Doing exercises you don’t like can negate your efforts

In my last post I talked about how important it is for you to believe you can achieve what you want for your body and health—for if you don’t believe it, you won’t achieve it! One of the biggest things most people stumble with once they are in good mental alignment (at peace with where they are, know what they want and why they want it, and have a strong belief they can have it) is the physical actions they believe they need to take in order to help bring about the changes they desire. Since we are physical beings we do need to take some physical actions to bring some things about. Or maybe the best way to think about this is the mental actions help the body move in the desired direction and the physical actions help speed things up—like hitting the fast forward button. However, since most people start with the physical actions and never tend to the mental side of things they tend to get the wrong idea about how much physical activities are needed for change since they are usually mentally working against themselves (because of negative programming).

The exercises you choose should be the next logical steps in your plan to achieve your desired goal but because most people haven’t spent much time investigating the mental side—this includes most trainers and fitness experts—we learn limited ideas about what to do. And when you choose to do something you believe you need to do but you don’t enjoy that activity you are potentially setting yourself up for failure. One of two things will usually happen. Either you do the activity and feel negative stress because you don’t enjoy that activity and possibly negate the positive effects of exercise since you will be putting stress (physical—exercise) on top of stress (emotional—doing something you don’t like) or you don’t do the activity (because you don’t like it) and feel guilty that you didn’t do it, which causes negative stress. Darned if you do, darned if you don’t! You may also feel that because you didn’t do your “magic” exercise you won’t get your results now. Now you are affecting the belief aspect of your goal achievement by believing you didn’t jump through the right hoops to earn the success you innately deserve.

Since doing an activity you don’t like may work against you it is important to tend to your beliefs surrounding the activities you think you need to do. What I suggest my clients do is to write a list of everything they think they need to do in order to get to their goal. This includes what type and how much resistance and cardiovascular training, what to eat and not eat, what to drink and not drink, how much to sleep, how much to visualize, etc. This list is your current action plan. Next to each action mark everything you enjoy doing (or would enjoy doing). Next, make a mark next to things you are neutral on. And lastly, make a mark next to everything you don’t like (or won’t like doing). You can put these in separate lists if you like.

With the list of things you don’t like doing, you want to go through each one of those and challenge them. You have two choices here: either eliminate them from your list or find a way to look at them in a positive light so you can at least be neutral about them but it is advisable to have a list of thing you enjoy. To eliminate an activity you can challenge this by asking yourself where you learned that this has to be done in order to get to your goal. It was more than likely taught to you by someone who never understood all the things that add up to success (mainly understanding the mental and emotional side of change). Ask yourself if where you learned the need to do this exercise was from someone who included all the mental aspects into their prescription of this activity to achieve the same results you are looking for. Another way to challenge this is to see if you can find evidence (online or personally) of someone else having achieved your same results without having to this activity. The goal is to be able to let go of this activity (remove it from your list) without feeling bad about it.

If you want to keep this activity then you need to become excited about it. One way to do this is to ask yourself what positive things you will get from doing this activity. Think about things outside of just the physical changes that relate to your initial goal. For example, if walking or running is something on your list you might see that being outside in nature is a huge plus. Or maybe you will improve your stamina and cardiovascular system. Maybe it is a great chance for you to spend time with a loved one (like on a long walk). Think of things this activity allows you to get to do. Another way to challenge this activity is to ask yourself what you think this activity is doing for you to help you get to your goal—like how many calories you think you will burn or what muscles you might develop or tighten up. Knowing this information might help you feel better about it but if you don’t then you want to take the results you think you will get and try to find other activities that you enjoy that would produce similar results. For example, dancing could burn the same amount of calories as running and even work the same muscles. Gardening can work your arms and core as well as burn a crazy amount of calories. One thing I try to remind my clients is that the gym was created to help us move in stressful movements that are similar to those our ancestors did when they had to fend for themselves but since we don’t depend on doing those same activities anymore to live we needed a way to replicate those same stresses. Point is, machines and traditional exercises aren’t much different than doing physical activities outside or even in house—like doing laundry (running up and down stairs with a basket of laundry and then having to fold that laundry).

Once you have eliminated, found inspiration for or replaced your actions then rewrite your list of actions. Your list of actions should inspire you. They should feel like the next logical step for you to get to your goals. I would also encourage you to do the same things for those activities you are neutral about. Even if the payoff for doing those activities are a sense of accomplishment, that could be enough to get excited about it. Also remember that when you are excited about where you are going and no longer dwelling in the past then the actions that you once disliked (because you were taking them to fix a problem) may become something you would enjoy now since they are no longer a conflict of programming. What you do should match your focus. Lastly, if you can get your emotional state surrounding your actions to match the emotional payoff of achieving this goal then those actions will pay greater dividends than anything else you do.

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If you don’t believe you can change your body, you won’t

The past few posts have covered things like tending to how you feel about yourself (with the intention of making peace with where you are so you can stop negative programming and signaling), knowing what it is you actually DO want and fixating on that as your main point of focus, and figuring out what the payoff is for you changing your body (so you are emotionally invested in your journey). If you feel good about where you are currently (at least no longer beating yourself up for where you are—being at peace), know where you want to go as an end result and why you want to go there, the next thing to consider is how much you believe you can actually achieve the results you want in the time frame you want.

I think most of us learn that there are limitations to how much we can accomplish based on previous experiences of others as well as our own. But what one must consider if they lack any believe of their ability to achieve their goals is that most people (including yourself) have more than likely only taken the physical journey to changing their body and health. And if you got anything from earlier posts about feeling negative and working out to change your body so you will feel better you should have gotten that the programming the body is receiving from the negative focus will battle the positive intent and programming of exercise. The question then becomes “how much physical activity will you have to do to make up for the negative programming caused by your negative focus and negative emotions?”

