Tag Archives: exercise

What are the healthiest actions you can take in the moment . . .

. . . to have the healthiest overall health in the long run?  Think about it.  I didn’t ask, “What are the healthiest actions you can take in the moment?”  The answer to that question for most people would be a form of “super behavior”, maybe an ideal super activity (if there is such a thing) or perfect eating (whatever that is!).  Even if we could define a perfect set of habits, ideal – or perfect – health behavior is just not something any of us can keep doing for long.

So the real question – the one that will cause you to be your healthiest – has to have a longer range outlook.  In other words, how does this way of living that I am doing right now affect how I behave in future moments, weeks, or years?

Over-aggressive effort usually ends up polarizing our habits.  We get really “good” sets of habits and equally “bad” ones.  And then we have the overall habit that includes swinging between the two poles.  Not ideal for health, not ideal for mood, and not ideal for ultimate well being.

So, looking at how current health-related activities will affect our ultimate health outcome is crucial.  It is why I am a proponent of finding the balancing point between the two extremes and making an overall habit out of being more consistent.

The result?  A level head, a level weight, a level mood, . . . . simply more balance.  Simply better!


Never Underestimate the Value of Maintenance

We all forget to be grateful for what we have.  It’s human nature.  Every so often we get reminders, usually when we lose something and then we appreciate it.  Sometimes it is money or material items.  I recently lost my iPod, and I really appreciate it now that it’s gone!  Even if we have not personally had major health issues, we at least have heard stories of other people who only truly appreciate their health once it is gone.  Time spent complaining about minor aches and pains can be seen as petty in light of such insight.

The same feelings are connected with weight loss.  So much energy is spent working toward an ideal weight, or just a weight that can be tolerated, that many dieters forget to be grateful they are not gaining when the pounds are not falling off quickly enough. Continue reading

Reflections on My Yoga Weekend

Exhilarated and fired up!  Drained and surrendering.  That is how I feel after 20 hours of yoga training this past weekend.  Light/dark, strong/weak, confident/self doubting – all at once.  Today I am reflecting on the dual nature of all things, but specifically related to me and my experience.

Among all of the universal truth reminders, this one remained with me as I left the studio, my weary brain and body feeling the effects of a second 10-hour day of listening, processing, sitting on the floor, and moving on the mat.  Yes, I felt relief as I headed home, but I also felt super-charged, creative!

At any given time, I am usually more aware of one side of an experience or a feeling, and that becomes my reality.  “I feel weary” usually feels one-sided and exhausting.  At those times it is hard to remember how much vitality I usually feel.  “I am feeling alive and fired up” is normally a mood that forgets what it felt like to have self-doubt.

At the outset of the weekend, we all chose a word to describe yoga for us (at that time).  My word?  BALANCE!  Processing the experience, I find it interesting to see that my biggest take-away was precisely that.  It was a great reminder – both sides of a feeling are always there, although one usually dominates in the moment.  When I feel weak, I will feel strong again, and my strengths will not be unchanging.

I am usually aggressive with my physical body.  I grew up in an atmosphere that celebrated being tough, and I am proud of that.  Arguably the most stinging insult as a child was “wimp”.   God forbid!

But I am learning that babying my body is necessary at times.  Pushing through pain is not always (ever?) a good thing.

I remind myself that the sore part of my upper left leg has been alternating between “kind of ok” to “ouch” to “a little better” for months.  It took this past weekend to realize that . . .

AHA! I am both strong and fragile.  Just because I can doesn’t always mean I should.  I recognize that I will feel strong again, and in that strength, I will remember the potential for weakness.

Quick Motivation

This is truly amazing and inspirational.  If you are having trouble getting to the gym or eating healthier after the holidays, I think this might help.



The Importance of “Mindset”

A Driver’s Perspective (above)

In My Runner’s Mindset

The process of changing habits is a topic of huge interest to me.  It is a large part – arguably the largest part – of helping people get healthier.  For this reason, earlier this month I found myself at an all-day seminar on the subject.

