In work as in life we create a sense of balance by understanding what we want and what we don’t, what we need and do not need.
We prioritize by wanting less of one thing and more of something else.
Less overwhelm and more progress. Fewer things to react to and more results.
Less busyness and more time. Fewer restrictions and more choices.
The irony is that we spend a lot our time on things that won’t get us to where we want to go whether it is on becoming more fit and energized or losing weight and keeping it off.
We often prioritize the things we say we don’t want to keep doing.
The trick to getting the results you want is to align your actions with the results you want.
Do you want better strength because you enjoy golf so much and still want to improve and have more fun?
Do you want better flexibility in your body because it’s nice to be able to hang out playing with your kids and grandkids and have more fun?
Do you want better balance because you are aware of the problems associated with falling and being laid up for a long period of time and having no fun?
Are you motivated to take the time to understand where you want to go?
Are you motivated to create the must do list that’s going to get you there?
Are you motivated to do more of what’s on the list and less of what’s not?
The last step is a choice that we each have the power to make.
Here’s the thing. When it comes to feeling strong, being limber, and having good body balance, it all comes down to personal lifestyle activities. Some people need loads of quadriceps and hamstring strength because they may cycle or others may play golf and need great hip, lower back and core strength. And yet others may not play sports, and simply desire the energy, limberness, and capacity to do whatever is called for in life at any given moment. The bottom line is that strength, limberness and balance all play a crucial role in aging “less fast” than the typical person currently ages.
If you are in this latter group of non sports people then you are in good company. Many people do not play sports yet keep physically fit by doing many smart exercises/practices.
Below are three smart exercises to add to your fitness program:
Leg Strength – Chair Squat.
– Keep back straight
– Keep knees over ankles and not over toes.
– Keep chest high.
– If you have back issues, only go to a three quarter squat and always stretch back prior to implementing.
BodySmart Fit Tip: Thinking these are wimpy girl exercises using that chair? Think again! Vary your pace, number of squats and or sets, to get the desired feel.
A good place to start for beginners: 2 sets of 10 reps with impeccable form. Advance from there.
Fun Notes: Take out your skinny jeans. Men take note too: this is not a woman only exercise! All upper body muscle and skinny legs is no good!
Hamstring Stretch – Back of the Upper Leg
– keep back flat as you lean forward receiving a stretch.
– flex foot towards you to receive a calf stretch as well.
– hold for 30 seconds and repeat two more times.
BodySmart Fit Tip: your range of motion increases as you hold the pose – lean further forward to increase the ROM, but never going to the point of pain. Tight hamstrings often result in a tight lower back. A tight lower back makes movement painful. And painful movement makes us less apt to move, creating the cycle of aging quicker than need be!
Fun Notes: I woke up decrepid last week- tight hamstrings and tight back. It was embarrassing training clients. Here’s the thing: we get stiff from usually one of two things. Either under exercise or over exercise. In my sad defense, I was over exercised and woke up so super tight that picking up the dog that morning set my back on fire. That’s my story and I am sticking with it!
One leg Balance
– you remember this pose from previous newsletters.
– now increase your time to 90 second holds on each leg!
BodySmart Fit Tip: In seeking better balance we gain strength. With this pose, leg strength and core strength is enhanced.
Fun Notes: What is this chick thinking? I do not recommend doing this pose on slippery moss covered rocks.
It was a real treat to take our time and focus on everything I write about. One of the things I learned over the years is that it is not necessary to train like a maniac in order to receive the benefits of a fit body that can do what you need it to do. I am not opposed to working like a “maniac” when it is called for, but too often I see people training in quiet desperation thinking they will lose weight because of exercising. Of course exercise is great for all of us, but the intent of why many people exercise is old school thinking: to burn calories, lose weight, or punish oneself for overeating. I want to help people change this kind of thinking.
P.S. The picture above is not me training at the hotel but it motivates me because I cannot imagine someone looking like that and eating well…crap. I imagine she got her muscles from working out , but got her lean body composition from eating like a champ! Which is exactly what today’s news is about.
One of the concepts that I want people to understand is that fitness is part of health – yes, but that weight maintenance/loss, and being lean is a matter of what you eat.
Think About This
How many people do you know that train in the gym, or run and bike miles daily yet are overweight?
I am not about not exercising. Exercise is extremely important in aging well and changing the physiological responses in the body positively. The problem is that the mindset that many people have regarding movements effects on weight loss is incorrect. The mindset being that exercise will cause us to lose weight is the real reason people are not losing weight. By having this mindset we deny the real reasons we cannot lose weight and obtain the body we desire. The fact is – food matters. What we choose to eat and not eat is extremely important in weight loss. This understanding is so central to being able to lose weight that in my 30 Days to Lean Program, I do not even discuss exercise other than to say… do something you enjoy a few minutes a day. No pressure. Just enjoy.
Awareness is Key
There is a direct correlation in what we eat and how much weight we lose! There is little correlation in how much we exercise and weight loss. It’ s a tough realization for many, but for those who are up to the challenge, it makes all the difference in living well. As one member who lost 24 pounds in 8 weeks said, ” I used to exercise like a nut. 90 minutes everyday in the gym for 20 years, and for that I have gained 20 pounds in 20 years. Now, I am sensible. I eat well and I exercise moderately. I am not deprived and I love my daily eating practices. I do not feel deprived either. And most importantly, no one could have told me I would love my new eating and exercise life. I never believed it myself! The words freeing and liberating come to mind.”
Here’s a Challenge For You.