Most people think that it is the conditions they are experiencing that is responsible for how they feel and if they believe an overweight, aching or ill body is what makes them insecure, angry, discouraged, disappointed, frustrated or pessimistic then they will have to change outside circumstances to change how they feel. But we now know that the way you feel about your body is based on your interpretation of your body (not the body causing you to feel the way you do). So consider that those who have gone before you to change their body or health (or the last time you tried this yourself) that either had to do way more activities than you would like to get to the same goal or who failed at getting to the goal had something else working against them—their own focus and emotional state.

If you have any lack of belief about you getting to your goal by a date you set forth than you may want to ask yourself why you believe what you do—why do you lack belief? You can put it in sentence form like this: I lack belief (you can change the wording here to reflect your level of belief) about achieving my goal (you can be specific here) because….. (your reason). You might say something like “….because I’ve never been able to drop this much weight in this time frame before.” If your answer reflects something like this then you may want to consider the mental state you were in when you last attempted this transformation. If you said something like “….because it will take so much physical effort to change my body the way I want that it is discouraging (not to mention I don’t even like those activities)” you can apply the same logic. How much activity does one have to do to trump the negative programming from the wrong focus and negative emotional stress?

If the reason you lack belief is because you learned something about yourself, exercise, diet or what it takes to get where you want to go then you may want to ask yourself where you learned that information and whether or not that source had the understanding of how much our thoughts, stress, emotions and focus affect our body’s ability to change. If you think about where you have learned most of your information you will see that those “rules” were set with limited knowledge. In fact, 90% of what scientists currently know about the brain (and how it affects our programming and neuro-chemistry) has been discovered in the past 8 to 10 years. Chances are most non-scientists haven’t been updated on this current research and have an old model of what it takes to change one’s body and health. The more we learn about the brain (and the mind) and how it affects things like cellular function, chemical changes in the body, how our filters work, etc. we can start to fit that into our old model of change when it comes to our body and health. We can longer separate the human from the being. Your mind/brain and body are connected more than we ever thought and if you don’t believe it, you won’t achieve it! Your body will go where the mind leads!

In my next post I will discuss tending to the actions you think you need to do to get where you want to go. If you believe you need to do things you don’t like you will ultimately be setting yourself up for failure.

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What’s the payoff for you losing weight?

I’ve talked about how important it is to be at peace with where you are so you stop focusing on your current condition and can then give your undivided attention to where you are going. However, just knowing what the physical results are going to be is still very surface-oriented. There is no real skin in the game. Just like when you thought your current body condition was the cause for you feeling bad you thought having a new body would be the reason for you to feel good. In fact, everything we want in this physical world we want for the reason we think in having it we will feel better. Hopefully you now get that the outside world is not responsible for how you feel, it’s your choice to feel how you feel about anything (including your body), and that the work is as much an internal one as it is an external one—if not more. What helps to make this journey more meaningful is to truly understand what the payoff is for attaining your goals. What is the emotional payoff? Once you understand what this is you will have something that ignites and inspires you since you will be driven by a conscious emotional payoff—this helps you become truly invested. The great thing is once you know what this emotional payoff is you can put yourself in this emotional state before you get there and that will help speed up your results.

To understand WHY you want what you want (emotionally) ask yourself “what will having this (your goal) provide for me in my life that I don’t already have?” Let’s say you want to be a lean size 6 with flat abs. What will being a lean size 6 with flat abs provide for you in your life that you don’t have now? Your answer may be something like “confidence.” Take a moment to feel what that would feel like to have that confidence. Are you truly moved and inspired by that? Chances are it will feel good but you won’t be truly moved and inspired (moved and inspired should invoke a feeling like elation, chills or even be moved to tears—you’ll know it when you feel it).

Since I have yet to have anyone get to a truly moved and inspired place on their first answer I always ask this question again—using their last answer to reframe the question. In this case, what would having more confidence provide for you in your life that you don’t already have? Let’s say you will have a better relationship with your lover. Imagine that for a moment. Are you truly moved and inspired yet? You should feel more positive emotion but chances are you are not there yet. Ask this question again using your last answer. Even if you think you have your final answer, ask it again just to make sure. Continuing with the same example, what would having a better relationship provide for you in your life that you don’t have now? Let’s say your answer is “a deeper feeling of love.” Relish in that for a moment. Something like this might be the end for you. You might be brought to tears from the thought of something like this but just to make sure ask yourself this question again. What would a deeper feeling of love provide for you in your life that you don’t have now? You might answer “a feeling of pure unconditional love and connection with not only my partner but myself.”

Once you get to a place where you are truly moved and inspired (note: you may have to ask this up to ten times to get there—it is not an easy thing to do your first time) take a few moments to play with this emotion and all the general things that come with it (like various actions and other words to express the feeling and experience). Try to stay in this emotion by rambling on about this in your own mind for about minute to ninety seconds. Allow yourself to resonate with this emotion. This is your payoff. You want what you want because you want to experience this. This is really what you want. You are simply using your body and health as the carrot to get there. But you should now understand that in order to accomplish your goal you have to be this person first. You must be and feel the love and connection you want first. The more you can maintain this state the quicker your body will change. However, you should want to be in this state because it feels good to be in this state, not so you can just bring about the thing you want. The thing you want is the icing on the cake. It is the physical culmination of you being who you were really meant to be. Being who you truly are, which is love and connection, allows the things to change and come into your life with ease.

