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Monday, August 26, 2013

Most Poor Suckers Are Starving to Death (Part 2 of 4)

As you become better and better at listening to your body in terms of what and when to eat, and your needs at any given time, start to expand this type of thinking into the way you move your body.

Our bodies want to move. They want to feel energized, strong, and healthy. But when we force ourselves to follow strict exercise plans, and go against the way we actually want to move, working out can become a chore.

Over the past few months, I have grown a "love-hate" relationship with exercise.  I LOVE what it does for me, I HATE doing it.  Or, I used to.  Now, I think I have more of a "hate-love" relationship.  I HATE that I LOVE it!  

When I started The Healthy Redhead journey, I had not exercised in YEARS!  I mean, really exercised.  And, the last time that I did, I was training for a half marathon.  This meant that I had a HUGE range of trial and error ahead of me. And, the past four months have been JUST THAT!

The smartest thing that I did was purchase a treadmill (A.K.A  Major Pain In My A**, or Maj. PIMA, for short.)  Major PIMA and I have an awesome relationship.  Maj. PIMA provided me a way to exercise without having to wake up early, drag my kids with me, go out in the heat, or use a DVD.  Although I still prefer the outdoors for walking or jogging, Maj. PIMApulls through for me on a daily basis.  Plus, I watch movies while I walk, thus fulfilling my sad addiction to teenage angst movies. 

I knew that walking or jogging was THE exercise for me because it didn't require any thinking on my end.  No counting reps, no watching dance moves, no trying to keep up.  I could just move my legs and think.  

There is NOTHING natural or intuitive about
this. It's only the most awesome
picture EVER! 
It's no secret that exercise does a body good. Exercise has been shown to increase energy, lower stress, increase restful sleep, improve bone strength, resistance to illness, and improve health generally. Proper exercise, done in moderation, and with intuition, is an important and healthy part of life, from the development of coordination in the toddler, to strengthening cardiac function in the elderly. Proper exercise can help ward off obesity, increase one's ability to participate in and enjoy recreation, and can strengthen not only muscles, but the autoimmune system as well. Exercise can ward off the debilitating effects of daily life stress. It can lead to increased awareness and acceptance of one's body and improve one's physical and emotional self-confidence.

Did you also know that you can exercise TOO much? Seriously. I'm not sure that I would ever have this problem, but I think that I know some people that do. At a particular point the body says "enough is enough", and the results of not listening can be devastating. There are also real and present dangers in overexercising. The most common risk in exercising is injury to muscles and joints. This usually happens from exercising too rigorously, or for too long. Overexercise can cause injuries to legs, feet, and joints of the body. Muscle fibers are fatigued and stressed during exercise, and are susceptible to damage when overexercised. Heart damage is also a real possibility in overexercise, especially when a person is not eating enough to sustain the workout.

The problem came when I wasn't sure how far, how long, or at what intensity I should be going at.  Which Jillian Michaels program should I choose? Do I go off of TIME or DISTANCE?  Do I try going up or down hill? I tried everything.  Sometimes I had much success.  I felt good, broke a sweat and felt like I could come back the next day and do it again.  Other times, I felt that if I would just lay down on the treadmill and let it run me over while beating my chest with a hammer at the same time that I would feel BETTER than I did after finishing that workout.... or NOT finishing the workout, as it were. 

I can TOTALLY do this! I do it every day!
*That's a lie.*  I'm going to try it.
*That's a lie too.* But it LOOKS Cool!
*Not a lie.* 
Finally, I came to the decision that I would just see how I felt each day and try to take myself just over that limit. The problem that I had with all of the workouts is that each workout got harder.  WTH!?! I see that theoretically, we should be able to do one workout for a bit, then move up to the next level.  But, it just didn't work like this for me.  I felt like I HAD to follow the program.  I felt like I was a failure if one day, I was on level 4 and the next day, I could barely get through level 1. Then it occurred to me. It is ABSOLUTELY CRAZY to think that we are ALL automatically going to be able to push ourselves a little more each day.  Just like our eating habits, there are WAY too many factors going into HOW our personal workouts should go. Things like our metabolism, what we ate that day, and the TIME of day all make a difference as to how well we are able to perform.  Yes, as we build muscle and endurance, we get stronger. 

