Exercise Doesn’t Have To Be So Serious

Many of us work the grind. Over and over we do what we are “supposed to” only to feel a little bored and uninspired in our workouts. Kinda reminds me of the old Dunkin’ Donuts commercials. What if you exercise was more like play? Here’s how big kids (aka adults) can play!First, find activities that you like to do. Usually, these are challenging, stimulating on multiple levels, have a sense of focus and one pointedness. They allow us to do nothing but focus on the task at hand.

Second, don’t worry about numbers and goals, and “have tos”. I was watching my children play the other day and they have no sense of how much they are learning as they play – only that they are having fun. Try to create this element in your own play. Of course you are doing great things for your body and it feels like activity, maybe even like exercise, but you want to create a sense of fun, excitement, and frivolousness. Adding in goals, heart-rate numbers, sets, reps, time lines, and body weight can dampen spirits and drudgery creeps in. You are no longer doing the activity just because you enjoy it. You are no longer being mindful in the moment focusing on the activity at hand, instead your mind has gone off to charts and graphs of future goals.

Third, try something new, take your game to the next level, introduce a new skill, or attempt to focus on one element of your activity. For example: downhill skiing – when I attempt to focus only on my breathing the rest of my body follows and I become much more mindful of my body in space. This allows me to focus on one element of the technique with a sense of wonder and curiosity rather than goals and future benefits.

Finally, the sense of wonder and joy are key to keeping playfulness alive. If you have forgotten how to do this spend some time watching children play. They bring a sense of curiosity and wonder to their games. Some questions to ask might be:

What if we try it this way next time?

I wonder if I can make this jump again?

What if I move my foot that way?

What happens when I run this fast or in zig zags or stop and start?

How is it different when ________?

Playing is just as important for adults as it is for kids. So get your game on and take yourself to the park. Get moving, stop worrying, and reap the benefits of activity and mindfulness all in one fun, exciting, and inspiring movement session.

Getting Started on Your Exercise Goals

I was talking with some friends the other day and one of them stated she “really wants to get started” on her exercise goals but she just didn’t feel ready. We talked about what being ready might look like for her. We all come to beginning a lifestyle change at different points in our lives. It can be helpful to think about a few things before you get started. 

1) What are your goals? Are they realistic? Do you need help deciding if they are realistic? Why do you want to reach these goals?

Many people begin attempting their fitness goals by throwing darts at an old board (and missing the target). They think about a weight, strength, or speed they had in the past and decide that is a good goal. It might be and it might not be. Much has changed since then (work, family, age). Wouldn’t be wise to consider what and how your life has changed before you try to change it back? It might be a goal worth going for with a few tweaks to support your new lifestyle.

2) What don’t you want? What do you not want to do to achieve this goal? What do you want to do to achieve it? What do you want to be different?

There are so many options there is no need to do something you don’t like – say those push ups you had to do in the military or high school gym class as punishment. Many of us have things we consider fun and exciting. Why not add those into your routine so it becomes playful and something you look forward to. If you don’t want a diet choice (say vegetables) you are an adult, you can choose, and you can find ways to get the health support you need and not eat what you don’t like. You also have choices about what you want to stay the same and what you want to be different about your life. It’s all about choices and tradeoffs.

3) What are your life obligations? Where are you going to find the time? What do you have to work around? Do you need to cycle your workouts to make sure you fit them in?

It is important to consider your life. Although, life doesn’t need to keep you from accomplishing your fitness goal it is easier to work with it rather than against it. So use it. If you have children or pets include them. Add activity into your day by parking further and walking more, taking the stairs, and planning active lunches or meetings when possible (walking around the block counts). Look at your schedule and slowly make realistic changes.

Bottom-line is we are all ready at different times and often our sense of what we are currently doing and the thought of trying to fit something else in is overwhelming. It is important to take a close look at what we are currently doing, what we want to do different, and start slowly.

You are a work in progress and just the fact that you are thinking about making a change is a step in the right direction. Keep it up!

10 Ways to Move Your Body Today

I know I haven’t written in a while. I’ve started a PhD program and it’s kept me writing and reading a ton. I have been learning about the bodies need to express itself with movement as its communication route. Here are 10 ways to let your body talk. Some people like using music others don’t.

