Change Your Exercise Mindset and Change Your Life

Exercise is fun, right? Well, it’s not fun for everyone. In fact, many people consider it nothing short of torture. Perhaps it’s because they’ve fallen prey to many of the myths about exercise. Changing your exercise mindset, and letting go of these myths, can change your life.

No Pain No Gain

How often have you heard this lovely cliché? It implies that exercise must be painful in order for it to work. That’s just not true. Believing it is a sure-fire way to avoid exercise too! Who wants to feel intense pain? Actually, exercise can and should be fun and something you can do each and every day. Because honestly – if you’re not having fun, how likely are you to continue doing it? If it’s not easy to do, how can you find time to fit it into your day?

It’s a whole lot easier to motivate yourself to go for a walk or a bike ride to the store than it is to run five miles, right? And you can fit a walk into your day every day. It’s easier to go play tennis with a friend than to climb on the stair machine at the local gym. And much more fun, too.

You Have to Exercise to Be Healthy

More and more, scientists and doctors are learning that movement is more important than exercise. Exercise tends to be defined as a sustained activity for twenty, thirty, or even sixty minutes. It’s a spin class, the time it takes to run three miles or an hour on the treadmill. However, studies are showing that it’s more beneficial to have a practice of moving your body rather than “exercising.”

Moving your body means walking; it means being physically active. It doesn’t mean an hour in the spin class – unless you enjoy the spin class. Exercise is fine as long as it’s part of a daily habit of movement. Instead of sitting at your desk for four hours, getting lunch, and returning to your desk, get up and take a five-minute walk each hour. If you can, stand at your desk. Bike to work. Walk to the coffee shop or store.

Adopting a Healthy, and Active, Mindset

If you dread working out, find an activity that you enjoy. The activity should require movement – knitting or watching Dancing with the Stars doesn’t count. Play tennis, hike, play golf, swim, or take a dance class. Do something you enjoy that gets your body moving.

Additionally, take a look at your current habits. What can you replace with movement? Where can you fit physical activity into your day? It doesn’t have to be a five-mile run; it can be a one-mile walk. The important thing is to move.

If you like goals and numbers, shoot for ten thousand steps a day. That’s about five miles and to reach that number each day, you’ll likely have to create a few new habits. You can do it. Your health depends on it. To your success!

Enjoying Your Workout: Why It’s Crucial and How to Do It

One aspect of working out that people seldom pay attention to is their own enjoyment of it. After all, if your goal is to lose weight or to build muscle, why would it matter how much you enjoy your workouts? The reality is, however, that it really does matter. It plays a big part in your motivation, in your workout habits, and ultimately on your physique.

A lot of people approach working out as a chore. It’s something they dread doing, but do it because they “have to” in order to get fit.

Yet the people who truly get fit tend to be the people who have a very different attitude. The people who really build the kinds of bodies they want are the people who look forward to every workout.

They’re the people who will go for a jog or go weightlifting if they have nothing else to do. They’re the people who’ll voluntarily read books on the subject, just to further their education.

So how do you develop a love for working out if it doesn’t come to you naturally?

Learn to Enjoy the Burn

The burning sensation that you feel when you’re working out can either be extremely unpleasant or one of the most motivating feelings in the world.

That burning feeling is a sign that you’re achieving the goals you want. It’s a sign that your body is changing. It’s a sign that you’re moving forward. Once you can make that link on both a conscious and unconscious level, every time you feel the burn it’ll feel great rather than bad.

It’ll also become a personal challenge to you. How much of the burn can you feel, while pushing through? Instead of being an annoying sensation, it becomes a workout buddy. It becomes the challenge of the workout.

Losing weight might be your long-term goal, but in the workout itself, the burn gives you something to shoot for at the moment: to push through that next set and to go further.

What You Eat Makes a Difference

Trying to do a workout when you’re feeling lethargic isn’t fun. On the other hand, when you’re bursting with energy, working out is just a natural inclination.

The food you eat has a huge impact on your overall energy and physical wellbeing, which in turn has a big impact on how much you enjoy your workouts.

If you aren’t paying attention to your food, it’s time to start. Not only does it affect your workout, but it has a huge impact on your body composition. In fact, your body is shaped more by what you eat than your exercise routine.

Can Stress Make You Gain Weight?

Numerous studies have shown that excessive stress is associated with weight gain. Dating back to when our ancestors were wearing animal skins and hunting with spears when the body encountered a fight or flee situation, it released a series of hormones as a response to the situation.

While our fight or flee situation today may be more related to mounting credit card bills or something that happened at work, instead of getting attacked by a wounded Wooly Mammoth, the response by the body is the same.

When your body feels stressed, it releases three hormones – adrenalin, corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), and cortisol designed to give us the energy needed to deal with the stressor. In most people, the effect of adrenalin and CRH is a short-term decrease in appetite. Cortisol on the other hand lasts longer and is designed to replenish our bodies with food after the stressor has passed.

