Category Archives for "Exercise and Activity"

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Can Exercise be Intuitive?

Intuitive Eating is a wonderful way to overcome the obsessive diet mentality that can occupy every waking moment. It puts an end to endless thinking about what you should and shouldn’t eat, counting calories, how good or bad you are based on what you’re eating, and many other thoughts and beliefs that take the pleasure out of eating and feeding your body.

You may have noticed that this pattern repeats itself in many other areas. It’s been said that how you do food is how you do life. I completely believe this. I’ve seen people who have overcome using food to cope switch to using shopping, for example. They buy things instead of feeling their feelings and then restrict money and deprive themselves things as a way of controlling some emotion they are trying to avoid dealing with.

Another place I see the same pattern is with exercise. No where else is the mentality associated with dieting more common than in fitness and exercise. With exercise, especially when used as a means to lose or control weight, you can see so many similarities to dieting. There’s the guilt of not doing it or not doing enough. There are tons of “shoulds” that just make exercise feel like a chore. Exercise is often used as punishment for being lazy or eating too much. There’s also a compulsion, much like dieting, to exercise when you’re having a bad body moment (or day, week, etc.)

I was working with a client that was just burned out on exercise and she wasn’t sure why because she used to love it. Part of the problem was she was overexercising and anxious when she missed a workout because she was obsessing over her weight. Many of her workouts were also too intense and she wound up getting sick as a result. We were brainstorming around this and realized we could apply intuitive eating principles to exercise. We (being very original!) called it, “Intuitive Fitness.”

Certainly we aren’t the only people to make the connection or come up with this idea. In fact, since this a-ha moment with my coaching client, I’ve seen this concept discussed around the blog-o-sphere and it often comes up in the Intuitive Eating Yahoo Group.

I suggested to her that she was approaching exercise with a “diet mentality,” like many do with food. It was all or nothing – either she worked out really hard, beating her body into submission and doing extra exercise as punishment for overeating, or she would do no exercise at all.

So we talked about applying intuitive eating principles to exercise. Before exercising, she would ask herself how she felt and what her body wanted to do that day. This included the type of exercise and the intensity. Some days she worked out hard, and it felt great, and others she took it easy, just walking or doing yoga. This really worked for her and she began to like exercise again and was much more consistent.

Here are a few “principles” I’ve come up with based on approaching fitness from an intuitive perspective:

1. Focus on “activity” and being active. The word “exercise” often feels negative because of it’s association with dieting and punishment for overeating. Activity can be fun, it can feel good, and it can be of any intensity, not just “hard” as exercise is usually perceived.

2. Honor your body. Ask yourself how you feel in the moment. Do you want to push yourself today? How is your energy level? Any kind of activity is going to improve your energy. Check in and see if your body wants a challenge, to relieve stress or tension, or something in between. Just like your hunger varies from day to day, so will your body’s energy and ability to be active.

3. Respect rest. Overexercise is a big problem when using activity as a way to burn calories or lose weight. Rest and breaks from exercise are just as important as activity. It’s during rest that your body recovers and rebuilds itself stronger so you can continue to be active and reap all the benefits of regular activity.

4. Make activity part of self-care. When activity is about self-care instead of punishment or control, your attitude towards it will become more positive and you will embrace it more easily. It will also be easier to honor needed downtime, such as when you are sick. When exercise is about control, unnecessary guilt shows up and interferes with self-care.

5. Determine your own “guidelines” about activity. There are a lot of rules out there about exercise. These include what kind of exercise you should do, how much, how hard, how often, etc. These rules are about as helpful as all the rules about dieting. Let them go – how can you possibly expect yourself to exercise for 30-60 minutes at a moderate intensity for however many days a week the “rules” say if you can’t walk down the block right now? Decide for yourself what is enough and trust that your body will adapt and you will be able to do more over time.

The above are my ideas so far. What ideas can you share? What is working for you? How are you approaching fitness “intuitively”? Let me know and we can develop this idea further together!

exercise motivation words

Move It!: Top 7 Exercise Motivation Solutions

We all know we need to exercise. Many of us know how to exercise. How many exercise books and videos do you own? How many gym memberships have you had in your life? You may even be an expert on the perfect exercises for your body. But you’re not doing it! Why? Well, the problem isn’t lack of knowledge… it’s lack of motivation.

