The No Pain No Gain Myth

no pain no gain

“No pain, no gain!”,  “Train insane or remain the same!”, ” Unless you puke, faint, or die, keep going”, “Pain is weakness leaving the body”, “If it’s not hurting it’s not working”, and one of my “favorites”, “Don’t quit. You’re already in pain. You’re already hurt. Get a reward from it.”

Sweet mother of heaven.  Stop. It.

I won’t go on with these anymore, but let’s just say these types of quotes abound. And it’s not just that they are quotes, but also ways that many in the health/fitness world live by.

If you aren’t in pain, then you aren’t working hard enough, doing enough. This thought translates to telling you that you aren’t really getting anywhere.

First though, I’m not talking about working hard because I know what that’s like and I know how to push myself. I love a good challenge and don’t mind waking up the next day and knowing I worked hard.  I know when to push and when to back off, especially if it’s pushing to hard that could potentially cause injury whether it’s on the road running or lifting weight that might be out of my zone.  I do myself no favors working in a place my body isn’t used to. I get no extra points and I’m certainly not going to do it for bragging rights and what does it prove to myself, or anyone for that matter, if I derail my workouts because it hurts to move my body?

We have limits. We all do.

And yes, I understand I need to constantly be moving out of my comfort zone and I think anyone should have that mentality if they want to continue to get stronger, faster, and improve their athletic performance.

You just won’t make progress if you can’t get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

However, It’s important to know where you are and how much you can press into that, and then back off when you need to allowing your body time to adapt and adjust to the new demands you put on it.

The danger of the mentality of working out till you’re fainting or in pain or having other physical issues is that you can cause more damage than “gains”.

Do you really want to push yourself to a point that you are injured and then get sidelined and can’t do anything? Do you really think being in real pain and continuing a work out is a smart move?  Do you want to do so much you can hardly walk the next day?

I think not.

Let me be clear here. There is great value in working hard, getting our heart rate up and letting the sweat roll and the general population should be doing it regularly.

Here’s the deal. You don’t have to do a killer workout every time you are out there.

Athletes don’t do it, so why are trainers preaching this gospel to the average person wanting to get fit ?

It can be a dangerous game to play . I mean, no pain means no improvement to us, right? Isn’t that what all those little fitspo quotes mean ?

Nonsense. Consistency and regular movement will yield results.

The important thing is to find balance that works for your body, mind, and lifestyle.

So if the idea of pain and suffering for gain is not where it’s at, what should you do?

Learn to turn it up

Know where you are, know your limits, and be willing to turn it up from there. Don’t be afraid of working hard and pushing outside your comfort zone.

Understand that working outside your comfort zone doesn’t mean suffering through pain that hurts you.

If you’re in real pain, for goodness sake, stop! If you’re in pain and hurting the only “gain” you risk is getting sidelined from an injury.

There’s no heroics in that.

Work hard, but know your goals

Obviously, we are all on different health and fitness paths. The most important thing is to know what you want.  Where are you going? Is it for health that you are working out? To walk a strong mile and not feel like you’re dying? To be able to run some? To improve your daily life? Keep up with your kids?

Do you want more?  Are you wanting to train for an event like a half marathon or a Crossfit competition?  Then your goals will look different.

Perhaps you are wanting to do something related to fitness competitions. Again, a new set of goals to get to your destination.

No matter what your reasons or goals, there should never be the mentality that it’s not a good workout if you aren’t fainting, in pain, and hurting all over.

There’s a fine line of a body that has worked hard, and one that has been pushed beyond what is it capable of at that point in time.

Work hard, but work smart.

So how should you train?

You know yourself better than anyone. If you’re just getting off the sofa and starting to move, you need to be sensitive to the fact your body is going to protest! Go easy and be moderate in what you do. Allow time to adapt to your new plan. It can take a couple weeks to ease into a new program.

If you’re already in some type of activity or training for something, don’t be afraid to keep pushing out of your comfort zone. Just listen to your body.

Pain, or any feelings of not feeling well, should be respected.

Rest days are when gains are really made

I will admit, I’m at the top of the charts at chomping over rest days. If you don’t know what that means, it’s usually a scheduled day/days off to allow the body to recover from it’s activities.

Exercise is such a habit for me now, that taking a rest day can make me feel like I forgot to brush my teeth.

