Saturday, June 6, 2015

15 Musts of Exercise Prosperity



Because I'm so happy with my results of exercising consistently for the past 11+ months, I decided to share my 15 musts (thoughts) that create exercise prosperity in our lives! :)

1. When we're wholeheartedly committed to exercising consistently, we must create an exercise plan, environment and lifestyle that allow us to be successful. We must pick the types of exercise we know we will continue throughout our lives. (See number 11 for clarification.) We must schedule exercising into our calendars and view that time as especially important! We must not let any calendar item get in the way of our exercising! Okay, urgent or emergency situations obviously take precedence over exercising—but if it's not truly urgent, we must do whatever it takes to keep our exercise appointments!

2. We must daily acknowledge that having a healthy body is vital to our life missions! Everything we do in life is made possible by our bodies! Thus, we must keep our attitudes happy towards exercise. :) Exercising our precious bodies must be a top priority!

3. We must drink a lot of water! I'm sure you've heard way too much about the importance of drinking water, so I won't bore you. But I must share that when I drink a lot of water daily, I have more energy, improved brainpower, and my muscles are less sore. The best way I've found to get enough water is by drinking a large tumbler (16 ounces) of water every time I finish using the bathroom. That might be TMI, but it totally works for me and my body is healthier because of that wonderful habit!

4. When beginning an exercise program, we must take it slow and easy. Don't overdo it, but don't be a wimp, either! :) We simply need to consistently exercise, no matter what. Then, when our bodies have become used to our beginner-level exercising, it's time to ramp up our efforts! We can continue ramping up our exercise routines for as long as our body can take it...but again, we mustn't overdo it.

5. We must get a good amount of sleep every night, so our bodies can recover, repair and improve themselves. Without adequate sleep, our bodies are depleted of energy, become rundown, and risk injury or illness. Don't ever skimp on sleep! Plus, if we get enough sleep, we'll look younger, too...yippee!

*For more information on the vast importance of sleep, please watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta's CNN video "How important is a good night's sleep?"—it's amazing!!

6. We must never become discouraged with our exercise progress. It's true that some people progress in their fitness goals more quickly than others. We must remember that creating our best bodies takes patience, diligence, consistency and time! If we can internalize that exercising our bodies is a lifetime journey, we'll be much happier and more patient with ourselves. We could look at exercising in the same way as eating: we must do it consistently, otherwise we'll become unhealthy and eventually die! Although, one of those scenarios would obviously cause death more quickly than the other. ;)

7. We must not burn ourselves out by exercising intensely six to seven days per week. If we want to train really hard, three to four times per week will suffice. Unless we're professional athletes or fitness trainers, taking a break every other day really is okay! Don't believe me? I'll be writing another post in the future to sustain my stance.

8. We must walk. Walking is so good for our bodies and minds, it can't hurt us if we walk for exercise every day of the week! That said, I don't recommend walking long distances in addition to intense training/exercising on the same day—unless it's absolutely necessary...or you're superhuman. ;)

9. We must do whatever it takes (within reason!) to not become bored with exercising! Randomness in exercising, i.e., mixing it up, is essential to achieving our fitness goals. But at the end of the day, just like we might not enjoy the monotony of repeatedly cleaning bathrooms, exercising must be done no matter how we choose to do it!

10. Our first and paramount exercise goal must be "I want my body to be fit and healthy for life!"—not just for 90 days, or until the next 10k! Don't get me wrong, for it's very good to have short-term fitness goals, but we must fully internalize that we will never be done exercising—just like our laundry piles will never completely disappear as long as we are alive! ;) Creating a healthy body is a never-ending, priceless endeavor!

11. We must utilize the types of exercise that bring us joy and keep us healthy, and not compare ourselves to anyone else! If we have medical conditions that prevent us from exercising at the same level as someone else, we must not let their amazing feats defeat us! Similarly, we don't know what health issues others have, so we also should not judge their exercising habits. :)

*I, for example, have hypothyroidism. If I over-exercise, or don't get enough sleep, my body doesn't do well, and it takes me a day or two to recover. (It can sometimes take longer depending on what else I have going on in my life at the time.) I attribute this annoyance to the fact that my body simply can't make more thyroid hormone whenever it needs it; I have to wait for my thyroid hormone to be replenished through a daily pill. If my body's need for thyroid hormone exceeds what it has in reserves, I pay the price for my actions and I'm left with exhaustion. :( (Medical professionals might disagree with me based on studies, etc., but I live with my body's issues every day and this is totally what happens to me!) That sad fact bothers me, but I've come to accept it as my unfortunate truth—I've learned to work around it and live with it. Yes, even though I dearly wish I could exercise intensely every day (I love exercising!), I know my body's annoying limits. I take breaks when I've overdone it, and I don't feel guilty about resting if the need arises! :)

12. We must listen to our bodies! If we're injured or feeling ill, we should lighten or eliminate our exercise routines until we've fully recovered. Believe me, it's not worth pushing through the pain and/or exhaustion—and possibly injuring or sickening ourselves further—just to save face! Bottom line? We must take good care of ourselves in every way possible, and that includes resting when needed.