With all our responsibilities and commitments, including work and family, it’s hard to find the time, let alone the energy, to exercise. Sure, we know it will give us more energy. And we know it can improve the quality of our lives. Still, it drops to the bottom of the priority list week after week, month after month. Did you make another resolution this year to get in shape or lose weight? How long did it last? According to American Psychologist, over 25% of fitness resolutions are abandoned in just the first week! It is not easy to stick with or get results.

What can you do? Focus less on gaining more knowledge, and more on getting and staying motivated. As you become more consistent and start seeing results, you’ll be able to apply all that knowledge. Here are seven solutions to getting and staying motivated:

Solution One: Find Your “Why”

In order to be successful at any endeavor, we must have a good reason for doing it in the first place. Exercise is no exception. What will get you up in the morning on those cold, dark days when you just want to stay in bed? Many people say “because I want to lose weight” or “I want to be fit”. While these are good goals, they are not good enough reasons for long term success. You must dig deeper. What is important to you? What do you value in life? Answer these questions, then see how a regular exercise program can support your values. This will enhance your motivation to exercise.

As an example, let’s say you value being a good parent. Your children are very important to you and you want to be an available, attentive and supportive parent. How can exercise support this value? For many people, exercise releases stress which may otherwise manifest itself as anger or impatience that could be directed at your children. Exercise also creates more energy, which any parent knows is essential when raising children!

Find your “why,” write it down, and remember it when you start making excuses to skip exercise.

Solution Two: Make a Commitment

Once you find your “why,” it’s time to make a commitment. Here’s a definition of commitment you may not have heard: a commitment is the ability to carry out a worthy decision, even when the excitement of making that decision has passed. Read that definition again, and really understand it. How many times have you been excited to start an exercise program, only to become bored or distracted by other things? As soon as the excitement passes, so do your exercise plans. Be sure you are ready to commit, and if you are not, then commit to NOT exercising. That way you can let go of the guilt and recommit to exercise when you’re ready.

Solution Three: Set Daily, Measurable and Realistic Goals

If your only goal is to lose 40 pounds, it will be a while before you feel successful. After all, it can take a while to see such results. Rather, set daily measurable, achievable goals that allow you to feel successful every day. Keep a weekly diary and set goals each day for what kind of exercise you will do, how long you will workout, how hard you will exercise, etc.

When you start your exercise program, write down what your ultimate goals are. Then write down smaller goals, maybe monthly goals. Break it down even further to weekly goals such as how many days a week you will exercise, or how many minutes you will workout for the week. You can even set daily goals so you feel successful with each workout.

Solution Four: Keep Track of Your Progress

After you set your goals and write them down, begin to chart your progress. Be sure to write down your daily achievements to compare to your goals. This will become extremely motivating as you see yourself meeting your goals. With consistent exercise, you will also see your workouts becoming easier and your ability to work harder and longer. This often happens faster than visible results on your body, such as weight loss or definition. Many people become frustrated and quit exercise right before big changes are about to happen, because they don’t see the results on their bodies. Seeing measurable progress on paper will keep you motivated while you work towards the bigger goals you have set for yourself.

Solution Five: Get Objective Feedback

You may know what a good workout feels like – you have that endorphin “high” after exercise, or you have energy to spare all day long. But do you know what an effective workout feels like? It is hard to know how effective your workout is every day without waiting for weeks or months to see the results. What if you could see day after day how many calories you burned, or what your heart rate was during each workout? Using a heart rate monitor can tell you if you are working too hard or not hard enough. It also will show improvements in fitness levels as you continue your exercise program (for example, your heart rate will be lower for a given exercise as you become more fit).

What about calories? We know that one pound of fat is made up of 3500 calories. Are you burning this many each week? An accelerometer can tell you all day long how many calories you are burning and keep you motivated to move! When you look for ways to add activity to your day it becomes a fun game and you can instantly see the results.

