Got stress build-up? Here’s a simple solution.

This week I went grocery shopping, spoke with a friend on the phone, and filled up my car with gas. Normally these activities would not be stressful, but these days they are because the concerns about the coronavirus hang over everything. 

Each stressor is like putting a bit of air in the balloon until you are carrying so much tension, you are ready to explode. This is Alarm mode. In Alarm mode, your body is putting its energy into getting ready to move so you can take care of a threat to your safety and well-being. It does this so that you can get back to Recharge mode, the state where your body heals, repairs, and defends against illnesses.  

Daily life is keeping us in Alarm mode almost constantly, but we need to spend more time in Recharge mode so we can stay safe and well right now. One of the most effective ways to get back to Recharge mode is to move, but many of our common solutions to stress don’t require us to move our bodies. Plus, moving is often not convenient or comfortable. What’s needed is a solution that involves both mind and body and that you can use right away when an alarm is triggered. This solution is a Recharge Pause. 

A Recharge Pause is when you move in a specific way to restore calm in your mind and body. It is based on a blend of the sciences of mindfulness, mindset, and movement. There are three simple steps;

  • First, because Alarm mode is most often triggered by thoughts about the past or future, bring your attention to what is happening in this moment, without judging, just noticing.
  • Second, move smart, in the way your body is designed, so moving does not add to stress, but leaves you feeling better. The foundation of this is in the center of your body. Watch my smart core videos to learn how.  
  • Last, set your mind to noticing how your body feels as you move, so your body informs your mind that you are okay, helping to calm the alarm and get you back to recharge mode.

Throughout the pandemic, I will be sharing simple Recharge Pauses with you. Our first Recharge Pause is called Calm and Confident. 

Sprinkling your day with Recharge Pauses gives you a there-when-you-need-it way to let air out of the ballon before stress builds up in your mind and body.

Bottom Line: A Recharge Pause is when you move your body in a specific way to get you back to the state where health and well-being happen. This week, spend more time in Recharge by practicing being Calm and Confident in your mind and body. Next week , we’ll continue to explore how mindfulness, movement, and mindset work together to keep you healthy and well.

To learn more about the science behind Recharge Pauses, go to the ExercisingWELL.com Free Resources page.

Stay WELL,

Janet

P.S. Exercising WELL members learn how to turn different types of exercise into Recharge Pauses, so exercise reduces stress and leaves them feeling more confident about their health and less worried about their ability to stay motivated. Now is a great time to start Exercising WELL. Click here to take advantage of the reduced membership rates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Self care series: Exercising for emotional well-being

Self-care series: As we enter the season of giving and a time of year when many people struggle not only with getting enough exercise, but also with keeping up with self-care, let’s take a deeper dive into how to make exercise a form of self-care.  To do that, we need to look at self-care from all aspects of your ‘self’—mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual and how to design exercise as a way to recharge your whole person, so you can be well now. 

Exercise as (3).png

If someone sent you a message that said, “I need to tell you something important”, what would you do? Well, if it was from a business trying to get you to buy something, chances are you would ignore it. If it were a trusted friend, you would contact them right away.  

Emotional well-being is not about feeling great all the time, it’s about listening to your emotions because you know they are important messages about your well-being.  

If you think about eating a lemon, your mouth will probably start to water. If you think of being in your happy place, your body will probably relax. This is because thoughts are immediately felt in our body. Sometimes it is subtle, sometimes it is overwhelming, but what you think is always felt in your body.  

This happens through is a vast network of superhighways that run from your brain to every corner of your body through nerve cells. They are continually sharing information back and forth about the state of your well-being. Brain to body, body back to the brain, faster than you can blink. They communicate the degree to which you are are safe, contented, and connected. 

These three qualities of well-being we discussed in the last part of this series are a simple way to think about mental well-being. When your brain perceives that there is a threat to your safety, contentment, or connection to others, it signals to your body that there is a problem. Instantly the thought creates changes in your body to let you know there is a problem. At the same time, it prepares your body to take care of the problem. This is how your brain and body work together to keep you well.  

