Solving the mystery: what’s the right way to exercise? Part 3

Solving the mystery_ what’s the right way to exercise for your body and the real results you want, Part 1 (2)

Good detectives know that asking the questions who, what, where, when, and why can lead to solving a mystery. Knowing the right way to exercise can seem like a huge mystery can’t it?  Everywhere you look, you see exercises and programs that claim to be the answer to the ‘problems’ of your body. How do you know what is worth the investment of your time and energy? In this three-blog series, we’ll use these five sleuth questions to know if an exercise is science-based, right for your body, and likely to lead to feeling better and staying motivated.

In part 1 we uncovered how to find exercise that is science based. In part two we explored finding exercise for the results you want.  In this last part, we solve the mystery of knowing if an exercise is right for your body right now.  

Who is telling you it is right for your body?

Since we are flooded with information about how exercise is good for us, we can often think of exercise like a child eating their vegetables so they can have dessert. The problem with that ‘just do it’ approach is your brain believes what your body feels much more than what you tell yourself. Exercising because you have to in order to get to a goal is an athletic mindset. For most people, exercising because you have to will only last for so long. Eventually, your motivation will fade because something more important you have to do will come along.  

Instead, let you body tell your brain that it wants to keep coming back for more. How? By being present to how you feel when you think about exercising, are exercising, and have finished exercising. If your feelings are negative, it is time to change what you are doing or expecting of your body right now. When exercise is a positive experience in both your brain and body from the moment you think about it, you have found the way to exercise for well-being and health.    

What are you doing for exercise?  

In our calorie-focused society, exercise has become just a way to burn calories.  But exercise literally means ‘to practice’. So ask yourself, what are you practicing and is that what you want.  Exercise is not to burn calories, it is to help your body and brain feel better now and function better later. If you are doing exercises to burn calories, you may be moving in ways that don’t leave you feeling better now and that will drain motivation to keep doing it . If you are doing movements that are are practicing how you want to function better in daily life, at just the right level for your body right now, you will both feel better now and function better later.  Look closely at the movements you are doing and ask yourself if those are moments you want to improve for daily life.  

Where is my attention when I exercise? 

Exercises are often named by the muscles they are working, like triceps, abs, and glutes.  However, muscles do not work in isolation. Movements are a symphony of many muscles working together, orchestrated by your nervous system. The conductor is your central nervous system, brain, and spinal cord. When you focus on muscles, you are likely to miss the fact that other parts of your body are being strained, not strengthened. Consider how an exercise feels for your whole body to know if it is right for your body.  

Often our attention is not on our body at all. If you use distraction, like watching TV or talking on the phone, to get through an exercise, your nervous system cannot help your muscles coordinate the movement well and the quality of your practice has just been lowered. You are not teaching your body to function better while teaching your brain not to focus. This is the number one way we waste time with exercise.    

To exercise in the right way for your body, keep your attention on your whole body in the present moment. Only you know how your body feels and that is your best, most personalized guide. In doing this, you raise the quality of your exercise, thus making it more time-efficient.  

When do I get the results? 

In our athletic-minded exercise culture, feeling good when you exercise is not valued, it is considered ‘wimping out’. This mindset is helpful when you are competing, because the reward comes in the future. But when your reasons for exercise are to be well and healthy, the reward is in feeling better now. If you are a former athlete, but now are exercising for health and well-being, pay attention to this inclination to follow athletic approaches. Remind yourself that now your reasons for exercising are different, so the way you exercise needs to be different too.  

You may have long term goals for exercising, but if they are related to being healthy and well, the way to get there is to be right here, right now. Your body is in a constant state of change.  Every day it needs something slightly different from exercise. What felt good last week may not feel good this week. The path to your goal won’t be linear, because that is not how the body changes. The only way to know how to exercise right is to stay present. Listening to and trusting your body moment by moment is the way to make exercise work for you.  

Why is this exercise right for me right now?  

Connect your Why for exercise with what you are passionate about in life because this is the way to know how to exercise the right way for your body and your life right now and sustain motivation. The stronger you make the connection, the more you will be exercising the right way to get what you really want and the more motivated you will be to stick with it. Your core Why for exercise is not to lose weight or be healthy, it is the reasons why you want those things. Take the time to get to your core Why and finding the right exercise will be easier and more time-efficient.  

Bottom line: When exercise is based on how the body moves well, designed specifically for the real results you want from it, and leaves you feeling better instantly, you are exercising right. This is the most time- and energy-efficient way to exercise and the most motivating too.  When you know how to exercise right, body and your brain will be working together to keep you well and healthy. In the next blog series, we’ll look at how to exercise so you feel better mentally, emotionally and physically.  

Be WELL,

Janet

Learn More:

Want to know the right way to exercise for your body right now? 

