How to shift exercise from a ‘should’ to pure self-care

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Rethink:  Before we enter the time of year that often involves extra ‘giving’, do you have enough to give? I don’t mean money or time, I mean of yourself. When exercise is another thing on your to do list it drains energy, whether you do it or not  Let’s look at what turns exercise into a source of self-care that you enjoy giving to yourself, so you can enjoy giving to others.  

The other day, I was chatting with a client about why she wants to lose weight. She simply said “my family needs me”. She went on to say how tired and stiff she feels, and how it is stressful to not be able to help her family. She finally said, “I need to feel better so I am able to care for them”.  

This is essentially what I hear from nearly everyone I talk to about their Why for exercise. Whether it is to lose weight or reduce back pain or have more energy, the core Why for exercise is most often connected to the ability to enjoy time with and/or care for others. 

Whether you care for a pet,  a friend, a cause, a child, a spouse, or customers at your work, you are a caregiver. As a caregiver, you may have heard the analogy to put your own oxygen mask on first. It’s a great analogy, but what counts as oxygen? What does self-care really mean?

I was telling my colleague Jennifer Lauretti, PhD, a wise and curious psychologist, how I want people to think of exercise as self-care. I shared how often I hear of people using exercise as a form of punishment so they can someday feel better.  She said “I struggle with the word self-care. I find that people don’t really know what that means.” As we chatted, I understood what she was saying and it tied right into this challenge with the concept of exercise as self care.  

Superficial self-care is the use of a treat, some external reward, in order to soothe the stress and strains of daily life. Getting a pedicure or facial or taking yourself out for a late can be a lovely gift you give yourself. However, it’s not oxygen. It’s not what you really need. It is a shortcut to feeling better temporarily.  

Exercise is superficial self-care when you think of it as a means to an end. Sure you can feel better because you ‘got through’ a workout or reached your step goal or an app said you burned more calories than you ate today. Like the pedicure or facial, though, this is not oxygen—it is a superficial and temporary source of feeling better. You feel good when you accomplish something and bad when you don’t. Exercise becomes a ‘should’ rather than self-care, adding to the stress and strain of daily life, rather than reducing it.  

Sustaining self-care is when you recognize the root of the stress or anxiety or exhaustion and give yourself what you really need. You might need to de-stress because you are in a high-pressure job. You might need to recharge your energy because you are drained from taking care of a child all day. This takes pausing and noticing what is really going on inside rather than just distracting yourself by watching Netflix or having a glass of wine to relax.  

Exercise for health and well-being is when you move for the sole purpose of taking care of your own body and mind. When you know how to exercise right, you can move in a way that truly relieves stress and restores energy.  The trick is knowing how to make exercise what you need, not another task on your to do list. When done well, movement sustains your body and mind. It calms your mind and strengthens your immune system. The side effects of exercising right are feeling calmer, happier, more focused, and energized all at the same time.  

Bottom Line: Take care of yourself so you can care for others. Know what you really need to restore and recharge by learning to listen to and trust your body. Make exercise a source of sustaining self-care by learning how to exercise right so it is not a should, but the source of sustenance it is meant to be.  

Be WELL,

Janet

P.S. In the Exercising WELL program, you learn how to exercise right, so your body and mind feel better right away. Enrollment is open now, but is closing soon for the holidays.  Prepare for the season of giving by taking the next four weeks to learn how to make exercise your own personalized ‘oxygen mask’. You will be ready to enjoy giving because you know how to restore yourself all year long.  

Rethink exercise for your brain

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Rethink:  If you think of exercise as something to ‘just do’, like a task to check off on your long list of things to get done in a day, you might be missing out on the brain benefits.  Here is how to raise the quality of the time you exercise, to benefit your brain and your body.

Are you starting to notice small slips in your memory and less ability to focus? Maybe you have heard how exercise can help with brain function, especially as you age.  However, because our society has a very broad definition of what counts as exercise, how do you know if you are exercising in a way that will maximize your brain benefits. It turns out that what you do when you exercise can be the deciding factor for how your brain benefits. Let’s rethink exercise for the brain so you get the most from every move.

When you are under mental stress, your body fatigues because stress is preparing it for movement. Like a car that is sitting in traffic, your body is revved up, using up energy,  because it is ready to move but not moving. This increases the work for your body while putting healing and repair on hold until you are more relaxed mentally.  Movement is the antidote to the stress response. This is why exercise can be so effective for stress reduction.

But exercise is not always effective for reducing stress because often your brain is still working when you exercise. When you multitask your exercise time in an effort to just get it done, it reduces the effects of exercise on the body and on the brain as well. A recently published article found that when workers took a mental break while on an exercise break at work, their brains functioned much better than those whose brains continued working during exercise.

While exercising, take a break mentally by putting aside any work or personal problems to give you the most benefit from the time you are investing in exercise. This study, like so many, reinforces that the brain and body are an inseparable two-way street. When you consider what is happening in both, you get more of what you want from exercise for your health and well-being. It’s a whole-person recharge because your body gets back to the state in which it can heal and repair and your brain get a memory and focus boost.

Take a moment right now to get up, stretch, dance, walk, move —without multitasking.  If you are thinking you cannot take the time away from work to exercise, consider the return on your time investment. Your work productivity could increase and in the end get more done when you return from your exercise break.  If your mind wont let go once you start to move, give it something to focus on in the present moment, such as being grateful for what your body can do right now or how good it feels to simply move and not try to accomplish anything.  

Bottom Line: You hold the key to exercising for your brain. Move your body with present moment attention and raise the quality of your exercise time to give your body and your brain more instant benefits.

