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’s the right way to exercise? Part 1

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

Part 1:  Is it science-based? 

Many exercise programs say they are science-based and some even cite research to back up their claims. How do you know if it is pseudoscience or the real deal?  

Who is giving you the info? 

Because anyone can call themselves a fitness expert many exercises you see in the media are based on how we used to think the body was designed, or how we wish the body was designed. Often, a program is based on one piece of scientific information about the body but missing key information. For example, getting your heart rate up is just one change that happens in your body when you move, but it is not what makes the cardiovascular system stronger. The hyperfocus on heart rate has created programs that miss the mark but sound very science-based. Steer clear of exercises given by a ‘fitness expert’ or ‘exercise enthusiast’.  Instead, learn about exercise from someone who has a degree in exercise science so you are more likely to get the whole story about how your body works with exercise.  

What branch of exercise science?

Just like there are specialists in medicine, there are several branches of exercise science.  When you want answers about a specific medical problem, you would go to a specialist. If you want to improve sports performance, look for advice from a person who is educated in training for that specific sport. However, if you want to be healthy and well, look for a program designed for that specific purpose.If you have a specific health concerns, look for a program guided by clinical exercise physiologists. There is very little crossover between exercise for athletes and exercise for health, yet they are treated as interchangeable in popular exercise programs. If the program was invented for athletes, or promises you will have the body of an athlete, keep looking for a program that is right for your body and what you want for it.  

Where is the science from?

If the word research is used, get curious about what type of research. Do they mean they did an internet search or are they citing a specific clinical trial that was published in a peer reviewed journal? A red flag is when the general terms “studies show” or “in one study” are used but no reference is given. If there is a link, click it to make sure it is not just another blog but is research published in a peer review journal. Notice who funded the study too. Often companies will fund their own research on their program, resulting in biased results they can use as ‘scientific evidence’ in advertising.  

When was the exercise invented and studied? 

Exercise science has grown tremendously in the past few decades. Better technology has given us more details about how the body works. For example, we used to think stretching was about making muscles longer. Now we know it is more about changing the way the nervous system responds to movement and the state of the connective tissue. Stretching research is just starting to show is that what we used to think was a good stretch is actually doing the opposite of helping to improve mobility.  

Why are they giving you this information?  

Marketing is a science as well, and advertisements are designed to capture your brain’s attention. Ads can have a science-y look to imply the program is based on movement science, when in reality, it is far from how the body actually works. For example, a core program shows images of core muscles and states scientific research showing the core muscles are activated 500% more during their exercise program than typical core exercises. They want you to believe that because the muscle is activated more, it is burning more fat and because the person doing the exercise has six pack abs, they have a strong core. However, just because someone has well-defined abdominal muscles, it does not mean their core will help them in movements of daily life. Plus, those highly-activated muscles are not burning the fat stores next to that muscle. Spot reducing has no scientific basis yet makes millions of dollars in sales every year. 

Bottom Line: When you exercise based on the way your body was designed, you feel better and get more real and lasting results. Scientific research is a great guide as it adds to our growing knowledge about how to exercise right for health and wellbeing.  But even the best scientific research does not give you all the answers about the right way to exercise you personally. The next two parts of this series will help you solve the mystery of knowing that an exercise is right for the real results you want for your body and your life right now.  

Extra resources: 

 

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

Exercising WELL™ is for people who want to exercise to be healthy and well but don’t have time, money or energy to waste on programs that are not science based or right or them.   The cost-effective yet powerful combination of coaching and an easy to use online program means you learn how to exercise right, for the body and life you are in right now.

Enrollment closes soon!

Click here to learn more and get started today!  

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

Is your body keeping you stuck_ Use your mind to move forward! (2)

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.  

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. 

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