There are only two ways to live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein
We all know the benefits of exercise. If you’ve read any of my articles on adopting an achievable exercise program that works, you already know it now trumps food as the #1 way to increase longevity, lose or maintain weight and combat disease.
We have watched stress wreck havoc on three women, Janene, Kim and Lisa. We have heard the stress in their lives is actually causing their well-intentioned exercise programs to backfire. (Stress Part 1, Stress Part 2, Stress Part 3) Maybe, just maybe, you see yourself or parts of you in one or all of them.
Exercise is good. Really good for these three women and good for you. 30 minutes a day is the recipe for success for all of us. Yet, be mindful of the type and intensity of your preferred method and take stock of your stress. You can scale back to mobility or a Flow for a few days before you jump back into high intensity work.
In our over-stressed, “always-doing” society, we turn the benefits of exercise into a double edged sword. Intense cardio or high intensity training-only can force your body into a state of being over-stressed and unable to function normally, repairing itself as it is intended.
One sure way to know if your cortisol levels are too high too long is to get them checked by a medical doctor who will do a salivary cortisol test, not a regular lab test. Also, is your energy level very low in the morning and seems to increase around bedtime? It’s probably off kilter.
Below I’m offering a solution. It’s never too late.
- Learn how to breathe.
We breathe 16 breaths per minute. This means we breathe about 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, 8,409,600 a year. If we cut this short with neck or chest breathing, holding our breath and unconsciously robbing out body of essential oxygen producing breaths, repair and recovery is nearly impossible. Breathing is believed to be the top rehabilitation program.
- Take regular planned breaks from intense training. Give your body the break it needs for recovery, muscle building and fat burning. “Rest” is not a bad word. It’s when you burn FAT!
- Stop multi-tasking. Our brains are not computers. They operate best with one activity and thought at a time.
- Get sufficient and quality sleep turning your bedtime into your most important appointment of the day. When we sleep, we burn fat and build muscle. That should be enough reason! 😉
- Learn to meditate. There a several great apps out there to use. HeartMath is one of my favorites. Meditation has been proven to reduce the level of stress hormones and makes you more focused. Better yet, check out “compassion meditation”.
- Consume your calories from non-processed sources. Sugar can exacerbate any stressed-out system.
- Take a digital vacation. Not only the blue light kills your sleep pattern; our devices do a number on our shoulders, necks, elbows and hands.
- Embrace silence. It increases your brain’s capacity.
- Ditch negative self-talk. It takes 20 positive thoughts to erase a negative one!
- Practice gratefulness and discover joy. Studies show it works!
- Get a pet. Pet owners have less stress than others.
- Learn how to practice mobility and flexibility drills to compliment your workouts. If you are a runner, open up those hips. If you are a mountain climber, get those shoulder in tip top shape.
As with anything, the all or nothing approach never works. Start today with one or two of the and embrace them as part of the new YOU.