Enjoy Exercising WELL
Janet

P.S. One of the three principles of Exercising WELL™ is presence.  If you have been told to use distraction to “get through” exercise or to multitask to get to a step goal, it’s time to start Exercising WELL.

Is your body keeping you stuck? Use your mind to move forward!

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Let me explain that title!

Your thoughts about exercise have tremendous power. The way you define exercise determines if you can and will do it. If you think exercise has to be a certain amount of time, intensity, or type to ‘count’ as exercise, but you feel limited by pain, weight, fatigue, etc., you are not going to exercise. What you think about exercise and what your body can do in this present moment are at odds.

However, when you think of exercise as any movement to help your body, exercise becomes possible. This is why I ask you to Rethink Exercise.

Rethinking exercise starts with letting your body lead the way. Your body does not know what you used to do or what you think you should do.  It doesn’t know how many calories you want to burn, or steps you are ‘supposed to’ take in a day, it only knows how much it can move now. It doesn’t know the numbers displayed on the weight machine or the treadmill or your activity monitor.  Your body only knows what it can do now, in this moment.

If your body cannot tolerate what you are doing, it will let you know through pain and fatigue, which are signs of doing too much, too soon. (Contrary to popular belief, pain is not a sign of progress—nope, not even muscle soreness.) If your body can do what you are asking it to do, it will let you know instantly through more energy, greater freedom of movement, more focus, and a better mood.

Exercise is challenging when your ‘exercise window’ is very small because of body limitations.  It takes more presence to exercise within those limits.  But when you do, the window gets bigger. When you work with how your body was designed to move well, in the way it can move now, discover you can exercise, and start spiraling up to feeling well again.

Bottom Line:  When it comes to movement, your body is smarter than your brain. Learn to listen to it and how to move to make it feel better within the first few seconds of exercise. This allows you to use exercise as one of your best resources to feel better now, and in the future.

Enjoy Exercising,

Janet

P.S. When your ‘window of movement’ is small, getting started is the hardest part. Before you decide you can’t exercise right now, check out Exercising WELL™  It starts with a month-long program called Start WELL, with guidance and coaching to help you get unstuck and moving forward. Click here to learn more and get started today. 

Your Last Exercise Restart

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I hope you enjoyed your weekend with all kinds of great summer-time activities. Most of all, I hope you used your dread-free pass to silence that little voice reminding you that you have to buckle down and get back on track with exercise.

Over the past weeks, I created a quick-start version of Exercising WELL that is for you if you:

  • Struggle with getting and staying motivated to exercise
  • Dread starting because of the soreness until your body gets used to it
  • Wish there was a shortcut to making exercise a habit that actually sticks
  • Want someone to just tell you what to do and show you how to stay motivated
  • Know exercise makes you feel better, but can’t seem to get yourself there regularly

If all this sounds familiar, you are ready for Your Last Exercise Restart.

Together, we will take one month to:

  • learn how to start right so you never stop exercising
  • exercise in a way that keeps you motivated and feeling better
  • create a regular, well balanced exercise program
  • have more energy, strength, and freedom to move well
  • be confident you can stick with it

Sound too good to be true? This program is different from anything you ever tried before because it includes:

  • Telephone coaching with me each week for a month so your exercise plan is personalized and you have someone who can help you work through the challenges of exercising regularly.
  • Exercises that teach your body the essentials for moving the way it was meant to move. Most programs skip over this step so you feel like you are getting ‘quicker results’ but those programs only leave you feeling worse and less motivated in the end.
  • Step-by-step guidance to keep you away from the #1 exercise motivation trap—doing too much too soon.
  • A complete exercise program with a balance of strength, cardio, and mobility exercises. This program is 100% free of crunches, sit-ups, planks, burpees, HIIT training, and other types of exercise that don’t feel good for your body. You will learn how to have truly functional core control, do cardio in a way that is instantly motivating, and exercises that calm, rather than raise, your fear of falling or injury.

Why am I so sure this will be your last restart? 

Because you will have science on your side this time and not just one science but the powerful combination of three sciences: Exercise science  +  Motivation Science  +  Coaching Science.

You won’t get bogged down with the science though—you’ll just get the simple facts of what to do, arranged in five easy-to-complete segments a week, for four weeks, reinforced in a weekly coaching call with me.

Ready to take one month to learn how to Exercise WELL and make this Your Last Exercise Restart?  Click here to find out more and enroll now.
Wholeheartedly,

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P.S. Enrollment closes in October and won’t open again until January. Click here to begin Your Last Exercise Restart. 

Your ticket to a dread-free holiday weekend

The last weekend of summer is upon us! I hope you have plans to enjoy it to the fullest extent.

While you might be looking forward to a nice long weekend to enjoy summer activities, you may also be feeling:

  • Uncomfortable in your body from all the summertime fun

  • Frustrated with yourself for letting your healthy habits slip away

  • Full of dread, because getting started again is so hard

You might also hear a little voice inside saying, “enjoy it now because Tuesday, the party’s over and it’s time to get back on track.”

If this sounds familiar, I have a gift for you. It’s your free pass to ignore that little voice, ditch the dread and lose the guilt so you can fully enjoy this weekend without that little voice stealing the joy.

Why? Because I am putting the finishing touches on a program that shows you how you can bypass the struggle to get yourself motivated, skip the soreness, end the embarrassment, and make this your last exercise restart.

I don’t want to bog you down with the details now—you have a weekend to enjoy! I will tell you that this program leaves you feeling good in your body and confident in your mind from day one! I will meet you back here on Tuesday morning with all the details.

OK, now let’s get out there and enjoy all the great things summer has to offer!

Enjoy!