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Are You Sabotaging Your Plan to Exercise More?

Are You Sabotaging Your Plan to Exercise More?

    You know exercise is good for you, right? But regular exercise is like pushing water uphill. You do it for a couple of days – and then try and forget about it, because it’s just too hard. Sounds familiar?

    People who exercise regularly swear by it. They enjoy it. They can’t stop talking about it. But how did they manage to build a habit that sticks? Wouldn’t you like to know a painless and easy way of getting into the exercise habit? Read on to find out.

    The reason we often fail when trying to implement a regular exercise routine is because we work against our instincts, instead of with them. What we are trying to do when we establish an exercise routine is do reverse a trend.

    Imagine that you are a train driver driving at high speed. How are you going to do that? Are you going to simply crash your gear into reverse? If you did, the train would derail, passengers would get hurt or killed, and you would end up with a catastrophe.

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    There is a better way.

    You could gently apply the brakes until the train is at a standstill, and then slowly start reversing the direction. Easy!

    The example is very clear, isn’t it? And yet we do the opposite when trying to start exercising. We try and run for a mile, or go to the gym for an hour, or play a game of tennis – and then wonder why we feel so stiff and sore next day. Then we try it again, but the body hates it – and then we stop. Again.

    As In her book “This year I will…”, Andy Ryan, an expert in collaborative thinking, spells out why such a gung-ho approach doesn’t work:

    Whenever we initiate change, even a positive one, we activate fear in our emotional brain….If the fear is big enough, the fight-or-flight response will go off and we’ll run from what we’re trying to do.

    We need a different approach. We need an approach that eases the body into exercise so gradually, so that we don’t trigger the flight response.

    How do we create change so gently that we don’t take fright?

    There is a very interesting Japanese philosophy called Kaizen which can help us do that. Kaizen  focuses on continuous but small change.

    Andy Ryan explains:

    The small steps in Kaizen don’t set off fight or flight, but rather keep us in the thinking brain, where we have access to our creativity and playfulness.

    Let’s take a look at how that could be applied to physical exercise. I’ll take running as an example. Could you run for 15 seconds? Most people can. With the philosophy of Kaizen, you could say that if can run for 15 seconds, you can learn to run for a minute – and even for an hour. How?

    Follow this simple running plan. Add 15 seconds each day.

    Day 1#  Run for 15 seconds
    Day 2#  Run for 30 seconds
    Day 3#  Run for 45 seconds
    And so on…

    It will seem ridiculously easy! Do this for a about forty days, and you’ll be running for 10 minutes. A month later, and you’ll be running for 20 minutes. By that time your running habit will be well established. But it will have happened naturally!

    You can apply the same principle to establishing any exercise. Whether it’s yoga, or swimming, or walking.

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    The important thing is keep to your plan. You may feel that you could easily do more than the prescribed amount of exercise, but please rein in your enthusiasm. Just do the requisite amount, and not more. This is the trick to establishing an exercise habit without stress or strain.

    Exercise really is a miracle pill. This is what it can do for you:

    1. Helps prevent or manage high blood pressure
    2. Lowers the build-up of plaque in the arteries
    3. Can help prevent type 2 diabetes
    4. Can help prevent osteoporosis
    5. Stimulates the immune response
    6. Can help prevent certain kinds of cancer
    7. Can help recover after illness.
    8. Builds muscle tissue
    9. Strengthens heart and lung function.
    10. Helps manage weight
    11. Promotes good sleep
    12. Helps revitalize sex life
    13. Improves mood
    14. Calms and centers the  mind
    15. Keeps the brain in shape

    You might want to stick this list on your fridge to remind you of the benefits of exercise.

    There are a some important guidelines for exercising. As a general rule, the intensity of exercise should not exceed certain limits. If monitoring heart rate use the simple equation – 200 minus your age (in years) to estimate the working heart rate you should remain under.

    If you don’t exercise, your fitness slips a little each day. The Keizan method of introducing exercise reverses that trend, little by little. Of course we want to feel the benefits of exercise all at once. However, we need to remember that the smaller the steps we take, the easier it is to establish an exercise habit. And that’s what this method is about: building a new exercise habit that sticks.

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    What’s your experience of exercising?

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    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

    18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

    The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

    1. Understand Yourself Better

    Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

    Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

    2. Keep Track of Small Changes

    I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

    Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

    3. Become Aware of What Matters

    As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

    You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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    4. Boost Creativity

    The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

    When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

    You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

    5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

    A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

    Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

    6. Process Life Experiences

    When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

    Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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    7. Stress Relief

    In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

    Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

    8. Provide Direction

    Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

    One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

    9. Solve Problems

    Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

    Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

    When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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    10. Find Relief From Fighting

    Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

    Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

    11. Find Meaning in Life

    Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

    12. Allow Yourself to Focus

    Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

    13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

    When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

    14. Let the Past Go

    I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

    15. Allow Freedom

    Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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    16. Enhance Your Career

    Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

    Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

    17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

    All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

    18. Catalog Your Life for Others

    No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

    We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

    Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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