13. We must not ever get caught up in the numbers on a scale! Instead, we must pay attention to the following numbers:
  • our heart rates—which indicate if our hearts are getting stronger (Yeah yeah!)
  • how many repetitions we can do of any particular exercise—which also indicates our increasing strength
  • the amount of weight with which we are able to perform any exercise, i.e., higher equals better/stronger (as long as it isn't too heavy)
  • our bodies' inches—are they diminishing (at the waist) and expanding appropriately (arm, leg, chest and back muscles)
  • the length of time we're able to exercise—again, longer equals stronger and healthier
  • how many days/months/years we've been consistently exercising—the more time that passes, the healthier our bodies become
14. We must never feel like failures if we stop exercising for a time. Remember? I don't believe in failure, I believe in choices! We just need to start exercising again whenever and wherever we can. :) Besides, the past is in the past! As we learned from Rafiki in "The Lion King," we can either run from the past, or learn from it. Yet in regard to being fit, we should do both learning and running! Ha ha.

15. We must always remember how magnificent we feel after exercising! There will most likely be days when we won't want to exercise, but we must push through whatever is keeping us from working out and just do it! :) The wonderful mental health benefits of exercise have been proven time and again—we literally become happier and less anxious when we exercise! And I'm pretty sure everyone wants to feel triumphant every day of their lives!

Long story short: exercising makes me feel awesome, and I simply want everyone to join in my fun! :) I am living proof (from my exercising experiences) that my 15 musts really do work! If we keep our exercise mindsets continually positive, we'll absolutely be healthier in every way possible! Additionally, we can handle life so much better when we're healthy and fit—regardless of what's thrown our way! :)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Exercise Prosperity

If you can believe it, I originally began writing this blog post in August, 2014! I decided to wait to publish it because I wanted to compare myself before and after I began working out continuously. Now, I feel more than ready to share my thoughts on the boundless importance of physical exercise! :)

I'm guessing many of you have heard the old saying, "It takes six weeks to get into shape, but only two weeks to get out of shape." If you haven't heard that information before, let me assure you that it's true. My amazing junior high gymnastics coach told our team those words when I was in the seventh grade and I've never forgotten them! I've exercised off and on throughout my entire life and this six week/two week rule has always proved correct. :)

In 2012, I began seriously working out to exercise videos with one of my Texas friends at our ward's (church) gym (a full-sized basketball court), three days per week, for six months straight. We missed a day once in a while, but it wasn't very often. I was in the best shape of my life since I'd been a gymnast!

After Greg and I found out we were moving from Texas, my official exercising times vanished. Sure, I was getting plenty of exercise because of packing our rental house and moving to Utah, but after we settled into our new/old house, I fell out of shape. Remember it takes only two weeks to get out of shape? Well, that's exactly what happened to me after our exhausting move. Don't get me wrong, I was still a very active mama, but I only officially exercised maybe once or twice per week and it wasn't consistent.

So, a year after our big move back to our beloved Utah, I was finally ready to rejoin the fit world and really commit myself to exercising consistently. Yet I absolutely did not let myself feel like a failure for becoming less-than-fit, I simply decided to change my lifestyle! :) I made an exercise plan and committed to it 100%!

I'm so happy to report that tomorrow begins my 48th week of exercising consistently! I'm humbled and excited to write that number. That information means I'm officially in shape! Yay me! (I'm not being prideful, just super happy!) By the way, as much as I would have really liked one, I didn't receive a certificate for working my hiney into good shape. Ha ha. Maybe I'll just have to create my own! ;)

Even though I have a gym membership that gives me unlimited use of their machines and weights, I'm not great about going there because I love exercise classes oodles more. Exercising with people totally motivates me.

(On a weird side note, last week, our local gym randomly moved locations to merge with another gym. This news was totally unexpected, so Greg and I will definitely be canceling our memberships and finding an alternative {like our basement!} because there's no way we're driving 15+ minutes just to get to the gym! I know that's a short commute for many people, but the gym used to be less than five minutes from our house—which is why we signed up for it in the first place.)

To get my hiney into shape, I chose to workout to varied exercise videos. I already owned the New York City Ballet Workout 1 & 2 DVDs; Pilates for Weight Loss DVD; and one yoga DVD, but I decided I needed a few more options. I have a bunch of additional exercise VHS videos, but our player broke in the move and we never bought another one.

When my sister-in-law asked what I wanted for Christmas (2013), I suggested Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. I was thrilled to open 30 Day Shred on Christmas day because it's a great workout! A few months later, I purchased the entire P90X program (including the chin-up bar, minus the bands because I use my own weights), I was so excited! I got a fabulous deal and it has been worth e-v-e-r-y penny! (Sadly, the deal I got in 2014 isn't available anymore.) *I'll be writing about my P90X experience another day...I can't wait!

