Tag Archives: stress

Reestablishing the Fitness Routine

8 Jun

Sometimes the couch sings its siren song…

So today I want to focus on exercise ruts or trying to get back into one.

The two months I took off after quitting my first one and starting my current one in DC was a period were I was in the best shape of my life I think (outside my high school years and 2 varsity sports).  I got up every day and was able to work out for 90-120 minutes. I ate great and felt well-relaxed and most importantly strong and healthy.  Then life came back to bite me in the ass and my carefully crafted routine went out the window, along with my athleticism.

Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my new job, but when I started the process of moving, I didn’t have time to work out (or so I told myself).  Then came the transition from CA to DC and the stress of that move threw me into a tailspin.  I left everything I know and love to move to a city that I knew (I went to college here in DC) and still had people who I’m still close with, but still…it has been a tough and at times lonely transition.  So with the stress (cortisol), unhealthy eating (comfort food is NOT good for the waistline), and lack of exercise I felt my clothes suddenly getting a bit tighter.

I started to feel like this! (less the beer)

So I got “fat and lazy”, not good for anyone, but for someone like me I saw myself turning into the very people I’m trying to motivate to get back out there.  I knew I had to get myself back!  But it’s been harder than I anticipated.  It’s hard to get up at 5am to get a workout in, have a full day of work and then go home and make dinner and try to decompress from my day.  But you know what’s even harder? Working out after work when the TV sings its siren song and is so much more inviting than a hard workout.  It’s tough, but I know it will be worth it in the end.

I’ve decided that AM workouts work best for me, they leave me full of energy all day and then I don’t feel guilty when I get home and don’t head to the gym.  But waking up is still killer.  I am my only obstacle, it may be constant fight every morning between my “i want to sleep” side and the “you’ll feel so much better” side. But I know that slowly the “I want to sleep” side will fight less and

Keep at it!

less and it will get easier to get up instead of hitting the snooze.  So as I begin my uphill battle to reestablish my fitness routine, I thought I’d give some tips and pointers that I’m applying to help get my fitness back on track.

Don’t Break the Habit

I know for some it may be too little, too late.  But for those already in a habit, don’t drop it!  That was my number one mistake, I let myself fall out the routine and as a result it’s so much easier to hit snooze instead of getting up to get that am workout in.  How long of a road are you looking at if you’re trying to reestablish a fitness habit? About 66 days.  That’s a lot of mornings to debate with yourself!

Make it Fun

If you hate being in a gym then get outside! Hate solo activities?  Take up a new team sport!  Find ways that make it fun for you!  Don’t force yourself to lift weight if you’d rather gorge your eyes out, there a plenty of other ways to get “weight training” in!

Reward Yourself

And I don’t mean with a pint of Ben and another pint of Jerry’s.  Pick a goal (workout 5 days a week for 4 weeks) and a reward (like getting a massage).  If you set a goal that’s tough but achievable and a reward that you really want (like that new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing).

A buddy is a great way to pass the time

It’s so much harder to bail on a workout when you know your friend is waiting for you!

X is for Success

Find someway to track your workouts on a calendar.  This will give you quick representation of how diligent you are working out!  It is also is a gentle reminder when you’ve been a little lax.

Measure Fitness

Pick any measurement, it can be weight, inches, how your clothes fit, etc.  Use that to motivate you to continue to workout.  I can’t tell you how sad, yet motivating it was when I stepped back on that scale after nearly a two month hiatus from exercise.  I was so disappointed to see what I’d work so hard for had slipped away from me. I knew how hard I’d worked and just how much effort it was going to take to lose that weight again.  But it was the kick in the pants I needed.  I had no one to blame but myself, and I knew it.

Figure Out Your Issues

What causes you to stop being motivated to exercise? Find that and find a way to fix it and your weakness shouldn’t be an issue anymore.

Baby Steps

Don’t expect to run 10 miles your first day back after a long break.  You need to start small.  Every time you take a break from exercise, you reset your fitness and you have to start at zero…again.  This is why it’s so important to not break a fitness routine. As I sorely learned.

The scale can be your best friend…or worst enemy!

