Friday, May 11, 2012

Trust Your Struggle

As you probably know by now, I'm really struggling with finding the motivation to work out.  It's been easier to find a thousand reasons to skip working out than it's been to convince myself I'm NOT too busy or tired.  I know there's a reason I'm struggling so much with this part of my journey.  Although I don't understand it right now, I'm trusting that I'll find that one connection that will change my life forever!

The company I work for holds 'Lunch & Learn' sessions on different topics throughout the year.  Yesterday the topic was 'Balanced Fitness'.  I tried to enroll but the session was full.  Fortunately, a friend was able to attend and sent some notes!  They were simple, easy, and too good not to share.  I absolutely LOVE how they make me feel!  I hope they help you, too!

Balanced Fitness
One of the first things mentioned was the importance of removing the negative aspects and outlook from exercising and fitness. "Losing weight" is something we frequently talk about and we think of it as a good thing.  But "losing weight" actually contains a negative word/idea. 

If we instead look at exercise as a way of improving our health, with "losing weight" as a side effect, it puts a much more positive spin on things!  When we associate negative aspects with fitness, it feels more like a chore--something we HAVE to do rather than something good we allow for ourselves.

Exercise is something we should do for ourselves.  It's important to take time to exercise for both our minds and bodies, as they are intricately connected; and be purposeful with our physical activity.  Many of us have barriers that can mentally hinder us from taking time to exercise and improve our health.  A good activity to help this is to list those barriers, whether real or "perceived", and think of solutions to them.  Once you've done this, it's usually not as difficult to find time to implement physical activity.  Even 5-10 minutes at a time is good for our bodies!

Important Benefits of Exercise:
· Lowers blood glucose (blood sugar)
· Lowers blood pressure
· Decreases inflammation (many ailments are related to inflammation--even in organs, etc.)
· Enhances immune function--decreases cortisol
· Lowers overall cholesterol. Raises HDL (good) and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol
· Reduces risk of heart disease and stroke
· Relieves stress, tension, anxiety, & depression
· Improves your self-image
· Improves your body's ability to use and regulate insulin
· Keeps your joints flexible
· Improves blood circulation, reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and nerve damage
· Helps control weight
· Improves sleep
· Gives you more energy
· Increases overall quality of life

 With our busy lives, stress can be a major factor therein.  With stress, cortisol builds up in the body and can cause weight gain.  Exercise reduces this build-up of cortisol and slows down, or reduces, the effect on weight.  Again, it's most beneficial to focus more on overall health and improvement, rather than solely on weight loss.

How much and how often should we exercise?  A very important element is to ease into exercise and build upon it.  Going too hard too quickly can result in injury, often from joint damage.  Many people go too hard when they first start exercising without realizing it.  You shouldn't experience sore muscles the day after working out.  If you do, you probably did too much. 

How Much & How Often?
·       Moderate-intensity activity for at least 30 minutes 5 or more days of the week
·       If you aren't accustomed to exercise, you may want to start with 5-10 minutes and work your way up gradually
·       "Progressive overload"--as you become stronger, add a few extra minutes to your daily exercise
·       It's better to walk 10-20 minutes each day, rather than 1 hour-long session each week
·       Always warm up to prepare your body if you intend to do more strenuous aerobic exercise
·       Always cool down to return the body to its normal state and to help prevent pooling of blood in the arms and legs

Most of us know about and hear about aerobic and strength exercises, but equally important are stretching and core exercises.  Core exercises lead to better posture, balance, stability, and more efficient movement.  Even at work we should stretch every hour or so (simple stretches of our neck, back, arms, etc.) for a few minutes.  When exercising, we should stretch after we do our other exercises, not before as is commonly practiced. 

Think about a piece of gum... you put it in your mouth and chew it for a while.  Then, when you pull it out of your mouth it's nice and stretchy.  If you put a piece in your mouth with some ice chips and chew it, it's more likely to tear rather than stretch when you pull it out of your mouth.  Your muscles work in much the same way. 


  1. EEEK!! Once again, you and I are on the same page......I transitioned back to staff nursing this last week (3 12 hour shifts! in the PICU) and the change has me exhausted! I only got in two workouts this week, which is MUCH less than I have been doing.

    I am "freaking" out, looking at my schedule over the next couple of months and talk about a "struggle" to workout anytime before OR after a very long 13-14 hour day in the critical care unit! I leave the house by 6am and am lucky to be home by 830pm....long days!!!

    I've been sitting on the couch the last 3 days and I've skipped my planned workouts ALL THREE days!!!! I'm spiraling around that "dark abyss" of guilt and frusration and disgust with myself.....UGH!!!!

    I decided today, I needed to find my balance again and makes some positive plans for the upcoming week. Great insight into "balanced fitness" and seeing it as "improving my health" instead of focusing on the "weight loss".

    I just finished making a healthy grocery shopping list and am going to hit the HYVee later today and I dug out my Beck book to review my "brain plan". I found a quote on Pinterest and it hit home today....."If you are tired of "starting over", STOP giving up".

    One bad week of motivation, poor food choices and lack of exercise is NOT going to erase the past 4 months of hard work! So, DON'T GIVE UP!!!

    You rock it, again, sister!!
    Have a Happy Mother's Day and a fabulous weekend!

    1. Wow! I'm sorry it's taken me so long to respond to this.

      It's crazy how much our journeys are related!!! The busy schedule really creates an interesting situation for us. And I can't imagine a 14 hour day in a criticl care unit. That's a lot to handle, Kendra.

      Just keep reading my blogs because I'm RIGHT THERE trying to crawl my way out of that scary abyss or guilt and frustrationg with myself, too. I think I sometimes expect too much for myself because I'd like all this weight GONE in a year, you know? So I put pressure on to do as much as possible to make it go away fast. But it sets me up for dissapointment and shame when I don't meet those expectations.

      When I focus on being "healthy" instead of "I've gotta lose a bunch of weight", it takes some pressure off. I like your need to find balance again... that's where I am.

      You're darn right... we've come WAY too far to give up on this dream. THAT WON'T HAPPEN!!!!

      Love you!!! (And thanks for sticking by my side!)