Things No One Told Me About Exercise

Exercise. It’s one of those subjects that when the topic comes up, people delicately shudder and walk off as if you’ve mentioned the plaque or some other horrible ill.

There are jokes made about pain and sweat and how hard it is.

There are comments about how “they should start to do something” or their “doctor told them to” or “my friend is trying to get me to go with them” and many other similar thoughts.

We can be challenged, made to feel guilty, or completely ignore the idea.

For some, just the mere thought of having to move their bodies in purposeful exercise makes them sweat.

Honestly, I was in a similar boat a few years ago.

Then one day, like many people are, I was at a doctor appointment  for my yearly check up.  When he asked me what I did for exercise I told him I “used” to go for little walks but hadn’t done it in a long time. He encouraged me to do something, to at least get back into walking and to try and drop a few pounds.

I literally left his office that day, went home, took my first walk and pretty much never stopped after that.

fun and games

 

It wasn’t all fun and games.

I didn’t skip out and dive into my walks happy. No. I grumbled over it. I lamented being fat and “having” to exercise. ( gosh have I learned a lot since then) I hated being hot and I would’ve preferred staying in and doing something else.

I wanted to come up with reasons not to do it, but I’m kinda stubborn and when I get into something I get determined to make it work.

Yet somehow in all of the talk about the “how’s” and “why’s” for exercise, there’s a whole lotta things that never get mentioned.

Exercise IS hard.

In the beginning it feels like… death. You wonder why on earth you signed up for this fresh hell and how is it really gonna benefit you? Where are the results already?

Seriously, I’d dutifully go for my 2 mile walk and want, ya know, instant results, for my efforts.

Honestly though, I always did feel mentally better after I did it, so there’s that.

Exercise reminds you that you are really outta shape.

Admit it. Who hasn’t gone up a flight of stairs, tried to run for a short distance, or even gone for a brisk walk without breathing like a freight train and feeling like your heart is gonna come out of your chest.

Good times.

Yet I never got the memo that those were some of the awesome side effects I could encounter when I decided to pursue exercising.

I hated that feeling ’cause it did tell me I needed to work on what was inside of me as well as what was on the outside.

Let’s not forget  the other awesome side effects of looking like a red ripened tomato ’cause your blood is wildly rushing and you have sweaty hair plastered to your face.

You ache and feel muscles you never knew you had.

No wonder people run away from exercise.

Don’t do what you hate.

If I had a chocolate bar for the times I’ve had people come to me asking about exercise activities to do but they start with… “Ok, well like, I reallllyyy hate running. I mean, I know YOU like it and all but for me…well..no.”

I simply tell them, well then, don’t run.

Hey I never imagined I’d turn into a runner. That stuff is hard. But somehow, in some weird way, I started doing it and before I knew it… I was running.

I won’t lie. There’s a pleasure and pain pay off to it, but it’s always fiercely rewarding so I’m kinda loathe to give it up 😉

Find something you can enjoy and look forward to and then become the biggest expert at it you can. It’s that simple and it’s the best way to stick with it.

It eventually WILL pay off.

It will. Trust me. It won’t pay off after 9 days or maybe even a month, but it will. But long before you may see physical changes, you will mentally feel better. Going for purposeful exercise can clear your head, help you problem solve, and make you feel better overall. It’s a great day to unwind from your day or start it. I prefer and have turned into a morning workout girl for a variety of reasons.

Mornings are when people typically want/need almost nothing from me so I can take that time. I also feel like it starts my day in an energetic positive way… even if I may still be rubbing sleep out of my eyes why the sun comes up behind me. I am also smart enough to know it is easier to have excuses later in the evening than morning so I just make it my first priority.

IMG_20180817_130826_381
Shhhh is there something behind me? How I love starting my day

 

No matter what time you choose know you are making an investment in yourself and it will have pay offs.

You’ll actually start to look forward to it.

Really, you will. Once you’ve built it into a new habit it will become easier to incorporate it in your day and you’ll come to actually crave that time, even when you know it will be hard and it will be work.

You won’t mind that because you will come to understand that it makes you feel good and that’s a pretty nice side effect to hard work.

I honestly schedule appointments and other activities around making sure I have time for my training and some moments to get cleaned up and human looking  after I’m done . This is as important as anything else in my day and  I make no apologies for putting it on my agenda.

You shouldn’t either.

Some things won’t feel so hard.

