. All we have to do is walk out the door.
Beside the pure mental therapy of going for a walk this time of year there are some fantastic health benefits. Wow all that for the low price of $0.
The consequences of walking!
- Walking is a mode of transportation that gets you from one place to another.
- Walking is easy and you can do it alone or with friends.
- You will be healthier mentally and physically.
- Improves your sex life. J
Harvard Research says: “Later in life, walking becomes as much an indicator of health as a promoter of it. After age 65, how fast you walk may predict how long you have to live. Walking, or gait, has long been recognized as a proxy for overall health and has been measured in many studies. Researchers have found a remarkably consistent association between faster walking speed and longer life.” This statement was made because a number of studies done. One study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and published Jan. 5 2011; issue of The Journal of the American Medical association found a remarkably consistent association between faster gait speed and longer life. They calculated that people with gait speeds of 1 meter per second or faster lived longer than would be expected given their age of gender. (1 meter/second is equal to 2.2 miles/hour. That is just a bit slower than the speed needed to cross the street at most timed traffic lights.)
So does this does not mean if you are older and you work on going out there and walking faster you will live longer. One cannot draw that kind of cause-and-effect conclusion from this study. But on the other hand countless studies undisputed conclusions that walking and walking faster results in better health and a longer life.
How about counting steps to make it a bit more interesting and to be sure you are walking you’re way to a longer healthier life? I suggest adding in a pedometer. They can help you set and reach goals, offer motivation and accountability. Just clip it to your waistband and of f you go, you won’t even know its there. You can even use it in your daily life to see how many steps you are taking. Other studies show that distance counts too! In addition people that wear a pedometer walk about 2000 more steps a day, (about a mile), then those that don’t.
- Fewer than 3,500 steps: very sedentary.
- 3,500 to 5,000: sedentary.
- 5,500 to 7,500: somewhat active. You’re headed in the right direction but need to step it up.
- 7,500 to 9,000: doing better, but still not meeting the minimum recommendation.
- More than 9,000 steps: active. Stick with it and keep moving.
- 10,000: the minimum goal recommended by health experts.
- If your goal is to lose weight, you probably need to work up to 12,000 or more steps a day.
Forgive me for seguing from the beauty of autumn on the Oregon Coast to research studies to pedometer technology. I am a bit of a nerd in that sense. Never the less this is a great time of year to go out and enjoy the outdoors, and get a jumpstart on the winter. Nature is a great motivator; it wants you out there enjoying it!
“If sugar were to be put on the market for the first time today, it would probably be difficult to get it past the FDA.”
Of all the foods consumed today, refined sugar is considered to be one of the most harmful to our bodies!
Sugar is a simple, edible, crystalline carbohydrate. The history of sugar dates back thousands of yeas. The process of making sugar from sugarcane was developed in India around 500 BC. Sugar production has a dark ugly history, intertwined with corporate fights for profits at the expense of third world country slavery and enormous environmental impacts. To this day sugar production still uses exploitative labor practices. Sugar manufacturers are aggressive in defending their product and have a strong political lobby, which allows them to continue selling a deadly food item that by all reason should not be allowed in the American diet. However this article is not about the politics or history of sugar.
Sugar meets the definition of a drug.
Refined sugar, by some is called a drug, because in the refining process everything of food value has been removed except the carbohydrates – pure calories without vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, enzymes or any of the other elements that make up food.
When you take a substance out of nature and refine it to maximize its chemical surface area and biological activity you are creating a drug with intentions of a desired bodily affect. Cocaine is a drug that’s refined from coca leaves. Opium is a drug that’s refined from poppies. And sugar is a drug that’s refined from sugarcane.
…Dr. David Reuben, author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nutrition says, “…white refined sugar-is not a food. It is a pure chemical extracted from plant sources, purer in fact than cocaine, which it resembles in many ways. Its true name is sucrose and its chemical formula is C12H22O11.