The next time you go into the gym, take a walk, run, bicycle ride, improve your strength, stretch your body, practice balancing, or implement any of the exercises in the Totally Tone newsletters, exercise not because you are aiming to burn calories and lose weight, but because it is part of being a healthy person. Say to yourself, “This exercise is designed to improve my physical conditioning but it will not cause me to lose weight.” This realization that it is not exercise that will cause one to be trim looking is central to going at the root cause of why one may be overweight. No longer can one use exercise to atone for poor eating practices. Instead one will have to make the needed mind shift that exercise is for conditioning the body and that it is separate from the ability to lose weight.
Food matters not only in bringing health to our bodies, but in ridding the body of excess fat. By de-emphasizing training like a maniac, one can focus on what they eat as a means to transforming their bodies and their lives. You can have the awareness that there is a direct correlation in what you eat and how much weight you lose! Yes, it’ s a tough realization for many, but for those who are up to the challenge it makes all the difference in living well.
Here’s The Thing.
We need to strengthen our bodies to continue to do what we want to do. We need to stretch our bodies so the strength we gained can be turned into functional movement that feels easy. And we need to hone in on practicing balance to tie things all together.
Simple as it sounds, if tying your shoes while balancing on one leg is impossible for you, then hitting the ski slopes with robust, playing a physical round of tennis, or maintaining your consistent golf strokes for 18 holes, soon yields itself to not just injury, but premature loss of vim and vigor before it really is your time to slow down. This is called premature aging. Too often we slow down before we need to.
Is Slowing Down Before Your Time Not in Your Plans?
Then turn it around. Here’s where to begin: If these exercises are too basic for you, stick around anyways each week, as you are sure to get lots of insight to go along with all the action plans. Brain and brawn working together! Stay tuned. And do these exercises several times before we meet again.
I Want You to Know:
We are all going to age. But aging before our time doesn’t have to happen.
1. You can practice balance anywhere.
2. You can practice stretching anywhere.
3. You can practice strengthening your body anywhere but for best results and to prevent injury go to your gym and see your training pros.
Hold for one minute each leg. skirt and high heels optional.
Hold for one minute squeezing the gluteal muscles.
Hold for one minute receiving stretch in back of upper leg ( hamstring0.
Balance Strength and Stretch:
Hold for one minute: back flat.
Front Knee bent and over ankle.
Fingers tips slightly touching floor.
Back leg slightly extended.
There are many reasons for achy hips and backs but common reasons have to do with too much repetitive movement or lack of movement/ sedentary living.
The extremes of living on both ends can cause back and hip flare ups that are painful and debilitating.
The joke in the gym amongst my clients when I come in to train them while feeling stiff and achy is that I tell them I over trained on the tennis courts. This answer works like a charm, because if I tell them I sat on my bottom all day long writing, it is not too impressive – especially when you are telling them what to do to keep in shape. Training hard in sport is so much more respectable, so I always go with that as a reason! You may find it can work for you too!
Below are 3 exercises that are daily musts for alleviating the pain and inflammation due to extremes of lifestyles whether you find yourself suddenly overactive, or suddenly inactive. Regardless, maintaining a daily regimen of these exercises goes a long way in preventing long term hip and back issues. And one last note: Do these exercises more often daily if you are in moderate back and hip pain. A good guide to follow is simple – if you feel better as you do the exercises then continue. If it feels worse then discontinue and try the next day. If still no improvement then seek a doctor to check on common ailments like herniated discs or spinal stenosis.
Bridging, strengthens core muscles of the lower back and buttocks, while stretching the hip flexors.” The hip flexors, or psoas muscle area, play an important role in keeping the lower back strong and healthy.
- Begin this exercise by lying on your back.
- Bend your knees keeping your feet flat on the floor and keep your arms at your side, against the floor.
- Gently lift your pelvic region into the air, as high as you comfortably can.
- Hold for several seconds.
- Return hips to ground.
The Pelvic Tilt
The pelvic tilt increases range of motion and flexibility of the pelvic region. Like the previous exercise, the pelvic tilt helps to strengthen the muscles in the pelvic and abdominal regions, which can provide the support one needs to avoid back pains and strains.
- Begin this exercise on your back.
- Bend your knees keeping your feet flat on the floor and place your arms across your chest area.
- Contract your abdominal muscles by tightening and squeezing in that area while pressing your lower back to the floor, so there is no space between the floor and your lower back.
- Be sure to keep breathing normally as you contract these muscles. Beginners often tend to hold their breath during this exercise.
- Hold for 1-3 seconds, while breathing normally.
- Relax and repeat up to 10 times, or as many times as you are comfortable.
The Cat and Camel Stretch
Like with the previous exercises, breathing plays a key role in the cat and camel stretch.
- Begin this exercise on all fours, with your knees and hands on the ground.
- Start to round your back with your head down while exhaling. This position should resemble a frightened cat with their upper back rounded near the neck.
- Reverse this position by allowing your back to relax and lower. This should resemble the valley between a camel’s two humps.
- Be sure to inhale and exhale as you move through this exercise.
- Repeat up to 10 times, or as many times as you are comfortable
Exercises like these will be helpful for people with arthritis by strengthening the muscles surrounding the joints. And Importantly, these exercises, if done several times while seated for long periods of time ( at the computer for example) will keep back and hip stiffness at bay. Perhaps most importantly though, these exercises can be flaunted as a status symbol that you exercised vigorously in athletics such as with tennis, running, golfing and other sports that push the body in rigorous ways. As you know, it’s not age causing you to be more stiff, it’s that rigorous lifestyle of yours! That’s my story and I am sticking to it!