Feel like you struggle to regulate yourself? Can’t seem to find a way to calm down when things are tough. Just Breathe … and here’s why.
Take 5 long breaths in and slow your exhale. Begin your count on the exhale and it will automatically slow your inhale. This equals about 30 seconds of deep breathing, which engages the relaxation response through your endocrine system. This response counteracts the stress response and they cannot exist at the same time.
Your breath controls your mind. It does this by impacting your heart rate, known as heart rate variability. As you breathe you are changing and shifting your nervous system between parasympathetic (rest/digest) and sympathetic (fight/flight) all day long. By taking control of your breath, you take control of your heart rate, when you do this your brain gets the signal that things are ok.
This builds self confidence by allowing you choices in each moment. Over time you learn that you have skills to figure things out, even when you do not like any of the choices in front of you.
Choices allow you to respond rather than react, thus you are more regulated in every interaction throughout your day, doing just what is needed in each moment. No more, no less.
To be effective with ourselves and our teams we must recognize that motivation comes from within, but is first inspired. So rather than chase motivation we must find inspiration. If we are leading a team of people we must look to inspire rather than motivate. If we are working with ourselves we have to figure out what inspires us today. Inspiration is more powerful because once inspired the motivation wells up inside and spills out in joy as we complete the goal, even when the task is difficult.
It was years ago that I learned this distinction. I had a client who was motivated to let go of heroine, however that is a difficult task. He was intelligent, energetic, and had supportive resources available to him, and he still could not let the drug go. One day he looked at me exasperated and said “I need to be inspired. I need to feel inspiration about living this life and I don’t. I am motivated to quit using, but without inspiration I cannot find the missing piece”. We started discussing motivation and inspiration differently that day. I have carried that discussion with me since. I started looking at inspiration in my own life and noticing when motivation felt easy and when it felt forced. When it was easy, it was always inspired.
Now the trick is to find inspiration … and then stay inspired. I can be inspired by lots of things, but they will not sustain me because inspiration moves. Thus, I must work to build inspiration everyday. I must cultivate the practices that build inspiration and I must practice them regularly. This is where people get tripped up. They get inspired in short bursts, do not have a plan or practices to sustain, then get discouraged. So what are the practices that sustain and cultivate inspiration? Well, that depends.
We are each unique and individual. Stop right now and look around your environment. What do your senses land on that draws your attention? Is is a sound, color, breeze, smell, taste, something you are touching? Our senses lead the way and draw us to what we find interesting.
As we begin the practice of cultivating our awareness we become more sensitive to what we enjoy. So many are too busy to notice. We are distracted. We rush from point A to point B and do not notice the way the sun glints off the roof of our neighbor’s house in the frosted morning. We spend time in our own head, with our to do list running fast and furious, and do not hear the new indie music in the back ground at the coffee shop with the unique sound. We sit down to rest, but use substances to finish the relaxation piece we can’t seem to figure out on our own. Instead of finding peace in the quiet we listen to the judgmental commentary lashing out in our heads. To find inspiration we can act on, we must slow down and notice. Follow the practice below to begin the process of noticing, slowing down, and engaging with your environment to find what inspires you.
Take a deep breath
Take another one
Notice the feeling of your feet on the ground …
The other points of contact your body has …
Take another deep breath
Close your eyes and listen …
Keep them closed and feel – what does your skin pick up? …
Open your eyes and notice what draws your attention …
Refrain from judgment, just notice
See if you can find something beautiful in your surroundings …
Then get curious about it, look, listen, feel deeper into the experience of noticing it …
Breathe and repeat
When you feel complete, breathe and wiggle your fingers and your toes. Begin to bring your awareness to your outer body and allow information to come to you, just being aware of your surroundings. Determine if you need to journal about what you found, what inspired you, where your attention was drawn. Maybe you need to draw, move, make a sound. Do whatever feels right to solidify your learning. When you feel ready move on, do the next step of your day.
Do this everyday, more than a few times. Take 2 minutes and notice what is around you. You’ll start to see patterns in what you like, what inspires you, and what brings peace to your moment. Notice why that item draws your attention, is it brighter, more colorful, more lyrical? What does your body feel like when you notice it? Breathe and pay deep attention to it.