One way to help you practice being in this state is to think of moments in your life, past and present, where you experience or have experienced this state. It does not have to relate to your body. By finding moments where you felt this before—even if it was when you were six when you first learned to tie your shoe—you now have things to reflect on to put yourself in this state. Remember, this is what you want to experience. Focus on this state as often as possible. And as time goes, you can start to look for things in regard to your current body that allow you to feel this way. You can look for things in your current body that allow you to feel this love and connection (or whatever your payoff is). Let this be your driving force. I guarantee you that your actions, when done in the guise of this emotional payoff, will not only pay more dividends but you enjoy your actions much more. Taking action when you are inspired is effortless—the next logical step. Taking action to change your physical condition so you can feel better is a long, long road. You want what you want to feel better. You are an emotional being and everything you do is to incite a feeling. It is our nature to feel good. Get to the feeling place first and everything else takes care of itself.

Lastly, when you spend time thinking about what you want in regard to your body or even when you notice things that show you bits of success pay attention to how you feel. You should notice the essence of this feeling. If not, get into that feeling place first by focusing on something that allows you to move into that state and then think about what you want or look for current bits of success.

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Training your brain to speed up weight loss

In the past few posts I’ve talked about how important it is to change your focus from what you don’t want to what it is you do want from your body. So now that you have (hopefully) worked on making peace with where you are so you stop negative signals affecting your brain and neurochemistry and you have turned your focus to what it is you do want as an end result you now want to have something you can do on a daily basis to help you maintain a positive focus. Keeping a positive focus helps you reinforce the new neural patterns you’ve created in your brain (neuroplasticity) as well as keeping your chemical and energetic balance in a place that will allow success to happen at a faster pace.

One of the best things you can do to keep yourself in a positive focus is to continue looking for little bits evidence of success—kind of like baby steps (you may not be there now but that doesn’t mean you can’t see yourself on your way bit by bit). Now that you know what success should look like (your end goal) you should have a concept of what things will start to look like and feel like while you are on your way. Think of it like being on the road to a vacation destination—you should have an idea of what it is like to be where you are going (like going to a beach resort from a colder climate). As you are on the road you would be noticing things that are indicators that you are on your way. Like knowing which cities and states you will have to pass through and what the weather in each area might display. You might notice different vegetation or a different smell in the air. Point is, even though you are not at your final destination you are noticing the small things that tell you that you are on your way. Even when you are far away you can be looking forward rather than looking at where you started.

The same thing can be applied to your body now that you know where you are going. Continue looking for little things that show you that you are on your way. There are plenty of things that you can look at to see that you are still closer to where you don’t want to be than where you do want to be but what you notice is a choice. Looking at where you started would be like noticing you are only 50 miles out of Chicago when you are your way to Miami rather than seeing that you are 50 miles closer to Miami. When you start looking for evidence of success you will not only train your brain to continue looking for more of it but you will continue to put your brain and neurochemistry in a state that will help those successes come faster. Even if you only have 10% improvement, you could either continue looking at the remaining 90% and perpetuate that or teach yourself to see the 10% improvement and build on that. However, if you don’t teach yourself to look for anything different your brain’s filter (called your Reticular Activating System—RAS) will always seek out the thing you taught it to focus on, which is more than likely the things that you consider problems.

Think of looking for any evidence of success as a way to program your brain (including your RAS) and neurochemistry to behave the way you want it to. In a previous post I talked about how our actions often reflect our programming, which comes from our dominant focus. If you are focused on getting away from what you don’t want you will continue to be led to do things that match those images—focus on fat and the actions you will resonate with the most will be things that keep you fat. When you focus on being lean and healthy and find little bits of evidence of it you will be thinking in a way that matches activities—like exercise and eating well—that will help you get there faster. You are basically training yourself to think like a person who is already successful. Imagine what someone who is already at the place you want to be thinks about their body and how they feel to be in it. Those are the things you want to look for—even if it’s just a little more shape in your shoulders or a tighter calf muscle. Use the areas that already resemble what you want the rest of your body to look like as a resource to focus upon. Places like your forearms are typically leaner than most areas of your body. You may have other areas you already love. Spending some time admiring those lean areas will help you resonate with success. The more you resonate with success the more you are programming yourself for success.

Your brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised and fed the right things too!

 

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How to feel better about your body so you can change it

In my last post I talked about how hard it is to change a body you don’t like because of both the mental images you are programming into your mind and the negative chemical stresses your body is receiving from the negative emotions that accompany feeling bad about where you are. To help you stop those negative stresses (emotional and chemical) it helps to make peace with your current bodily condition. Here I will offer you some thought processes and questions you can apply to help make a shift in where you are so you can leave your current condition off your radar and give your undivided attention to where you actually want to go, not get away from. Doing so will dramatically change your chemical and mental blueprint and allow the changes you desire to happen much easier.

First, it helps to understand that where you are is just where you are—nothing more. The fact that you feel negative emotion toward your current body or health condition is because of your interpretation of where you are—this is your story. It’s not to say that you have to love where you are but consider a negative situation actually helps you to determine where you want to go—a new desire has been launched and that is a good thing. The reason you feel bad is because you have to have some concept of the other side of the problem. You can’t know that something is “bad” unless there is a preferred “good.” Just like you can’t know which way right is without knowing there is a left—or up without down. And it helps to acknowledge that you feel bad because this is an important subject for you.

