Does the thought of EXERCISE raise hairs on your neck? Do you feel a guilt gut reaction rearing its gluttonous head? Or are you one of the gritty go-getters who loves to exercise? Your friends groan at you for running marathons or beating the Cross Fit records for recovering after your rotator cuff injury.
Our feisty, leprechaun-like son, Sean, 38, loves exercise. He feels he needs it to keep his emotions in check and to function mentally the way he wants. Our family was always very active. I am happy he has the trait or has learned to like to keep his body humming along. You will read Sean’s down-to-earth wisdom in a second.
As I sit here at my computer, I remind myself, “I am not moving!” Time to get up and take a stretch!” Nothing like that inner critic to remind me I am not practicing what I am preaching! Before I had too many foot surgeries, I used to stand up and do jumping jacks. Now I stand in place and wave my arms up and down as if I were running, and I get my heart rate up. I love my Alta Fitbit. She keeps my butt alert and beeps to remind me if my butt has stayed too long in one place. A great techie friend.
When I am wildly waving my arms up and down and doing some isometrics at the same time, I know it looks odd as hell, but I do this wherever I travel. I bet people in the airport are ready to call security wondering, “What in the name of normal is that woman doing?” I have learned not to care what they may think. I keep my mental race horse galloping along. Delightful buddy gal, Sheila Tasman, KY, gave me a cool Kentucky Derby mug so I might imbibe in a protein shake while getting in my over 10,000 steps every day. How thoughtful.
My dear Mom, Louise, would always tell me to keep moving, “Don’t sit long. Get up and do something. Once you sit too much, you will end up sitting. Then there goes your life. Keep going as long as you can. Never quit, Judy. Never quit!” Wise wonderful lady.
Maybe you think exercise means you need to go to the gym. Or maybe you think it takes great effort and is just too much to fathom. Denial is one great defense mechanism. Self-defeating beliefs will not get and keep you healthy.
Like popcorn popping in my brain this morning as I was re-arranging unused garden pots, some really heavy, the thought crossed my mind, “This may not be fun, but it IS GOOD EXERCISE!” Amen for that. Then I realized I was aware. Humbly, I was proud of myself as I have been wanting to move those pots for months. They were the unlucky pots who were not blessed to be planted with pretty flowers this spring. I used humor to feel sorry for those poor “babies” who did not make the cut to sit in my garden in all their colorful splendor. Humor is a powerful strength.
Exercise takes many shapes and forms.
If you are not a regular exercise person, and perhaps even if you are, what if you unearthed some ways to mindfully look at your life and habits. Could it be you actually ARE exercising but are not gifting yourself with the realization you are? Awareness is a great way to delete negativism and intro-punitiveness.
Hot tip: Look for the good in ALL your movement! Here are a few exercise ideas. Please appreciate their value and praise yourself when you catch your body on the go!:
1. Any time you are walking, you are jacking up your neurons and making your muscles happy.
Walk when you can. When shopping, maybe park your car a little farther away than you usually do. Every step counts. I walk around the counter in my kitchen many times a day, yes, my arms pedaling along with me. Sometimes I watch a whole TV show during my walk. A fun win win.
2. Every time you reach high on a shelf, know you are stretching.
Great! Why not stretch a few more times for the heck of it? And as you are reaching for the refrigerator, ask yourself how much movement it will take to burn off that snack you are reaching for. OK, sometimes a little guilt trip works to help you be mindful of what you really want. Instant gratification or health and wellness. I fail often at this one, I admit, but at least I am alert and acknowledge this is truly what I want. And I don’t indulge everyday. Hard? Yup! And a nice cup of flavorful Greek yogurt might curb your sugar craving, too.
3. Hauling a heavy laundry basket is work.
So is folding and putting away clothes. Good work. Your body is humming! Look for the good. Your clothe are clean and you are burning off calories! Yippee! Any time you haul or move an object your body is grateful.
4. Clean out your garage.
Or your attic. Or that extra room of stuff that needs to go bye bye. The Salvation Army will love you, too! Another win-win. And fat deleting, too. Hot dog dandy!
5. Sweep your porch or kitchen with gusto.
Sing a happy tune or jam with the radio. Remind yourself life is good and your body thanks you. Remember that Fantasia movie when the magic broom is whisking away? My age is showing, but what a great classic movie filled with movement, wisdom. fun and awe. Wonderful positive emotions to boot!