Sugar is, essentially, a legalized recreational drug that’s socially acceptable to consume. And yet, just like other drugs, it destroys a person’s health over time, rotting out their teeth, disrupting normal brain function, promoting heart disease and directly causing diabetes and obesity. The argument that “street drugs are outlawed because they’re dangerous to a person’s health” falls flat on its face when you consider what sugar does to the human body.
If you have any doubts as to the detriments of sugar (sucrose), try leaving it out of your diet for several weeks and see if it makes a difference! You may also notice you have acquired an addiction and experience some withdrawal symptoms. …Studies show that “sugar” is just as habit-forming as any narcotic; and its use, misuse, and abuse is our nation’s number one disaster.
Sugar is now 20 percent of the American diet. More facts: the average American eats 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, in 2003 we ate 142 pounds on average of sugar (much more for teenagers), and sweeteners, 46 gallons of soft drinks but only 8.3 pounds of leafy vegetables.
Hidden sugars: Sugar has many forms and is hidden in our food. You may have stopped adding that teaspoon of sugar to your coffee and cut back on your afternoon candy run, many not-so-obvious foods are chock-full of hidden sugars. Anything from bagels to yogurt can contain a high amount of added sugars.
It can be confusing to try to find out how much added sugar a food contains. The sugar listing on a Nutrition Facts label lumps all sugars together, including naturally-occurring milk and fruit sugars, which can be deceiving. This explains why, according to the label, one cup of milk has 11 grams of sugar even though it doesn’t contain any sugar “added” to it.
Read the ingredients list. Learn to identify terms that mean added sugars, including sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, dextrin, honey, invert sugar, maple syrup, raw sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, corn sweeteners, evaporated cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, malt, molasses, and turbinado sugar, to name a few.
Sugar means beat and cane sugar, white or brown, fructose and corn: the biological effects are all the same. The point is sugar is poison!
For more information I suggest watching a lecture given by Dr. Robert Lustig called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” posted on YouTube.
You may not believe it. “An athlete? Ha, Ha!” you say. But it is true! That athlete lives in your head. Your body is only the instrument your mind uses to take more steps, lift more weights, run faster or do any other physical activity. That is, of course, when and if the inner athlete in your head chooses to come out and take action
- Believe in yourself: find that athlete inside you and attitude is the key! When it comes to reaching any goal in life, attitude is important.
- Expectations for yourself: this means self-efficacy, which in this case is the belief that you can do something successfully.
Put the two together and you have a formula for success. However the question may really be: Are you afraid to find your inner-athlete? Many of us get fearful when thinking of taking fitness on and looking for that inner-athlete.
While I’m sure some of us are lazy at times, I’m convinced that one reason we don’t exercise isn’t laziness, but a feeling of dread at the thought of exercise. Physical exertion can be scary if you haven’t done it in a long time and, for some people, moving the body to the point of increased heart rate, heavy breathing and excessive sweating may seem as foreign as flying pigs.
Most of us are afraid to fail and, when it comes to exercise, that failure can be experienced in so many ways-failure to lose weight, to make it through a workout, to stick to an exercise program, to do the right thing, etc.
Do you want to get old fast? Do you choose to retain your flexibility and strength? In your mind’s eye, can you picture yourself running at the beach or playing volleyball? Does it interest you to be able to roll around on the floor with your children or grandchildren?
Attitude Adjustment – The simplest way to deal with this fear is to set a goal you know you can reach. It’s nice to have long-term goals to work for but, for right now, you need to do what you can handle. If you set the bar too high, you also set yourself up for failure and that could become an excuse to quit altogether.
Anytime you do something out of your comfort zone, you’re taking a risk. But, just the act of taking a risk can be all the success you need to keep you going.
“Okay, so I’ll join a gym,” you say. Sure, it’s what we want to hear … but starting an exercise program is kind of like starting a diet. Sticking to either is the difficult part.
It takes work to stick to your resolve and establish self-efficacy. One thing to watch out for and I know because it is something I am guilty of, perfectionism.