The next step is to understand your story and change it. Consider there are three parts to your story—your subject (your body or health condition), the emotion you feel (anger, insecurity, frustration, etc.) and the thoughts you have causing the emotion. Yes, the thoughts cause your emotion. As I have talked about in previous posts, your thoughts are what are responsible for your emotions, not the subject itself. The person who cuts you off in traffic does not make you mad. They just cut you off. It’s your story of what happens that makes you feel anger. The same thing goes with your body. It is what it is. It’s what you make your body mean that has you feeling the way you do. It’s easier to change your meaning than it is to change your subject so you can feel better (remember, action when feeling bad doesn’t reward much productivity).

So now let’s figure out your story. Start with identifying your subject (let’s say it is a flabby stomach) and the way you feel about it (let’s say you feel disappointed). Now that you know how you feel about your subject ask yourself why you feel that way about your subject—what are you making your subject mean or say about you that it has you feeling this way? Using the examples provided, what are you making your flabby stomach mean or say about you that it has you feeling disappointed? You might say your flabby stomach means that you are unattractive. So the story here would look like this: I feel disappointed about my flabby stomach because it means I am unattractive. Now you want to ask yourself if this is a true statement. Is it 100% true? Can you prove it to be true? How would you prove it to be true? If you lined up 100 people would they all say this is a true statement?

One of two things will happen—it’s either true or not true. If, by some chance, you say that it IS true then you have a new subject and you want to continue this process again. So in this case it is not about the flabby stomach, it is about the “fact” you think you are unattractive. Check your emotion (let’s assume it is still disappointment) and ask yourself why you feel this way about your subject. What are you making the fact that you are unattractive mean or say about you that it has you feeling disappointment? Let’s say you think it means that you won’t be loved. Ask yourself if this is true. Again, ask if you can prove this to be true and how would you prove this to be true. If you can honestly say this is a 100% true statement then you continue doing this process until you can say “this statement is not true.”

Once you get to the point where you can say your statement is not true, regardless of how many times you have to ask yourself this question, you want to look take your last statement (the false one) and your original emotion and subject and rewrite your story so you can see the false story you have been projecting. Let’s say you said that it is not true that you won’t be loved. Your story would look like this: I feel disappointed about my flabby stomach because it means I won’t be loved. You know this isn’t true and you can now see how silly the story you have been believing and project is. The goal here is to call BS on your interpretation—to find some crack in your story. When you do that you can then do two things: understand that your story is just that (a story—and a false one at that), which should help you move forward since you wouldn’t believe someone else’s BS story, and then you can ask yourself why it ISN’T true.

I encourage my clients to come up with at least five reasons why this statement/story isn’t true. When you do that you are now moving yourself into a better emotional state since the reasons why this isn’t true will have more positive aspects to them. The more reasons you come up with the more information you are giving yourself to the contrary of your story and the longer you are resonating with a positive state. Once you do that, reflect back on how you feel about yourself along with why you now feel this way (acknowledging a new story). If you don’t feel a positive emotion like content or hope yet (you may feel better, but you may have some minor negative emotions left, like frustration or pessimism) then start the process over and continue this until you at least feel content about where you are. Getting to a place of hope or optimism is even better of course.

One thing that is helpful is to see that your false story has had a negative impact on your mind and body. You didn’t know you were doing this with something that wasn’t true so you really can’t beat yourself up for this but you should be able to see that it is no accident that you are where you are. By virtue of living this false story you have been conditioning your mind/brain and body to be where it is. Now that you can let your story go (because you recognize it as BS) you can start to turn your attention to where you want to go and feel OK about where you are starting from. Think of it this way: if you were to find out that by eating apples, which you thought were healthy for you, caused your body to react in a negatively chemical way that caused your body to hold on to fat you wouldn’t beat yourself up for eating those apples. You would recognize that you learned something that was holding you back unconsciously (you didn’t know better), remove the problem and then look forward. Having the understanding that your interpretation of where you are (the false interpretation) had so much to do with you being stuck should allow you to see you were doing something unconsciously to hold yourself back and now you can start fresh and look forward. Chalk it up to ignorance.

Lastly, if you can spend more time looking forward and looking for evidence of what you want than where you are then your brain will start to align you with actions and chemical changes that will support the vision of who you want to be in the future.

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Why it’s hard to change a body you don’t like

Most people who come into our studio to work out are usually coming in to change something they don’t like about their body. Something had to be a catalyst to justify them spending the time, effort and money on an exercise professional! In most cases it’s them having had enough of being out of shape. This is not a bad place to start but in an earlier post I talked about how important it was to set a proper goal and that trying to lose weight or fat wasn’t really a goal with a positive destination. I talked about how focusing on getting rid of the thing you don’t want will cause your brain to continue to look for it, thus even causing your unconscious actions to support your focus. However, if one feels upset about their current condition it may be pretty tough to keep their focus on the thing they do want (as opposed to the thing they want to get rid of) and sometimes, for those who feel real bad about where they are, can’t even get a glimpse of what they would want. The gap between where they are and where they could be is just too far. Even small goals may not on their radar.

On top of not being able to see where one wants to go the stress that comes along with the negative focus can cause some pretty negative chemical reactions in the body that can negate the positive effects an exercise program should induce. Consider that exercise is a stress that should cause your body to make the changes you desire as a solution to the problem that stressed caused—such as reduction in body fat, increase of muscle tissue, etc. (consider your brain is reacting to these stresses the same way our ancestor’s brain did when they were under attack or threatened in their environment—a leaner and stronger body is a better survival in these threatening conditions). This type of stress is what is considered a ‘eaustress’ (a good stress)—one that helps your body healthily adapt and change to outside conditions. However, if the body is already under a large form of stress, like emotional stress, the body’s threshold for stress can be dramatically lowered, thus making an activity like exercise or resistance training cause a ‘distressed’ environment (stress on top of stress compounds to become distress).

