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How To Find Your Fitness Habit


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In my part time job at Golden Door Wellness Resort I work with a different group every week. Individuals come to the Door to heal or get stronger whether literally or figuratively. It is much more than a place to exercise. This special place offers an opportunity to recenter for those that want a mental or physical reboot or begin a healing process from life struggles or tragedies.

Of the guests I am matched with as their trainer for the week – physical fitness may be at the forefront of their visit or in the background. Some of these guests I work with either are facing physical limitations or want to avoid issues that family members are dealing with. Those that are in this mental space are searching for the key to core strength, increased cardiovascular capacity or more strength. Others know they should be doing something but are not sure what. Some don’t like going to the gym but know they should be doing something. Some have tried working with a trainer, jumping on the latest fitness fad or bought some equipment that is gathering dust.

If you can resonate with any of this I encourage you to do what works for YOU. These days you are assaulted with new fitness trends, new equipment and diet trends. There are ads or articles talking about how to just target certain areas of the body to reduce fat. Separate the wheat from the chaff.

Start with what works for you. I was brainstorming with a guest while hiking and she mentioned that she liked swimming. She does it occasionally. She felt that she should be running, doing core strength and strength training too. Now she was putting layers of things that she was not to excited about on top of something she liked doing – swimming.

We talked about parsing apart those and just focusing on swimming and getting an apple watch to count her steps. That did not stress her out. Start where you are now. Find that activity that you enjoy doing. Be “boring” for a while and stick to that activity. I told her, if she did 15,000 steps a day and got swimming in twice a week and stuck to that she would start feeling better. Then she could start with other things.

If you find yourself stuck, put aside the pressures of what you think you should be doing…instead do what you can and want to do.
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Start Where You Are…


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It would be an understatement to say that Arthur Ashe, the first black male tennis player was quite an accomplished individual. There is a great quote of his that will be the underlying theme for this post…

“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”


Start where you are

  • Start at your current fitness level.
  • Be honest with yourself as to what you can actually do right now.
  • Wherever you physically are, accept and appreciate that.
  • If you are in a place of discomfort because of inactivity accept what you did to bring you to this moment & be empowered that you are doing something about it now.
  • If you feel as if your quality of life and fitness level is good…what are you doing to ensure that it stays that way?

Use what you have

  • Join a community! It could be… a gym, dance class, water aerobics class, or even an online group that holds each other accountable.
  • How can you alter your sleep schedule to get 7-8 hours of sleep?
  • How can you improve what you are eating or your portion sizes?
  • What equipment do you have available at home?
  • What exercise equipment can you get to use at home?
  • Are you already a member of a gym but not using it? It is time to cash in on that investment or use that money in a better way to help your quality of life.

Do what you can

  • Find a sustainable way to improve your quality of life. You can either make sacrifices or investments now…or be forced to do them later.
  • Hire a personal trainer.
  • Get a qualified nutritionist on your team so you are more educated that what you are putting in your body is good for you, specifically.
  • Do you have a gym membership that you are not using? Cancel it and use that money in a way to improve your quality of life that you actually use!
  • Obviously what you can do financially to invest in your health has to meet your budget. Recognize that investing in your health starting now can have positive benefits in the future…but not overnight.
  • Avoid the instant gratification pitfalls. Better movement takes time and consistency!
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Memories Are Built On Movement


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I was leading a group hike in San Marcos and having a great conversation with a woman that was talking about the amazing experiences she has had in her life. She and I were discussing how important little and big moments are in life. She was and is a vigilant person when it comes to her health and well being.

As we rounded a steep hill and came up on the ridge to see the sun burning off the morning fog I was talking about how she was able to what she enjoyed doing. She would not be able to have so many memorable moments in her life sitting in her house. She had to physically move. She had to perform simple and complex movements not only for everyday life activities but other ones that facilitate what she did for work and for enjoyment.

There are times in our life where our focus is on movement. When we are younger it is a learning process discovering our world. Then as we get a bit older and playing is a large part of our development we move in so many ways. As adults, both parts may fall off where jobs, careers or raising a family can become our priority. Injuries sharpen our attention on our bodies as to what we are unable to do or are aware of pain when moving in certain ways.