Really. In the beginning when you are gasping for air like a fish out of water and your heart is pounding you may think you’ll never adapt.

You will.

Your body will begin to do all the miraculous things it can and make adaptations so the work “feels” easier but the reality is you are getting stronger. You’ll be able to walk or run longer, lift more and as you make progress you can ( and should) keep pushing on for more that feels hard again.

Years ago when I started doing a little lifting I had these cute 5 lb weights.

Yes, for real. ( I’d never let anyone get away with that now 😉 )

Anyway, I decided I’d make a big move up to 8 lbs. at the time, I felt it a little more. When that started feeling like nothing after a million times, I made a huge move to 15 lbs. ( go big or go home right?? haha)

I won’t lie. That was work. I could barely do 6-8 reps without deciding it was enough. ( girl arms)

I worked those weights a lot. I did what I could do and when I felt like I could add “just one more rep” before my arm fell off, I did it.

Obviously, I camped there for awhile gradually building in sets of high reps that kept me feeling it.

A while back, I realized the 15lb weights felt like the previous ones, like easy, no effort.

I got the small barbell, tossed on about 25 lbs and oh yeah, I’m feeling it again.

Seriously, the first time I could barely squeak out  3-5 reps before it was fail  ( meaning I couldn’t curl it one more time)

I just worked that in each time… I’d push for one more rep…

Now, I’m kinda proud to say I can do 3 sets of 8 before my arms are yelling at me. Even though I use heavier weight for other moves, the 25 is for single arm work and my arms are definitely earning their muscles haha

IMG_20180417_093602_776
Strength training isn’t just about lifting stuff, it’s about being strong for the other activities I’ve come to love.

 

I’m serious… keep at what you do… no matter how small it seems… and build on it. You’ll get stronger and the work in some ways, can feel easier.

It can really build your confidence

So you’re thinking, “well, I am a confident person without working out”. Yeah, I was too.  But when you start exercising and putting your body through vigorous work, it changes and you get stronger and you’re doing things other people tease and make jokes about, it will build your confidence even more.

When you set goals, sometimes bigger than you foresee being able to do, go through training, sacrifice, sweat, tears, exhaustion and a whole list of fun things, you’ll get it.

Train for and run a marathon, it will give you the confidence you can do anything. Trust me.

You’ll meet amazing people doing what you do.

So, I’m a little bit.. social.

I’m mentally seeing my hubby reading this choking, reading that last line to which he would snort and say… “A little?!?”

Ok well maybe, quite a bit.

Turning into an athlete certainly has brought me into different circles, and in those circles, meeting some amazing and talented people.

A few years back when I was selected to be in Runners World, “Runners Body” edition, https://sassyfitnesschick.com/runners-world-body-edition-feature/   I was privileged to share the pages with some amazing athletes scattered all across the U.S.  These were people I would’ve never encountered otherwise. After the magazine hit the market (Dec 2012) thanks to the world of social media many of us connected.  Many of us to this day, are connected and cheering on each others accomplishments.

Locally, I love knowing people who perform in similar sports as I do and having that common ground to discuss our fields of interest ( this often saves the sanity of our loved ones who may or may not be weary of hearing of our times, our negative running splits, or what technique is best for releasing worked muscle groups 😛 )

Knowing these people remind me I can always strive for more, to get more from myself, and to keep setting bigger goals.

My Ironman friends… well… are you even human???

Maybe… someday… who knows.

All that to say, you can meet some interesting people when you get out there.  And if you’re semi- social like I am… well it goes together like peanut butter and jelly 😉

Energetic. You’ll get more energy.

I will admit. That was a hard sell in the beginning. How… how… could I get more energy when I could barely drag my carcass off the sofa to go do something ?

This didn’t happen over night. However, the more I did, the more energy I seemed to get. It’s like exercise became the breeding ground for more energy.

Weird, I know, but it happens.

Just start, it will come.

That whole healthy thing.

Ok, I knew intellectually, before I started working out, that it had some health benefits. However, I had no experience with it.  This takes a little time but when you start eating better and exercising, it has positive results on your body, inside and out.

My doctor tells me each year at my annual check up my labs are boring and normal, which I think is a good thing.

My good cholesterol level is off the charts past “normal” to which he tells me is generated from all the exercise I do.

There’s a win.

My resting heart rate is usually dancing around in the 40-50 bpm range, thanks cardio and a whole lot of endurance training.