This distress can cause various chemical cascades to happen that work against the changes one would be looking for from exercise, like the release of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that causes your body to convert raw energy storage into blood sugar (not a great idea if you want to burn some fat) as well as diminishing the function of the immune system. It is released to help when momentary fight or flight situations arise but when the body is chronically stressed (like when you are consistently beating yourself up) the trigger to release this cascade is always running. There are also many other chemical reactions within the body that work against the reduction of body fat when we are over-stressed, like lowering your sensitivity to be satiated at a normal level of food (your body thinks it needs more fat, thus lowering your feeling of being full so you can eat more). This is all on top of the programming that happens in your subconscious when someone focuses on the thing they don’t want. It’s no wonder exercise and diet (when done alone) have such a high failure rate when it comes to long-term success. But then if we were never taught that are thoughts and emotions had an effect on our body then why would anyone do anything about it?

Most people learn that negative emotions are caused by outside things. Most of us learned this from our parents, teachers, siblings, and peers when growing up because most people needed us to behave in ways to make them feel better. We learned that we were responsible for their disappointment or anger and we were the ones who had to change in order to make them feel better. If we are responsible for their feelings then who and what is responsible for our feelings? Well, everything outside of us. So when someone feels negative emotion they often think they need to change what they are experiencing in order to feel better (they think their body is what is the reason for their negative emotion) but what our self-preservation part of us, the part that is triggering the negative feeling sensation that comes with the negative emotion, is trying to tell us is that your focus or point of view is deleterious to your success and progression of life, health and happiness. This is an inside job.

It’s helpful to understand that when you are emotionally stressed you feel bad for a good reason—negative emotions are supposed to feel bad to get your attention so you do something about it just like stepping on a tack feels bad to get you to lift your foot. This negative feeling that comes along with the emotion is an indicator that your body is experiencing something (chemically, energetically, neurologically, etc.) that is not helping it thrive. It would be like eating food that caused you to be bloated or have an upset stomach. Those are indications that your body is not doing well with the intake of those nutrients and quite possibly putting yourself in harm’s way. So when you think thoughts are negative it could be the same thing as eating foods that cause you to feel run down, bloated or have an upset stomach. All in all, you feel bad because you are thinking thoughts that are working against your progression, survival and your health and well-being. It’s your thoughts causing you to feel bad, not the subject. And your thoughts are very well what may keep your body and health right where it is, not your actions (or lack thereof).

In my next post I will offer some useful ways to challenge your thinking in order to make a shift in your perspective—one that should allow you to accept where you are and give your undivided attention to what you really want; toward what your current life situation has helped you to determine would be an evolvement or growth from where you are. But for now, try to consider that your feelings come from thoughts you either borrowed from someone else or you conjured on your own but are thoughts that are untrue. You feel bad because you are thinking thoughts that are working against you. Challenge the nature of those thoughts before you challenge your body. Exercise should be the expression of how you feel about your body and health, or at least the direction of your body and health, not the thing to fix the problem of feeling bad about yourself.

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How to figure out what foods work best for you

(Original article written by Lewis Balentine for our free report entitled “The Ten Factors Critical to a Truly Individualized Program”)

In the post I talked about how each individual has a different chemical make-up, thus different nutritional needs. The good news is that your body is always communicating with you to help you figure out yours. It is always telling you what it needs and when it needs is. You just have to learn how to interpret the feedback your body is giving you. On the most basic level, the purpose of eating is to give the cellular body the nourishment it needs to function. This cellular function has ramifications throughout the rest of the body as described above. Therefore you should be able to “track” the quality of your meals by paying attention to how you feel one or two hours after eating. Ask yourself, “What is my appetite now? Do I have any cravings? How is my energy level? Do I feel mental sharpness?” This is how your body “talks” to you. This is the language that tells you exactly what you need. Any “bad reactions” could be the result of non-supportive foods.

Start with simple and uncomplicated meals. Try to minimize the variables and see how your food is affecting you. Be sure to incorporate protein, fat, and carbohydrates at each meal. Carbohydrates should be of the complex variety (vegetables, leafy greens, and fresh fruit) rather than simple (most breads and pastas). Play with your proportions of macronutrients (protein, fat/oils, and carbohydrates). Track the effects your meals are having using the chart below. If you experience any bad reactions, change one item at a time until you feel better after the meal. Then you can alter proportions of macronutrients to further refine your meals. With time you should begin to gain a notion of what your body is asking for and how much it needs.

Know that what we do to evaluate a person’s metabolic type is very involved and helps speed up the narrowing down process. Without knowing your specific biochemical situation, this advice is simply just a place to start.

 

Good reactions 

Bad reactions 

 

Appetite

Satiety

Cravings 

 

Feel full, satisfied 

 

Feel physically full but hungry 

 

Do NOT have sweet cravings 

 

Have a desire for something sweet 

 

Do NOT desire more food 

 

Not satisfied, feel something was missing 

 

Do NOT feel hungry 

 

Already hungry 

 

Do NOT need a snack 

 

Feel the need for a snack 

 

Energy Levels 

 

Energy feels renewed 

 

Meal gave too much or too little energy 

 

Have good, lasting, “normal” sense of energy

 

Became hyper, jittery, or speedy 

   

Felt hyper, but exhausted underneath 

 

Energy tanked, exhausted, sleepy 

 

Mind

Emotions

Well-being 

 

Improved well-being 

 

Mentally slow, sluggish or “spacey” 

 

Sense of feeling refueld, renewed, restored

 

