Bringing Wellness Full Circle

Posts tagged ‘Physical exercise’

About Walking–Short but Sweet

So you really don’t feel like working out but you know you should move. Or your shoulders are dead from yesterday’s workout and you are pretty sure you can’t make them work again today. Or you are on a business trip and forgot to pack your workout clothes… What to do?

Just. Walk.

walking 1

So simple, isn’t it? There are so many benefits of walking, one of which is that it’s an all-around aerobic exercise that you can do anytime, anywhere, and it requires no equipment—besides good shoes! Another great benefit is that it pretty much helps you clear your head, especially if you get to walk outside.

Here is my short but sweet list of tips to help you get the most of your walks:

~Walk fast enough to make your heart beat faster, but you should still be able to talk, even if it is laborious.

~ Walk heel down first, then toes down.  At first, it might take a lot of concentration to do so–I had to tell myself with each step, “Heel, toe. Heel. toe”–but after a while, it will become second nature.

~Good form includes your head erect, your stomach in and your arms freely swinging at your side.

~You can estimate your speed by counting the numbers of steps you take in 15 seconds; 15 steps is about 2 miles/hour, 23 is about 3 miles/hour, and 30 is about 4 miles/hour.

~Remember to wear reflective clothing on darker days

~Add some hills, sprints, jumps if you need to be challenged; interval training outside is one of the best!

walking 2That’t it!


Back on Track

So the days are getting shorter and you feel lethargic, and this exercise=wathcing-what-you-eat-thing is getting old…  Maybe you ate an extra piece of cake yesterday and you missed a workout, and now you feel that you blew it… and your momentum is pooping out…

Don’t talk yourself into quitting.  Take a deep breath, and let me help you get back on track.

It’s all about choices, isn’t it?  Now you are at a crossroad: either you keep walking backwards, which will surely take you even further away from your goals and will make you feel horrible, or you simply have to accept what you see as your weaknesses, forgive yourself and take positive steps down the path that brings you closer to the future you want.
Did you hear this?  There were a few very important statements in this last sentence:

~you are not perfect—who is?  To lose a point is not the end of the game in tennis, is it?  It is just a lost point.  You refocus and keep going.  Just like in the game of life, or in the goals you have set for yourself.  Today is another day; embrace it with courage.  You can’t lose if you don’t quit.

~you must forgive yourself—what’s your alternative?  Be kind to yourself; remember, you must live with yourself for the rest of your days, so learn to accept your weaknesses without making excuses for them, and work them out of you little by little while giving yourself room to slip up at times.  You are on a journey, and roads have potholes at times; we just don’t choose to live there.

~you must act—small little steps.  There is just something about taking an action in the face of perceived failure; it’s like you are choosing to be in charge again; life doesn’t have you, but you control your destiny by your choices.  No matter how small the action, start today.  Put your pedometer back on, or start up your nutrition software again, eat your spinach or drink your water.  You will feel empowered as you begin to move in the right direction once more.

~you must keep your dream alive.  There is a future for you out there that you have dreamed of.  Maybe it includes running a marathon, or dazzling your husband with a cute little red dress, or playing with your grandkids without being exhausted, or simply enjoying a healthy life.  Whatever it is, keep it in front  of you; it is worth all of your efforts today.

You choose your future by your choices today.

Here are little baby steps that you can start taking today:

1. Try a short workout. Even five minutes is better than nothing.

2. Try a new recipe. Cooking healthy foods can be fun and it never has to be bland.

3. Eat a  healthy breakfast. Your morning meal sets the stage for the rest of your day, so start if off right!
4. Drink your water. Try to aim for 8 cups each day and you’ll feel the difference!
5. Read motivational quotes! Go online and read testimonies of other people who won the battle for health.

6. Track your food today. No matter how it adds up, you’ll learn from it.

8. Share your goals with someone.  Speaking about htem will make them so much more alive to you, and you will also be held accountable.

9. Exercise for 10 minutes. Jump rope, march in place, or do some crunches. Small amounts do add up to something big! And there is a good chance that after ten minutes, you are going to want to go on.

10. Find a buddy. Get support from friends, whether you need someone to listen or a mentor to give you ideas and encouragement.