At the risk of sounding trite: “live in the moment”, one of those overused phrases that sounds good but, for perfectionists, may feel as impossible as growing another nose. However, paying attention what you’re doing allows your worries (“Am I doing this right? Should I be doing something else?”) to fade away as you immerse yourself in the movement of your body. Practice focusing on your workouts. When your mind drifts, bring it back to the exercise you’re doing with a remind that this is your exercise time. Find the value in your every effort and be proud of your accomplishments. Tune out the negative self-talk.
Here are some other tools that you might like: goal-setting skills, motivation and imagination. Choose images to help you keep going – Put some “before” pictures in plain view. Add some more recent ones of your more active lifestyle. Choose a “hero” (someone whose active life you admire) and put his or her picture up along with yours.
From time to time you may find that your inner athlete has stalled. You can help get it going again by calling upon that part of yourself to direct the action in your “mind’s eye.” You won’t burn any extra calories doing this, but the imagery you create may just get you going … and keep you going.
Close your eyes (leave them closed for 20 minutes) and imagine a limber and flexible “you” go through whatever paces you have designated as helpful and fun.
Now, create a picture of yourself the way you choose to be.
Visualize all the benefits that the exercising is creating for you in the rest of your life.
Remind yourself how good it is to feel comfortable in your own skin…how you are almost there and how you deserve to succeed and maintain you resolve.
You have taken the plunge into a healthier lifestyle. Congratulations!No comments
Fall is officially here and we all know whats coming for the next eight months. It’s exciting, we do love the storms high seas and big winds it is one of the many reasons we live here. But something I hear over and over again is the moaning about winter weight gain and depression. That does not have to be. Why not make a vow right now to not let that happen this year? Let fall of 2011 be the beginning of a new way to do the winter on the north Oregon coast.
We are having our first storms of the season and it can be a bit shocking, we spent the last couple months enjoying lots of light and warm temperatures. We walked on the beach, went for bike rides and sat outside. That made us feel better, we all have smiles on our faces, but now it’s changing, it is dark in the morning when we get up, and it is getting darker earlier. If you start your new habits now before the weightlessness of summer leaves you then you will be ahead of the game. Please don’t wait until you are feeling miserable and low to inspire yourself to do “something about it”. You can still have that summer kind of smile throughout the winter.
First you need to ask yourself “who is in charge of your life”. Then when you answer yourself that you are and no one else then you are on your way to taking control. Your thoughts control your actions and in turn affect your behavior and thus your moods.
Focus on doing one thing at a time. If it is your time to exercise then do it and think of nothing else that you “need” to do because you already decided that this is one of those things. Accomplish that and it will set you up for feeling focused all day.
All of us on the coast get hit with the dark day blues but even if you do not suffer from depression, you will benefit emotionally from half an hour of exercise; feeling instantly invigorated, lighter and happier. You need to get out and exercise every day to help keep your body and your brain healthy. Exercise is useful in controlling feelings of depression and anxiety for a number of reasons;
• While exercising your body produces endorphins or feel-good chemicals which make you feel instantly better and happier; effects last for some time after you stop exercising. These chemicals may also help combat depression.
• Exercise removes the build-up of stress hormones in the body which can undermine wellbeing, causing problems such as headaches, fatigue, and loss of concentration, problems sleeping and many other mental and physical symptoms.
• Exercise can provide focus; having new goals provides direction, and obtaining those goals however big or small breeds a sense of achievement and self confidence.
• Exercise gives a feeling of release from problems; you can abandon responsibilities and concentrate on the purely physical; controlling your breathing, running for that extra half a mile, following a class etc.
• Exercise can provide a change of scene, getting people out of their homes and routines, meeting new people and feeling less isolated. Group exercise can provide a sense of belonging, even if it is just smiling at the other runners or walkers in the park. Joining a team or class provides opportunities for social contact beyond the normal sphere of your life and its attendant stresses, and can make a refreshing change.
• Exercise can boost self-esteem, gaining new skills, improving body image, becoming fitter, and looking healthier.
• The benefits of exercise last longer than quick-fixes such as comfort-eating, smoking, or drinking tea or coffee, all of which may contribute to the problem.
Walking is one of the best ways to get in extra exercise throughout the day. Start a new habit!