I have however, learned more about the importance of taking some and know that rest days don’t mean “lazy” ( do nothing and eat pizza days)  but more of an active recovery time.

I may do short walks, or focus on stretching and foam rolling my muscles.

During those rest/recovery times our muscles rebuild and that’s when they grow and get stronger. These days allow us to hopefully, head back to what we love, stronger and feeling more energized for what we do.

You get no extra points for skipping rest days. In fact you do your body a disservice by not allowing it that time.  Rest days allow your muscles, bones, nerves, and connective tissues time to heal and rebuild.

Rest days can also help prevent burn out, mentally and physically.

Schedule rest days as a part of your workout regime.

I know this doesn’t fit into the ” no pain no gain” ideal, but you’re not participating in that anyway, are you ?

Keeping it healthy

If you want to enjoy whatever your fitness path may be, then you will learn to:

~ work hard, but listen to your body. Pace yourself.

~ push out of your comfort zone but stop if you have pain that is hurtful. Discomfort is different from pain.

~ set realistic goals for yourself and know and understand the limits of where you currently are.

~ schedule planned rest days to allow your body ( and mind) some rest and recovery time.

By having a smart mentality you will be able to do what you love, hopefully without pain or injury, and get stronger in the process.

Tell me. Have you ever been a part of the no pain, no gain club? How did that work for you? Do you have any healthy training tips to offer ?

 

 

Know Your Limits

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It’s afternoon and I’m holed up in my fav coffee shop with the intent of hammering out a post for you, my 1.5 faithful readers.

I’m listening to the happy banter of the baristas behind me as they whip up drinks. I’ve tried to get to know them and something about their lives. I like building those relationships with people, I mess around with them and some of them… I shamelessly tease and harass… even with all that they think I’m “cool and fun” and keep me hooked up with coffee when I’m around.

I’ll take that.

Anyway, it’s a gorgeous day and it’s hard for me to be inside, but in all fairness I’ve already been out on the road this morning logging miles as my legs remind me.

Specifically my quads with that tight sorta achy feeling that comes from hard work invested out on the road.

In a sick way I kinda like that feeling… I don’t mind tired legs when I know it’s because of what I’ve physically invested into myself and the gut level hard work that I’ve done.

Maybe I should say that todays workout was a “brick” session. For those of you reading this and wondering if I’m out tossing bricks around, no. It’s just a term that refers to one athletic activity sandwiched by another.

In  this instance.. for me.. it was miles on foot, followed by miles on bike, with more miles on foot to wrap it up.

I will tell you that it’s my second time to intentionally do this. I figured if I squish it in my midweek workout it’s a good balance to the rest of the week.

Why?  why you may be wondering…

Well a few years ago I realized there was actually an event that combined both sports I’m hooked on… running and cycling..  a duathlon. However, I’ve had a pesky Achilles thing that really derailed me in the running dept so I haven’t been able to pursue it as I had thought I would by now.  With some care, a tiny bit of patience, ALOT of stretching and rolling, I think it’s improving so I’m walking a careful line of doing enough but not to much.

I’m actually semi-hopeful I could do it by the end of the year.

Yeah.. I’ve publicly committed to doing a duathlon.  And not just anyone but one that’s listed as “the toughest in the state”. It should be mentioned that it’s literally run almost out my backdoor so I can train the heck out of the course all year so it does give me a slight advantage… slight.

The course though is some pretty crazy hills and inclines. It’s a 5K, followed by a 22 ride, and another 5K for the icing on the cake.

I thought about it this morning and wondered honestly.. what the hell I’m thinking??  I felt like I did when I first mentioned I was going to take on a full marathon.. terror and the fearful thought of ” can I do this?”

Let me tell you…if you’re gonna do anything there is simply no room…at all.. for that kind of thinking.  You will shut yourself down before you ever get started.

It will be an event with athletes half my age and in amazing physical condition. But then I remembered it’s really not about a competition with anyone but myself and going out and doing it.. even if I might be the last one crawling in 😉

It’s all the time I will spend training and the lessons I’ll learn on the road doing it. It will be the sacrifices and tired legs. It will be hours on a bike. It will be learning to move fast on legs that are tired after running and biking.

So I’ve started…small… but with an eye towards moving forward. Todays brick work was small. It was 2 miles on foot, 10 on the bike, and 2 on foot. It gives me the chance to work with moving out of gear and into it, of mentally shifting gears of activities, and mostly, learning how to move my legs quick after being on the bike!

