It's been a while since I've written an article or blog, and this topic has been on my mind so I thought I'd share a little fitness expertise with the world today! Here is my two cents on how to enjoy a successful "fitness lifestyle", as I like to call it. If you have already made the decision that you want to maintain a healthy, strong body for the rest of your life then this blog is for you! '-) If you haven't, then perhaps it will inspire you to see how easy it can be. Staying fit is not a sprint, it's a marathon - so set your pace accordingly '=)
A little background if interested: I had the great fortune of being a student to Dr. Joan Duda, back at Purdue, who was the Sport Pyschologist to the USA women's olympic gymanastics team at the time. She was one of the most fascinating and one of the best professors I ever had, and she kicked off a huge interest I have in the psychology of sport, exercise and fitness. On this topic, I have also completed training as a performance consultant with Marc Sagal of the Winning Mind and Dr. Robert Nideffer here in San Diego, who likewise consult olympic and other professional athletes as well as groups like the Navy Seals, where optimal psychology is the difference between winning and losing, or a successful or failing mission. Back at Purdue I had a couple conversations with Drew Brees about these topics as well! Now he is a Super Bowl Champion who I think has some of the best 'psychology' I've ever seen in terms of his ability to shift his focus, have resilience, be a leader, etc.
So I have learned that the same principles are true across the board for performance and success of any chosen activity - it's all about attention and focus; knowing who you are (including your strengths and weaknesses), doing what you love, and matching up your skills to the right activities. The following in an accumulation of the observations I've made over almost 15 years as a trainer now, and from absorbing the wisdom of all of these other professionals.
1) Select activities and workout modalities that you enjoy.
If you are having fun, you'll stick with it! Identify whether you are social exerciser or an independent one....some people need to play sports like soccer or flag football in order to be motivated to move and thrive on being part of a group in order to maintain regularity with it. Others are internally driven and enjoy pushing themselves and that is where they find their 'fun'. Whatever it is, follow your bliss.
2) Recognize that exercise is accumulative and can be most any form of physical action.
You dont' have to be a slave to a gym in order to stay in shape. Dance, kayak, garden, walk, hike. Do yoga in a park, get out and commune with nature. Anything that gets the blood pumping and energizes you is an effective form of activity and invigorates the mind/body/spirit entity.
3) Select activities or workout modalities that are right for your body type.
I'm always surprised when I see people out running whose bodies just weren't made for it, for example. I think I can literally hear their joints screaming in pain when they are out pounding the pavement and the biomechanics just isn't right. I want to stop driving and encourage them to get on a ellipictal machine, or get in the pool instead. You get the idea....its not about judgement or criticism - just recognizing that we all have different body types that will be more or less conducive to different types of activitiies. Let me know if you need any help determining the right types for you, because energetically - it can make a world of difference in terms of how your overal energies in life are balanced or unbalanced, in harmony or out of harmony.
4) Be nice to yourself.
This may sound simple and on one level it is, but there is plenty to it. Dont' worry about comparing yourself to other women or men or trying to look like someone else - you have your own figure, shape, abilities, genetics, and beauty! Just focus on mastering yourself, and maximizing your own potential. You define what healthy and fit looks like to you, don't let advertisements do that for you. If you dont' feel like working out or being active one day, dont' feel guilty, just try again the next day. Go easy on yourself by showing yourself love and your body will appreciate that by responding with more energy.
5) Use your intuition.
For me this is actually the number one thing I do.....I totally trust myself, my body, my energy, to inform me on what type of activity is right for any given day. Sometimes you may need an 'active recovery day' - do some stretching, yoga, tai chi, walking, etc. Sometimes you may need a 'passive recovery day' where your body just needs rest. That one is self explanatory '-) Other days you'll sense your energy is at a peak and you may want to climb Mt. Everest......or do a 1-2 hour intense workout. Pay attention to the most intelligent machine on the planet because you are living inside of it.
6) and 7) Think Holistically - You are Energy
I combined these two because they really can't be separated.
We know so much more now than we did ten or twenty years ago about quantum physics - and it informs us that every cell in the body is connected energetically. Every cell breathes together, pulses together, communicates together, thrives together, and can even die together. Every thought is a prayer, sending your intentions out into the world, and determining your state of health. Every single thought. If that in itself is not motivation to think positive thoughts and reflect them in consistent/congruent behavior, I don't know what is! We are just a product of our thoughts and beliefs its simply mindblowing. Change your thoughts and your change your entire being. I also like to use the astrology chart to gain further insight into this realm of things, in order to know HOW to this for myself or with/for others because it is a literal map of what the soul is trying to learn and evolve towards in this lifetime. Fortified with this information you can learn about the state of each energy 'vortex' or 'wheel of light' in your body - otherwise known as chakras. As far as I'm concerned - this information is the key to knowing how to heal or restore energy in the body, despite any malady that may occur.
8) Challenge Yourself
If you like a challenge and most of us do to some degree, decided to learn a new activity that you like, do something with a friend that you thought you couldn't do alone or just do a little more than you previously expected of yourself.
Remember that "yesterdays homeruns don't win today's ballgames" (Babe Ruth) - so if you are constantly mixing it up you won't get stagnant or bored. Stay in the present moment and expect to do well.
9) Set Goals
This one too is pretty obvious - but hold a vision for what you want to accomplish in terms of daily, short term, mid range and long term goals. It can be as simple as "I want to do some form of physical activity every day", or as long range as "I want to win the IronMan Triathalon in Kona, Hawaii!". Again if you need some assistance with setting these contact a trainer/coach like myself who specializes in helping people establish and achieve these sorts of things.
10) Attitude is Everything
Engage in the mystery of life....be fascinated by everything....allow everything to be a source of your happiness. Don't be someone who looks for excuses for why things can't be done, but one who seeks pathways where there were none before, and therefore finds them. Be someone who believes they can achieve anything, and you will be right.