The things I do in my daily life are easy and I have strength to do things on my own and not need “help”.

Let’s not forget how exercise also constantly is generating new cells and growth which many believe is the best anti-aging medicine.

Find some posts below I’ve written on this topic….

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/05/24/exercise-and-aging/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/07/24/aging-and-the-fountain-of-youth/

Have I sold you yet?

I hope, I’ve presented some valid ideas for making you want to build your own exercise plan.

I’ve written this article in a somewhat playful way to share with you things I never really knew or understood about exercise.

It IS important. It’s not just for weight loss but is good for our bodies. We’ve been made for movement. Find a post on that idea below…..

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/06/28/no-exercise-required/   and it’s valuable for our total health and well being, inside and out.

Do yourself a favor and start. Start small, start somewhere but get going. You can thank me later 😉

20180625_093035
After workout… when you can cheer for yourself for getting it done… and yes, you can 😉

 

Your turn…. how do you view exercise? Or how have you viewed it? Do you appreciate the benefits of it ?

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

No Exercise Required

It was early morning and I was still bleary eyed, sipping on my first wonderful cup of hot coffee slowly coming to life.

For the record I’m not “anti” morning. I mean most weeks I’m out on the road running or cycling while people are still crawling outta bed. On the other hand, I may just prefer to cuddle and be alone with my coffee for a bit till the fog clears my head 😉

I am more of strong night owl if I had to label myself … anyway…

I’m waking up, laptop in front of me as I do a final read through and edit on my post before launching it into the world and blog land.  I do my level best to make sure you, my faithful readers, don’t stumble through to much of my ramblings haha

And can I take a moment to say thank you?

However, you follow me, whether through e-mail, Facebook, IG, Pinterest or on WordPress, thank you for taking your time to read what I write.  I know our time is valuable and I appreciate you taking yours to read my offerings.

I will always attempt to make it worth your while, to keep it sassy, and hopefully to educate, inspire, or challenge you.

Now, where was I?

Waking up, drinking coffee and proofing my post… yes that’s where I was. So while I’m doing that, the morning news is on and the morning commercials.

Sweet heavens.

It must be the cheapest time of day to advertise ’cause obnoxious car sale ads are on along with ads for medical clinics, lawyers and all kinds of other services I can do without hearing about that early in morning.

All of them are so… loud. So very, very loud.

Anyway, this weight loss commercial comes on advertising how you can lose weight with some miracle something or another and “no exercise required!!”

I guess that’s where my still sleepy, yet slowly coming alive brain kicked in.

I thought, how is that a good selling point ? But then I realized, to a lot of people, that IS a good selling point.

Lose weight and you don’t have to exercise? Heck yeah.

I get it. Exercise is work. If you do it right, it’s hard work.

Of course, if you’re out of shape it really feels like hard work. Your heart and lungs are screaming at you and you get all red and you are breathing way to hard so of course a weight loss offer of no exercise might seem like a good deal.

oxygen

 

It’s just not.

Let’s just forget losing weight here as we discuss this. Really, exercise shouldn’t be what you do to lose weight, it’s really what you put in your mouth and how much of it that matters more.  Exercise can just support those efforts.

Exercise offers so much more to us than being a weight loss tool. Think about how you feel when you leave your house on a nice evening to go for a short walk. Chances are it gives you time to think, clear your head from the day, brain storm ideas, and just unwind a bit. When you come back in you probably feel rejuvenated and refreshed, even if you may be sweaty 😉

In time, you most likely will want to walk a bit further as you start to really enjoy it and look forward to it.

Maybe going to a yoga class let’s you feel more connected to yourself, makes you more aware of your body.  For me, yoga definitely slows me down, but it also let’s me have some time that is a bit more quiet and reflective.

Whatever activity you may enjoy, if you get started in it, you will most likely enjoy many benefits that have nothing to do with losing weight.

heart cardio
Remember, your heart is a muscle that needs work too 😉

 

 

So…get this…..

Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning.  Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.

Jumping on the treadmill or cross trainer for 30 minutes can blow off tension by increasing levels of “soothing” brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. What’s fascinating, though, is that exercise may actually work on a cellular level to reverse stress’s toll on our aging process. according to a 2010 study from the University of California—San Francisco. The researchers found that stressed-out women who exercised vigorously for an average of 45 minutes over a three-day period had cells that showed fewer signs of aging compared to women who were stressed and inactive. Working out also helps keep us from ruminating “by altering blood flow to those areas in the brain involved in triggering us to relive these stressful thoughts again and again.