Solution Six: Avoid the “All or Nothing” Mentality

Have you had plans to exercise five times one week and the first day something happened and you didn’t exercise? When this happens, many people give up on the rest of the week. It’s similar to when someone “blows” their diet by eating cake and then says, “oh well, I guess I’ll start again on Monday,” and continues to overeat the rest of the week. This is known as the All or Nothing Mentality. Keep away from this – it doesn’t work. If you approach your exercise and nutrition program in that manner, you set yourself up for failure. When we get busy, go on vacation, get sick or the in-laws are visiting, if we use the all or nothing approach, we stop our exercise program for a week or two, which turns into a month or two, and it is so hard to get back on track.

Instead, have a backup plan. Create workouts that you can do at home, at the office, outside, while on vacation, and other likely scenarios. If you can’t exercise for a full half hour, know that ten minutes will bring you benefits and closer to your goals. If you have to miss a workout, let it go and resolve to continue tomorrow. Remain flexible in your exercise plan, because life requires it!

Solution Seven: Be Accountable!

About 95% of all participants in an exercise program will stop exercising. Why? No support. Research has shown that exercisers with some kind of support system have a better chance of continuing exercise. You also need accountability for your exercise. If you have a friend that you exercise with, and both of you can talk each other out of exercising on a particular day, this may not be the person to help you with accountability. Working with someone like a personal trainer, a coach or a mentor will give you the support you need and you can work together to identify barriers to keeping your commitment and develop strategies to overcome these obstacles.

You can work with someone in person, over the internet or by email, or over the phone. Find the system that best fits into your life to ensure your success. What this support person will do is hold you accountable for your exercise. Because he or she will be checking in with you, there is more incentive to follow through with your commitment to exercise. Most people need far more support, follow up and accountability than they think to start and maintain an exercise program.

In the interest of avoiding the all or nothing mentality, don’t try to implement all these solutions at once. Pick one or two and when you have those working, add another one. Just like results from exercise, building motivation and consistency will take time. Fitness is not just about reaching a destination, it is a journey where you will learn much about yourself and grow from your experiences. Keep your short term goals in mind, and enjoy the journey to reaching your ultimate goals.

healthy lifestyle website on laptop

Fit For Business – Can You Afford to NOT Exercise?

As an entrepreneur, you probably find yourself fighting the balancing act everyday with customers, marketing, employees, and business development, let alone family, friends, and personal pursuits. With all this responsibility, do you find it impossible to fit in time to exercise? Of course you are not alone, many business people want to exercise, but it ends up low on the priority list, after business, family, and all the daily fires that need to be put out.

The irony of this all-too-common scenario is that regular exercise can provide the entrepreneur with business benefits you may have never imagined. Working out will improve not only your waistline, but your bottom line as well!

Energy to Last All Day

Regular exercise can give you the mental and physical energy to meet the challenges of running your business. The fact is, expending energy through physical activity creates more energy. Most business people find themselves more productive and focused on the days they exercise. They also are moving around more during the day, burning more calories!

The long and erratic schedule of entrepreneurs require the energy to deal with customer demands, emergencies, and the unexpected, sometimes long into the evening, all with the enthusiasm and clarity you would give it first thing in the morning. Effective, consistent exercise can give you that needed energy.

Make Exercise Your “Business Development” Time

When you think you are taking time away from work to exercise, look at exercise as business development time, especially when those solutions aren’t coming while you are stuck at your desk.

By stepping away from business, having some alone time and increasing your metabolism and circulation, solutions to problems will come to you, and new creative ideas will develop. Go for a quick walk, walk up and down some stairs, and wait for the ideas to flow!

Exercise and Multitasking

When you really need a reason to stop working to exercise, don’t forget your continuing education. How much reading do you have to catch up on? Knowing you can keep up with industry news, continuing education or self-improvement reading can be a great motivator. Just grab your materials, a reading rack, and a cardio machine and you are ready to go! Don’t forget books on tape and all those training tapes you haven’t had time to listen to – nothing makes a workout go faster.

Whatever reason you can find to make exercise a priority, just know it will ultimately lead to more time, energy and money!