11. Take a walk. Don’t worry about how long or far you go—just get out there!

12. Create a motivational collage. Include pictures of your goal and reasons why you want to get there.

13. Go shopping for some healthy foods.

14. Check the nutrition facts before you go out to eat.. That way, you can make an informed choice.

15. Ride your bike. Even a leisurely ride has benefits for your body and mind.

16. Work in the yard. Gardening and yard work is a great way to add activity to your day.

17. Take the stairs. Even if this is the only thing you do all day, you’ll feel stronger for it.

18. Reward yourself for a job well done after you reach a mini goal. The reward can be a new book, a new CD, a bubble bath… whatever makes you happy!

19. Listen to an inspirational song.
21. Measure your portions. It’s a simple way to learn how much you’re eating.

veggie22. Eat a veggie. Even if 5-9 servings sounds impossible to you right now, one is doable.

23. Slow down during meals. You’ll be less likely to overeat and more likely to enjoy your meal.

24. Play! What kids call “play,” we often call “exercise.” Play a sport, a game, or use the playground equipment to bring the fun back into fitness.

25. Learn something new about fitness, nutrition of health.  It can change your mindset and get you back on track.

As long as you’re consistently out-stepping your steps back, you’re ahead of the game.




The Alphabet of Health: M is for MOVEMENT

In the alphabet of health, M simply has to be for movement. Because really, there is no health apart from movement.

If I wanted to get a bit philosophical on you, life isn’t life apart from some kind of movement, because life is defined by growth, going forward, developing–movement. If we don’t move, we die.


Not all movement is seen on the outside, though. And most movements start on the inside, whether they are physical or not.  When I decide to move forward intellectually and go to college, the process of making that decision was movement long before it manifests in the physical realm.  When I lift my arm, the movement started long before my arm is seen being lifted. My brain had to decide to move my arm, my muscles had to obey my brain, etc…




In what we call “the olden days,” people spent much more time moving their bodies than we  do today. Their entire existence revolved around survival, which motivated them to move physically from dawn to dusk: hunt for the meat, work the earth for crops, use all possible resources to build a home that is safe and keeps them protected from the weather and animals, kill the fowl, grind the wheat, beat the laundry, etc…

And you know what? They did not need weight training sessions, or aerobic classes, or boot camp.  If they were around today, they would look at our attempts to get fit and have a great laugh. They might just hand us an ax and tell us to go chop some wood… Life made them fit. Movement made them fit.

They also would think us insane for sitting on our butts eight hours a day, then come home and lay on the couch all night watching junk on tv and filling our bellies with even more junk.  And then take a sleeping pill. I can picture them totally confused by what we call the good life. And wondering if we all just went nuts.

We now find that children have “nature deficit disorder.”  Yep, it has a name now. In my book, it’s called not-going-out-and-living-life-the-way-it-was-meant-to-be-lived. That’s enough to make a person sick if you ask me. Or insane.

Just sayin’

Let’s slow the insanity down a bit but moving more, shall we? Who is with me?




The Alphabet of Health: K is for KICKING

In the alphabet of health, K is for Kicking for more than one reason.

Yes, kicking is great exercise. Kickboxing will cause you to burn zillions of calories, and help you release lots and lots of stress. There is just something about hitting a heavy bag with gloved hands or a strong foot. If you have never tried it, do it! You might just love it!

But kicking is also for kicking bad habits. Because no matter how hard you work out, if your eating habits are deadly, you will probably get frustrated because you won’t reap the benefits you expected to reap from your sweat. And if you eat well but spend every moment of your day with your butt on a chair, your strength is not going to improve… Studies have shown that sitting for 8 hours a day increases your chances of death by 11 % and the percentage goes up from there. Sitting just isn’t pretty: the body’s metabolism goes to sleep, muscles stop moving all together and the heart slows down. Your calorie-burning rate plummets to about one calorie per minute — a third of what it would be if you were walking.  Insulin effectiveness drops, and fat and cholesterol levels rise. Yikes!

Whether your “bad” habit is sitting, or eating junk all night long in front of the TV, or yelling at the kids, or… you name it, kicking it is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. And kicking it is just that: kicking it! It involves serious violence. Because your body and minds won’t want to let go of the familiar.

The best way I know to kick a habit is to replace it with another one. Because the more you think about what you should not do it, the more you are going to do it. But if you are involved with something else, you might just get used to that something else and let go of the bad habit.