From here, you can fill your surroundings with music, art, tactile items, that you find beautiful. Find Pinterest boards and blogs to check in with when you need a little inspiration. Then begin to build items, spaces, places that fit your goals. For example, if I need early morning motivation to workout, I am going to look at my Pinterest workout board to find inspiration. Suddenly my 5:45am spin class seems like a gift, not an interruption to my sleep, for I found inspiration and it created authentic motivation. Now I want to do the things I know help me be my best self. String enough of these moments together and your life becomes embodied inspiration.
And as always, if you are struggling you can schedule a 15 min Q&A appointment to see if it’s time to give yourself the gift of therapy. When else can you talk about yourself for an hour with someone trained to deeply listen to your core, not just the story you tell yourself.
When I used to teach multiple classes a week – for a time up to 14 each week! – I always had clients coming up to me stating they would like to be in a class but didn’t know what / how to enter and fit in.
Here’s the basics. First, come a little early and let the instructor know you are new. This way they can help you know what equipment you need to have for the day, how to use it, and ask about any injuries or modification you may need.
Second, find a spot where you have enough room to move and can easily see the instructor. I know beginners like to be in the back row, however if you can’t see and you spend the whole class craning to look around a regular you aren’t going to get the best workout and your experience may be less enjoyable or not feel worth the effort and nervousness.
Third, pick a class that interests you and/or bring a friend. Having a buddy can really help take the feeling of being the newbie away. Fourth, have a good time. The point of group exercise classes is to have fun, not necessarily to be the best dancer or have the most flexible body or lift the most weight/do the most reps. If those were to goals you would be in what we call “training” not group exercise “class”.
And very last – don’t let your fear of looking silly or being a greenhorn in the room stop you from trying out something new. We need new and challenging activities not just for our bodies but also for our minds. Who knows the “class” you thought was interesting may become something you enter into “training” for.
Ok, it’s getting to be crunch time and you are bored with the same ole same ole workout. You hit the trail and see kids playing by the park. They look excited, engaged, and exhausted at the same time. You think to yourself … “if only I had their energy”.
Well, some of their energy comes from being in the moment, happy, and focused. Research as shown people who are focused tend to feel more fulfilled and less overwhelmed with daily life. So if you are feeling a bit burnt out – find a way to play.
Engage your whole body, all your senses in something fun and silly. Who cares if you look a little funny chasing your kids around the playground or laughing hysterically with your head thrown back and feet out riding your bike down the hill. Just trust that if you love what you are doing in the moment and all will fall into place.
When are you feeling most energetic and most active? It can be hard enough to fit exercise in, not to mention trying to fit exercise in when you are tired and feeling worn out.
Some of naturally gravitate toward early morning – others toward evenings. Some of us like to be in bed early others could stay up all night. Which are you? Try out different workout times and see which ones fit best into your life.
Then start to plan your workouts around those times. Keep in mind performing an intense exercise session too close to bedtime can keep you energized and up longer than you’d like. Make sure you give yourself about 2 hours to settle down after a hard workout if you are doing your exercise close to your slumber time.
Working out alone has its benefits and its struggles. Many people prefer working out with a tribe.
Find your tribe by considering what type(s) of workouts do you like to do? What time of day? Where – inside, outside, a class, a small group? Then begin participating in the activities you like where others who like the same activity are.
At first it may feel awkward and weird – remember you might the new person in class, however stick with it and give relationships a little time to develop. It’s also important to put yourself out there at times.
If you are hanging in the corner making it impossible for others to get to know you, guess what – they won’t. Make sure you smile, make eye contact, and say hello on a regular basis. Making friends takes time and hopefully your time for socializing is limited by the time and effort you put in sweating.
Here’s a little help in case making new friends is the tough part.
We are 70% water. When we are dehydrated our bodies begin to struggle. We don’t think as clearly, concentrate well, and we get irritated.
Make sure to drink plenty of water every day. It’s recommended that you drink about 8, 8oz glasses a day and compensate if you drink things like coffee, tea, alcohol as these are all diuretics.
Don’t believe me … that don’t take my word on the benefits of water. Check out this guys journey.