Inability to think quickly or orderly 

 

Some emotional upliftment 

 

Hyper, overly rapid thoughts 

 

Improved mental clarity and sharpness 

 

Inability to focus or concentrate 

 

Normalization of thought process 

 

Apathy, depression, withdrawal or sadness

   

Anxious, obsessive, fearful, angry, or irritable 

 

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Why there is no one perfect diet for everyone

(Original article written by Lewis Balentine for our free report entitled “The Ten Factors Critical to a Truly Individualized Program”)

At our studio we educate our clients about how the fuel they put in their body is a major factor in achieving their goal, be it fat reductions, sports performance, or overall health. We also educate our clients about how important it is to realize that what they need to eat depends on who they are as it is becoming increasingly apparent that people respond differently to the same foods—that is, one person’s nourishment may be another person’s poison. It is our intention with this post to advocate the absolute necessity of customizing nutritional and dietary recommendations to each person’s unique needs in any approach to achieving ideal health.

Health is far more than the absence of disease; it is a state of optimum energy and vibrant well-being in a body that is functioning in biochemical balance and maximum metabolic efficiency. Most importantly, good health is a natural sate of life. True health can only be realized by meeting each person’s unique and highly individualized physical and nutritional needs.

    “Without health, life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering—an image of death”

                                    Buddha

We live in a time of great prosperity and medical advancement. However, in the last seventy-five years rates of cancer, COPD, diabetes, and arthritis in industrialized nations have skyrocketed. The World Health Organization estimates that the rate of cancer worldwide will increase by 50 percent by the year 2020. As impressive as the arsenal of modern medicine is, as amazing as the efforts of crisis medical research continue to be, modern medicine is only successful in resolving less than 20 percent of the ailments that afflict mankind. Answers for disease of degeneration continue to elude many of the brightest among us.

Living with optimal health means your body is in a state of regeneration and renewal on a continuing basis. The developments of disease are the results of the life-sustaining processes of regeneration falling into life-debilitating processes of degeneration. They are a symptom of the body’s floundering metabolic activities and its inability to foster regeneration.

To begin to understand how to live a life of health, we must first be clear on the definitions of health and disease. Disease is the result of biochemical and metabolic inefficiency and imbalance. Health is therefore a state of biochemical and metabolic efficiency and balance on all levels: cellular, organ/glandular, and systemic. According to the methodology of metabolic typing, an important factor for determining the presence of health or disease involves the body’s capacity for creation, maintenance, and control of energy as well as its capacity for adaptation through it Fundamental Homeostatic Control Systems.

Much of what determines one’s health occurs inside your cells. It is estimated that we are made up of more than one hundred trillion cells. The logistical challenges of maintaining and accommodating the needs of the one hundred trillion cells that make up your body can seem daunting. However, the fact is that in order to be truly healthy your cellular metabolism must function normally. One of the keys to this challenge is a cell’s ability to efficiently produce energy. When optimal energy production is present, the cells have the capacity to fulfill their many functions like regeneration, detoxification, and their unique genetically programmed roles.

This means there is a domino effect: The cells are able to fulfill their functions, which means the organs they comprise are able to efficiently fulfill their functions. If the organs are able to fulfill their functions, then the systems they comprise are able to efficiently fulfill their functions. So the strength of any system (say, the immune system) is dependent upon the strength and efficiency of the organs that comprise it. The organs of the immune system depend on the strength and efficiency of the cells that make up each organ. The strength and efficiency of the cells are largely dependent on the quantity and quality of energy they can produce, which depends on their cellular nutritional status.

Every aspect of our lives, whether it is speaking, thinking, walking, smiling, digestion, or immune function, requires energy. When we are able to create, maintain, and control energy efficiently, good health is the natural result. It is normal and natural to be healthy. It is built into our genes. Our cells know what to do and how to go about doing it in order to be healthy. Our job is to make sure that they have the nutrients to function with optimal efficiency. Without the proper nutritional balance, our bodies are not able to manufacture the energy that is needed for the life-sustaining processes of metabolism. Understanding this, it is easy to see the vital role nutrition plays in not only weight loss but in total health.

So the question becomes, “What constitutes a proper nutritional balance?” Unfortunately with billions of dollars spent on “health research,” the belief that we should eat regularly and eat well balanced meals is the prevailing recommendation. We must ask the question “What is a well-balanced meal?” It is here that things become most confusing. Modern medicine has little to offer in answer to this question. Considering that medical research and education is centered on treating disease rather than building and supporting health, it should come as no surprise that we are left to find the answers ourselves. We ask our friends, read countless books, watch infomercials, and subscribe to health and fitness magazines, only to put the information into practice and usually be disappointed. It becomes amazingly clear that what works for one person many have little or no effect on another and may make yet another feel worse.

According to Dr. Roger Williams, the discoverer of the B vitamin pantothenic acid and one of the most influential nutritional researchers of the last hundred years, the reason for this is due to biochemical individuality. On a biochemical level, we are as unique from one another as we are with our fingerprints. Dr. Williams’ concept of biochemical individuality has become part of many clinical and experimental medical nutritional researches. Advances in understanding the interactions of the Autonomic Nervous System, endocrine system, and oxidative systems further underscore the need for individual nutritional guidelines.

The current system of Metabolic Typing draws on the works of past researchers and pieces together the separate parts into a cohesive whole. With more than thirty years of work, the evolutionary process of weeding out and synthesizing information on nutrition and biochemical individuality has evolved into a framework for understanding what each person needs to obtain and maintain true lasting health. It demonstrates that the researchers were all correct but only when they were viewed as a piece of a larger puzzle. The search for the one thing that will make a difference in a persona’s situation is the biggest mistake. Rather, we should be searching for the correct combination of elements, based upon sound scientific research, that will balance and support the body’s natural ability to create and maintain energy from the cellular level up in order to maximize health.