But if the ‘problem’ is a critical email from your boss, or your clothes feeling tight from a week of holiday parties, those changes in your body to take action won’t help you solve the problem, they may even make things worse. A negative stress response can limit creativity and self-control and send a surge of cortisol into your body, telling it to store fat in case this ‘problem’ leads to a lack of food in the future.  

We cannot change the way we are hardwired to handle stress. Your nervous system is hardwired to prepare for movement when there is a threat to your sense of safety, contentment, and connection. We can, however, listen closely to our emotions, knowing they are important messages about our well-being. As licensed psychologist and author Guy Winch, PhD shares in this powerful TED talk, when we see emotional hygiene as essential as washing our hands when around someone who is ill, we can truly be well.   We can choose to respond to emotions like we would to a trusted friend who sends us an urgent message—immediately with kindness and care.  

Yet, we often forget that those emotions prepare our bodies for movement. Moving with kindness is like washing your hands to clear away germs. When you perceive exercise as something you should do, hanging over your head like another task on your to do list, you miss the chance for it to restore emotional well-being. When you think of exercise as a moment in your day to check in and clear the effects of thoughts stored in your body, you are using exercise as a valuable form of self-care for your whole person.  

Bottom Line: Exercise, when done as an act of self-care, leads to emotional well-being. It gives you a chance to check in, listen to the messages, and respond by giving your body the movement it needs to clear the thoughts held in your body as emotions.  

Be Well Now,

Janet

Exercising WELL gives you a whole toolbox of user-friendly ways to exercise to restore well-being in your own personalized way.  Start by clarifying your Why for exercise in a FREE coaching call with me. No strings. No commitment. Just a conversation that lets you unleash your natural motivation to be well now.  Click here to schedule your call. 

Self-care series: exercise your whole-person

Exercise as

Self-care series:  As we enter the season of giving and a time of year when many people struggle not only with getting enough exercise, but also with keeping up with self-care, let’s take a deeper dive into how to make exercise a form of self-care. This blog series will build on my last one about finding the right way to exercise for your body and your life right now. Both of these series serve as a guide to help you use exercise as a way to recharge your whole person, so you can be well now.  

Let’s face it, when we talk about exercising to be healthy and well, it is a vague goal. Being healthy is a bit easier to define than being well, but there are still so many facets and factors, it is not always enough to keep us motivated to exercise regularly.   

Have you ever considered when health happens? You might affirm you are healthy in a visit with your doctor, but that is not when health happens. Health happens moment by moment. More specifically, it happens in the moments you are well.  

When you are in a stress response or alarm mode, your body down-regulates healing and repair. Your energy is needed to handle the stressor. It does that by preparing to move. Heart rate, blood pressure, blood fats, blood sugars, muscle tension all increase so you are ready to fight or flee. When you finally get back to the relaxed state of recharge mode, that is when every cell in your body is able to get back to the work of making health happen. When you are in alarm mode, you could say you are ‘not well’, and when in recharge mode, you could say you are well.  

So if health happens in the moments you are well, to be healthy we need to ramp up more ways to get back to being in recharge mode or well.  Since you can only be well now, being healthy means noticing when you are in alarm mode, and having instantaneous ways to shift back into recharge mode.  

If exercise is part of your plan for being healthy, you are one smart cookie!  When your body has prepared to move in that alarm mode, the way out of alarm mode is to give it what it needs. Exercise, when it is not stress-producing, puts you back in the state where health happens. With all the complicated and conflicting information about the right way to exercise to be healthy, it all comes down to simply moving in a way that calms the alarm.  The sooner you are able to do that, the more time you get to spend in that health-creating state we call well-being. 

So exercise needs to be convenient enough to do when you need it most as well as calming, not stress-producing, for your whole person. That will take some rethinking: 

  • From exercise as something you need a lot of time, energy, and equipment to accomplish, to simply moving in any way that leaves you feeling better. 
  • From another task on your to-do list, to a form of self-care.
  • From training your body, to taking care of your whole person, your emotional, mental, and spiritual, as well as physical, self.  

This shift to exercise as a form of self-care for your whole person is what we can create during this time of year we need it most. Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a closer look at how to exercise for your mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical self in the ways that can restore well being instantly. As we do, share with me your thoughts, insights, and questions by emailing me at Janet@ExercisingWELL.com.  