I wrote a post on exercise and aging… find it here….

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/05/24/exercise-and-aging/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/07/24/aging-and-the-fountain-of-youth/

It can help with depression. Research suggests that burning off 350 calories three times a week through sustained, sweat-inducing activity can reduce symptoms of depression about as effectively as antidepressants. That may be because exercise appears to stimulate the growth of neurons in certain brain regions damaged by depression.

Exercise can improve our learning. Exercise increases the level of brain chemicals called growth factors, which help make new brain cells and establish new connections between brain cells to help us learn. Interestingly, complicated activities, like playing tennis or taking a dance class, provide the biggest brain boost. You’re challenging your brain even more when you have to think about coordination. Like muscles, you have to stress your brain cells to get them to grow.

It improves self-esteem and body image. You don’t need to radically change your body shape to get a confidence surge from exercise. Studies suggest that simply seeing fitness improvements, like running a faster mile or lifting more weight than before, can improve your self-esteem and body image.

It may keep Alzheimers from setting in. The Alzheimer’s Research Center touts exercise as one of the best weapons against the disease. Exercise appears to protect the hippocampus, which governs memory and spatial navigation, and is one of the first brain regions to succumb to Alzheimer’s-related damage.

Is that enough evidence for exercise?

Those are some pretty convicting reasons to exercise, right? Yet not a single one of them have to do with losing weight. The point being, exercise benefits all of our body, soul and spirit.

Exercise is a good tool to help with weight loss but as you’ve seen it offers so many more benefits to keep us healthy and whole.

It shouldn’t be viewed as something you don’t “need”. Our bodies are made for and are designed for, movement.  So many of our modern day illnesses and health issues could be helped and improved with regular consistent exercise.

What exercise has taught me

ok admittedly, a few years ago when I was an out of shape middle aged woman, I wasn’t totally sold on the idea of vigorous daily exercise. As I mentioned earlier in this post, it’s hard, and it’s really hard when you’ve been doing nothing and  then start doing “something”.

I purposefully made myself go walk each day. I dutifully walked 2 miles. I did it no matter what was going on, some days I had to fit it in at different times, but I did it.

I did it enough it turned into a new habit.  One day I got brave and actually went farther. One mile turned into another, before I knew it I was running some, and then, well the rest is history…

Exercise was certainly a good discipline tool. Those scheduled daily times on the road disciplined me to getting up and making a commitment to something.

That discipline eventually carried over into other areas of my life.

When I trained for my first marathon I learned a lot more about discipline, sacrifice, and some serious hard work. Honestly, once you run a marathon ( I actually went on to do more and eventually in 2014, a 50k) you develop the feeling and attitude you can take on the world.

I learned more about concrete goal setting, short and long term.

Exercise has built my confidence in what I can do and what I’m capable of doing.  This translates far beyond what I do on  the road.

The more I’ve grown athletically, the more I’ve seen that transfer into my daily life.

Becoming mentally strong dealing with physically activity has given me a tough mind in dealing with life.

I shared in a recent post about my yearly check up with my doctor.  My HDL ( good cholesterol ) was 75 on the lab report. It should be mentioned the highest number they had as “good” was 39. My doctor just gave me a level look and said… “it’s from all that exercise you do”.   So exercise is good for stuff like that 😉

I’ve also learned I can do some of my most creative thinking out on the road. It’s a time to process, discard, think and get clarity.

It’s taught me to get out of my head, get out of my way, so I can see what I’m made of.  I’ve learned I have strength I didn’t know I possessed, mentally and physically

Oh yeah. and somehow along the way of learning that, I lost weight and got decently fit.

So yeah, you do need to exercise

So if you’re one of the “anti-exercisers” 😉 I hope I’ve given you something different to think on.  Find something you enjoy and want to do, then commit to getting good at it. DO it often enough and frequently enough and it will turn into a habit, a good one at that.

And then, before you know it, you too will have lost some weight and be getting decently fit too.

20180625_093035
I love and anticipate my workouts now, physically and mentally.

 

Your turn… tell me… do you wish you didn’t “have” to exercise? Do you wish you could lose weight and get all the benefits without doing it, or are you at a place where you love it and would miss it? Have you ever considered exercise as beneficial to you in ways besides helping with weight loss?