In the next post I will share a small sample of the questions you can ask on your own to help you start to determine how your own body works.

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What to do about muscle tightness

In my last post I spoke about how muscle tightness isn’t really a bad thing. It may not be a desired thing, but it is something that is in place for a good reason, which is to help you from moving into an unstable range—one you can’t control. If you think of your muscle tightness or joint limitation as an indicator or feedback then it can help to serve you as to where you might need some extra work—that work being in the way of doing something that invigorates the altered neurological connection that is causing your tightness/limitation. One of the best ways to stimulate this neurological connection is to do an isometric contraction into the position of limitation. An isometric contraction is where you would push one limb against a solid surface (like your hand) and hold a contraction for a period of time at the same tension. The way we do isometrics here is by holding a position in the shortest position for a muscle (or most limited range) and lightly push against something like your hand for about 6 seconds and repeat 6 times (with a few seconds in between each isometric contraction).

To use the same example from the last post—tight hamstrings (or limited hip flexion)—you would notice that your ability to lift your straight leg up (either in a standing position or, preferably, in a lying position) would be limited, which could mean that one or all the hip flexor muscles could not shorten or contract any further, thus causing the hamstrings to put the “brakes” on. To improve hip flexion range you would want to do an isometric contraction in the direction of hip flexion. You would bring your leg up to its highest active range (where you move it on your own—no pulling—until you reached your end range) and lightly push into something like your hand. You would be trying to contract further into the range you want to achieve, which, in this case, is more hip flexion. This will cause the hip flexor muscles to actively contract and in doing so you should be gaining better neurological function where there was once limitation. If you are re-activating the neurological connection to those inhibited muscles, the opposing muscles should let up on the “brakes” and allow more motion. Remember, your body will only allow motion it can control so by re-activation the neurological connection to the muscles on one side (the side you are trying to move into), the other side (the tight side) will lessen its contraction (protection) thus allowing more motion.

It is important to do these contractions lightly. On a scale of 1-10 you should be pushing at a level of 1. One way to help gauge this is you should, if you wanted, be able to push 10 times harder. This is not a strength exercise. You are trying to wake up the muscle sensors so the lighter you go the more you have a chance of jumpstarting the neurological connection (neurological loop between the muscle and nervous system) that was once compromised. If you cramp or feel pain when doing an isometric you need to either let off on the amount of effort you using or lessen up on the range you are using (take yourself out of the range just a bit at a time until you don’t feel cramping or pain). If this doesn’t help then make note of what you are experiencing and see a professional—like a doctor, physical therapist or muscle activation techniques specialist.

You can move each joint of your body into various ranges of motion to detect available range. Consider that your body moves through a combination of three planes of motion—side to side, front to back and in rotation. Most of the joint in your body move through these three planes so you can evaluate your own range by moving in these planes of motion (note the elbow and knee primarily move in one plane—front to back—but do have some rotational capabilities—forearm and shin rotation). At Fitness Werks we actually use a full body range of motion warm up that also serves as an evaluation (available upon request). Before I share those warm up activities/motions, I should note that the biggest cause of most aches and pains may be identified by asymmetries in motion. Meaning, one joint would be more limited than the other side (the right hip flexion would be more limited than the left). So when our clients are going through this range of motion warm up they are also self-evaluating their motion from left to right side. If they find one side more limited to the other they administer an isometric (as noted above) for the limited position. They can also do any isometrics for any position they feel is limited equally on each side to gain more range. However, when going through just the warm up we have them move in each direction 3 times and hold the end of each range for 2 seconds. They are not pushing against anything except their own end range of motion. They do the aforementioned isometric as a corrective exercise once they notice an asymmetry in their range.

Here is a description of our active warm up/evaluation: we start with rotating the head back and forth (like saying no), followed by moving the head forward and back (saying yes) and finish with bending the head side to side. We then move on to the shoulder where we hold our arms out the side with our elbows bent (so our hands are at the side of our head) and rotate the arms up and down (hands would end up down by the hips but the elbows would remain out to the side of the shoulder). We continue on to raising the arms straight over head, followed by bending the elbows so the hands end up behind the head, then we bring the arms down and back behind our backside while keeping the arms close to the body (the hands should be facing forward—this motion would be in the backward and forward plane). We would finish the shoulders by going across the body with straight arms (in front of your chest and turning your thumbs down) and then bringing them straight back and out the side (like a cross) with the palms facing forward (thumbs up). Next we move on to the spine where we would rotate the torso from side to side while keeping the hips/pelvis straight forward (so your shoulders rotate away from your hips), followed by bending the spine forward and backward without bending at the hips (just spinal flexion and extension) and then finish with bending from side to side. Moving on to the hips we would pick the knee up so the hip and knee are both at 90 degrees (thigh would be parallel to the ground—also helps to hold on to something when you are on one leg) and then rotate the thigh back and forth, bringing your foot in and out (like kicking a soccer ball). We continue on to bringing the straight leg out and up in front of us (like kicking a ball) and then finish the movement behind us with the knee bent and trying to bring the thigh behind the hip (think of the old quad stretch where you would grab your ankle and pull back—but here you use your own effort—no hands). Lastly for the hips we bring one straight leg across the body (in front—like you were kicking a ball the opposite side of you) and then finish with the leg going directly out to the side. To include the ankle we would do ankle circles three times in each direction, then go up and down with the foot/toes and finish with trying to turn the bottom of the foot up and in (so the bottom of your foot points inward) and the up and out (so the bottom or your foot points outward).