Be Well Now,

Janet

PS: You could put off exercise until January, have the ‘I should exercise’ adding to the stress of the season, and then join the millions of people who rush to ‘get back in shape’ in the new year.    You could resist that dead-end trend and choose to give yourself a way to shed stress all season long so the new year is simply one more day you are confident you know how to be well now.  Exercising WELL ™ is the approach to exercise that is smart to do now.  Learn how to make exercise a form of self-care with personalized telephone coaching and an easy-to-use online program.   Enrollment for 2019 ends this week!  Click here now to get started with your FREE call. 

 

Finding the balance between challenge and self-care

Solving the mystery_ what’s the right way to exercise for your body and the real results you want, Part 1 (4)

The value of testing oneself to achieve greater awareness and strength is found in nearly every religion, inspirational movie, and biography. We know that as humans, we grow the most when we are challenged.    

This gets a bit muddy, though, when we talk about self-care. If challenge makes us stronger, does self-care make us weaker?  

You might know in your head the logic behind the concept of ‘put your own oxygen mask on first’.  Why, then, do we struggle with taking time for ourselves? Does it have something to do with this emphasis in our culture on challenges being good for us? What is the right balance between self-care and personal challenge? 

Exercise is both of these wrapped into one. When you challenge your body, it gets stronger. Physical challenge also is shown to improve mental strength. Research shows the connection between youth sport participation and greater leadership skills. What sports do not do, however, is prepare you for using exercise as self-care. In fact, it makes it even more challenging.  

Exercise is moving to take care of yourself. When exercise is done for the purpose of health and well-being it is, by definition, self-care. Even if you are exercising to be a better athlete, it is still ultimately done for you. The difference is how you treat your body.  

In athletics, listening to and protecting your body can interfere with the goal.  If you try to protect your body from harm while competing, the competition will eat you alive! The idea can arise, then, that self-care makes you weak. This mindset about exercise has infused our approach to exercise for health and well-being. Exercising for weight loss has become a sport.  Getting enough steps is a competition. Our way of exercising to be ready for life, not just sports, is out of balance. 

For well-being and health, the balance between challenge and self-care is essential. This is why it is so important to keep exercising for athletics separate from exercising for well-being.      

There are many ways you can take care of yourself, but movement is essential for complete self-care. Movement is what your body is prepared for in a stress response. Movement gets your body back to to healing and repair mode. Now more than ever, we need to know how to exercise in a way that is stress-reducing, not stress-producing. 

Challenge in exercising is essential for staying strong because your body is a use-it-to-keep-it system. However, it’s important to challenge yourself in a way that is not stress-producing. If you push too hard with exercise and it leaves you feeling worse, your brain will make excuses so you avoid exercising again. Yet, without the challenge, exercise is boring, and your brain will steer you towards other activities and avoid exercising again. Either way, you lose the health and well-being benefits of exercise because you are not doing it consistently. Exercising with just the right balance of challenge and self-care is not so easy, but it’s possible.  

As we enter the season of giving and a time of year when many people struggle not only with getting enough exercise, but also with keeping up with self-care, I will be writing about how to make exercise a form of self-care. It will build on my last blog series about how to Exercise Right because when you know how to exercise right, you feel better and it becomes an act of self-care.  

Bottom Line:  Both self-care and challenge makes us stronger. Exercise, when it is specifically designed for health and well-being,  provides both.  However, you are the only one who can create the right balance for you between motivating challenge and moving for self-care. What do you need more of right now in your life—self-care or challenge? Try adjusting your mindset about exercise to give you just the right balance of self-care and challenge. Let me know what happens by emailing me at Janet@ExercisingWELL.com

Be WELL,

Janet

Is even the thought of exercise stress producing?  Knowing how to use exercise to challenge your body at the just right level in a way that it feels like self care takes knowing how to exercise right.  Exercising WELL™ blends mindfulness and movement to create mindset that help you find that right balance for you each time.  Find out how to make exercise a source of self care with a unique, cost-effective blend of personal coaching and easy-to-use online learning.  Click here to get started with a FREE coaching call. 

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!  

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