One piece of new information has been rattling around in my head ever since I heard it:  Habits are permanently stored in the brain.  Wow!  That really amazed me.  Does that mean that we cannot change habits?  Of course not, but it can be very difficult without the knowledge of how it happens.  Truth be told, it is still going to be hard with better understanding, just not as hard.  Considering the health consequences of everyday habits, every advantage is super important.

This morning I learned something about habits in the best way possible – I observed it in myself.  I was driving home down a road I use at least once every day.  Once in a while – the once or twice a week I put a few miles on my running shoes –  it is also a part of my usual running route.  So here’s what happened. Continue reading

Maintaining Weight May Help You Lose It

It is really hard to make lifestyle changes!  True behavior changes do not happen at light speed.  The reality is that most people change at a snail’s pace, and the process of moving forward is regularly interrupted by little “side trips” or even backtracking adventures.

I also see people reach a weight goal, and then the mystery becomes, “How the heck do I maintain?!”  Without learning this crucial skill, re-gaining is inevitable.

A recent study looked at the weight loss journey in an out-of-the-box way, and I believe it makes a lot of sense behaviorally.  Why not practice a few healthy habits while maintaining (without the pressure of losing weight), get the hang of that, and then make small changes to create weight loss?

The study looked at 267 mostly obese women.  Half were told to maintain their weight for 8 weeks while they worked on learning skills toward a healthier lifestyle.  Then they followed a 20 week weight loss plan.  The other group just followed the weight loss plan.  Both groups lost a similar amount of weight, but the group that practiced maintaining kept twice as much weight off.

You may ask, “Why would I want to learn to maintain?  I do that all too well.  I have that mastered.”  Well, if you truly do have that mastered – in other works, you are fairly consistent with your habits, without big highs and lows of food and/or exercise, and your weight does not vary much – then you probably don’t need to learn it.  You already have a sense of cause and effect.  You know that if you change that established pattern significantly, you will change your body.  You know that your weight will go up and down a couple of pounds as part of normal life.
Great!  You are in a good position to make well planned changes to your lifestyle that are realistic.  You will have some degree of logic about the process – what you must do and what you will get if you follow through.

But what if you are like so many people who deprive and binge cyclically, or work out like a madman/madwoman and then quit altogether?  In that case, there is little logic.  You may be maintaining over time, but it feels chaotic.  Habits are not stabilized, so weight will yo-yo up and down, even if average weight does not change much.  That is a very powerless position to begin making changes.  There is chaos in the process, so there will be no logical formula for maintaining weight.

Although it was a short study, it just makes sense.  If change is hard – IT IS – and if it takes a while to make new habits stick – WHICH IT DOES – then this may be a new approach that works for some people.  I would be willing to bet that it will be most effective for individuals who feel most confused about the process in general.  It’s certainly worth a shot if you are frustrated and confused, because it takes a little of the pressure off when there is no urgency to see the scale number go down.

Lifestyle Is More Important

I just read results of another study that draws a possible connection between heart disease risk and a genetically determined trait.  This time it is blood type.  I am Type A, so I am – according to this study – 8% more likely to develop heart disease.

Those with A, B, or AB blood types appear to have a higher risk than those with the O blood type.  The researchers point out that this is probably not a very powerful indicator of risk, and that lifestyle makes a big difference.

I think lifestyle is THE most important determinant of heart disease risk in almost all cases.  The expression of genetically inherited traits is influenced by how we live – how we eat, what we eat, how we manage stress, activity levels, even happiness.

As someone with a family history of heart disease, I find this comforting.  So far there is no truly accurate way to determine who is going to develop heart disease and who will not.  Cholesterol measurements in a standard lipid panel are just not very predictive of risk.  More detailed testing is better, but there is still no consensus on an accurate predictive test for heart disease.  I think it is more complex than the presence of an ear lobe crease.  Whatever our risk factors, advice is similar.

Focus on lifestyle.  Improve eating habits and stay active.  This is what we can control.