I found myself wanting to push more this morning.. thinking… maybe I should move the distance up some.. or move faster… and I had to remind myself of this…

Know your limits.

Yes, I’m a runner. Yes, I’ve been cycling.  Yes I’m in a good physical condition. But it’s a different ball game putting them together and only my second training session out doing it. I had to remind myself for now, a few weeks, these are my limits of distance until I acclimate then I can add a bit more in the distance area.

To protect myself from injury or doing to much to soon I need to know my limits and operate there as I adapt to the challenges of doing both at once.  I’m fiercely competitive with myself so to say it’s hard reining myself in is an understatement.

That’s what I want to tell you, to remind you of. You might be new to a fitness program or toying with the idea of doing something. Maybe your friend has been after you to go to the gym or go out on the road.

Know your limits.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve done anything you need to know what those limits are and operate in that zone. Maybe for you your limits are just moving off the coach and out the door for a walk down the street a few times. Perhaps you’ve been running but are thinking of taking it up another notch…increasing miles a bit…again.. know your limits to protect against injury.

Don’t go out and decide you’re just going to run when you haven’t even been walking.. you’re setting yourself up for pain and failure.  Don’t go to the gym thinking you’re going to keep up using heavier weight when your milk carton is the heaviest thing you’ve been tossing around.

Take a critical look at where you are, what you’ve been actively doing,  and how long it’s been since you’ve done anything physical.

Understand what those limits are and operate within them. You will be constantly assessing and reassessing what those limits are as you get stronger.

Most of all, never be afraid to constantly be stretching those limits to new, exciting and more challenging things. Nothing feel better or makes you feel more successful than new physical goals that are accomplished.

 

Building Your Own Workout Plan

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Let’s talk a little about building your own fitness plan. It should be easy, right? Just decide you wanna lose some weight or gain some muscle or train for a race and do it.

Ah if it were only so cut and dried!

The best way to success is to have a plan, something that you develop, that will work for you, your life, your schedule and your goals.

Let me outline a few things that may help you

  1. Goal setting. I know this sounds cliché but if you don’t know what you want or how to go after it, how will you achieve it?  Whether you want to start walking, running, training for an event, lose some weight, or get into a schedule for the gym… whatever it is… your choice… It’s old school now days but I just love having a basic calendar to outline what I need to do. When I’m marathon training I sit down and mark out the mileage for each day, as well as days I strength train and have active rest days.  There’s something satisfying about blocking off each day when I get it done…and it gives me a visual tool moving me closer to my goal.
  2. Be real. No one knows your life better than you do. Don’t plan to train for a big event if you work full time, have a family and other obligations that won’t let you do what’s necessary to prepare. Or don’t set a to lofty goal to lose a big amount of weight in a short time. Better to be realistic and maybe overshoot what you have planned than be frustrated you can’t get it done.
  3. Know where you are. If your intentions are to lose weight, you’ll want to gather some measurements so you have a baseline from where you start from. I know it can be rather…sobering… but if you want more than the fickle scale to give you feedback you’ll also want some starting measurements. Be honest and be real with yourself.   Also, you might consider taking a “fit test”. This again, will give you a baseline for your strength and cardio abilities.   A.  Record time it takes to walk a mile. B. How many push ups can you do in a minute? ( knees on floor if needed) C. How far can you reach to your toes, seated on floor and leaning forward?  D. Pulse rate before and after test. You won’t need to reassess but every 4-6 weeks.
  4. Commit to exercise, most days of week. No matter what your goals are, exercise should be a part of them. Start small, but start. Get  a partner if you need accountability. Again, you use your planner to track your activities.
  5. Finding balance. Rest days are just as crucial to your success as time in the gym, or out on the road.  I’ll freely admit to chafing at rest days. I feel..lazy… or like I should be doing something. Until I got that rest days aren’t about being lazy but should be active…as in… feeding my body good food, and doing things like stretching, or yoga to keep my muscles in working order.  Having a rest day also gives you some time to be more mentally focused for when you’re out again.
  6. Speaking of stretching. This is something I’ve really learned the value of and have tried to be much better at doing it before and after a work out. I use a variety of things from the standard foam roller, to a pvc pipe to roll out on. A lacrosse ball is also awesome for feet or really getting into a tight knotted muscle.
  7. Mix things up. I learned early on that having several activities would keep me from getting bored with always doing the same thing. Later, as I learned more, it just made sense to incorporate a variety of things because it worked my body differently to make me strong all over and not just good for one sport.  Not only that, doing things like strength training if you love running or cycling will hopefully keep your body from injuries.  Find things you love doing and then make a rotation in your week with them. For instance my week might look like: run, cycle, strength train, run,cycle, rest day. Sometimes I put my rest day midweek.  Other times I might have an extra strength training day if the weather is really awful and I cant get outside.  Sometimes I have two rest days if my training has been more physically demanding. Making your own plan is flexible!
  8. Listen to your body! I’m not talking about that part that is encouraging you to skip your workout… tell that part to shut up and get after it. I mean if you feel “off” or not well, are running a temperature or something is really hurting you take a rest day. That is far more beneficial than doing it to just “get it done”. Chances are, a day off, you’ll come back stronger the next day.
  9. Make a commitment to consistency. I won’t lie. It is crazy hard in the beginning to commit to anything new, especially exercise! I would encourage you to make a daily commitment to it, not make any excuses for not getting it done, and challenge yourself to systematically take one day, one week at a time doing it.  Habits take a few weeks for form. Give yourself time to develop exercise as a habit… once it is… you will not be able to imagine NOT doing it!
  10. Finally, have fun! Yes, I said have fun….exercising… have fun. Find things you love and commit to becoming the best student you can of it. Enjoy how you feel and the things you will learn and accomplish. Enjoy new strength and energy and being fit.