What do you think? Easy? Not at all. Feasible? Heck, yes!


The Alphabet of Health–I is for Intensity

I am a firm believer in exercise, period. Any kind of movement is great. You get off the couch and you are already a winner.

But just like with anything else in life, you need specific strategies for specific results. You don’t use a hammer to screw a screw into your wall, and you don’t use garlic to make a sweet dessert.  That’s just common sense.

Well, it’s the same with exercise. If you want to build muscle, you lift weights. If you are recovering from an injury, you walk and you start slow. If you are train for a marathon, you work on endurance. And if you are looking to burn some fat off of your body, you need to increase the intensity of your workouts. Why is that? Three reasons: (1)  you need to increase your caloric expenditure. (2) you need to build muscles in order to rev up your metabolism (3) you want to burn calories even after you are done working out.

Unless you have not worked out at all for a while, slow walking isn’t going to do the trick. So set your mind, research some higher intensity workouts, and go to it!

Commitment to Health, Inside and Out

Commitment is really what it boils down to. Some days you do great and others… well, not so great. But if you are committed to have a healthy lifestyle, you don’t see it as a defeat. You just pick up where you left off and keep going. And one day plus one day plus one day adds up, and you find yourself in a totally different place before you know it! So here are some keys that I myself personally have found useful:

1. Make a commitment to do whatever it takes.  Commitment is more than just knowing what to do. It’s managing yourself yourself in such a way that you do it. Pretty basic, I know. But if you really get this and do it, you are on your way for sure!

2. Start from a foundation of happiness. Happiness is a mental state that can only be created right now – at any given moment. And nobody wins at any challenge if they’re unhappy. So be happy. Accept yourself and your current circumstances and be enthusiastic about the future you’re creating.

3. Design your own healthy “diet” plan. Maybe you hate meat, and I love it, but I know not to eat too much of it. Maybe nuts make you happy. There really is not one plan that works for every one; listen to your body. But remember that listening to your body doesn’t mean spontaneous gratification! Just like managing your time and money, managing your diet takes planning and organization.  No matter what makes you tick, these three principles will apply to all:

~eat foods as close to their natural state as possible

~not eat any processed foods any longer

~drink more and more water
4. Manage your emotions. There is no healthy lifestyle without emotional balance. Take the time necessary to process what is going on in your life and learn how you can handle your circumstances in a healthy way.  Come up with stress coping strategies and don’t neglect yourself! Begin exchanging old bad habits for healthy new ways of enjoyment and soothing yourself.

5. Find a way to exercise daily. Physical activity is healthy and one of the best mood enhancers there are. Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated or extreme. It just has to happen. Decide what kind of physical activity would be best for you and work it out with your schedule. There are great exercise videos, walking paths and a variety of gyms everywhere. Choose a time and method and make it a regular habit.

6. Keep a Journal. Writing stuff down helps you realize what you are thinking and what your needs are, whether emotional or physical.

7. Be persistent. Nothing gets accomplished without persistence. Persistence is the only common denominator of all successful people. The story goes that Thomas Edison had 999 failures before he finally invented the light bulb. If you’ve tried to lose weight and failed 999 times, learn from your mistakes and do it better next time. The only way to succeed is to persist.


The Alphabet of Health–C

C is for Core

You hear it everywhere: the core is the powerhouse of the body. If you have a weak core, you can’t do anything, ya di ya di ya…  But you know what? It’s true! You really do need a strong core for everyday life, for avoiding injuries, for living your life fully. So let’s talk about it a bit today.

Basically, your core is the muscular system that provides strength to stabilize and move all of your body parts. It is the link between the upper and lower extremities. It includes:

  • your abs (upper, lower and obliques, internal and external),
  • your hips  which have 29 muscles that are responsible for stabilizing, transferring and producing/reducing force when your feet are on the ground.
  • your back: its muscles are responsible for supporting posture and creating motion, coordinating muscle actions and maintaining stability.

The center of your body (your core) basically is responsible for the process and the outcome of any type of movement or activity. You can’t throw a ball without a core, nor can you pick up your kid without your core. So, no matter how hard you train your biceps and thighs, if your core is weak, you’re screwed…

Bottom line: Training your core MUST be a fundamental part of your exercise program!


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