I challenge you – be more aware of how much movement is a part of your life. It should not have to take injury or pain for you to recognize this. Making this connection is a step in the direction to practice better ways of moving. Sitting back and not being proactive can lead to restrictions on what you can physically do. As you find ways to improve how you move that not only facilitates better movements…but also more memories!

 

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Thoughtful Movement


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It is much more convenient when you don’t really have to think when you are moving. Things become second nature. In everyday life, it can be a plethora of things. We go on autopilot often and muscle memory kicks in.  But there was a time we had to think and focus on how we moved. You were thinking more when we were learning.

It is like when you first learned how to ride a bike or even drive a car. You were probably hypersensitive to your balance and your speed when you were learning how to ride a bike.  As for driving a car balance was not an issue…but all of the things you had to do (check your rear mirror, then your side mirror, check out your speed, turn your signal on, watch for that stoplight) was kind of a sensory overload. Soon all of that calmed down and you got it. It became second nature.

As for your movement now it is a bit different. Perhaps you don’t play as much as you used to do when you were younger. Maybe you are tired of being beat over the head about exercise with a capital E. It could be you feel disconnected from your body.  Whatever it is, you know you need to do something, and you are trying.

I still challenge you to be engaged. If you dance – get into it. Let the music take you but reconnect with your body and play with your movement. If you are going to the gym or doing more conventional ways of exercise don’t just go through the motions. Study. Learn. (…and trying to say you are old won’t fly with me!) I don’t mean be a perfectionist about form. I mean notice your breathing. Learn about the importance of creating tension in your body during a movement and notice how that feels. If you do work with a trainer still don’t turn your brain off. Notice how much weight you are moving with. Be a good student and learn. Take ownership of your sessions.

Exercise is good for your brain and there are definitely ways to move that make you think and be more aware. It can be more like riding a bike again. This way of engaging does not stop at strength or conditioning…stretching and moving in ways to increase your mobility should be a mindful activity too.

You may come up against a barrier. It could be a physical barrier of a range of motion or a mental barrier as to something you think you cannot do or a movement that once lead to injury. Listen to that and don’t pack that away. Being aware of that and allowing that feeling to sit in the present is all about thoughtful movement.

Your brain was firing on all cylinders when you learned something for the first time. Those first times are still now and in your future. You just have to be open to learn, seek out advice and try different things. Allow yourself to learn how to ride a bike again. It can be scary but also exciting and stimulating. Again, you are never too old to learn. You can create more neurological pathways at any age. Read more about it here.

Get on that metaphorical bike & learn. Make mistakes. Avoid comparing your progress to others. Fall and get back on. It is all part of the process of better movement. It feels new and different.

Walk towards more thoughtful movement 🙂

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Being Thankful for the “Little” Movements in Life


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The holidays are upon us. We are assaulted with ways to spend our money. We are encouraged to focus on the big things. I have already seen my first Christmas tree go by on the road so its that time again. Without a doubt, we are encouraged to spend more money on things that are materialistic or focus on the numbers in our life. It is those big things that we are hit on the head with for now until the end of the year.

We are always guilty of focusing on the big movements: weight, number of pounds lifted, anniversaries, new gadgets etc…

What about the little movements?

Recently I was sitting down with a gentleman during a consult prior to his 3 personal training sessions with me. He was a very interesting individual and began telling me about himself. It was great. However, I was falling into that trap of the big movements. I asked him about what kind of exercise he was doing. He talked about his swimming but then about his son and his life in Tel Aviv. I kept thinking…but what are his fitness goals and how can I help him?

He talked about the fact that years ago he was so overweight that it was a struggle to get out of a chair. He is an attorney. He would wait until his client left the courtroom to struggle to get up because it was such an ordeal. Now he has lost a substantial amount of weight between changing how much he ate and swimming. Yes, the weight aspect was about the numbers…

However how many times have you gotten out of a chair? It is usually an afterthought to many of us. Even with physical restrictions that we may have – there are little movements that we take for granted.

  • Reaching out and grasping a glass.
  • Opening a car door.
  • Turning your head to look behind you.
  • Picking up a gallon of milk.
  • Sitting down and getting out of a chair.
  • Scratching the top of our head.
  • Going for a walk.

These little movements may seem little to those of us that have little to no difficulty in doing it. These little movements can have a huge impact on our quality of life though. Those that have had to put effort and work into being able to do it…or do it again have more perspective than the rest of us.