The problem of today is that dealing with our stress does not involve physically expending calories, however, the effect of cortisol is the same – eat after the fight or flee. So eating becomes the relief from the stress. While that response worked well for our ancestors, it leads to weight gain for us today.

For many people, the food they turn to is simple carbohydrates (aka sugar). The body’s response to sugar (a sugar high) is to release insulin (and usually more than it needs). Because insulin is the hormone that allows those calories to be stored as fat in our cells, and we have more of it in our bloodstream than we need at the time, too much sugar is stored resulting in low blood sugar (the crash). Our body recognizes that it needs more sugar … and the cycle continues.

While initially, this is a behavioral response, it can quickly evolve into a learned response, meaning you consciously turn to food in times of excessive stress. So how do you break the effects of stress?

Do the following things:

Exercise – Find an exercise that you enjoy doing. Not only will it burn calories, but it will help control your cortisol level.

Eat right – You can eat small meals throughout the day consisting of foods high in fiber, but low in sugar, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

Get enough sleep – Sleep deprivation increases cortisol levels.

Relax – Choose an activity that makes you feel relaxed and calm. It will counter the biochemical effects of stress.

Minimize caffeine and alcohol – These can also raise cortisol levels and can keep you from getting enough sleep.

Try taking multi-vitamins – Stress can deplete essential vitamins, especially the B and C complexes.

While you may not be able to completely control the stressors in your life, you can control how you react to them. Use the information in this article to take control and avoid stress-related weight gain.

Cortisol and Endorphins

Exercise can give you joy? Working out can make you happy? Yes, experts in the fields of fitness, psychiatry, and psychology say there is ample evidence supporting the idea that exercise and physical stimulation cause happiness.

Let’s talk about Cortisol and Endorphins …

The human body is an amazing machine, and it actually rushes to its own rescue when it recognizes the physical stress that comes from exercise.

Cortisol is a hormone your body produces when it recognizes stress in any form. Anger, fear, and anxiety can also produce cortisol in your body. Unfortunately, cortisol buildup causes inflammation and can damage your organs. Exercise uses cortisol as an effective fuel, burning it much faster than it can be replaced.

And no doubt you have heard of the morphine-like endorphins that are released when you strenuously exert yourself. When you take a walk, go for a run, dance, lift weights, practice yoga, or Pilates, these hormone molecules called endorphins act on your brain’s neurons, blocking receptors that send pain signals to other areas of your brain.

And on top of that, some researchers have said that endorphins are more naturally and powerfully able to create feelings of happiness and joy than harmful drugs like opium and morphine.

How Getting Fit Can Make You Happier

Did you know that getting fit and in shape can actually make you happier? Chronic depression is combated with regular exercise, and aside from helping you return to your natural body weight, regular exercise and other fitness activities are great for your heart and your circulation.

Most fitness experts will tell you that a brief and brisk half-hour walk immediately makes you more alert. And intense physical activity of any kind actually stimulates certain brain chemicals which cause you to feel happier and more at peace.

Of course, there are the self-esteem benefits that make you feel good about yourself when you look in the mirror and see how all your hard work is paying off. The key to becoming happier is regular exercise and dedication to your fitness goals. This includes ensuring you are drinking lots of water throughout the day, and changing your lifestyle to include a healthy diet.

WebMD is one of the most respected healthcare websites on the entire Internet. They explain just how getting fit can make you happier, and it all has to do with chemicals called endorphins. These wonderful little natural mood boosters actually talk to your brain and help reduce your perception of pain.

And these endorphins are released in great quantities when you exercise for an extended period of time. Have you ever experienced a euphoric feeling after an intense workout? Long-distance runners call it the “runner’s high”. This is due to the massive release of endorphins in your body, which drastically and quickly cause a happier and healthier outlook.

Produced in your spinal cord, brain, and other parts of your body, these chemical good guys also act as sedatives. However, unlike chemical sedatives such as morphine, there is no unhealthy addiction or dependence created when your body is flooded with these miraculous stress relievers.

WebMD researchers go on to explain that regular exercise of even mild intensity levels promotes positive self-esteem, can erase feelings of depression, is great for lowering anxiety and reducing stress and can even improve your sleep patterns.

Your outlook on life is always better when you feel good about yourself, and the chemical process already hardwired into your physical makeup ensures that you feel happy and energized after a workout.

You knew that getting fit and losing weight would help your heart, lower your blood pressure, and improve your strength and body tone. But now that you understand your body is chemically aligned to make you happier when you exercise, you have just one more great reason to start a regular fitness program.

5 reasons to start an exercise program

You can’t get away from it. You know you’re supposed to exercise because every time you go online they’re talking about exercise. You probably know that exercise improves your health and it helps you lose weight. However, there may be some benefits that you’re not aware of. These exercise benefits may be exactly what you need to find the motivation to start an exercise program.

