I used to tell clients to “listen to their bodies” to let them know how hard to work, and when to pull back. That advice is mostly true, all y’allses beauties out there. However, I also recognize how this isn’t always the case. And why?
Welp, our bodies don’t always like it when thangs become a little Haaaaaaard. I mean, why oh why would our bodies/minds want to do the Hard thang when it can easily convince us to do the Easy thang?
Folkses, we can re-wire our bodies/minds to accept challenges and accomplish more than we ever thought we could. (Of course, as I always tell you: consult your physician before beginning an exercise routine and honor any limitations that you really do have.)
When I was in Oregon last summer, I jogged with my son. It surprised me how much trouble I was having, because I
thought I’d been doing The Difficult Running Workout on the treadmill. I pictured outrunning him, fists raised in a “Yeeehawwww!” Yeah, I’m competitive like that—teeheehee.
Instead, I returned home with my competitive tail twixt my laigs, and when I next climbed upon the treadmill for my run I had an Aha! moment. I’d been doing the same half-assed running workout for months. I’d told myself, “Well, I’m running and running is a good workout.” Right? Riiii-wait—hold up . . . I hadn’t been pushing myself beyond what I’d become comfortable with.
If you aren’t finding results–and results could mean some weight/inches lost, or better endurance, or stronger body/heart, whatever your goal is (and you do not have a goal? well, I’m goal-oriented and thus need some kind of goal–being a Kick Ass Strong Powerful Woman is my goal!).
What to try: I revamped my own workouts to try interval training. When in the high-energy phase of the aerobics-dance treadmill work, I am sweating, breathing hard, and my heart rate rises (I have a heart rate monitor–Polar is my brand–and you may want to invest in one, as well)—this feels like work and it should. Then during the “easier” recovery phase, I catch my breath, check my posture, pull down my heart-rate. Up down, up down–this has been an effective workout for me. Interval training keeps me alert, interested, and motivated, where as straight running would often bore me and thus I didn’t work as hard.
Our bodies will adjust to the idea we aren’t going to let it get by with its slacker ways. The endorphins are yippie yai kai-yaying all over the place. It’s exhilarating and stress-relieving, and we feel a sense of accomplishment.
What not to do: This doesn’t mean you work your wittle selvses to the point of exhaustion or dangerous over-working! I can’t tell you how many times I see people go full out for nothing in their exercise/eating routines to an unrealistic point–they are so ding-dong-dangity INTO IT at first that they Workout right into Burnout. Find that balance. Listening to our bodies is still good advice, as long as we have an honest discussion with ourselves about just what our bodies can tolerate versus “only getting by.” And, as long as we do not try to make change to our bodies too quickly–did we become out of shape and unhealthy over-night? Nope. And change isn’t going to be as apparent over-night, either–but it is happening and it will.
We have cravings because we often give in to them and our bodies know it! They are like whiny spoiled children unless we set boundaries and guidelines.
I used to crave loads of sweets. My body became used to having lots of added sugar. The more I ate sweets and foods with added sugar, the more my body craved it. Well, dangity it all to dangtown, I felt like crap—tired, sluggish, and sometimes cranky—and I didn’t know (admit to myself) why.
What to try: Create a new habit by doing it and then doing it again, and then again. Our bodies will accept the routine we set for it. If we switch it up, our wondrous bodies respond to change quite well. We should convince our bodies we mean business and that eating in a more healthful manner will make both body and brain work more efficiently. The more we challenge our bodies with motion and with healthier foods, the better we will feel, and the more we’ll want to continue to do these things to continue feeling our best. Cutting back on added sugars and white flour/processed foods is not easy if your body is used to having them any time it throws a tantrum for them, but I promise if you stick to a more healthful diet, your body will respond positively and soon it will be second-nature to step away from the junk food/processed foods/sweets.