Water, lop, prune, weed, and nurture your indoor and/or outdoor plants. Hauling watering cans or hoses is great exercise. Don’t have a garden? Offer to help someone else with their yard work. Nature is great for the soul. and your heart is lifted by blissful beauty. You will be exercising your Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence strength, too.
7. Stand up when you are having a conversation and march in place.
Who cares if it looks dumb. You are revving up your body. Schedule to walk with a friend a couple times a week. I walk around my kitchen island while dear friend, Sheila Tasman, walks outside. Her nature stories are sublime. One of her neighbors has chickens and another a waterfall. Connections make us feel lighter, alive, and engender laughter, too. Sister love is grand! And so is exercising together with our faces light up in smiles.
My point is to keep on truckin’ no matter what you actively do in life. Yes, it is your life as usual, but please add a punch of panache to it. How? Notice your movement. Praise yourself and plaster a smile on your face. Exercise does not need to be about willpower. It is about you choosing to value yourself. To be mindful of your moving. To be grateful to yourself you have a body you want to nurture. Self-respect, you bet! Awareness is your magic key to greater health and thriving longevity. Activity is your happiness fuel for a fun, wellness focused life.
Good news about exercise…
According to Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today, 01, 2018:
1. Small amounts of exercise can increase your brain power and task focus.
Even 10′ of aerobic exercise increases your executive functioning. Thinking and decision-making are easier when your mind is humming along after exercise.
2. You mentally FEEL more alert, in tune with your world and happier, yes happier!
Exercise decreases depression and anxiety, too.
3. You have greater attention powers.
More focus. More brain power ability. Increased alertness, motivation, and attention. A triple crown of cognitive fireworks!
Perhaps the greatest scientifically-based wonder of exercise, at least for me is this: Exercise makes us more loving!!!Â According to John Ratey in his fascinating book, Spark.
The hormone oxytocin, which is the bonding and love hormone, is boosted with exercise. This boost helps us become more altruistic, friendlier and more loving. We’re also more attractive to others after we exercise because we have this love hormone circulating in our bodies. All of this comes together to improve our well being and sense of who we are. It’s this bonding and feeling of connection that we have with others that makes a huge difference in brain growth and brain health.
LOVE. Remember it is the grand mama of all positive psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson’s 10 positive emotions. Exercise and love, now there is a terrific twosome.
What can you do to increase your exercise? Notice when you are still. Get up and do a jig, dance to the music, howl at the moon. Humor helps get your Adrenalin flowing and your whole head, heart, and gut to get crackin’.
Is that you I see getting up to take a stroll?
I promised you some exercise and health wisdom from son Sean. Below is an out of the blue unedited email I recently received from him. His joy and enthusiasm about exercising and overall health spurred me to write this blog. Thank you, Sean!
I’ve been averaging 4 gym sessions a week, a banana and an avocado a day (the best I can), lots of water a day, asparagus 3-4 days a week, fish 1-3 days a week, withered spinach once a week, chicken breast at least twice a week, barely any sugar and NO canned foods, very little processed foods, lots of pistachios, 2 protein shakes a day of whey protein (helps my muscles repair after lifting weights).
I cut out, completely: nacho cheese and chips, ice cream, sugary cereal, candy bars, ramen noodles, etc. I’ve really noticed a difference in my results at the gym. The older you get
DIET means everything. Even a couple of my buddies, guys and girls, have commented on how good of shape I’ve gotten myself in :) Feels great! The better diet and exercise makes me:
- wake up easier in the mornings
- makes my mood better
- makes my mind clearer
- gives me more overall energy
If more people would just push themselves and stick to a better diet and workout plan for ONE MONTH (and I mean PUSH themselves, not do one exercise and then walk around the gym texting) they’d see the mental and physical rewards in their soul and in the mirror….then it becomes an addictive habit and only positives are the result. I see SO MANY people complain and say, “I work out 3 times a week and nothing changes in the way I look!” But they go in the gym, do three exercises, don’t even break a sweat, text and put minimal effort in….and expect life changing results!!?? You have to get in there, have a goal in mind, push yourself, sweat, and break the laziness! I swear, if I could pick another career path earlier in life I’d wanna be a successful personal trainer!
Remember, if you need help with your exercise and or diet routine, I would love to be your coach!
Thanks to Sean, his partner, Sami, and puppy, Rommel. Also love to dear friend, Sheila, who you see smiling here with me.