Because I've stayed true to my fitness goals over the past 10+ months, I can pretty much do any exercise or physical activity I desire—which feels amazing! I can't even begin to express the joy my heart feels when I decide to quickly run somewhere (while I'm running errands, or trying to escape the rain, or helping wrangle the neighbors' escaped dogs!) and do it without any huffing and puffing! I know my heart is stronger; my lungs have greater capacity (which also helps with singing in my ward's choir!); and my muscles have increased endurance! I just love that my body is so much more efficient than it used to be!

*Might I add, in regard to my physical shape, several people have said things to me like, "Oh, you're so lucky, you don't have to worry about your weight!" or, "I'm just not naturally skinny like you are." etc. While well-intentioned, those comments drive me crazy!

What those people don't realize is that even when I wasn't working out as consistently as I am now, I was still trying to stay active and watched what I ate. Even after I've been exercising consistently for all this time, I continue to watch what I eat. Yes, on occasion, I do eat whatever I want (like tonight's pizza and peanut M&M's) and it tastes awesome...until I get a stomach ache, then I totally regret that I ever overate!

Basically, I listen to my body. I try to eat healthily. I don't drink soda unless we're at a party or some special event. When I have treats one day, I limit them in the days to come. I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full. I allow my body to get hungry, for I believe hunger is our bodies' natural way of communicating to us if we need food, or not! I think a lot people in the world have messed up their bodies by continuing to eat when they're not hungry, so their bodies are confused and they don't know when enough is enough. But enough about my food ideas. ;)

I simply wanted to clarify that I'm not just naturally skinny. And, hi! I wouldn't even define myself as skinny! I guess would define myself as not big. :) I treat my body as well as I possibly can, which includes exercising and eating healthily.

Sorry for my tangent, I just had to clarify those points...

My fit self was especially evident when I went to BYU Women's Conference April 30th–May 1st, 2015. As I walked all over campus, I couldn't help but reminisce about my experience in 2014. I couldn't believe the overwhelmingly positive difference in my 2015 body, compared to my 2014 body!

In 2014, I was tired at BYUWC. Walking all over campus for two days straight was very wearing on me and I nearly fell asleep in a couple of classes. Thus, I was beyond excited to realize that my 2015 body was literally ready to bound all over campus! Can I get a holla?! Every time I started walking to my next class, my body just wanted to get up and RUN! My body was unstoppable at BYU because of all my exercising and training during the previous 10 months.

By the by, my fluorescent yellow and white striped shirt is actually from the girls' section at Target!  I found it one day while shopping with my daughter, and I couldn't leave the store without it! :)

I'm guessing there are many people in my life who are tired of hearing me gush about how incredibly happy I am to be in good shape—and readers of my exercise blog posts are probably sick of my exclamation points and smiley faces—but I simply can't help it!! Being fit is such an amazing feeling that continually surprises me when I least expect it. I have great satisfaction in knowing my body is not only healthier, but my clothes fit better, too! Okay, I'm just going to say it, it feels awesome! :) Truly, looking good is one of the happiest side effects of exercising! The very best benefits of exercising are increased energy, strength and stamina!

All of that said, is my body perfectly sculpted like a fitness model? Oh, my goodness, no! I don't have "thigh gap,"never have, never will! My thick/loose stomach skin definitely shows that I've given birth three times, and my stomach muscles can occasionally be seen under my post-baby-10-years-ago skin (ha ha). Those things don't bother me in the slightest! And I would never exchange my three babies for a flat stomach—no way! I have cellulite throughout my body and I'm not ashamed to let it show. I'm not even looking to drop 10 pounds—although, if it happened, I wouldn't complain, either. :) My life's forever goal is to be healthy and fit!

I will continue following my church's Word of Wisdom, which, if followed, promises that I will run and not be weary, and walk and not faint! My simple desire is to be able to move my magnificent gift-of-a-body (for it was given to me by our Heavenly Father!) in all the ways I wish, and have the stamina needed to participate in any activity I want—for my entire life. The glorious thing is, I feel I have finally achieved my goals!



While I still haven't learned how to surf or snowboard (both are goals of mine!), my heart is so happy knowing I'm absolutely strong enough to accomplish my desires—were I given the opportunity! :)

In terms of my health and overall well-being, I feel extremely prosperous! And just like in the business world where nothing great is ever achieved by cheating, the only way our bodies will ever truly prosper is by being honest in all of our actions. There are no shortcuts in life that bring significant and lasting results—especially in exercising!

P.S. Another thing I love about being fit is that when I exercise or do other activities, I can see my skin (and fat) moving all at once because of my muscles! There's not some huge cellulite wave that continually ripples back and forth across my body—it's just a little one! It might seem silly to some, but seeing and feeling my individual muscles move with purpose is immensely gratifying!

P.P.S. Did I mention how much I love looking good and being healthy/fit for my husband? Well, providing those benefits for the love of my eternity is the greatest feeling!