  1. It makes you feel like a kid again – When you try a new sport or fitness activity, it can remind you of when you were young. Do you remember running on the playground and your feet moving so fast you could barely keep up? Do you remember the joy? There is a sport or fitness activity out there that can make you feel young again. Seek it out!
  2. You’ll sleep like a baby – Exercise not only fatigues your mind and body so that you must sleep, it also releases hormones that help regulate your sleep cycle. If you struggle with insomnia or find that you wake frequently during the night, try exercising.
  3. It helps with anxiety and depression – Did you know that about 10% of the population suffers from some form of depression? Even more, people deal with chronic anxiety. Exercise has been shown to help reduce symptoms of both of these conditions. Exercise releases hormones that mimic antidepressants and anti-anxiety hormones. You not only feel great right after a workout, the effects last the rest of the day.
  4. You get smarter – Who doesn’t want to boost their brainpower? Exercise has been shown to increase creativity, critical thinking, and boost your thought response time. There are two reasons why this happens. First, when you exercise you pump more oxygen and nutrients into your brain. Second, exercise requires you to learn new movements. It’s brain training!
  5. More confidence – When you approach a fitness program with a realistic plan, you’ll create a pattern of success. Each workout you complete and each goal you achieve makes you feel more confident.

Exercise isn’t just great for your body, it’s also great for your mind and spirit. You’ll feel happier and more excited about life. And when life’s inevitable challenges arise, you’ll feel more capable of handling them.

How Workout Dates Help You Stick To Your Goals

The key to attaining your fitness goals is to work out with consistency. You start a new exercise program filled with excitement and goals, but soon you are bored with the same exercise routine, discouraged by the lack of results, or sidetracked by life in general. Pretty soon, you are back to your old ways of sitting on the couch and eating ice cream and potato chips.

Keeping that excitement and commitment going over the long haul is hard, but here are some ways that can help you stay the course:

Find an Exercise Buddy

Whether you exercise with a friend or your significant other, being accountable to someone other than yourself is a great way to keep you on track. When you commit to working out with someone, you do not want to let them down, nor do they want to let you down, so not showing up for a workout becomes more difficult than just going.

Schedule Your Workouts

If you are like me for something to get done, it has to be on my schedule. If not, something always takes priority, and consequently, the non-scheduled things take a backseat; workouts are no different. However, by scheduling your workouts both on your personal calendar and the one you have at work, your workout time becomes just as important as anything else you have scheduled. If you are using an electronic calendar, such as Gmail or Yahoo, set the reminder so you get either an email or pop-up reminder a certain time before your workout is supposed to begin.

Exercising on a consistent and routine basis will eventually become part of your healthy lifestyle. Eventually, you will reach a point where you will feel guilty if you have to miss a session – even if it is due to something beyond your control. But to get to that point, where exercising becomes second nature, requires diligent and deliberate dedication to succeed on your part.

Why Getting Fit Should Be a Long Term Goal

What is your fitness goal? With the new year coming, maybe it is losing a few of those extra pounds so you can look good when it’s ok again to go to the beach. That could be a great short-term goal, and definitely one you would want to attain, but what is your end-state fitness-wise in the long term and how are you going to get there?

Regardless of your goal, you need a path to the other end – an action plan that takes you from where you are now to your goal – written down on paper and posted where you can see it. Remember, goals have to be both realistic and attainable. Losing 50 pounds before summer is not either, however losing 10 pounds by the same time is both realistic and attainable.

Also, goals have to be specific if you expect to achieve success. A goal of losing weight isn’t specific enough; losing 50 pounds by Labor Day is better because it has a specified amount of weight to lose and an ending date.

However, losing 1 ½ pounds per week for a total of 50 pounds by Labor Day is better yet as it also includes a short-term goal along the way to keep you on track. And 1 ½ pounds per week is not as daunting as 50 pounds. Short-term goals keep you focused; without them in our example, you could find yourself needing to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time towards the end to reach your goal.

Also, achieving several short term goals along the way provides the motivation to continue. Each week’s 1 ½ pound loss is a building block for the next week. The time and commitment invested to reach each week’s goal, further seats your investment of time and energy to achieving the end-state.

And achieving a short-term goal of a 1 ½ pound loss each week sets you up for the longer goal of keeping that weight off. For example, it takes about 30 days to establish a habit (or break an old one). If your method to weight loss was eating healthy, by the time you get to your goal your new style of eating is an established part of your new healthy lifestyle. Once it becomes a habit, it is much harder to break and go back to your old way of eating.

And that is the real benefit of the long-term goal of getting fit – it becoming part of a larger goal of achieving a healthy lifestyle. Once you attain this goal, your next one for example may be doing a 5KM marathon. Each long-term goal supports the overall goal – living a healthy lifestyle.