If your body has spiraled downward, it is not easy to spiral up again. Typical approaches to exercise can be too much and you can easily end up feeling worse.  Exercising WELL™ is for people who want to feel better but their body and life keep getting in the way.  You get science-based exercise, step by step personalized guidance and the confidence you know how to stay self motivated to continue on your own.

Enrollment closes soon!

Click here to learn more and get started today!  

 

Solving the mystery: what is the right way to exercise? Part 2

Solving the mystery_ what’s the right way to exercise for your body and the real results you want, Part 1 (1)

Good detectives know that asking the questions who, what, where, when, and why can lead to solving a mystery. Knowing the right way to exercise can seem like a huge mystery can’t it?  Everywhere you look, you see exercises and programs that claim to be the answer to the ‘problems’ of your body. How do you know what is worth the investment of your time and energy? In this three-blog series, we’ll use these five sleuth questions to know if an exercise is science-based, right for your body, and likely to lead to feeling better and staying motivated.  

In this second part,  we solve the mystery of choosing the right exercise for the real results you want. First, let’s clarify that this is about exercising right for improving health and well-being with lasting results, not temporary ones. 

Who is the exercise for? 

Even if what you’re doing is based on movement science, there are many branches within that science. Sports and military exercise training is designed for the specific purpose of competing and winning, not for improving health and function in daily life. Athletes train for temporary results. They have to ignore pain and discomfort to get to a goal. Once the season is over or their career has ended, they don’t continue. Clearly, if you are exercising for health and well-being, sports training is not the right way to exercise. Yet, how often are these approaches used in popular exercise programs? If an exercise or program was designed for athletes, keep looking for exercises specifically designed for improving function in daily life and health long-term.   

What do I really want?  

Get specific about what you want from exercise, because your body will get used to what you give it, specifically. General goals like weight loss are a perfect example. You might be exercising to lose weight, but are you sure that is what you really want? If you reach a goal weight but don’t feel better, would that be a success? If you reach a goal weight but don’t stay at that weight, would that be a success? For most people, achieving a number on the scale is not the real goal—ultimately what they want is to lose weight to feel better in some way and they want it to last. Don’t exercise to lose weight, exercise for the reasons why you want to lose weight.    

If you are exercising to help a medical condition, just like any medication, the correct type and dosing will allow that medication to help you. Clinical exercise physiologists (CEPs) are specifically trained in not only exercise, but all of the medical conditions that can be helped by exercise. Look on websites and organizations that use CEPs to guide people with exercise for the medical condition you are wanting to help. Learn as much as you can about how to exercise for that medical condition. See the links below for some resources.  

Where will I do this exercise? 

The result of any exercise, no matter how great it is for you, will disappear once you stop doing that exercise. If the place you are doing this exercise is inconvenient, costly, or you do not feel good about yourself when you are there, it is not sustainable. Your brain will start making excuses why you cannot go and exercise. If you are doing an expensive program to make you exercise until you can reach a goal weight or fitness level, without a plan of what to do after you reach that goal, the results are more likely to be temporary. Consistency is the most important factor for the real results you want. Choose exercises and programs that are in a location you know you will come back to long-term. 

When will I get the results I want from this exercise? 

Your brain likes you to do things that make you feel better instantly. If you are doing an exercise and feel worse but tell yourself you just need to get used to it, it is not the right type or intensity of exercise for you right now. You can convince yourself that it will be worth the soreness and fatigue when you see results, but the reality is your brain believes your body more than it believes what you are telling yourself. If an exercise does not feel good instantly, it is most likely not right for your body (or any body), and your brain is most likely to tell you to skip it at some point in the future. The real result your brain wants is for you to feel better now. That’s how you will build confidence you will stay motivated. The right exercises for you are the ones that make you feel better now.  

Why am I interested in this exercise?  

Is it because it worked for someone else? Your body and life are unique. Just because an exercise worked for someone does not mean it is right for you. Is it because it worked for you in the past? Your body and life are in constant flux. Your body is only in the present and what worked for your past body and life is not a sure thing to work now. Is it because that person doing the exercise looks the way you want to look? Getting the long lean muscles of a dancer, or the abs like your personal trainer, has more to do with their genetic makeup than the exercises they are doing. If you find an exercise or program that sounds good to you, but it does not match your body or life right now, list what appeals to you about that program. That list will help you find a program that is right for you now. Eventually that program may be right for you, but the only way to get there is to do what is right for your body and life right now.    

Bottom Line: The right exercise for the real results you want from exercise is the one that is specifically designed for those results, leaves your body feeling better now, and you want to keep doing consistently. In the last blog of this series, we’ll look at how you know if an exercise is right for your body right now.  