· Get up 15 minutes early and start your day with a brisk walk around the block. Use this time to think about your day and what you want to accomplish.
Hiking in the fall is by far the most wonderful time to be out there.
· Research some great places to hike nearby, so on your next day off have field trip day planned. That will give you a goal and something to look forward to.
Indoor strength training is perfect for those really stormy days.
· It’s time to look into getting home gym set up or joining a local facility. My next article is going to cover that topic.
Fall is a time of year to recommit yourself to exercise; it is good for the mind, the body and the soul!No comments
A couple years ago I was riding my bike down 101 into a head wind and a friend drove by. I did not see him at the time, but later he said to me “you looked so serious”. I have actually have heard this comment a few times in my life and I had to give it some thought. What my friend had seen was in fact just a face void of emotion. To tell you the truth, often when I am running or riding or weight lifting (if I am in the “zone”); I am not really present at the surface and somewhat absent. I am meditating!
As a long time educator of fitness, nutrition and healthy lifestyles, my goal has always been to help my clients and friends and anyone else that will listen, understand the spirituality of training and fitness. The experience one has, no matter what sport or action you choose is so much more than purely a physical event. There are elements to training that go far beyond that. And there lies the hook. I will admit of course there are times when I go for a run or workout in the gym when it just does not sync and the pistons are not firing. I call those times utility workouts. These are dues that must be paid because I know there are the payoff days. This part of the discipline, which in itself is a form of mediation- the ever existing balance in life and in training, the Ying and the Yang.
The beginning is difficult. We tend to mostly experience fitness in the left brain and the body seems uncomfortable. I want to convey to you the need to allow that experience, and move through it. Allow yourself to be a beginner, knowing that with the consistency of the discipline you will begin to reap rewards. And it can happen very quickly. When you begin your training it is important to let go of some of the images you have in your mind of what your body “should” look like or the mind chatter of how “out of shape you are” and so on. Training is more than vanity and more than looking good. Yes you are there to improve your health by becoming more fit but the real catch is the sense of self and well-being. A transformation occurs through training that leads you to discover who you are and a time to commune with yourself, a time to self-reflect.
I personally love strength/weight training and have been hooked since I was 17 years old. For me, it’s something I enjoy doing for its own sake apart from the results it gives me.
- Weight training allows you to communicate precisely with every muscle in your body, to send blood and vitality to every space.
- Weight training lets you lose track of time. You go into a flow where you become absorbed in the moment-by-moment process.
- Weight training develops physical intuition. You get a gut-level sense, an instinct of what your body needs.
- Weight training is ever changing and you learn to be flexible and receptive. You learn to let go of preconceptions of how you think you will train on any certain day. You go with plans but they do not always happen.
Another love of mine is running. It allows me to experience myself like nothing else. I do not see running as a social event. Usually I run alone. I don’t like to talk and breathe at the same time when I run. Personally I like to focus on breathing, and natural awareness that puts the world on hold. Thoughts come and go from my mind and all I can really do is breath and tune into the effort and surroundings. I love running trails and I don’t mind if they are uphill, (that just means I go slower and think of breathing even more). Nature and running go together like peanut butter and jelly, another one of my favorite things. But that’s for another article about nutrition.
Whether you are a runner or a walker, the solitarily aspect of that event allows each of us a uniqueness. It is what Ralph Waldo Emerson called our “individual genius,” our special way of being in the world. George Sheehan the famous running guru phrased it nicely when he said, “I know of no better way to find my own genius than running with no companion except the rhythm of my breathing.”
STARTING YOUR PRACTICE
I suggest that you mix it up, use different forms of fitness so you get to experience a variety of feelings and environments. Strive to do something that involves you being in nature. Something outdoors that you love to do and that can lead to a need to do other physical things that support that. Let’s call that the “physical domino affect”! Stay positive, I know that sounds cliché but try and let go of negative thoughts and chose to simply stay aware of your physical experience, with practice and with the physiological changes that will occur it gets easier!
Training is not a destination it is a place that you can find in within yourself and spirit!No comments