I encourage you even on your worst day to notice the little movements. Keep on challenging yourself & allowing yourself to be challenged by others to move better in life. Simultaneously revel in those little movements that began when you woke up this morning. Ensure that those little movements continue to be an afterthought. Regardless of your age exercise in its many forms allows you to continue to do what you want to do and like to do in life.

Lastly…back to that gentleman. After I took my trainer hat off and just listened to him I saw the joy he had in his little movement today. He wanted to do some work on the recumbent bike for about 15 minutes. We talked more about his life, family and his perspective on how far he has come. In this instance, it was definitely a situation where he was doing much more for me than I for him in that session.

 

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The Power of Patience When Improving the Quality of Your Life


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One word can be a driving forward force or a weight that can hold you back from reaching goals that involve improving the quality of your life.

Patience.

When it comes to patience and improving the quality of our life being patient with ourselves and the process is what the bricks that line the street to our goals are made of. This could be patience in listening to your body after an injury and to adjust, recover and learn from what happened. Or being patient and understanding that losing weight takes time, regaining your mobility takes time, getting stronger takes time, as does regaining your body awareness. None of these happen overnight. Understand that chiseling away at any of these takes time.

If you are working to regain something like strength or balance – understand that it did not erode overnight. That took time. The kind of strength training you were doing was not sufficient or consistent enough. Think about the amount of time it took for your balance to become so challenged that you started noticing it. It was more than a span of weeks or months. That took years. Initially, it may not have even been noticeable. Perhaps as it became apparent it was not addressed.

Think about how over the years bad posture can add up. For example, wearing shoes that are not good for your body (like heels!). Or ignoring a nagging tightness that adds up to some sidelining pain. It has a snowball effect.  I don’t point this out for you to beat yourself over the head about that amount of time.

I instead point this aspect of time to give you a perspective. I understand if you are frustrated and want that goal for your health to be reached tomorrow. Especially in this day and age of instant gratification, instant text messages and especially ads that infer that they can get you quick results you become accustomed to thinking like that. Often this is not the case. If it does happen it can be questionable if that movement improvement is truly sustainable.  Recognize instead the power in doing something about your health and well-being. That empowerment can be exciting and stimulating. This commitment takes work and I see and hear many testimonials from individuals that have come far because of their own work and the help of other people.

Obviously being patient and giving excuses are completely different. For example, being patient while improving your hip mobility does not mean doing mobility exercises every once in a while. Instead, this means being patient with not seeing immediate results when consistently doing the mobility exercises. This patience includes recognizing the small improvements as they add up to big ones. Setbacks are frustrating and they can shatter our patience. You are human and you feel things. After you allow yourself to feel what you feel – while pressing reset and putting the pieces back together, be patient with the rebuilding process. As you put the pieces back together, think about how that setback happened and how you contributed to it.

Finally, Practice patience with your process. You could feel as if you are doing all of the right things and you are not seeing the results that you seek. Nothing can be more frustrating than that feeling. If you feel stuck improving the quality of your life, reach out to allies, fitness professionals and other qualified health professionals who can guide you down the right path to your goals. When you find someone you trust that takes your goals and interests to heart, understand that they see the long-term benefits to seemingly sometimes small choices.

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Fling Yourself at Life


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We all have our own story.

We all have things that we have overcome or challenges we want to overcome. You know what yours is. Whatever your story is… your body is part of that story. Your body is involved in your story. That story about your body is an emotional one. We even attach emotions to parts of our bodies like our heart. When some part of our body is not working the way we want…or not the way it used to be it can affect us.

It can be emotional.

When we were kids we moved our bodies how we wanted to without a thought. We flung ourselves at life, we threw ourselves into playing…could care less about protecting our back and we were not worried about what other people thought.

As the years pass we play less. That is a past tense. We think more about form. We are more concerned about the scale, and we have to think about when we do some sort of movement that can count as exercise. We care more about getting steps in, turning on our gagets and exercise becomes more of something we have to schedule and do…instead of something that just happens.

We blame this “have to” on jobs, kids, life, getting older or because it is too hard or intimidating. Fight your excuse(s). Instead of side stepping, give yourself the permission to care less about how and instead more about what you can do.

