Friday, January 17, 2014

Mental Fitness #3

The question on the last post was: Who is the most important person to you?

The answer to the question that I asked on the last post is whoever you are with at that moment. Most people may have said that YOU are the most important person, but that is not true.

The only time you are the most important person is when you are the only person present. Most of the time we are by ourselves anyway either in our head or literally -while running errands, working out, doing chores, working in the office, or driving- but if you are with another person, then that person should be your priority. 

I asked the question, because when we spend most of the time by ourselves then we should treat ourselves as if we are our best friend. That means that it's very important to give your friend what she/he needs. If it's working out, or eating cleaner foods, or working on a project you enjoy, then time should be carved out of the day to enjoy those things. 

Sometimes people get depressed from not achieving their workout or fitness goal and then frankly just give up, because there seems to be an endless amount of stuff to do for others, but never enough time for oneself. 

Your friendship with yourself is key. Spend time nourishing your body on foods that make it feel good. Feel the difference between the foods that hurt you psychologically or physically and those that make your body feel good inside. If however you feel like something that is not too nourishing, enjoy. Don't make yourself feel like you shouldn't have had it. That's crazy and sets yourself up for failure. 

If Zumba is a good fit to get some exercise in, don't try to make yourself do weight training. At the same time, don't buy a membership to a gym if you are not the type of person who truly sees her/himself using it. There are so many options now a days to get fit, that you shouldn't try to fit into a category. 

A few years back, I bought a kettlebell.  While it cost around $70.00, it's certainly cheaper than a membership or monthly dues somewhere, and it can be done inside the living room or in the garage and travels well. 

Next time I'll talk about expectation, a good subject for anyone who has them.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mental Fitness #2

Have you ever noticed the difference between driving to your house in your neighborhood and walking to your neighborhood to your house?

Last year I decided to learn how to skateboard. I started off with a 5 degree hill, then incrementally tackled more and more of the hill. Every time I would practice, I'd have to walk back up. After a while, I could skate down a few streets at a time, but then of course, I'd have to walk back up each street to do it all over again. It takes time.

When skateboarding and walking the same streets (or driving and walking),  a strange and noticeable phenomena occurs. The scenery doesn't look the same. While driving, the houses, the cars, the shrubs, and the people are all just there. Nothing special stands out. Nothing unusual, nothing interesting, the rather ordinary exists.

Skateboarding the streets is different than driving. With skateboarding, I notice the little rocks and fallen droppings from the trees, and people's mannerisms watering and mowing and doing different things in their garages.

Yet even more changes are noticed when walking. The colors in the trees are more noticeably yellow and green and orange. I see the veins in each leaf and I think about which gardens I like and don't like and why. Shiny and dusty, new and old cars in a variety of colors line the streets. Some times of the day there are few cars parked along the streets. I like skateboarding those times. Other days, there are too many cars parked that I forego skateboarding because of the danger. Sometimes there are more leaves on the ground after a windy night, some days more black dogs are being walked. 

Slowing down to notice what is really there and how those things feel on the inside is calming, quiet, and peaceful. It is a good, perhaps great feeling to be alive at those moments when all is slowed down. I am convinced that loving and appreciating deeper in life comes from slowing the pace.

Slowing down doesn't mean accomplishing less. As I have slowed down everything, and have rid life of the unnecessary things, duties, and obligations, I've made more room and time to enjoy the moment and accomplish so much more. 

To savour the moments of shopping, cooking, and containing foods or running on the treadmill becomes more enjoyable when I'm not wanting to move onto the next "thing." The time, wherever spent, is enjoyed more thoroughly and happily. 

I have found myself running on the treadmill for sometimes 15 minutes more when I'm not focused on what I'm going to do next. My happy meter inside my body clicks on sometimes during a run, something I wouldn't notice if I wasn't calm and peaceful. The same happens when I've eaten healthy foods. Being more present with what's going on right now brings more awareness to the feelings and thoughts, and perhaps gives more ammunition to becoming consistent in nutrition and exercise, because something is starting to feel good and I have more energy to put where it's needed. 