Be WELL,

Janet

Exercising WELL™ puts your Why into action

Exercising WELL™ is unique because it combines the power of coaching with the convenience of online learning.  This makes it a cost effective way to get guidance from a clinical exercise physiologist and work with a coach.  The easy-to-use online program teaches you how to exercise right.   Our video or telephone coaching sessions,  personalizes that information and keeps you moving forward without doing too much too soon.

Enrollment closes for the year on November 15, 2019. 

Click here to learn more and get started today!  

More resources:

How strength training activates your well-being

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In the last blog, I highlighted how your strength is not from your muscles, but from your brain and nerves that connect it to your muscles.  It turns out, that ‘waking up’ of nerve fibers activates your whole body and your well-being in very unique ways.   Let’s take a look.

Your muscles. Your muscles are made up of lots of muscle fibers. Imagine each of those fibers like rowers on a boat; the more people rowing, the more strength and power the boat has. If the exercise is with light resistance, only a small amount of muscle fibers is activated. If the weight is heavy, more muscle fibers are called into action. As your muscles get fatigued during an exercise, your nervous system will call upon more muscle fibers to help out.

Your bones. Every day your body is both making and losing bone cells. Around age thirty we seem to start losing more bone cells than we are making. The rate at which that happens depends on how often you are telling your bones to make new cells. When muscles contract, they tug on your bones. When that tug happens, it’s like your muscles are tapping on the shoulder of your bones, saying, ‘hey, stay strong, I need you!’ This sets in motion the immediate signal to your bones telling them to make new cells. Your muscle contraction is what slows the loss of bone. The stronger the contraction, the greater the trigger for new bone cells.

The catalyst:  How often do you hear advice to get enough calcium for your bones and protein for muscles? Well, if you put all the ingredients for a cake into a bowl, but never put it into the oven, would you end up with a cake? No. Those ingredients need a catalyst, heat, to make them work together to produce a cake. Getting enough of the right nutrients is only part of building strong muscles and bones. Strength training is the catalyst that makes the nutrients work for your bones and muscles! 

Your metabolism. When you challenge your muscle fibers, they go through changes like tiny tears in the fibers and use of the fuel stored right in muscles. It takes them about 24-48 hours to repair and refuel after that use. As they repair from those small tears, they gain strength. While they are refueling and repairing, they are more ‘metabolically active’. That means they are burning more calories for a day or two after you do strength training—up to about 15% more!

Your blood sugars. When your muscles contract, they use fuel stored in your muscle fibers and in your blood system. The fuel is glucose (sugar) and fats from your blood system. Each time you contract your muscles, they are ‘soaking up’ blood sugar and using it. That means that sugar is not hanging out in your blood, affecting every other cell in your body. Because strength training causes the longer-term repairs I mentioned, it also causes longer-term use of blood sugars for hours after you finish. This is why strength training is one of the best ways to manage high blood sugar levels.

And more… There are many more cascades of real-time changes that happen each time you perform strength-training exercises that are similar to those that happen with cardio. For example, brain chemicals are released that improve a sense of optimism, focus, and calm. Nitric oxide is released which helps keep blood vessels relaxed, regulating blood pressure and reducing strain on blood vessel walls that could lead to cardiovascular disease.

Unique benefits, unique barriers. These are just the highlights of the unique and powerful Real-time Results of strength training. So why are 80% of people not doing it regularly? If you are one of them, stay tuned.  Next week we will look at the specific road blocks to motivation to strength train.

Bottom Line: Your brain signals your muscles to contract, pulling on bones, and creating movement.  This simple progression of events, when done in a way that is challenging for each one of the steps in the process, creates the catalyst for strengthening and maintaining your bone, muscle, and metabolism.

How can you start this domino effect of health and well-being for yourself today? 

B-WELL

Janet

 

 

Strength, beyond your muscles. 

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As we discussed with cardio, we often talk about strength training in terms of the long-term benefits. Yet your brain really cares about the instant rewards of doing something. But what if the instant ‘reward’ you get from lifting weights is muscle soreness and fatigue? Sure, you could tell yourself ‘no pain, no gain’ and convince yourself that it is a ‘good sore’ and all that discomfort means you got a ‘good workout’. Your brain, though, is most concerned with you feeling good now and it’s designed to avoid things that are painful or uncomfortable. When your willpower to endure the discomfort runs out, your brain will start to plant excuses in your head about why you need to skip strength training today (and the next day, and the next).

Eighty percent of people are not doing strength training. Like you, they probably know the benefits—stronger bones, better aging, stronger metabolism—but the brain has some concerns—injury, weight gain, getting ‘too muscular’, or looking like a weakling at the gym. This keeps many people living in the ‘should’ when it comes to strength training.