 

Now… get busy… grab a planner… your ideas…. and get started on your own personal fitness plan!

The Wonders Of Walking

This mornings athletic adventures had me out on foot…. and no… not running. I’m still refraining from that.

Walking though does give me that same sense of being out on the road… the preparation and the feel. The excitement of being out and…going…

Mind you, I don’t just stroll like I’m with my grandma…

My walking speed usually throws me into what is a “slow” running pace so needless to say I’m breathing hard, my heart is working and sweat is free flowing which I love.

Chatting with my big kids over the weekend about various athletic adventures my oldest son throws out at me….

“Don’t you ever like just… walk?!?”

 

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This particular evening walk was actually for my son… he was playing that crazy Pokémon game and needed a 10K distance. The things I do…..

 

 

Haha that made me laugh,   I mean I do, it just seems so tame to me now days compared to you know, running forever, or flying down the road on my bike like a demon.

Not just that.. it’s the miles.. mentally it’s hard to not want to go long….

However, if you’ve read my beginning story, I started off as a walker. I did my “token” 2 miles a day and that was enough.  I never envisoned doing more or running or anything like that.

I walked 2 miles and it seemed adequate. And it was… for awhile.

(Side note….  never stay doing the same thing forever. Your body is an amazing and adaptive machine and you stop losing ongoing benefits or changes in your body. Always look to add or change things up in your workouts)

Anyway, obviously my walking mileage did increase and it did eventually turn into running.

You know the biggest reason why? As I mentioned in the beginning, I walk fast. It just became easier to trot along than trying to maintain a constant fast walk pace.  When I tried it for awhile and realized the wheels didn’t fall off and running wasn’t so hard, it was just a natural progression to keep increasing my running time to the time I was actually walking.

Great was the day I celebrated I could run a mile without stopping.  Of course, after some time, it seemed crazy I could run miles. That my friends, is just disciplined training to get to that point….

The rest is history.

I turned into a lover of running. At the top of the list is the fact it makes me feel so strong and empowered. It shaped me up physically and became a way to clear my head, unwind, let go of the things bothering me and I often do my most creative thinking out on the road.

I get running isn’t for everyone. Heck, even my doctor gives me a hard time about it ( but freely admits he isn’t a runner and doesn’t get the whole “runners high
thing so there’s that….)

Some people want to run and have physical limitations as to why they can’t. Others just don’t want to.  Some think they can’t, but the reality is, our bodies are made for that kind of movement and they really can.

It’s just hard and in the beginning people don’t like it ’cause that’s when they realize they are really cardiovascularly out of shape and they hate it. In time though, as those internal muscles are consistently worked out, they get in shape too and you can put out more effort and feel amazing and not like you’re dying 😛

However, if there is one thing that doctors get behind is that anyone, and I mean anyone, can get out and start walking.

Coach potato to athlete, walking has benefits.