Don’t go for Superficial Reasons

If you go to look hot in a bikini what happens when you reach that goal? Or swimsuit season ends?  You need to work out for reasons beyond the short-term, although those are good too, as long as you have a solid long-term goal too.  How about, I want to feel strong or I feel healthiest when I’m working out consistently.

I hope this helps kiddos.  Feel free to add your own tips and tricks below!

Keep on (or start) Sweating!

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The Dangers of Stress

6 Dec

S-T-R-E-S-S. That little word sends shudders through most people.  Everyone knows the feeling, your heart starts racing, you start sweating through that meticulously ironed shirt of yours, you feel like you just might faint…

Stress can result from lots of different things. Work, your weight, your love life, friendships, money, and the list goes on and on.  Stress has a bigger impact on your life than all the other things you do to stay healthy!  With the holiday season in full swing I thought it appropriate to remind everyone why they should take a moment to relax during the stressful holiday season (kind of an oxymoron don’t you think? A stressful holiday…anyways…)  Even if you exercise a ton, get lots of sleep and eat your fruits and veggies you can still die at an early age if you live under a constant cloud of stress. Why you ask? I’m so glad you did! Read on for a run down on just what stress does to your body…

Within moments of feeling stressed, your body begins the protocols of “fight or flight”. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.  In the days of the cavemen, when we were faced with a foe, our bodies automatically begin to prepare to either fight the beast or run like hell.  It saved us from life-threatening situations.  Now those work deadlines are interpreted in the same way and our bodies prepares for battle.  First, your body triggers a release of cortisol, which also happens to be a hormone that is tied to weight gain.  Your body will also release a surge of adrenaline into the bloodstream which pumps up our muscles and allows us to run longer and faster. Think of hulking out in a less green and brutish fashion.  When your stress response is in full gear your senses become heightened, you can focus and think more clearly, and be prepared to react to whatever comes your way.

Now your flight or fight response is great when there’s a crazy person or a bear chasing you, however your body cannot distinguish between physical threats and psychological threats, so when that deadline is causing you to flip out, your body responds the same way it would if you just saw a hungry mountain lion pouncing on the attack.

If you are stressed out or have a lot of responsibilities for most of your life, your “flight or fight” response is also on during that time, forcing your body to behave like the world is about to blow up and that’s when it get bad for your health.  The more frequently your body’s response is turned on, the harder it becomes to turn it off.   Chronic stress disrupts practically every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process.  Prolonged periods of stress can put you in an early grave.  Some studies show that long periods of stress can even rewire the brain, which leaves you always on high alert and can cause lots of anxiety and even depression.

So what CAN you do to prevent stress or alleviate it once it’s happened?  Firstly, you need to recognize the symptoms of stress which sometimes can be very subtle.

Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms
Cognitive Symptoms Emotional Symptoms
  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying
  • Moodiness
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Agitation, inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sense of loneliness and isolation
  • Depression or general unhappiness
Physical Symptoms Behavioral Symptoms
  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds
  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

(chart borrowed from here)

Obviously, all of these symptoms could have a medical or psychological reason behind them, but it is also likely that it is stress that are causing these problems.  So how do you de-stress you life?

Learn how to RELAX!  When your boss starts yelling at you about a deadline or the last of that “must have toy” of the Christmas season in the hour radius from your house you wanted for your tike just landed in the cart of that au pair in front of you, don’t panic.  Take 10 slow deep breaths and ask yourself “is my life going to end if I don’t xyz”.  More than likely the answer will be no.  Take stock of that and then create a game plan.

To tamp down on stress before it even hits take up something that you find relaxing and try to do it for at least 30 minutes everyday.  For me it’s to make sure I exercise at least every day and I try to write my thoughts in a journal daily. It keeps me sane and grounded. Some other ideas are meditation, yoga, cooking, or anything that YOU find relaxing.  There’s no one pill for everyone solution here.

Stress, unfortunately, has become fairly commonplace in our everyday lives today.  So you need to learn how to manage it when it occurs. What do you find works? Is it deep breaths, going for a walk around your office or the block, giving your dog (or cat a hung), or simply talking to a friend?  Find what works for you (or a combination of things) and then do that.  The key here is to manage your stress before it manages you.  You’re too young to be shopping for headstones right….RIGHT?!?!

Here’s a little comic I found that I thought was what you DON’T want to turn into!!!

Keep Sweating!

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