The Joy Of Exercise

I’m in the midst of reading a book ( among many other projects) right now.¬† With so many active things to keep me moving, getting still to read is a treat.Not only am I carefully reading through the smart, intelligent writing of this book, I’m also fact gathering for the book review I will write on it. The book is titled “Give Yourself More” by Georgie Fear and K. Aleisha Fetters.  ” a science backed six part plan for women to hit their weight loss goals “I had the pleasure of writing reviews for Georgie’s book “Lean Habits For Weight Loss”, both editions.¬†¬† Be sure to check those out in my past posts.What I love about this book so far is the sound truths women need to hear and¬† be reminded of.You are enough. It’s ok to take up space, to be strong and powerful.It’s ok to eat food, real food that is healthy, tasty and nutritious.I’m so tired of seeing ads, sales posts, multi level marketing companies etc telling women the only way to lose weight is to go on a cleanse or fast. That they need to detox their bodies to get healthy. That they have to be miserable, hungry, live off shakes and pre-made who knows what fake foods, or denied of adequate food to lose weight.¬†Really, how fun IS it to be at a party or out to dinner and you are sitting there watching everyone enjoy themselves while you are denying yourself the pleasure of good food? Why when you can enjoy in moderation and balance and not sabatoge your goals, really you can.Ah! I digress.I’m getting ahead of myself.¬† I’m just so dang passionate about this topic.I was talking about exerciseA few years back, I wasn’t on the “exercise is awesome” train.¬† Like many of you I viewed it as a painful chore to get done.Something I “had ” to do to lose weight or to validate myself in some way.Like many of you, I’d determine a day I was starting and I was going to get it done.Once for all, I’d become permanently hooked on it.Then I’d crash and burn a couple weeks into it.¬†Sound familiar to you? I’ve seen far to many people get on social media with a similar agenda. There are so many consistent similarities I can almost see the end before it starts.Why is it like that? Thankfully,¬† I’ve learned a whole lot about myself these past few years and what exercise means to me. I pushed through those initial weeks, then months, and moved to a whole beautiful world on the other side.I love my workouts, I miss them when they don’t happen.¬† I love how they make me feel, mentally and physically. I love the side effects of building a strong body.There are so many wonderful benefits when you stay strong and push through your mental struggles to do it.Oh, the bookYes, I was telling you about what I was reading.The author asked ( me, you, the reader) how we viewed exercise.Did we see it as a form of punishment,¬† something to atone for the foods we ate, something to get done to lose weight? These ideas are geared towards us becoming “less”.¬†To be Smaller, take up less space, be less. We are critical with our bodies picking out flaws or short comings, focusing on what is “wrong” with us instead of celebrating our body for all the awesome things it can do.It was mentioned that as ( women) we’ve lost the ability to enjoy movement, something as simple as a walk in the evening or playing outside with our kids.Our bodies are designed and made for movement.Yet we’ve made it something to dread or a form of punishment for eating the very food our bodies need for fuel.We’ve bought into the ” no pain no gain” mentality. That we must hurt or suffer for it to matter.Not true.A personal perspective¬† During my strength training yesterday I was thinking about how people can view exercise as punishment. I’m long past that and although often “work ” I enjoy and appreciate exercise. I love the feel of my heart beating strongly,¬† the deep breathes from my lungs and the sweat pouring off of me.I was also thinking about progress and appreciating our bodies even if we aren’t happy with something. And I thought about how I can lift things 99% of people around me can’t do.Like my 185 dead lift, or my 110 bench press, or doing butterfly situps with a 35 lb weight plate, and renegade rows with 25lb dumbbells and so much more…. And I thought about how freaking awesome my body is, middle-aged and all, tipping more towards the 60s after my last birthday, but how much stronger and more powerful it is now than it ever has been. And that my friends, is the bomb. ūüėĀ
Boxing is just one of many activities I enjoy
The Joy Of Exercise I guess you could say by now I have ( mostly ) ūüėÄ found the joy of exercise. I have found the ability to appreciate it, for how it makes me feel and not use it as a means to the end.So how do you get that? How do you walk that path that turns into consistency and is built into your daily life?* think of activities you truly enjoy and start there. Do you enjoy feeling the evening air on your face after dinner? Go for a walk around the block. The¬† next day do it twice.¬† Think about what you see and feel. Just enjoy the movement¬† of being outside.¬†*Focus on activities that you will be consistent in.*Strive for at least 30 minutes to do your activity, most days of the week.* Be positive about your body, thinking of the ways it is serving you in that activity.* What do you want to get better at? What goals can you set to do that? When I started running nothing made me want to get better at what I was doing than having an event to
train for. Since I was my only competition I was always looking for ways to improve my running game.* Don’t use your activites with the idea of weight loss or for punishment for eating.¬† Appreciate your body for all the awesome things it can do for you!* Plan in variety. The more activities you can choose from the less you will be likely to feel bored with constant repetition of the same activity.¬† My physical activities have ranged from running to cycling,¬† rowing, weight lifting, boxing, walking, and the elliptical.¬† Every day I pick a different activity, or activities. Exercise is now, more than ever, important for our mental and physical well being. Love your body, appreciate it, and offer it exercise as a form of self care, not punishment.Tell me, what has been your mindset on exercise ? Punishment for eating or a tool for weight loss? Or an activity to be celebrated and enjoyed?

