The second part of a 10 part series on how to create an abundant life for yourself and achieve your goals and dreams . For those who missed Step 1, the subject was How to Motivate Yourself to Achieve your Goals. You can find that article in my December archived Blogs
Here’s Step Two: Get Physical!
It’s hard to be great if you don’t feel really good physically. It’s hard to live an abundant life and achieve all your dreams if body is not in peak condition, physically. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the North American population is overweight or obese and out of shape. Recently, the International Journal of Obesity released a report that says we expend about 500-800 calories less per day than we did a few decades ago. Today’s labour saving devises (aka. remote controls, escalators, elevators, dishwashers, computers , the interne etc.) make our lives supposedly easier. In fact these labour saving tools are making us sick and slowly killing us. If you think about it, the calories we expend less of today are equivalent to a 5-8 mile run! It’s amazing but that is how much less we move our bodies today! Does it make sense that daily exercise is absolutely critical to counteract today’s sedentary society.
The U.S. Surgeon General released a finding that said we need to move our bodies about 30 minutes a day to increase our health. The finding wasn’t referring to exercise but rather just being active with household chores, walking the dog, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn etc. I think it is really sad that in North America we have to have a government public announcement to ask us to move our bodies 30 minutes a day. But the reality is that most people don’t move even that much. Think of most people’s typical days: We wake up, sit to have breakfast, get in the car and drive to work (or maybe a drive through since we didn’t make time for breakfast). At work we sit at a computer all day , sometimes working right through lunch. With interoffice email and “ Live Meeting” we don’t even have to leave our desk to communicate with our fellow co-workers. After work we, get back in our cars to drive home, sit to eat dinner and then lay on the couch all night watching TV. When you add up the actual minutes of movement for the average North American, it doesn’t even add up to 30 minutes. What is even sadder in America, instead of fixing this problem, we find ways to accommodate the problem. Did you know that there are entire industries now creating products and offering services to accommodate our bigger butts. We don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable so we build bigger chairs and airline seats!
Are there a solutions to North America’s BIG problem? Is Diabetes and Heart Disease going to continue to kill us way before out time?
So yes, #1, you have to move your bodies – every day! And one of the things I’ve learned after being a fitness and health professional for 36 years is that exercise is 10% physical and 90% mental. My biggest obstacle when coaching clients is helping them to change their mindset so they catch the ‘wellness bug’ and exercise becomes a lifestyle habit like brushing their teeth or taking a shower. This takes a grand total of 15 months of conscious mental effort. People say it takes 3 weeks to create a habit but in reality it takes the body 15 months for healthy changes to be ingrained in our lifestyles. If you are just starting an exercise program, you may find exercise a chore and you might not even like it. Eventually, though, if you stick with it long enough, you will notice your days are better when you workout, you may look forward to workouts and actually enjoy them! Eventually, you want to workout and actually need exercise and then you’re hooked for life!
If you are just starting out you might ask yourself “Should I workout today?” That’s the wrong question because now you know the answer is a resounding yes. You should always move your body everyday. Instead you should ask yourself ‘what workout should I do today?’ and the ‘what’ doesn’t matter as much….as long as you do it! You might walk, run, cycle, swim, hike, take a Zumba class, go to a Muscle Sculpt Class, have a session with your personal trainer or take a mind-body Yoga/Pilates class. The key is to find activities that you enjoy (or, let’s be real, hate the least)and then commit. Lock it into your lifestyle. Ritualize it. Schedule in your workouts like a work meeting or an important appointment with your doctor. This is an appointment with your all important SELF! Put yourself first. Carve time out for YOU!
Do you feel tired after work? “I’m too tired to exercise!” keeps so many people from maintaining a successful exercise regimen. . Instead , try saying “I’m so tired, I need to move my body”. One of the laws of the physical universe is that energy creates energy. I promise you that if you make yourself move when you are tired you will feel so much better afterwards!
There will always be excuses that will keep you from exercising! It’s so easy to find them-the kids need me, I don’t have enough time, I don’t have money to join a club, my friends don’t like to exercise, my boss wants me to work overtime etc! So (here comes the tough love) no matter what excuse you are using to convince yourself that you can’t commit to exercise, sorry, you need to “build a bridge and get over it” . It’s time for you. No more excuses! You deserve better than that!
So now let me give you the ‘What’ to designing your exercise program.
There are 3 key components:
You need to perform sustained cardio for a minimum of 20-30 minutes minutes using aerobic activities like walking, running, biking, swimming, dancing or hiking to improve your endurance. You also need to perform higer intensity interval training to improve your speed. Some classes have endurance built into them. ZUMBA, Total body and Athletic Conditioning classes should provide both. These activities are like a shower for your cells –getting rid of some toxins with a good sweat. So when designing your weekly workout program, incorporate a couple endurance workouts and a couple interval workouts to challenge all energy systems.
Muscle Conditioning Exercise
You need to challenge your muscles with a weight bearing load . Choose lifting weights, moving your body against gravity or using other resistance training tools like tubing. Many physiologists agree that this is the true fountain of youth and a key component to sculpting your body. The truth is that we lose 10% of our muscle mass every decade after 25 years unless we do muscle conditioning exercises. By the age of 75 we will have lost 50% of our muscle mass unless we train for muscular endurance and strength. Ever wonder why older people have a hard time even getting out of bed? Just like cardio endurance and intervals, it is important to include long and slow with fast and hard workouts, you should also lift heavy weights sometimes with less reps to develop strength and other workouts, lift lighter resistance with more reps to improve your muscle endurance. Staple exercises to include in your program are Squats, Lunges, Step-ups, Pulls/Rows, Presses/Pushups, and Core conditioning. These exercises work multiple muscles and joints at the same time so they are a real time saver.
As we age, we lose elasticity in our muscle tissues and joints. Without flexibility training, you will become more rigid as you get older which will negatively affect your quality of movement, your postural alignment and risk for injury. Ever watch some older people walking? They shuffle along instead of striding. Generally this is because they have lost their flexibility and range of motion. Effective flexibility is possessing a powerful combination of adequate pain-free motion at a joint and stability around that same joint. If you are too tight it will affect your ability to move but, likewise, you can be too flexible or hypermobile if you have no strength to support movement at your joints. Many of us have sprained an ankle of some other joint at some point in our lives which makes our joints unstable. So incorporating stretches to typically tight areas like your hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, glutes, chest, shoulders and upper back is critical. Attending a Yoga, Pilates or having a personal trainer design a stretching workout, including a Foam roller one to two times per week can be very helpful.
An important point to leave you with is to workout NOT so that you can love your body but workout BECAUSE you love your body! There is a powerful difference here!