Friday, March 29, 2013

What works- Fitness

My journey has evolved from couch potato to gentle yoga lover to gym rat in just 3 short months.  I never thought I'd be one of those, but a nudge from dear sis-in-law was enough to get us both there daily.  For anyone who has yet to make the immense effort to begin their journey, I understand! I think it's harder to start than to stay going... something about momentum.  This is why we go daily.  If we take a day off because we are sore (not injured) or tired or deserve a day off, we know we will begin the downward slide back onto the couch cushion.  Neither of us want that, can afford that, or deserve that.  As much as it scared us to take the leap, we found that 2 weeks passed by very quickly and we are well on our way to developing a new lifelong healthy habit. I have surprised myself daily to find my limits are mostly imagined and I am able do more than I ever gave myself credit for. I am not promoting joining a gym, because I know not everyone can do that, but if you can get a workout, walking, or healthy eating buddy, there is so much more energy added and staying power is multiplied.

Music!  Oh the joy of music!  Use a mp3 player, plug in to Pandora, or turn on the radio to set the pace faster than you would pace yourself and make the time go by so much faster. Without music, I found I was concentrating on the wall in front of me, to the random numbers on the equipment, and especially the clock.  It would tick tortuously slowly.  Today, sis and I plugged into Pandora with a splitter and laughed the hour away listening to 80's cardio; oh the memories!  Definitely helped us go faster, push harder, and we added a good 30 minutes to our usual routine easily.  It also works in the opposite direction for cool downs and stretching/yoga to slow down and breathe deeply as you ease into your day or slip into bed.

Workouts don't come without a price (and so many rewards), but the price is what you feel first.  Sore muscles and fatigue are normal and a part of the process.  Not a lovely part, but a part.  I tend to repeat Tom Sobal's saying over and over, especially after we started an Arms/Abs/Tush class twice a week: "Pain is weakness leaving the body."  Ps, you have to read his story- what a guy!  Anyway, I found an article of things to try when you get sore that may spark an "Aha" moment for you here...

Variety is the spice of life and getting fit must include all the spokes of the wheel in varying degrees.  You will find that some will come easier than others: Eating better, sleeping well/long enough, giving the mind time to daydream/wind down, working up to a sweat and breathing hard (not asthmatic, just enough to know you are working hard), and endurance/strength exercises.  Also, this is probably part of the 'mind' part, but get out into nature at least once a week.  Hearing the sounds outdoors, getting some sunshine, and breathing fresh air does wonders. If you don't feel like you've gotten out of the old habits just yet, try to do each one of these things just once a week, and probably not all in one day ;)  In a month, you will be wanting more and the hard spokes will be easier.

I am going to say it again, yes again:l logging/journaling makes a huge difference between success and failure.  When you cannot see, in concrete numbers, the expense of what you are eating, the balance or imbalance of nutrients, or how much activity you are getting, you WILL lie to yourself about how good you've been, OR you will excuse yourself into bad habits. Let me go another degree and say that, if you have buddies doing it with you, and everyone accountable to everyone, you will behave better when things get tough. 

Lastly, my favorite excuse prior was not having enough money to do things 'right.'  But all of it can be done as simple and free as the outdoors for a long walk, or using gallon jugs/canned food/body weight for lifting..  If you are online reading this, there are millions of classes and videos here for free for anything under the sun.  I even learned Qigong and Tai Chi here at one point. You can find and learn any activity you feel like you can do- just be sure to use all your major areas upper and lower. There are online logging sites mentioned in my previous posts, and music here as well to wind up or down with.  If you have trouble sleeping, two tricks sis and I talked about this week were to count down from 300 by 3's (worked for me the other day in 20 counts flat) and breathing deep in and out for a count of 2, then 3, then 4... up to 20.  The eating part, well, you decide what you will trade up for this week, water instead of soda?  Wheat instead of white? Fruit instead of cookies? You get the drift...

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