Your story that includes your body can include better movement. This movement does not have to be forced. Allow yourself to play. Allow yourself to dance. Allow yourself to turn off the societal norms of what you are supposed to do because of your age or gender. Allow yourself to learn how to do something new.  Discover ways to move that you look forward to doing often.

You will see that if you add more movement to your story your body and mind will reward you.

Fling yourself at life.

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How Fit Can You Be Over 50?


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This question may come to mind when fitness and healthcare professionals strongly encourage various forms of exercise. How much “in shape” or “fit” do I need to be?  Many articles and studies highlight the numerous physical, neurological and cellular benefits to exercise.

The best answer is to turn the question back on you…how fit do you need to be to carry out the physical demands of your everyday life? What can that entail?

  • Sitting down.
  • Getting up.
  • Stepping to the side and reaching for something.
  • Reaching up to get something.
  • Carrying heavy items on one side while walking.
  • Turning to see what is around you.
  • Walking up stairs or on uneven ground.
  • Conditioned enough not to be winded at the top of the stairs.
  • Clothing and bathing yourself.

The list goes on…

This physical ability to carry out everyday tasks is also called your functional capacity.

Another way of phrasing this is – what do you enjoy doing and what do you need to do physically to be able to do it? Vacations? Visiting and playing with grandkids? Hiking trips? Running marathons? Enjoying the sites at a national park? Everything that brings you joy incorporates some sort of movement, regardless if that just means walking across the floor to open the door for a family member.

To answer the question one way: You should be as fit as your life demands.

This idea means you should not structure your life around your bodies limitations especially if they include your functional capacity. Instead, you should practice, exercise, and “train” to be able to do what you want to do easier and with less thought about how your body is moving.

Another way to answer the question is: Be as fit as you can possibly be.

Striving to be fit is a lifelong journey. As we age we may have to adapt and change the ways that we do exercise, but that does not mean we stop challenging ourselves. The more you move better every day you are rewarded with independence, confidence, and peace of mind that you don’t let your age determine what you can or cannot do.

To be clear, being “fit” is more than strength (although it is important, as especially leg strength is associated with morality).

It is also the power to move quickly if necessary.

It is also the agility to be able to walk over and around objects.

It is also the balance to be able to walk, bend, carry things and do things simultaneously.

It is also the mobility and flexibility to move your ankles, knees, hips, wrists, neck, and shoulders.

It is also the ability to be able to get to the ground and stand back up.

 

You CAN be fit over 50. You deserve to live the life you want to live!

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What It Means to Listen to Your Body


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You may have heard this many times or read it…

listen to your body.

However there is often very little explaining of what it means and what you should be doing. It really is not that cryptic or ambiguous of a phrase. This is important, so let’s pull down the curtain.

Let’s keep it simple…

Scenario #1

You are walking barefoot on the sidewalk to get the morning paper and didn’t see a shard of glass. Pain happens, possibly some cursing – but it hurt. You stop walking and investigate if you can pull it out or hobble back to the front door & get some tweezers.

You felt pain, stopped and investigated.

Scenario #2

You and a good friend went out for some dinner. On the drive home on the highway you were behind the wheel and your stomach started turning…really turning. There are ten miles to go until your exit but there is a rest stop coming up before then.

You pull off the highway & take that rest stop exit because your stomach was doing somersaults… so make a b-line for the bathroom.

Yes, these scenarios are fairly straightforward – you felt or noticed something going on in your body and you were attentive to what was going on. You did not ignore the pain or uncomfortableness. Instead you were vigilant and decided to do something about it.

Now enter two other scenarios…

Scenario #3

You have been putting down a respectable running regime the last month on the trails. There was no pain or any issues. You are now up to 10 miles twice a week. This week you decide to switch things up and do the same amount of mileage on the pavement instead at the same pace. You find after the second round that halfway through you feel some pain below your knees. The following week instead of the 10 you decide to decrease the road runs to a respectable 6 and then work your way up over time. Also, you sprinkle in some more stretching. Over time that pain subsided and eventually went away.

You backed off on the mileage on the roads and worked your way back up. You also increased the time stretching after runs to target any tight muscles.

Scenario #4

A bagel and a coffee has been your go-to breakfast for a while now. However, you find that by 10:30 a.m. you start dragging and have to grab another coffee to keep on point the rest of the day.  Today you wake up and decide that you are tired of the never-ending battle to stay alert. You begin trying out different things to eat for breakfast and seeing what your energy level is. Soon you found your go-to breakfast that did not leave you wondering why you were always so tired.

