One Spark celebrated it’s 3rd birthday, YIPPEE! We've survived. I’d say it’s time to get this blog back up and running. I’ll let you in on my thoughts, experiences and knowledge on various subject matters. I am by no means an expert on every subject that I will discuss, but I do believe that I have some valuable information that could be useful in your life. The information presented will be backed by evidenced based studies. That being said, let’s get to it.
Why is that people have difficulty prioritizing exercise in their life? It is proven to not only extend, but also improve the quality of your life. I’m sure you’ve heard some version of the quote “If you don’t pay for your health now, you will pay with your illness later.” I know that as I’ve gotten older, I have been prioritizing my health to maximize the quality of my life. What do I mean by that? I want to be able to get on the floor and play with my grandchildren, chase after them without coughing up a lung or pulling something, take care of my yard without throwing out my back, travel without limitations. I could go on and on about ALL the benefits of exercise: hormone balance, stress reduction, weight management, heart health, increased energy, improved sleep, mental clarity, increased bone density, decreased risk of illnesses, etc. For most, I’m sure this is not new information, so why is it still so hard? Because working out is WORK. It takes effort, real effort. How do you do something that you don’t want to do? You make the decision and then do it. How many things do you do regularly that you don’t want to? Grocery shopping? Laundry? Cleaning? Do you always want to go to your job? No, but you still go, right? You go for the rewards which is a paycheck to fund your life. A fit body does the same...funds your quality of life. I’ve heard all the excuses in the world, and that’s just what they are...excuses. Stop making excuses, and if there is a legitimate reason then find a real solution. Let’s take a look at the most common excuses ones that I hear.
1. "I don't have the time to hit the gym 3 days per week."
I always find this excuse to hold the least weight because it's amazing how many people have time to scroll social media, binge watch TV shows, online shop, go out to eat with friends, etc? I get asked regularly if I saw certain posts, videos, TV shows, movies which tells me that there's a lot of this going on in people's lives. I'm not saying that I have not fallen culprit to this also, but I do it less than I used to and work on limiting it as much as possible. I actually try to only glance at my phone a few times/day. This causes me to miss many texts as my friends and family can verify. How many times have you picked up your phone to check something and an hour later you're still scrolling? Or you didn't even check the thing that caused you to pick up your phone and you've looked at 10 other things. I call that the black hole of social media, you view one thing then 2, then 222. Let's be real, you make time for what you want to make time for. It's that simple. Everyone has 3 hours per week to spend on their fitness.
2. “I’m stressed.”
What’s causing your stress? Find the source and determine if you can reduce it. Better deal with it or it will deal with you. Stress takes years off your life and contributes to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Find stress reducing strategies you can use to decrease stress: meditation, counseling, music, exercise. Yes, exercise reduces stress hormones and increases those feel-good hormones, so get to the gym.
3. “I have to run my kids to their activities.”
While my children are now adults, I’ve been there. I can’t begin to explain the craziness that I lived for a few years with 2 kids going in 2 different directions. Working long, crazy hours as a nurse with a spouse who was also working long, crazy hours made me utilize the help of others. Carpools were a lifesaver. Remember that it takes a village. Many times, these activities are sports...so your kid’s physical health is a priority, but yours isn’t? Hmmm? That’s a mixed message. Your children are always watching and learning from you. Making fitness a priority in your life will teach them that it is important.
4. “I need to cook dinner for the family.”
I can’t express the enormous benefit of meal prepping, so meals are ready to go during the week. Plus, you will eat healthier. While I don’t recommend it all the time, a bowl of cereal, frozen pizza, or scrambled eggs can make a meal for most kids. If you have a significant other, they are capable of making food also. Yep, I said it.
5. “I’m tired.”
Maybe some self-evaluation is in order? Why are you tired? Are you fueling your body with food that will improve your energy and health? Sugar and processed foods are evil energy stealers and cause these spikes in blood sugar levels that quickly crash and leave you feeling tired and needing a nap. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you scrolling through social media, playing electronic games, checking emails before bedtime? Limiting your blue light exposure 2-3 hours before bedtime can help the brain settle down for sleep. Blue light exposure decreases your melatonin levels and send the message to the brain to wake up. Computers, phones, TV’s, certain artificial lighting emit blue light. If you just can’t help yourself from scrolling social media, playing electronic games, checking email or watching your favorite TV shows prior to bed, then try blue light blocking glasses. What time are you going to bed? Yes, I know...it’s often the only time you have to get stuff done. Getting to bed earlier as well as setting a specific bedtime can be a game changer to getting adequate amounts of sleep. Are you moving throughout the day? If you have a sedentary job and spend hours sitting at a desk, you will benefit from periodic scheduled periods of movement. Get up to walk or stretch. Use part of your lunch break as an opportunity to move.
6. “My knee, shoulder, back, wrist...hurt.”
Yep, and it gets worse as you get older. Old injuries and arthritis will lurk their ugly heads at some point. Now I’m not saying that you should further injure yourself. If you have pain that has not been evaluated, then seek medical evaluation and advisement. I too have aches and pains, most likely from beating myself up with the sport of competitive gymnastics for many years. Training with injuries and never getting them looked at by a professional was the norm back in the 70’s and 80’s (yep, I know that some of you reading this weren’t even born yet. Ugh.) I train almost every day with aches and pains and have learned to modify and adjust as needed. Some days there is minimal pain and others are rough, but I keep going because there is no other option in my head. I have discovered that doing less actually causes more pain in the long run for myself. Strength training done correctly can improve those aches and pains by strengthening muscles and connective tissue that support joints.
7. “I don’t know where to start.”
JUST START. It is important that you choose a place with safe instruction, guidance and modifications. Showing up is often the hardest part of the workout. That’s why you seek professional assistance. Exercise is a skill and think of each workout as practice. Don't take Allen Iverson's advise! Practice is important. If you don't know what I am referring to then I've just aged myself again. Look it up, I'm sure there's a YouTube video of it somewhere.
8. “I’m afraid that I’ll look stupid because I have no idea what I am doing.”
While it is scary to try something new, your health is your responsibility and overcoming fear is a skill that will help you in all areas of life. We’ve all tried things where we were unsure, felt awkward, embarrassed, etc. Honestly, gym people are some of the most supportive people, who will be your biggest cheerleaders. Also, most will be working on their own form, catching their breath, and recovering that they won’t notice what you are doing. Once again, that is why you seek professional assistance to learn and get proper instruction.
So, I’m sure there are some additional excuses that have popped into your brain as you read this. Some people convince themselves that they aren’t using excuses, but they are giving legitimate reasons why this exercise thing isn’t possible in their lives. I love this explanation by Gary Ryan Blair, author and professional training coach:
"The main function of a reason is not to justify, but to explain. Reason implies that fault is sincerely recognized and accepted…. that you step up and take accountability for your actions. An excuse exists to justify, blame or defend a fault…with the intent to absolve oneself of accountability."
In the end, you and only you are responsible for your health. Exercise is part of self-care, just like brushing your teeth, bathing, eating well. You have a choice to do it or not do it. Pay now with sweat and effort OR pay later with illness and medications. It’s really that simple.