Simple Lifestyle Tweaks to Help You Drop Some Weight

Sometimes the simplest changes in lifestyle can make a big difference. Here are a few easy lifestyle tweaks that make a big difference individually, but have synergistic effects when paired together.

Keep a food journal

Many times being overweight is a case of not realizing how much (or what) a person eats in a day. Writing down everything puts it in perspective. According to a recent study, people who kept a food journal lost twice as much weight as those who did not – on average 13 pounds in 6 months.

Eat healthy food

Not only does eating junk or unhealthy food pack on the calories, but it is also high in saturated and trans fat – both of which are bad for your health and lead to some serious health issues. Instead, opt for more fresh vegetables, whole grain, and lean meats. Not only will it reduce the number of calories consumed, but reduce the bad fats. If at all possible, refrain from eating processed fast food and opt for a healthy bag lunch that you prepare at home.

Get more exercise

It’s so easy to do without adding hardly any more time to your day. For example, instead of parking close to the store, park at the far end of the parking lot and walk in the rest of the way. If you take public transportation, get off a stop or two before your normal stop, and walk to your destination. Once inside the building, take the stairs (at least partway up) instead of the elevator. During your lunch break, take a walk, returning with enough time left to eat your healthy bag lunch.

Another way to sneak in exercise is to only watch your favorite Netflix series while you are exercising. It will prevent you from binge-watching and possibly avoiding lounging in bed or your couch for an entire day. This is great for short episodes (30 min long episodes) – you get your work out in while you indulge yourself getting caught up in your favorite show. Another way is to listen to your favorite podcast or an audiobook while you are working out or walking/running. You burn some calories while you get absorbed in your favorite podcast or audiobook.

Wear a fitness tracker

Counting the number of steps taken during the day raises your exercise awareness. When you have that information at hand, you’ll find yourself comparing how many steps you have taken to your daily goal and put in the extra effort to reach your goal. In a recent study, people who walked only 2,500 steps more per day than the control group, burnt off the equivalent of 10 pounds over a the one-year study.

Get enough sleep

In another study, participants were asked to sleep 10 hours a night for two nights, followed by five nights of less sleep and four nights of recovery. The results? After 11 days, the study group had gained almost 3 pounds each compared to the well-rested control group.

All of these lifestyle tweaks are easy to implement. Once they have established habits, and you start to see weight loss results, you’ll wonder why you had not started doing them sooner.

5 Habits of Fit and Healthy People

If you look at fit and healthy people in awe and wonder how they do it, their secret comes down to two words: healthy lifestyle. They live a healthy life and everything they do centers around that concept. If you want to be more like them, here are five things you will have to start doing:

Eat breakfast

Listen to your mother when she tells you breakfast is the most important meal of the day because she is right. After fasting all night, get your body going by having a good healthy, and nutritious breakfast. Make sure it includes lean protein, healthy fat, and good complex carbohydrates. It gives your metabolism a kick in the butt that can last for hours, making sure that you are burning the maximum number of calories possible each day.

Always be on the move

If you are sitting still, you are burning fewer calories than if you were up and moving. Fit and healthy people are always on the go. They park at the far end of the parking lot, or they get off a stop or two before the closest stop to work, and then walk in the rest of the way. They take the stairs instead of the elevator. They ride their stationary bike, elliptical trainer, or treadmill at night while watching TV, instead of just sitting on the couch. In doing so, they burn many more calories than people who do not do these things.

Start your day with exercise

Exercising first thing in the morning not only gets your body going but also your mind. People who exercise early in the day tend to have a more positive outlook on life, which transcends to the choices they make, like choosing what they eat and how they burn calories throughout the day.

Cook and eat at home

As strange as it may sound, fit and healthy people only eat when their body tells them it is hungry. And when they do eat, it is generally at home (for breakfast and dinner) and a light healthy lunch most likely brought from home. If they do have to eat out, they make smart choices as far as portions and type of food – fresh vegetables and lean meats.

Along with making smart eating choices, the beverage of their choice is water. They know that not only does it hydrate them better than any other drink, but water contains no calories, which in many other drinks comes from added sugar.

Don’t obsess over your body

If you are a scale watcher, you can learn a lot from fit and healthy people. They don’t even have to look at a scale, because they know their healthy lifestyle and habits will keep them around the same weight. They typically consume and burn off around the same number of calories each day, thus keeping them at the same weight … within a few pounds. Most healthy and fit people monitor their fitness level by how tight (or loose) their clothes feel.

Doing these five things routinely will put you in the healthy and fit category. If losing weight, ensure you burn around 500 calories more per day than you eat. Once at goal, then add in 500 more calories to maintain your current weight. Once you choose a healthy lifestyle, you will never have to worry about dieting again.