So there’s a nice burn as opposed to a mean burn? Campfires can be a nice burn, a sip of Irish coffee is a nice burn but muscles burning mid-workout is kind of a mixed bag. It hurts, but the burn is an indicator that you are working hard and building some new muscle. Lately, however the burn associated with exercising has been cerebral rather than muscular. More precisely I have been recognizing some negative vibes in my life that are a result of my workout activities. And I am guessing that this negativity affects some of you, even if you do not exercise regularly.
Yikes! What is all this about negativity? Working out is supposed to be good for you.
And of course it is. I credit regular exercise with contributing to my health and maintaining my sanity through some rather tough times over the years. I love being strong. It adds confidence to my step and makes me do things / lift things that many women wouldn’t try. But when our move took my workouts from taekwondo mixed with occasional videos at home to all videos at home, the words that some of the trainers use began to grate on my 51 year old nerves….. “Make every ex you ever had jealous,” “Skinny jeans people, think about skinny jeans.” I realized that the focus on looks was having a negative impact on me and making me think way too much about how I look. This in turn made me question my participation and the time spent as being vain and frivolous. Vain and frivolous are not inspiring at all. I wonder if other people lose confidence in the benefits of exercise because the focus tends to be on the results to physical appearance. I wonder if some people hear the above words and feel so far from the skinny jeans that they become discouraged and decide that fitness is not for them at all.
Of course nothing could be farther from the truth! Physical fitness has so many benefits beyond appearance. Exercise does keep weight down, which is important in terms of preventing diabetes and heart disease, but it also helps exercisers relax and sleep better, strengthens the heart and lungs, reduces blood pressure, keeps bones strong, improves mood, is a better long term anti-depressant than any pill we have, and keeps a body flexible and capable longer into life. Nothing vain or frivolous there and we all deserve these things. Everyone deserves a body running at full potential…. or pretty darn well anyway ;-)!
With all that knowledge, and with the experience I have had of feeling much better and much more hopeful when exercising regularly, rather than stopping exercise, I decided to ditch the videos that talk about looking like a celebrity or a model. In their place I sought videos / programming that concentrate on strength, stamina, breathing, and growth. Having limited time in the day and recognizing a need for more contemplative activities in my busy life I also thought that an exercise program focused on stretching, breathing and reaching might be helpful. Sounding a little yoga-ish, right? So my goal became to incorporate some yoga while moving away from a focus on looks. I quickly started to feel better about my time spent and my mental health. Yoga might not be the right thing for you, but I highly recommend considering the message behind what you are doing (or are going to start doing), for exercise. What are the leaders saying? What do they focus on? What do you focus on? How do you feel about it when you are not doing it? During this search for more positive leadership with a ‘nice burn’, I discovered practitioners who not only share a positive approach to exercise but do it for free. That was an unexpected bonus 🙂
There are many exercise video producers on-line. I found 2 that I am enjoying and 1 in particular that gives choice, alternatives for different levels of ability and experience and good information as well. Fitness blender (fitnessblender.com) is run by a husband and wife team who are trainers and one is a registered dietician. The site is friendly and allows searches by type, length, difficulty, and even equipment. I had no problem finding workouts to try and have been very pleased. The other is Sean Vigue fitness.com Sean is a bit of a character and he has lots of free workout videos on you tube that utilize yoga. Fitness Blender is probably a better place to start, but Sean can fill in some gaps and has more yoga. And there are so many more! Maybe one of them can help you design a program that is right for you and encourages you & holds you up despite not looking like an impossibly shaped Barbie doll or air-brushed model.
As if you have time during the holidays….. and yet that is when you really need to treat yourself well. I encourage you to take a moment to look at how you are treating your body and what kind of expectations you have for fitness and how you feel. Little Sis talked about expectations at the holidays. Think about good and fair expectations and how much the people you love want you to be happy and healthy and take a little time to keep your body happy and your mind healthy. Exercise, along of course with real food, is an important part of that effort.
If you or someone you love needs help with making healthy changes in diet, grab a copy of our book: Baby Steps to Better Health: A Guided Journey to Healthier Eating
Eat well. Be Well. Exercise Well. Feel the Nice Burn.