You decided to change up your breakfast after you found that crashing before midday was a pattern. After noticing the pattern, you edited & kept on editing you breakfast until you found what would not send you back for another cup of coffee.

You know what it means…now listen!

Honestly if in any of the scenarios someone just ignored what was happening and kept on going – the outcome would not be good. The argument is made often that you can just push through it especially if it is pain related to exercise. I would counter that eventually that pain will come back & will not go away. The solution can be as simple as taking a look at what has changed to make your body react that way. It is one thing if you are uncomforable because of a challenging workout that is targeting those leg muscles during lunges. It is another if you are feeling a sharp pain.

Of course, there may be many things in the mix like stress, muscular imbalances or running form that can be a wild card. Just fight the urge to be stubborn and think that it will just go away (like never addressing tight calves -yes runners I am talking to you!). When it comes to what you put in your body, of course that can be complicated. But again, if you ignore what you are feeling and it is not changing – why not see what you can do about it?

Above all, if you listen and can’t figure out what is going on then talk to a qualified professional that can be your guide. She or he can use their experience, knowledge & objective view of what is going on to assist you. 

Empower yourself to take charge of what is going on with your body. You have a choice – be proactive! You don’t have to do it alone.

 

 

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6 Important Things To Do In A Group Fitness Class


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Some individuals decide to go all in on group fitness classes as their choice of exercise. Others use a group workout as a way to mix things up in between their personal training sessions or their own workouts. However you decide to use group fitness classes to up your exercise game there are some tips on what not to do when you first start…or even if you are a veteran.

 

#1. Show up early.

Especially if this is your first class – get there early to meet the instructor and see what type of equipment that you will be using. Even if you are not able to go into the room because there is a class in session – you can get an idea about the class format, the flow of the class, music and energy level. Also, use this early time to meet the instructor and they will be happy to let you know what is on the menu for that day and show you equipment that you may have not used before. It could be a Silver Sneakers gym or another big setup. Either way you should still get acclimated.  Lastly, getting there early allows you to sign any paperwork that has to be done before your first class.

 

#2.  Let the coach know of any injuries or restrictions that you have.

Before class starts – always let the coach know that you have a sore knee, shoulder issues, some injury or for instance have broken something in the past. This gives the coach an opportunity before the class starts for a quick one-on-one chat about any exercises that you should avoid and what you can do instead.  If you are pregnant let the instructor know and what you can do. Often pregnant women know how to do alternative exercises, even so just let the coach know!

#3. Challenge yourself & give 100% effort.

One of the motivating aspects of a group class is the infectious energy that is in the room. This one of the reasons people love group classes because of a community that keeps each other going. Motivation is great. However comparing yourself to someone else and trying to do what they are doing could end you up injured. Allow them to motivate you to give your 100% effort. Use that!!  If your 100% effort is not matching their effort who cares? The instructor can introduce 1-ups to an exercise to make it more challenging for them. If you can’t do it yet – then use that as your motivation to come back next class and get better.

#4.  Pay attention as the coach demos the exercises.

The class has started and you are ready to kill it and get moving. There will be times during the class where she goes over what you are doing.  This is important. You may know how to do a squat or some other movement but pay attention to how the coach does it. He may have something he is specifically asking the class to do or is giving options that are useful especially if you are finding it challenging – or not challenging enough.

#5.  Ask questions before the class gets started.

If during the demo the coach does or says something that you don’t understand – ask her. If during the workout you want to know how to challenge yourself more without adding weight – ask her during a break. Of course, this is not a personal training session.  The coaches focus will be on the entire group & there are a lot of moving parts for her to juggle. Even with that in mind, questions to clarify how to do an exercise or a progression should be asked!

#5. If you know you will  – or do sweat a lot – bring your towel.

Sweating is a good thing. Sweating on equipment that a person in the class with you uses 30 seconds after you – is not. Don’t expect that the facility that you are checking out has towels. Be proactive!

Untitled design#6. Give out high-fives & fist bumps like they are going out of style.

Get some of that good energy flowing! Many friendships are started in group classes. There is a great community in group classes regardless of the type of workout or fitness level. You all may have different reasons why you are there but you came together to workout!