15 Sun, 2010 § 2 Comments
Throwing the ball! Swimming in the canal!
Rollerblading! Tubing! Scrambling!
= Fun as a Child
Fun meant exerting ourselves. Fun meant moving.
This need-to-move (ie exercise) & I have had a long-standing, if not always smooth or consistent, affair. Even as a young teenager, I would de-stress by taking a quick jog around town. My flirtation with working out continued through college, constantly evolving & changing as I learned more, tried different activities/practices & became more comfortable with myself. Once plagued with anxiety & depression, I realized how much better I felt when I exercised. It amped up my energy levels & stomped out exhaustion & insomnia I had been battling. Someone once told me to get energy out of anything; you first have to put energy into it. When I put energy into exerting myself & pushing my limits, I gain exponentially physically, mentally & emotionally. Simply, exercising makes me happy. 🙂
It is no secret that frequent & regular physical exercise boosts the immune system & helps prevent the ‘diseases of affluence.’ We have all heard that exercise increases levels of both serotonin & endorphins; but did you know these levels can stay elevated even several days after exercise is discontinued? It is no wonder that physical activity contributes to improvement in mood, increased self-esteem & health management. Dave has commented that he can usually gauge my mood by whether or not I have worked out that day…to what extent…how it went… 😀
Considering all of the benefits & chemical reactions that it produces, how can exercising not make me happy? How can I not move every day?!
If you are not moving daily — or even if you are — here are some discoveries I have made throughout my own “love affair”:
Are you having fun yet? Who says you have to be a runner? Maybe yoga bores you. Do you have to sweat buckets & feel like puking by the end of your workout? You determine what is worth it & enjoyable to you, as long as you are sweating & raising your heart rate several times a week. There are countless ways to get out there & move, so the excuse “I just don’t like exercising” is lame. Rock climbing completely changed my body without feeling like a workout. Maybe you are the social type & need the motivation & support of a Zumba class; or the solitary part of you likes hiking with only nature as your companion; perhaps you are in the zone when pumping weights; maybe you love racquetball, but have yet to try it; or thrive off of training for a triathlon. If you are not having fun, you just have not found it yet. [This following week, I am excited to share the activities I love & why.]
Determine Goals & Make Your Body “good for something”
Our bodies will change; this is inevitable. If we base our bodies’ worth solely on appearance, I am afraid only frustration & disappointment lie ahead, especially as we age. Does this mean we can’t want that six-pack? Of course not; but what good will it do you? It might be pretty, but is it useful? I want lean muscles, because they enhance my climbing. Do I also like the way my arms & back look? Yeah; it is a nice biproduct of striving for my own performance goals. This is what really enhances self/body image: when you focus on more than just “looking good”, you actually connect with your body’s worth & ability. “Looking good” just kind of follows…without obsessing over unrealistic “perfection”…without the need to compare your body to others.
Having goals will help keep you motivated & focused. I mentioned in a previous post, I do not necessarily think “numbers” are the healthiest gauge of health. While suggested “healthy” weights can be a good guideline, it is easy to fall victim to chasing after arbitrary numbers. If you need a number-based-focus, I prefer body fat % over weight. Still, rather than stressing where the scale stops when you are standing still, focus on what your body can do when you are moving! Appreciate it, find others who embrace this & enjoy being active together. It is much more uplifting than petty competitions over who has the tiniest waist.
Crunched for time? How many activities in your day keep you “busy” without actually being “productive” or necessary? What makes you happy & healthy? These are necessary. What is not? Be honest with yourself & establish priorities. My body weight interval training takes anywhere from 12-30 minutes & requires little to no equipment. I often bike instead of driving. I used to practice yoga or take a quick run on my lunch or class breaks. I have even sneaked a quick workout in at the airport while waiting for our flight. Tell me you can’t squeeze that into your day?
I have found cross-training is crucial for injury prevention as well as balancing my body. I often use specific training, such as weights & pilates, to strengthen weaker muscles [those I do not use as often &/or those asked to carry a heavy brunt of my activities]. I have been climbing less often this season & knew I was destined to lose much of my strength. However, because of the type of cross-training I am doing [including High Intensity Interval Training], I am bouldering harder than I ever have in the past. Also, because I am not constantly straining the same muscles with overuse, I do not feel as close to injury as I previously have felt. I like switching up the activities I do; so, while I may not excel at any one of them, my body feels healthy & balanced.
Our bodies need time to repair & recover from the stress we exert on them. As I have read articles by “maturing” athletes, I have found it interesting how much their training differs from their “younger” days. They seem to realize how crucial it is to incorporate rest days for recovery, as well as cross-training. Yes, as our bodies age, they will require more time to recover; but wouldn’t you rather remain injury-free during your younger years so you can do what you love longer?
Embrace “active rest days”, meaning you do not spend your rest day sitting on your butt, vegging in front of the television. You still move on these days: enjoy an activity you love like kayaking; stretch & de-stress with yoga; weight train opposing muscles that are neglected during regular training; simply walk. Moving increases blood circulation which will speed recovery by bringing new blood to muscles as well as flushing out metabolic waste products [biproducts of exercise] which cause soreness.
Though I am happier with this past week’s activity level, I wanted to show the PREVIOUS WEEK; because, even though issues with my left calve kept me from being as active or intense as I would have liked, I was still able to move every day*.
Monday ~ Active Rest Day [Sore from Sat. hike & Sun. bike ride]
- laps at the pool
- a.m. Yoga Class, focusing on “wheel”
- bike commute 8 mi each way split up by bodywork session [releasing fascia of the left calve & mobilizing my right fibula]
- weights with Dave: rotator cuff & shoulder muscles, core
- a.m. HIIT [High Intensity Interval Training]
- midday laps in the pool with Dave [only 15-20 minutes before a light thunder storm hit]
- a.m. Yoga/Pilates Class, “shoulder stands & core”
- ran 1-2 mi around the lake in a.m. followed by short workout [hold chaturanga dandasana w/leg extensions, mt. climbers & elevated push-ups] & walk with Eisley & Dave;
- a little kayaking at Payson Lake with the family
Sunday ~ Dave & I desperately needed to sweat out our less-than-active & oh-so-delicious weekend 😛
- 14 min-evening-run followed by Dave’s boot camp playground workout [I thought I was going to vomit]; to cool down we practiced Qigong, walked home & stretched. I also worked on static handstands after balancing with Qigong per Dave’s suggestion — it made such a difference!
*Also walk Eisley every morning & evening before her meals & as much as possible throughout the day.
Tell me about your own relationship — highs & struggles — with exercise. What is holding you back? What keeps you moving?