If you’ve been sedentary walking is something you can very much taylor to your needs and abilities. You can then add on a little more distance at a time as your body adapts and handles the new stress you’re putting on it. ( this isn’t a bad thing) with consistent effort walking is a great tool to help with weight loss. Just be reasonable in the beginning and set realistic goals for yourself. Having aching muscles from to much over use will only sideline you… and you don’t want that.

As an athlete, it’s a great recovery workout allowing your muscles to work, stretch and move but not overly tax them . I’ve found it helpful after my marathons to just be out stretching my legs to keep any soreness from setting in.

Of course your pace should be brisk, making you breath hard with your heart beating strong too.  If you sweat, that’s a total bonus 😉

Walking not only conditions your body but it’s also good mental therapy  as well. Not surprising that some articles I’ve read talk about how walking ( or exercise in general) can help reduce depression and negative feelings.

Of course it can… I think exercise is the least under-used drug out there. But that’s just my opinion….

If you are looking for something to get you out the door walking is free and all you really need are a decent pair of supportive shoes and a willingness to explore.

Then the only one who will limit you is well, really, you.

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I was out of town here. I was actually walking this huge mountain in the area I was staying. The added bonus? All the signs telling you to watch for snakes 😉

 

 

 

The Commitment To Exercise

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“Uggghhh. Cathie, I don’t know about this whole exercise thing. I just don’t see any results”

The frustrated comments I’ve heard from many of you.

You jump in with good intentions and start doing “something” and at the end of the week you want to look like a ripped fitness model. Ok, well maybe not that extreme, but you do expect some pretty serious results in a short amount of time and the reality is, it’s not gonna happen fast.

There are often unrealistic expectations when someone begins an exercise program. I’d say everyone has (some) goal in mind. And if you’re like me, you’ll get going and those goals will be a constantly shifting process based on your abilities, strength and love for what you’re doing.

Whatever goals you have, whether it’s just a basic level of activity to keep your step tracker happy and move some during the day or if you want to train for a triathlon there is a process of evolving that gets you there.

I think, in my humble opinion for what it’s worth, when someone begins some type of program they overlook things that aren’t as obvious as visible abs or their pants getting looser.

Follow me here….

the minute you step out the door to do something, you’re empowered. The sheer act of getting yourself together and taking steps out the door is huge. Once you’re moving that way, you’re gonna do it.

Then, once you finish, I can say with certainty, you’re going to feel proud of yourself that you did do it. You’ll feel that sense of accomplishment and can celebrate a personal victory. And it’s really ok to pat yourself on the back… no one will be there cheering you on when you come cruising in… but that’s irrelevant… you…did it.

Which moves me to how you’ll mentally feel… which is amazing. Will you maybe be sweaty or a little tired or whatever? That’s possible ( don’t overdo it !) but nothing compares to the mental feeling you have of getting it done.

And the more you build on what you do, the better it feels.

Do you see that none of this…. has anything immediate thing to do with instant weight loss or smaller pants? Oh, it will lead there with consistency, but it’s not present when you wrap up whatever physical activity you’ve chosen for that day.

What about how you start feeling when you can bolt up a flight of stairs and not be winded? When you willfully park further out because you appreciate you can walk and enjoy it and that you don’t feel desperate to be as close as possible to front of store?

How about doing activities around your home and not feeling exhausted from doing it?

With time and persistence, intentionally pursuing your choice of physical activity, your body stats changing and responding to what you’re doing.

And guess what? You’ll anticipate it, look forward to it, have a desire to do it.

Who knows what you might learn about yourself in the process? What you’re capable of or what you might be challenged to do ?

I jokingly say I started off as a reluctant walker. 2 miles a day and I was done and off to other things. That was enough, thank you.

Yet, if you know my story, it continued to eventually grow and expand leading me into an eventual runner and taking on everything from 5K’s to a 50K and everything in between.

To now, a cyclist with my sights set on a lot of bigger goals. I don’t limit myself in what I think I can take on.

All because one day, I just committed to walking out the door.

No focus on anything other than “getting it done”. No ab muscles in sight. My pants at that time a bit larger. Out of shape and no where being a fitness junkie. The idea of being a runner or cyclist so far from my mind I’ll tell you it was.. laughable.

Yet, because of my consistency things did eventually change, and continue to, almost as a “by product” of the activities I currently enjoy and pursue.