The water in foods and other beverages count, but don’t rely on that alone. Often we eat when we are really thirsty so before you reach for food drink some water to determine if what you really needed was hydration.
Ready to challenge yourself to get started on your fitness goals this year? Try a 7-day free trial with Jillian Michaels and take the guess work out of your fitness – Reach your goals in 2018.
Remember, if you are feeling thirsty you are already getting dehydrated! Drink more. Start Right Now.
On this day of Thanksgiving … Remember your body! Give it the thanks it deserves by eating well, sleeping well, and moving today. Practice care and acceptance for yourself and for others. Most of all enjoy your family, friends, neighbors, or the dude sitting next to you at the bar (could be coffee or beauty 🙂 – with love and grace.
Today let go and relax. Allow yourself to find ease in your doing and be present in the work that surrounds today. You deserve the balance and joy that comes with being present to your experience and fully engaged – this is living life on fire – vibrant and alive.
I am so grateful for all of you. Those of you out there focused on your health, your wellness, and building healthy relationships are what make my work so enjoyable. Those of you brave enough to reach deep inside and find those parts of you that are wounded – then work hard to heal those wounds are what make my work so rewarding. Life isn’t always easy and I know many of you work hard to balance your life. It takes work to make your life work, and I am grateful to be on that journey with you. Thank you for giving me the honor of being part of your story.
Make today one of reverence and gratitude for all the hard work you do to maintain all the things you’ve got going on in your life. Balance takes effort and ease. Make today’s efforts easy.
When beginning a workout it is important to begin with a warm up and end with a cool down. In both cases the gentle movements allow the body to begin preparing the systems (musculature, circulatory, and neuro-muscular junctions) to work together. As the systems begin working together your muscles “warm up”. The blood begins flowing to smaller areas and the tissues become more playable.
Begin by performing some of the same movement patterns you are planning in your workout without the overload of weight or speed. This helps your brain get ready for the more complicated work of compensating for overload. Once the workout is over it is important to let your body “cool down”. This means you are allowing those worked muscles to slow down, blood flow to gradually decrease, and the tissues to settle.
Check out this cool down and stretching routine. I really like this website and the workouts these two create. It’s a great resource for those of us working out at home.
When when we stop moving abruptly the blood can pool in our larger muscle groups and make us feel dizzy, in addition, performing flexibility training after a workout is important because the muscles are “warm” and the stretch reflectors and proprioceptors are able to more easily stretch. They still need a gentleness to perform at their best, but it will be much easier with less potential for injury if your muscles have good blood flow. The job of these proprioceptors is to make sure you do not harm your tissues.
Try foam rollers to help you obtain a deeper stretch when you are ready for your flexibility training.
When getting ready to cool down, begin moving in similar movement patterns to your workout but slower speeds and less to no overload. To complete your workout plan to spend 10-15 minutes stretching all muscles of the body a few times each (compound movement stretches save time and are great here). Allow your breathing to become deep to take benefit from your increased endorphin flow and set an intention for what’s left of your day.
Remember – the nutritional part of maintaining a healthy weight is about 80% of the battle. While exercise matters for quality of life, ability to live well into our older years, and feeling alive, it’s only about 20% of losing/gaining weight. This is because exercise is good at helping us use up calories (aka stored fat) but only if we aren’t putting more into storage.
In addition, exercise often creates more hunger – because you are using more calories you need more fuel. If you are eating your fuel via junk food you are only filling your tank with junk. The body then struggles to help you rebuild tissue and have what it needs to make sure you are strong and ready for your next workout.
Planning your meals and making sure to follow the 80/20 rule when choosing foods is important. Here 80% of the time you are on track for your goals (weight loss, maintenance, or gain) and 20% of the time you eat what you want. This can be looked at according to the hour, day, week, etc.
If you are following the 80/20 rule on food and making good, healthy, whole food, nutrient dense choices, you can be pretty sure your also following the 80/20 rule when it comes to the way diet and exercise work together to create a healthy weight for you.
This video goes over a case study of someone who works a lot, isn’t able to find the time to exercise, and is starting to have physical problems as a result of being about 100lbs overweight. He outlines where to start and how to stick with it.