Are you ready to get out of the ‘should’ when it comes to strength training? Ready to reassure your brain that it is all good, because you are going to work with how your body is designed to be strong? Let’s cut through the marketing- and myth-based ‘facts’ and clear the path to your strongest possible muscles, bones, and metabolism now and every decade going forward.

What is strength training? Strength training is also known as weight training, weight lifting, and resistance training. Basically, it’s when you challenge your body to be able to move your body or objects more easily against gravity. If you are thinking the things you do in your daily life like housework, child care, and yard work mean you don’t need strength training, click here to see why these physical activities are different than exercise.

Making your brain want to strength train. From the very first time you do a strength exercise, you set into motion a cascade of events that produce unique and powerful events in your whole body. Yet, most of the effects of doing or not doing strength training are not noticeable right away, so it’s easy to forget why it is so important. In the next few blogs, I’ll show you the Real-time Results of each strength training session, and why pain and discomfort are not necessary. This way, your brain will be more confident that doing strength training will help you feel and function better now, without having to first endure pain, discomfort, or embarrassment.

Why strength is not from your muscles. Although we most equate strength with big muscles, that is not where strength comes from. Before you even move, something very important happens. Your brain is activated and ‘plans’ what muscles will be needed to create the intended movement. It estimates how many muscle fibers are needed to create the force you need to move against gravity. Then your brain sends a signal through your spinal cord to the muscles you need to do that movement. Without this nervous system signal, muscles can’t move. This pre-planning of movement makes it much smoother and more efficient.

The pathway to strength: Just like the first time you take a trip somewhere, the first time you perform a movement, your brain has to work harder to find the most efficient pathway. Over time, it becomes easier as your brain remembers the pathway. Think about how your body learned to walk, ride a bike, tie your shoes, swim, or play sports. All of these are examples of this process we call muscle memory. This building of muscle memory is what makes movements more automatic, so you can gain coordination, balance, agility, and strength.

Confusion about muscle memory: There is some talk that muscle memory is bad, because you burn fewer calories as your body gets used to an exercise and that you need muscle confusion to keep your body burning more calories. Honestly, the calorie-burning difference is minimal and probably won’t add up to any change on the scale. Muscle memory is what allows you to function. If you are exercising to lose weight so you can feel and function better, muscle memory is your friend.

The strength of your brain. Since the brain and nerves are what tell your muscles how to move, strength originates in your brain and nervous system, not in your muscles. That means you need your brain for building strength. You can see why present moment awareness is so important to get the most from strength training. It ensures you are creating the nerve pathways you want, the ones that allow you to access your strength by positioning your body in the right way, and creating nerve pathways so that strong movement becomes more automatic (more on that later). If your brain is distracted by a TV show, or other people around you, it won’t have as much ability to put into building your strength.  If finding the time for strength training is a concern, choose high-quality strength training by focusing your attention on your body rather than trying to save time by multitasking and doing it while watching TV

Bottom line: Your full mindful attention is your best strength training tool!

In the next blog, we’ll look at what happens in your muscles when you strength train that continues the cascade of events that leads to you feeling and functioning better.

Ready for exercise success?

Click here to listen to this audio series for FREE

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Does this sound familiar?  You know exercise is good for you, but you struggle to be successful at it. You see that some people are successful at it, though, so why is it so easy for them? In this series I am going to share with you four science-based solutions to your struggles with exercise.

But first, let’s talk about why the common approaches to exercise make it harder to be successful.

Does success with exercise mean you

  • reached your goal weight?
  • see results (e.g., muscle definition)?
  • completed a 5K?

Any one of these would certainly would be considered success in our culture.

But here is the twist: brain and body science tells us this way of thinking actually makes it harder to be successful over time.

Exercise scientists, through thousands of studies, have discovered the ways to exercise to improve fitness and health in a lasting way. Neuroscientists have discovered how the brain changes when something becomes a habit. Yet these have nothing to do with how long you can plank or how many calories you burn or if you can run a 5K.

In fact, what scientists know about lasting exercise success is missing in the most popular exercise programs. To make it worse, common ways to motivate for exercise, such as fitness challenges, or goal setting, can actually sabotage the creation of habits in the brain.

Clearly, our ways of thinking about exercise have steered us away from what scientists have discovered works for exercise success. For real exercise success, we must blend what we know works for the body with what we know works for the brain with what is most important to you.

In the next sessions, we will do just that. You will learn what science tells us works, how to spot the ways we stray from this, and rethink your way to your own version of exercise success.

Until then, take a moment to ask yourself, what does exercise success mean to me?

Whole-heartedly,

Janet

Listen to this series by clicking here.  Want to be notified when the next part is released? Sign up for my email list and I will send you notifications, plus bonuses and even more solutions for exercise success.