First get quiet and draw your attention to your body. Where does your attention want to go, where do you avoid? Notice if anything needs more attention. Then allow your body to begin to move. Here are some ideas.

1) Jump
2) Move your arms like they are under water
3) Take big steps
4) Twist (be careful to honor your body’s level of fitness for this movement)
5) Bounce
6) Crawl
7) Balance – see how many different ways you can come up with ways to balance your body, arms, legs, torso
8) Walk on your tiptoes or heels
9) Open and close your fists (or your toes)
10) Move however your body wants – tighten, release, fast, slow, rhythmically, asymmetrical, just MOVE!!!!

Don’t worry about being silly or looking dumb. It isn’t about how you look to others but about how you feel when you allow your body to say what it wants. Start in privacy if you are self-conscious and just notice how listening to your body and then answering it’s call with movement feels.

I found myself beginning as an assignment and then I noticed I would do small movements at work or in the car as a way to continue to allow myself to express needed thoughts and emotions through my actions. Pretty powerful stuff! Enjoy.

*As always if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed emotionally it may be time to seek out a professional near your home. 

Tips for Losing Weight Before Vacation

Ok, how many of you have decided you are headed on vacation and figure you’ll lose a bit before you go … and that doesn’t happen. I am getting ready to head on vacation and decided I was going to lose 10lbs before I left. Here’s some tips on how to get into shape before you go.

First, it is important to determine realistic goals. Many of us decide we are going to get swimsuit ready based on an old photo of us or better (worse) yet Sports Illustrated version of swimsuit ready. If you’ve put on 50lbs over years its not coming off in weeks. Sticking to the goal of 1-2lbs per week is important. This goal allows you to actually change your lifestyle and keep the weight off over the long haul.

Second, Remember that the focus should be on healthy eating and exercise. Portion size is important and make sure you are getting enough intensity in your exercise to burn sufficient calories to meet a 1-2lb loss each week. A great site I like to use is livestrong.com (I am not affiliated in any way and make no money off my suggestion. It’s just a site I have had success tracking my food and exercise with because I can take it on my phone or from my computer)

Third, Don’t crash diet. This leads to over eating later and can actually help you gain more than you lost. Here’s the deal: If I weigh 150lbs and I want to lose 20lbs, I crash diet, I get to 130 and then I decide I can eat whatever I want. See #1. If I haven’t worked on healthy lifestyle habits such as mindful eating and conscious choice in my foods I am going to fall back to the same ole same ole and we typically don’t notice how much we’ve gained until our clothes don’t fit again. MEANING – I’ve gained more weight than I was packing before because my clothes in my closet fit a 150lb person.

Fourth, it is important to keep perspective. Vacations are supposed to be fun and relaxing. If you don’t make your goal it is OK. Just by trying you’ve gained insight into what didn’t work for you. This is important for next time. Insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results – and its the same in weight loss. If you don’t succeed this time, try again, using a different path.

Finally, ENJOY, ENJOY, ENJOY! You will get more out of your vacation and come back more refreshed if you just let go and have a good time.

10 Ways to Jump Start Your Fitness Routine

Are you close to reaching your fitness goals? If not, now is the time to start again. Try one of these ideas to help jump start your fitness routine again.

  1. Commit to an Event – Money helps you commit  to yourself, too
  2. Ask a Friend To Join You – Buddies Help Make Fitness Better
  3. Play At The Park – Get outside and pretend you are little kid again
  4. Cross train – Trying different things keeps you from being bored
  5. Borrow a Dog or Make a Promise To Your Own – They need exercise and so do their owners!
  6. Bike to Work or Around Town for Errands – Even if you park and bike a little its more than you are doing now, right?
  7. Look for a New Sport To Learn Each Season – Maybe it is swimming in the summer and skiing in the winter, biking, climbing, hiking, running, dance, martial arts – there’s a couple of years of activity in this list
  8. Time your workout to be able to watch the sunrise or set and find inspiration in your chosen hour
  9. Enlist a personal trainer or other professional – An appointment with someone else can keep you focused
  10. FINALLY … HAVE FUN DOING WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE!!!!!