So, after I had my "A HA moment" about eating, I wondered if I could apply the same idea to exercise. Would my body "tell" me what it needed that day? The answer is... YES!  I can honestly say that there are days when I want to just walk briskly for a mile or two.  Other days, I FEEL like I want to sprint for 2 minutes and THEN walk.  Other days, I feel like jogging for a bit.  Some days, I lift weights or do sit ups.  I just give myself the TIME to DO WHAT I WANT!  And, yes, some days that means that I just dance with my boys, jump on a trampoline (which I almost killed myself doing and probably won't do again,) or play tag at the park. Ultimately, I have learned to LOVE exercise because I ALWAYS do what I want! I'm not saying that I am always like "Woo Hoo!  Let's go!  This is so much fun!" but I don't have to be either. 

This is HOW.

1. Decide WHEN you are going to exercise. The fact is, you NEED to create time in your day for exercise. Exercising isn't an option in my life.  It is a MUST.  Not because my BRAIN says so, but because my BODY says so.  I don't FEEL good about myself when I don't do it.  I feel lazy, tired, and depressed.  I don't like it. It sucks.  Plus, now that I can exercise ON MY OWN TERMS, I don't dread it anymore. So, answering this question is pretty easy for me. It would be wise to set aside an hour each day just to get your body moving.  What you do with it is up to you.

2. WHAT are you going to DO for exercise today? If you really take the time to think about this, you will ALWAYS feel like doing SOMETHING.  Maybe you will clean your house, dance, jog, walk, swim, or hula, but you will find something.  I think that the only exception to this would be if you are sick in bed.  Then, lets face it, all normal living is off and you feel pretty good about yourself if you shower and continue to breathe. 

3. Have a Plan B.  Life happens.  I wasn't able to go swimming this morning when I wanted too.  Wah!  SO, I had something else that didn't sound as fun, but was acceptable.  FACT: If you don't have a plan B, you will not exercise, and you will feel like poo at the end of the day. Nobody likes feeling like poo. 

4. Constantly be checking yourself for satisfaction.  Are you getting a "rush" from what you're doing? If not, those endorphines are not being released. Does it FEEL good? There is no reason to push yourself too hard right away.  No Pain, No Gain???  Nope.  Pain=Loss of desire to exercise= gaining weight. Done. Exercising should feel GOOD.  You should feel like you are doing good to your body.

5. All things in Moderation.  I've often heard that if you can sing, you need to step it up. If you can talk, it's just right. And, if you can't talk because you are panting, it's too much.  This might work for most people.  I just had to change it a bit.  If you know me, you know that I am a talker.  If I can still talk, there is NO WAY I am working hard enough.  It is WAY too easy.  So, I judge my intensity level by "Did this shut me up for a bit???"  

6. Have a Goal.  I loved training for a marathon, because it kept me going out every day.  The problem with it was, I tried to push myself harder everyday- not such a good idea.  But if you are someone that works well with goals, it will benefit you to set a goal about six months out and work toward it.  

7. Play. When you were a kid, you got in all kinds of exercise by just PLAYING. You can do the same as an adult. Ride your bike, play on the park toys, play soccer, basketball, tag with the kids, whatever you want.  It's a lot more fun than doing a class at the gym or walking on a treadmill.  I try to do this as much as possible.  I wrestle with my boys, give them piggy back rides, become a horse, play hide and seek, tag, and lots of other games.  A word of caution: kids get wild and crazy when you play with them... injuries may occur.  But seriously, I'm pretty sure that there are worse memories that you could be creating for your kids. 

Let me be clear, this is not an excuse to not exercise or to skip exercise but to simply get more in tune with what your body actually WANTS to do for exercise. If your body really wants a rest day when you had a workout scheduled, then take the rest day. For the most part, I have a lot of motivation to exercise. Rarely does a week go by that I do not workout at least 3 or 4 times. Usually it's more like 5 or 6. I love being active. However, I've always had trouble sticking to a specific regimen or training program. I get bored and frustrated, thinking that tomorrow is just going to be worse than today. I started to dread those particular workouts, and eventually stopped working out all together. Sound familiar? 

It comes down to simply breaking a sweat.  Sometimes I choose to do this on Maj. PIMA, locked in my bedroom, hooked up to a laptop in my own little world.  Other times, I would rather jump, dance, run and play with the family.  ALL the time, I break a sweat until I don't feel like sweating anymore. It really is that simple....and fun. Really, you will soon be kinda ticked off if you don't get to sweat sometime during the day! 

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