Again, each motion is to be done slowly and in a controlled manner. Each side is to be held for 2 seconds. Lastly, you should notice a pattern in the order of motions done here. We start each joint with a rotation exercise, followed by a forward and back exercise and then finish with a side to side exercise. If you notice any limitation from right to left side you can then use that position of limitation to do your isometric. For example, if you noticed when you brought your arms across your body and in front of your chest that your right arm didn’t go as far as the left then you could do a corrective isometric here by pushing your right arm (the limited on) lightly into your left hand (holding it at the level of the right wrist) for 6 seconds. This is done in the limited position—where your arm stopped is where you start to push.

Remember, this is a suggested warm up which also serves as an evaluation to compare one side to the other. This does not replace a proper evaluation from a doctor and like doing any physical activity you should get clearance from your doctor first. The same thing goes for the isometric exercises. Anything that does not feel right is justification for going back to the doctor for further investigation. If you have any limitations or minor aches and pains that you believe are related to muscle issues please feel free to contact us for a free 15 minute evaluation.

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Why muscle tightness isn’t really a bad thing

One of the things that a large majority of our new clients will say they would like as a result of starting a training program (outside of losing weight) is to improve their flexibility. One of the biggest flexibility issues we see is limited hip and spinal flexion (often considered “tight hamstrings”). The old school method of tending to limited flexibility (or tight muscles) was to do some form of static stretching, which is where you basically put your joint (for example we will use the hip joint and the motion of hip flexion, which one would feel tightness in the hamstrings) to the point where you can’t move any more (like a hamstring stretch where you would put your leg up on something and lean forward) and hold that for about 20-30 seconds–until you felt a release or relaxing of the muscle. Go to any 5K race on any weekend and you will see legions of runners preparing for their race by doing static stretching like this. What most people don’t know is there is enough evidence that shows traditional static stretching can actually have a negative effect on your body (joints and muscles) and doesn’t do anything to help prepare you for your activity. In fact, recent research has shown that stretching before an activity, like running or working out, actually reduces your force output. The reason for this is in order to get your muscle to release they have to actually be shut down neurologically (reduce neurological flow) so it doesn’t contract like it did when it was trying to stop you from moving into a greater range.

The thing one must consider is that the brain is getting sensory information from all over the body and constructs movement patterns (muscle involvement for intended movements) based on information coming from your sensors (those in the muscles as well as in and around the joints). If your brain/nervous system senses instability in a joint or joint motion because there is lack of sensory input coming from the sensors in a muscle or group of muscles it will put the brakes on that movement so you don’t move into an unstable range—keeping you from going into a motion which you can’t control. So when I say “muscle tightness isn’t really a bad thing” it’s because your nervous is creating that tightness to protect you from movement(s) you can’t control. Everything the body does is done in our favor or is done based on the information/feedback the body (and its sensors) is giving. It might not be ideal to have limited range of motion but rather looking at the limitation as a problem, we must start to look at it as feedback or information from a very smart system.

So what is the tightness trying to tell us? I like to think of it like an engine indicator light coming on in your car. You wouldn’t cover up the light on the dash because it was an annoyance would you? You would probably take it to your mechanic to allow him to do some diagnostics to figure out why the light (signal) was on. You wouldn’t shoot the messenger, you would simply use the signal to ask more questions (or find someone who could ask those questions to find out what might be wrong). The same thing happens in the body. When we have muscle tightness it is an indicator (a signal) of something else: instability. The instability is caused by muscles not being able to contract to their fullest ability along with not being able to communicate any further with the nervous system. And this instability is noticed when moving in the direction of the limitation. Meaning, if your hamstrings are tight when you bend at your hip it is usually because of instability moving into hip flexion. In this case, your hamstrings would be protecting you from going further into a hip flexed position because some or all of the hip flexor muscles could not contract as well as they should when getting into shorter ranges of motion. When a muscle loses or reduces its ability to send or receive sensory information to or from the nervous system the opposing muscles become protective and contracts. So when you are doing a static stretch what you are actually feeling as “the stretch” is actually a contraction (oh, and I should ad that muscles don’t really “stretch,” and you wouldn’t want them too either—think of a rubber band that you stretched enough to change its length. It doesn’t have the same contractile ability after that does it?). It is the muscle contracting, trying to fight the position of instability. What happens when you hold that long enough is you override the nervous system’s need to protect and you win by “shutting the muscle down” (reducing neurological flow to those muscles). This allows you to get more motion but chances are you not only now have more motion that you can’t control but you also have an opposing muscle group that is less active and functional.

This is why researchers are finding static stretching less and less beneficial for the purpose of preparing the body for exercise or activity. It’s not to say that stretching doesn’t feel good—just as a glass of wine may feel good—it’s just not that beneficial to do as a way to prepare for doing a physical activity that requires movement with some force production (however, what you do when relaxing or trying to relax is your call—wine, stretching ,etc.—have at it!). In my next post I will provide some strategies to help correct some common inflexibility issues as well as cover some ways to properly prepare for physical activity. In the meantime, the best way to think about preparing for any activity you do is to start with some light, slow movements that replicate the movements you are going to do in your activity and build up from there with bigger and maybe faster movements (faster is relative to the speed in which you will be doing your activity). By the way, if you are going to be sitting in a static position or relaxing then static stretching may be the perfect way to prepare. Otherwise, it’s not doing you much good to use it before your physical activities. For more blog posts go to http://fitness-werks.com/blog/

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