Fitness & Nutrition Tips

Ask a Coach Q & A: How Do I Start an Exercise Program & Stick with It?

Starting a New Exercise Program

Question: How do I start an exercise program & stick with it?

Answer: By Camille Priour, Fitness Intern

Solidify your goals

A blank slate can be both exciting and intimidating. Take a deep breath and acknowledge where you are right now and then decide where you want to go. Thoughtful time and energy can be a life-giving investment when you begin with the end in mind, considering honestly what moves you. On a core level, humans move in order to satisfy a need and explore the world. Identify the carrot dangling ahead of you and reach for it!

Plan ahead

Mentally prepare for what you are going to ask your body to do. Visualizing the path ahead prevents the mind from getting stuck when the body fatigues. Actualizing this plan will depend on realistic scheduling and commitment. Finding a coach, mentor, or trainer that aligns with your values and goals can facilitate the planning process as well.

Find accountability

Recruit a buddy or sign up for class in advance. Do something that connects your workout to your life and holds a firm place for that precious time dedicated to your program.

Raise the stakes

In the technology-filled world we live in, movement is often minimized and fitness becomes a luxury rather than a priority. But why else would we have a brain in our skull if it didn’t command our body to move?1 Internally, our lives depend on efficient movement through digestion, circulation, and detoxification. Externally, the only way we can actualize our ideas and intentions and impact the world around us is through movement, from completing a physical task to communication.

In other words, move like your life depends on it, because it does! Living the highest possible quality of life is at stake (while enjoying the perks of looking cute in those Lulus!). The sooner you can improve your movement and fitness, the better. You’ll feel so on top of the game if you don’t put it off until tomorrow.

Don’t be afraid to change it up

Consistency is an important component of progress, but humans are not machines with constant input-output returns. We plateau. We get bored. When this happens, we might need to refresh our palate with something new. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you hiccup in your plan a bit, because a little deviation can actually boost motivation.

Check out the graph below representing the brain as the body experiences something novel compared to the brai n as the body is experiencing something familiar. The brain’s reward system kicks into gear in anticipation of a new reward, giving us motivation to explore.2

brain-activity

So be intuitive when you get stuck. Self-exploration is completely valid, and trying something new can be beneficial. Keeping your workout fresh might just keep you sharp and ready to expand to your next edge!

Enjoy it!

How often do we trick our brains into thinking we are doing forced labor instead of exploring our limits voluntarily? As an adult, you are a free agent with the opportunity to create your own fitness journey, check points, and destinations. Embrace the sensations of freedom you can find within your workouts. Find an activity you enjoy doing, keep your eye on the prize, plan for the work, and indulge in the process.

Live it!

Last but not least, an ideal fitness program should begin to mold into an ongoing lifestyle. All this inspiration and willpower will only get you so far. Tangible results come through overcoming obstacles that come up in daily life, and persevering. As the saying goes, “If you want it you will find a way, if not you will find an excuse.”

So get out there! In the words of Mary Oliver:

“Tell me,
what is it you plan to do
with your one
wild and precious life?”

Sources:
1. Ted Talk- Wolpert, Daniel. “The Real Reason for Brains”. July 2011 http://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_wolpert_the_real_reason_for_brains?language=en
2. https://blog.bufferapp.com/novelty-and-the-brain-how-to-learn-more-and-improve-your-memory


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Fitness & Nutrition Tips

Recovering from Deconditioning Syndrome

Buddha_SF

By: Dr. Lonna Denny, DC

Deconditioning syndrome is a term used to describe the series of physical and emotional events following an injury or psychological trauma that causes you to stop exercising. I think at one time or another every athlete has experienced this cascade of events. You get an injury which leads to time that you have to rest, repair, and recover. This period of time may be a couple of weeks at minimum or last a year plus. During this time you are unable to do your regular workout and you’re also dealing with the pain and the loss of mobility this injury has caused. You gain weight, lose muscle tone, and possibly even feel depressed.

A few years ago I tore my ACL in a sparring competition and had to have it repaired. The subsequent surgery left my body weak and stressed out. It was amazing how after years of being an athlete and in great shape, deconditioning syndrome set in.  I was losing muscle I had worked hard to build and the white noise of pain was constantly in the background of my mind. Being in constant discomfort after surgery caused my personality to change, and not for the better. Most people are aware that stress in the mind causes ailments in the body. Less recognized is that physical pain sets a constant background of stress for the mind. It is a vicious feedback loop. That first three months after surgery was one of the most mentally challenging times I have experienced. It taught me compassion for my patients experiencing deconditioning syndrome and those that have been dealing with chronic pain for years.  Over time we have developed a strategy for helping patients get out of this syndrome. Here are a few steps:

  • Get off the pain meds as soon as you can. The most commonly prescribed Vicodin and other opiate based prescriptions will make you constipated, lethargic, and are highly addictive.
  • Make an exercise plan based around your injury. For example one of my patients was having bunion surgery which would leave her unable to walk for weeks. We made a plan for core workouts and arm workouts she could do non-weight bearing.
  • Accelerate your healing process and decrease your pain levels with chiropractic care and acupuncture. After my knee surgery, my back hurt from limping around in a cast and all of that bed rest. My chiropractor restored mobility to my back and hips through adjusting the spine. He also used a cold laser on my knee which literally over night reduced the bruising and inflammation from surgery. A few weeks later I saw an acupuncturist whose treatment reduced the tension and pressure in the knee. These two healers got me back on my feet and decreased the pain so I could get back to my life. Worth every penny.
  • Lastly, be aware that you are going to deal with deconditioning syndrome on some level after a serious injury or trauma. Make a plan, get help, and most of all, be patient with yourself. This is a transitory state, but how long you stay there is up to you.

Injury isn’t ever ideal or expected, but it can provide you with an opportunity to reflect and plan for how you’ll come back stronger. As with any stress, the right mindset can make a huge difference in the healing process and beyond.


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