Your Body Perfectly Imperfect

body 1

The perfect body. The right look. The best abs. The right “booty”. Sculpted arms.

The perfect “everything”.

Men and women are bombarded today with images and news stories that the media or fitness world tries to convince us that we should look like.

It might bring¬†you down before you even get started. The seemingly overwhelming and impossible task to look¬†“perfect” without living a restrictive diet and hours in the gym.

Does the average person even have time for it, if perhaps, that was their goal?

And let’s be honest, what’s perfect to one, will not always be perfect to another. It’s a very illusive pursuit.

Let’s also not forget how much genetics will play into our bodies and how we can shape them. If you have your¬†moms ¬†wide hips you might be able to slim them down or tone them up, but you most likely will never have a small round bottom like you admire on your fit friend.

You might want long lean cut abs, but again, depending on your body type and structure the look you want might be harder, if not impossible to achieve.

Besides a good disciplined exercise program, your nutrition needs to be on point the majority of the time to lose the fat and build some muscle.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I thought I wanted the past few years I’ve been on my health and fitness journey. I’ve learned more about what matters, or what is important to me.

Learning what I wanted

In the beginning, I thought just being “thin” was the goal. Just get “thin”.¬† I really had no goal beyond that and looking back now I wonder what seemed so desirable to me about just being thin ( as a goal)¬†Of course I needed to lose some fat.. that was important. And I did get thin.

But I was still learning…

Once I had lost weight ( I was exercising along the way too) I started to see how exercise and some weights were shaping me differently. I had picked up running and it was during the time of really cutting calories and more exercise I realized I had abs.

Ok…so… that’s cool… well at least to a middle aged woman who had never really had defined abs or a strong hard core before. Age is not a limiting factor to changing your body composition, by the way.

When I got injured and couldn’t run for over a year, I picked up cycling and did a lot more weight training. Not running 55-60 miles a week, it allowed a little weight back on me that was being reshaped into a stronger more powerful body.

Embracing my body. This is where I got it.

This is where I started to appreciate exactly what my body could do even if I wasn’t a perfect fitness model for a magazine or even if my body parts never shaped up like the articles I saw in magazines.

It didn’t matter and I didn’t care.

The important part?

In all my training and various activities, my body performed for me. It was strong. It was powerful. It adapted to my training to allow me to do more. It made more blood, grew more vessels, learned to deliver oxygen in a more efficient manner during my strongest workout sessions, it grew new cells and more mitochondria ( the literal powerhouse of the cells) it grew my heart and also made it more efficient by giving me a super low resting heart rate so it doesn’t have to work as¬†hard. The other side of that is¬†having a¬†faster recovery heart rate. My muscles grew and got stronger. I was able to run longer, faster and with more ease. I could lift more weight and do more reps.

body 2

Do we ever stop and ponder how totally adaptable and changeable our bodies are? What amazing machines they can be with the proper care and fuel?  The glorious things you can do with them with some investment of time and proper nutrition  to train them to be stronger?

Do we value them as they are, where we are, at this moment in time?

We live surrounded by media and the world that would constantly convince us we are not there yet, that we are lacking, that we aren’t “enough”.

If you’re on a weight loss journey, be patient with yourself and embrace what your body can do now. Know that as you lose weight and exercise you’ll become more fit and definitely more healthy.

If you’re already working out, stay the course, appreciate where you’ve come from and that if you want continued change, it’s possible for you.

But no matter where you are on your journey, never lose sight of the amazing, adaptable gift your body is and all it’s capable of doing for you.

As you move into this year with new goals and plans remember this: Love and value¬†your body,¬†it’s the only one you’ve got. Remember you are “enough” and don’t shrink from all you’re capable of being and all you’re capable of doing.

Have you learned to embrace yourself ? Do you appreciate your body for all it can do for you even if you may not have achieved certain goals?