Here is my awareness question to you right now:

Who is the most important person to you?

Answer this question, remember this question, and remember the exact place and time. 

Next blog I will talk more about the question and getting into the place you don't want to go but need to go.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mental Strength

If you want muscles, strength, and endurance you must workout. You must work the muscles frequently and for a set period of time if you want the body to take shape. You may not be able to see the muscle or fitness if it's overshadowed by too much fat, but the muscle will grow and will be seen once the fat is lost. Even if you cannot see your efforts, you can breath, climb, and move easier than when you don't workout at all. Depending on how hard you workout and how long you workout your body can achieve amazing results. Those results may be long lasting or short lived, and will be determined by your mental state of mind. 

Mental Strength is not developed in the same way as physical strength.

Running yourself ragged into the ground with a million errands, chores, and the endless shitload of responsibilities for family, friends, and colleagues makes the body fatigued. If the body is tired it will not have enough energy to endure consistency or focus. It will also be too exhausted to make good nutritional choices. 

At this pace, a person may last a short period of time being able to achieve all these tasks and still be able to eat well and workout regularly, but it will end in one way or another. 
Either the body will continue on this road and develop some obsessive compulsive traits, a short temper, or other mental deficiency, or the body will shut down and stop all this crazy making activity. You may end up feeling sabotaged by your efforts achieving only failure -perhaps once more. 

Many will think that the failure came from not knowing which exercises to do, how long to exercise, or what to eat or perhaps a complete loss on how to achieve any of this at all. Most will seek external confirmation by going to a weight loss clinic of some sort,  or seek advise from a friend who said the results came by way of what you already knew and did, but somehow everything got confused in your mind, and that confusion ended up in frustration or depression and failure. 

Realize that the body is not designed to take that much stress if you don't know how to manage it all. People who are able to take on a vast amount of work and be accomplished are not made overnight. They have been trained well over time from when they were a child or they eventually got the magic key later on in life of how to do it all, but have been well practiced, that it seemed to everybody else, that it came naturally. 

Mental strength is gathered from the calm, the quiet, and the peace purposely carved out of each day. If the day is full of running around and being bothered by one person or another, there has to be a purposeful attempt to shut it all down, so that you may gather the strength you need to endure the demands a sound nutrition and exercise program will require. 

...This topic is loaded with so much to say that I will continue on another day.

"When all else fails, do nothing"


Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014: A New Year Resolution

I am not a New Year's type of gal when it comes to resolutions. I think making resolutions is a waste of time, energy, and emotion. Instead, each day is better spent making peace with your body, your mind, your family and friends. I will make a plethora of comments about these concepts on future postings.

New Year's resolutions make people hopeful. People get excited about the prospects of losing fat, shopping for new clothes, being seen by others, and feeling good about change.

It is a wonderful feeling for all those who have been there, but a terrible disappointment when the goal is not realized or it's realized but then the fat returns.

It is a vicious cycle, one that unfortunately is accompanied by depression for some. This is understandable. I believe, however, there is a solution that will not end in depression. The goal must not be about trying make yourself eat the right things, or exercise the right length of time, or believing that your will power has anything to do with true weight loss. I think that anybody who has tried to lose weight by sheer will power has already proven that he/she has the stamina to stick to something. Falling short of will power for the long term shouldn't be the measure of whether you have it in you to succeed. 

I have spent the last few years blogging about being very strict with my food intake, exercising a certain length of time, all to achieve a very specific goal. While I have been successful in these endeavors, I am  not suggesting that my way is the only way or that there weren't other mechanisms in place that I was relying on to get me there. I touched upon mental toughness at various times in my blogging history, but there is a lot that goes into being mentally tough. That aspect is what I want to focus on now.

I will continue blogging about fitness, but I will give more emphasis on mental fitness, mental health, and mental stamina, than to eating a certain amount of calories, sticking with certain types of foods or doing specific exercises. 

The shift from weight loss via the physical aspects to weight loss via mindfullness is profound, and one that I hope will help you achieve your goal in more than just weight loss.