Guess what? it will happen for you too.

The changes will happen….but first…..

You’ve gotta get out the door.

Tell me have you taken the steps to get more active? Do you expect quick results ?  Have you been at it for awhile ? What has been your “by product” of physical activity?

 

So You Hate Exercise

hate exercise

 

I’ve heard it all now at this point. The exercise jokes. The good natured teasing. The “hey can you do this?” as friends share crazy exercise stunts with me. My son calls me when he needs muscles for a project. If I mention needing something from the store I’m told “well, run and go get it” Recently with the Pokémon Go games going on my sons are asking me if I want to walk 5/10K’s  to “help them out” …..

Ah yes… and you know what? I love it.

Exercise has made me strong and fit and able to do things in the rest of my life when I’m not exercising. When I’m jokingly told to run to the store for something, I honestly know I could do it. When I’m asked to help lift heavy things, I know my body has been trained and I can respond and do the task at hand.

I haven’t always embraced the workouts or been excited for the new  adventure for the day.

Oh no.

I grumbled. I  whined to myself. I found excuses. I pondered ways to wiggle out of doing it. I hated how hard it was.  I didn’t like how my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest or my legs felt like rubber.

No, I wasn’t a huge fan of working out.

And from what I’ve gathered, a lot of you aren’t either. You cite many of the same reasons.

I’ve talked to so many people, trying to encourage them, that if they just start, just take the steps to do something every day they will be on their way.

It isn’t easy. I won’t lie. You have to intentionally get your body dressed, up and out for whatever fun activity you have planned.

exercise motivation

You have to determine that your workout is just as important as the breakfast your going to eat, or the job you will go to, or the grocery shopping you will do or anything else.

That, is a very intentional move my friends.

I talked to a young friend recently whom I hadn’t chatted with in awhile. He told me he had gotten into a routine, going to the gym, and that weeks on vacation had derailed him. But, as he was eager to tell me, “I could hardly wait to get back to it. I know you always told me I could get to that point  ( of wanting to do it) but I had to get started to understand that”

He was a former ” I hate exercise” person.

I know others who were in that club and who have come to the other side 😉

I think, there are some common threads that the former “I hate exercise” club members have in common ( I included myself in this club too)

  • There is a desire, a wish, to improve and be better.
  • The individual learns to ( daily) power through any excuses and go get the job done.
  • They are realistic and start with small goals and gradually increase their activity.
  • They select something they enjoy doing, want to do, and look forward to doing.
  • They understand they are in a competition with no one but themselves.
  • Set backs can happen and you just get right back at it again.
  • Strength isn’t built in a day and you learn to appreciate your body for the amazing machine it is as it adapts to the demands you put on it.
  • You recognize that giving your body purposeful movement isn’t to be viewed as a negative, but rather, a way to show love to it.
  • You begin to love the changes and all the energy you get from your exercise.

Perhaps even now, you are still in that club, but you have the desire to change.  Awesome!

Consider these things as you make that move:

Be patient with yourself.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Commit to the process. Make no excuses. None. ( unless you are honestly ill or injured )

Pick an activity you WANT to do. Heck, pick a couple. I think variety is what keeps you from getting bored. Not only that, multiple activities work all of your body.

Buy the right gear or equipment for your new activity. Even now nothing makes me more excited to get to my activity than knowing I have something new to wear 😉

Focus on the day you are in and just do that day.

Celebrate yourself when you are done. It’s ok to tell yourself “good job!” I mean, honestly, when I come flying back in from a run or miles on my bike, I have no one standing there cheerleading my efforts. It’s ok to be proud of yourself for getting out and getting it done.

Share your accomplishments on social media. Not only do you have accountability, whether you realize it or not, you will be an encouragement to someone else.

Finally, learn to view exercise as a way to love your body and to celebrate all the amazing things it can do.

What motivated you to start exercising? Has it been easy to stay with it?

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Small Steps And New Habits

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Habit:

a usual way of behaving : something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way.

Hello beautiful people!

Habits. If there’s one thing I’ve talked a lot about is habits. Overall it could safely be said our life is driven by habits… things we do in regular, predictable ways. We eat, shower, go to sleep at a set time and wake up most likely the same way.  You may have regular ways you get dressed and prepare for your day or how you take your coffee.

In a soothing way our habits can be a comfortable and normal part of our life.