What not to do: Constantly depriving ourselves of pleasures can lead to failure. Yes, of course we can treat ourselves
on occasion—what’s life without something gooey and yummy and deliciously sweet (or whatever your crave is)? When we eat it only occasionally, it tastes all the better. It becomes a celebration, something to look forward to. How many times have you mindlessly eaten an entire bag of M&Ms or potato chips (or whatever) and realized you only really truly tasted the first few bites of it—the rest was mindless eating. Think about this next time you stare into the empty bag.
Our bodies tell us to do our workout and then git the hell out o’the gym (or workout room in our house), pronto-presto-zippo.
Hold up, y’all! Stretching our bodies is just as important as the aerobics and strengthening.
What to try: At the end of our workout, it is important to take the time to stretch our muscles and tendons. To lengthen what we have contracted. It is a time for quiet moments of reflection on how beautiful and powerful and wonderful our bodies are. How they carry us through life—and with better posture, too, which is lovely. Time and distance and wants and needs lift away as we respect our bodies, minds, hearts, in poses of stretch and then release and then rest and recovery. Stretch your hamstrings, quads, your hip-flexors, your chest, your spine–your entire body. There are many reputable sites out there to find stretches — and in a later post, I’ll have photos of some you may try. I do a combination of yoga and pilates, along with some of the time-honored stretches.
What not to do: Never stretch to the point of pain. You should feel some tension that then releases into the stretch. Don’t hurry through your stretches but instead be mindful of them–pay attention. How much of our lives is spent hurrying through tasks we see as “boring” or “unnecessary” . . . ? Take these moments and respect them.
Sometimes our bodies tell us we don’t need no stinking sleep.
Quiet that yappity do dah day mind and twitchery body! Lawdy but I can be jittery. And my brain zingity-flops all over creation. I have the worst music-earworms EV-ER! You don’t even want to be in my pea-head. I sometimes find it difficult to quiet my mind and still my body.
What to try: Rest is as important as movement. A good night’s sleep prepares us for the next day’s challenge. There are many things we can do to prepare for sleep. For example, I do not have a TV in my bedroom. The bedroom is for three things: Sleep, Reading, and—now, y’all! I’m not saying the last one, teeheeheehehee *blush*
I have lavender pillow spray that I mist over my bed linens. The room is dark when I am ready to sleep. There is no clutter in my bedroom, so that my bedroom feels like a sanctuary. And just as there is no TV, there are no electronic devices, other than my Kindle. (I do keep my cell close by, in case of emergency, but I do not have a smart phone so there’s no playing on it or checking email or anything of the sort.) Find those rituals you can do each night to prepare your body and mind to think, “It is time to rest and sleep now.” Some people find writing down worries to “release them” works to quiet their minds.
What not to do: Ever hear people bragging about how they do not need sleep and can get by with only a couple of hours—Bull-crapadoodle-doo-doo. We all need sleep; no one is super-human or alter-human. We are not somehow “better than others” if we “survive” on little sleep.
There are many tips out there for how to relax into sleep—find what works for you, experiment. But know that sleep is an important part of healthful living. Our bodies and minds need restful sleep.
Don’t let setbacks or worries or fears crowd out the power of gratitude. Don’t let body image obsession keep you from seeing yourself as a creation of beauty—a wondrous biological machine.
As you all read from my last Wednesday’s post, I sometimes struggle with body image and this is often a challenge for me—admitting it to lots of people was a start and put much into perspective–we must be honest with ourselves and our bodies/minds! I am working on seeing myself as the healthy strong woman I am, so that I can continue to practice what I preach to you.
What to try: Remember to have gratitude for what you have accomplished. Having a heart of gratitude allows us to experience life with peace and hope and serenity. Spend a few moments first thing in the morning and last thing at night thinking about what you have to be grateful for. If you think, “nothing,” then something is terribly wrong–are you alive? Well, there you go!
What not to do: We often look ahead to what we “should” accomplish, or what may come, or what we hope will come, that we forget to find gratitude in what we have already acheived.
Hold on to it, let it come with us into our dreams: “You Did This! Good for You!”
How does your body “lie” and how will you challenge it? Will you have an honest conversation with yourself today?