Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's all in your head...

Attitude, ah yes, the hardest of them all.  Some things money can’t buy.  Although he gets a bad rap as being a bit on the "round side" in statutes and paintings, the actual Buddha cared quite a bit about health and the mind body connection.  Buddha once,  said  “To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him”.   One of the greatest  struggles or differentiators between those who successfully make a change, does not go to the person more physically equipped to think so, but the one who *thinks they can*.  You have to believe in yourself!

One of my favorite motivational poems is by CW Longenecker.  When I began my career at Cisco Sales I hung it on my desk, and recited it (consciously or subconsciously) every morning before I started my day. I hit 130% of goal my first year, so I guess it worked!   I carry it in my mind and heart in every endeavor I undertake, and I hope you will do the same.  It goes like this:

If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you like to win, but you think you can't,
It is almost certain you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you're lost,
For out in the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow's will.
It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are,
You've got to think high to rise,
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man.
But soon or late the man who wins,
Is the man who thinks he can.

When people come to my Zumba classes, before we start, and when we end, I say- you DID it- the hardest part is believing in yourself, the second hardest part is taking action and showing up.  We are busy, some with work; some with children, pets, friends, chores, and the list goes on.  This brings me to my favorite analogy…"The Airplane Emergency". They say “In the event of an emergency, oxygen masks will fall down, put it on yourself before you help anyone else”.  Did you hear what I said?  The first thing you can do, before you help anyone else is to help you.  This is not *just* for emergencies and this is not (and I repeat NOT) selfish! To be a better mother/father, husband/wife, employee, citizen (etc) you need to help yourself, to take care of yourself, to love yourself.  You are good enough, you are valuable enough, and you deserve it.  You will set a good example for those around you, and you will be all the better for it, personally and for those you love- this is a mutually beneficial advantage!

Before you think of another excuse, or something else comes up (as life so often happens) you need to dedicate a specific period of time (schedule it in your planner/calender if you have to), prioritize a half an hour minimum a day dedicated to take care of yourself.  Do not wait until it is too late.  If you are alive, it is not too late.  “Every day is another chance to turn it all around”.

So if you still need convincing, I am happy to oblige.
Exercises has numerous benefits, but let’s go with lucky number 7 for starters:

  1. The most obvious benefit is exercise controls weight- it can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss, or burn extra calories to lose weight. Any way you slice or dice it, it is necessary and rewarding.
  2. Helps combats health conditions and diseases-Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.  Are you taking unwanted medication?  Do you want to run and play with your kids or grand kids?  Do you want to be around to see them grow?  We cannot unfortunately control all diseases ( I know this because I can’t control the heart condition I was born with).  But, by goodness there are some things we can control- and why shouldn't we?  It is our body, it is our lives.  Empower yourself today, and take control of your health- Get fit, Get Healthy, Get Happy!
  3. Improves mood- Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or even something as short as a brisk 30-minute walk can help! Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals (ex. endorphins) that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem, ala chicken and the egg! In other words, it doesn't matter which comes first, they  feed off each other and either way,  you win in the end!
  4. Boosts energy-Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores.
  5. Promotes better sleep- Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep.  Trust me, I am an insomniac by nature.  But, after a good work out even I feel tired at night and am able to get a good night’s sleep.
  6. Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life- Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. But there's more to it than that. Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women- true story (c/o research by Mayo Research Clinic)!  And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don't exercise.  Gives a whole new meaning to SCORE for the sexes, now doesn't it?
  7. Can be fun! Exercise and physical activity can be a fun way to spend some time. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. So, take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. If you get bored, try something new. (Refer to my blog  "Dear work out, let’s break up… it’s not me, it’s you…" for some new and exciting ideas).

The bottom line is- exercise, physical activity and good nutrition are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. My results- I have lost over 35 lbs, I am a certified Zumba Instructor, working on other certifications and have aspirations of becoming a nutrition coach.  Am I an expert? No, not at all.  I was just like you, trying to get results, trying to figure it all out one day at a time.  Rome was not built in a day, the weight does not come on in a week, and it is absurd to think it can come off in a week.  I personally will still need open heart surgery one day, diet and exercise unfortunately cannot cure this particular ailment.   It can however make me healthier, happier, and stronger.  It can prolong the immediate need for surgery, and it reminds me each and every day to not wait till tomorrow.  Randy Pausch said in his book the Last Lecture, “time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think”.  Start today, live for today, love yourself today... your life will be better for it, you will be better for it, I promise you.

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