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. 

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. 

Your Last Exercise Restart

Copy of Copy of METROPOLITAN (5)

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,

signature 2

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!

 

Strength, beyond your muscles. 

Humble honey.png

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.