We can also have negative habits in our lives that we want to get rid of. These obviously, vary individual but we would all likely agree that negative habits are best replaced by something more positive.

When it comes down to eating or exercise I frequently hear from people that these are things they “want to do” or “get better at doing”.

What they are essentially saying is they want to build some new positive habits into their life.

That… is often easier said than done.

Usually what happens is that the person decides it’s an all or nothing approach and dives right in.

Exercise? They take on to much to soon and hurt…so they quit determining it’s not worth it…it’s to hard.. they got to sweaty….they’re breathing hard with a pounding heart… don’t see any results.. (results take time and consistency people)
Food ? They immediately go on a drastic and restrictive eating plan that leaves them hungry, moody, and wanting to eat everything they now believe they are not “supposed ” to eat.  Ultimately, they just give in, hungry and feeling deprived  and go back to old ways determining it’s to hard and nothing is happening anyway.

New habits take time to build. They require a determination to take it one small step at a time and a desire to keep building on it each and every day.

It requires a tenaciousness to keep on even when we might not feel like we nailed it for that day to get up and keep moving forward.

You see small things we do will become habits. …which will lead to bigger things.

We just don’t view small things as mattering so much… we look for the big, grand, instant fix and it’s just not really like that in the context of health, fitness and an overall lifestyle change.

In that context, slow, small and steady win the long term race..

What if instead of drastically altering your diet you just started focusing on one thing you wanted to change?

Soda drinker? Maybe you want to try to replace one or two a day with water instead.

Fast food junkie who can’t pass a drive thru? why not plan and pack a few healthy things in your car if you just can’t make it home to get something to eat ( hint: you really won’t starve to death before you get home. I’ve applied this theory many times now 😉

Over eat at meals? learn to eat slower, take a little less, learn to really taste and savor what you are eating. Learn to stop when you are comfortably satisfied… and that might mean you leave food on your plate.

Sugar junkie? learn to be selective of the sweets you eat. Try to wean yourself a little at a time.

Not a big veggie or fruit eater? Work to add one or two new ones a week. In time try to increase your daily intake.

Exercise… if you’re moving from the couch to outside taking it easy in the beginning is your number one priority. You don’t want to get to enthusiastic and then hurt the next day so you can’t hardly move around.

The key is to find the thing you enjoy and gradually, skillfully work into it.  Your body requires time to adapt and adjust to the new demands being put on it.

Good news… your body is an amazing instrument that can adapt and change and get stronger! You just need to pace yourself accordingly to let your body do what it’s made to do.

Set small, realistic goals for yourself in the beginning. As you give yourself time to adjust to physical demands, you can then slowly add a little more to your exercise regime.

Be patient with yourself. Changes in your body do take time. Your cardiovascular strength as well as your muscular strength need consistent work but it will come.

I was in the store yesterday looking through magazines when the lady stocking them asked me what I was looking for. I told her I was after one called “Strong” but didn’t know if the new copy was out yet.

She looked at my bare arms and said… “well, you look really strong!”

And now days, I guess I do, but that has been a slow and steady process. I wanted to tell her several years ago my arms were just…arms… with no visible muscles at all. No definition, no cuts, no nothing. Just chubby looking, undefined arms.

I didn’t get “strong” over night.

You know what it was? Small things I did that led to regular habits in my life. Habits of exercise and eating better. Habits of moving my body longer and farther. Habits of learning to lift heavier things not just to get muscles, but to kick butt in daily life.

Those small things lead ultimately to bigger changes in me.

Weight loss. Better lab numbers. Smaller clothes. More energy. Better mental clarity. Confidence and empowerment. Better nutrition. Healthy looking body.

None of it happened overnight. All of it was built on the simple truth that I just did consistent small things that lead to new positive habits.

Do I have bad days? you bet I do. Have I learned by now that I just need to keep on with small steps, always moving forward? Absolutely.

So, my suggestion for you, if you’re wanting to make changes, to get into a healthy lifestyle.. one that’s permanent…

Focus on small changes at a time. It will be more lasting, easier to accomplish and not leave you feeling deprived, exhausted, starving or wanting to throw in the towel.

And remember, it’s not instant gratification, you’re in it for life. Be patient  and don’t give up on yourself.

Have you struggled getting started on a healthy lifestyle path? What has hindered you? Do you think the idea of small things to build new positive habits is something you can easily do or is more attainable?

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