Tag Archives: exercise

5 Benefits of Cross-Training (even if you’re 50+)

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You’re reading this article probably because you are interested in improving your health.  Awesome!  It takes more than interest though – it takes some action.

There is no magic pill.  If you just focus on “products” to help you lose weight or look younger, those products will make you feel insecure when they don’t work as intended. That’s not healthy in the long run. 

One of the best ways to do improve your health is through exercise done on a consistent basis.  And the key to consistent exercise is finding something you enjoy doing.  Even though I am 51, participating in trail running and hiking is something I’ve always liked to do. I look forward to it and plan my schedule to fit those activities in. It’s ingrained in my lifestyle.

If you only do one exercise, running for example, it can create some problems with people and cause joint pain. It’s important to “mix it up” with different work outs. I balance my running with hiking, yoga workouts, and lift light weights to help with overall muscle toning. But I know swimming and bike riding should be done more often because they are low-impact.

If you use the weather as an excuse, you can use indoor equipment like a treadmill, elliptical machine and a stationary bike. You can have this equipment at home if you don’t belong to a gym and if you have the space available.

Use of equipment is not needed at all actually. There are many other methods like stair climbing, aerobics, yoga, etc. Here’s a list of ideas to choose from that fit your personality and preferences: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/fitness-a-to-z

Note: I recommend you check in with your doctor first if exercise is new to you – especially if you have a current medical condition. It would also be a good idea to meet with a personal trainer to help you get started.

Cross-training is the backbone of any exercise program, and is ideal for anyone, even if you’re a beginner who wants to get in shape or you are experienced with exercise and want to ramp it up. Here are five benefits to incorporate cross-training: Continue reading

You Lost the Weight, Now What?

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Once you lose the weight, then the real work begins. You now have to keep it off. One of the unfortunate realities about weight loss is that it is very difficult to keep your excess weight from coming back. As many as 68 percent of people who exercise and diet to lose their weight eventually gain it back. In fact, they can return to obesity in four to five years. What causes people to let themselves go after putting in all that hard work? In some cases, it is due to feeling of accomplishment that comes with weight loss. A dieter may feel that since they have reached their desired weight, they can now reward themselves by not dieting. Another answer is that the body undergoes certain hormonal changes after weight loss. Those changes can result in increased hunger and fat storage. So how do you keep your weight off after working for so long to lose it? Here are some tips: Continue reading

Give Working Out A(nother) Chance

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I was 22 when I got my first gym membership.
This was post college. I had just moved to Nashville where the currency is biscuits and butter. My new roommate had just lost 80 pounds by exercising and switching her diet (translate: cutting out teenage overindulgences on pizza, burgers and anything you can heat up in a microwave) and I decided maybe I would give it a try too. She looked happy and she was an ordinary person!

But maybe you’re like me. I had long avoided the gym for a lot of reasons.
I was self conscious. I had no idea what half of the equipment did or how it worked.
I had been disappointed by a lack of results in the past.
I realized that the hard part wasn’t just the workout. For me, it was just as tough getting through the front door because of all the baggage I carried about my body, the perception of others, a myriad of things.

But I went. And these were some of the things I learned from experience and from my fellow gym goers: Continue reading

The Spirituality of Fitness

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by Janice Lennard

I am convinced that there is a direct parallelism between spirituality and fitness. Indeed, the foundation and centeredness achieved through regularly practiced physical activity is attributed to the interlacing of spirituality throughout the entire experience of exercise.

The commonalities of spirituality and fitness include, but are not limited to:

Discipline, Commitment, Focus, Mindset, Lifestyle and The ability to say “no.”

The aforementioned list most certainly has room for improvement and modification, but don’t we also have room for improvement and modification? After all, our bodies are constantly changing, and we modify our actions and behaviors to accommodate the continuous  changes we experience throughout our lives. It is through disciplined exercise and a spiritual mindset that change is embraced rather than feared. Continue reading

From Intent.com: Feeling the Sadness

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Much like the ocean, the mind is a vast world inside of our bodies- we have yet to fully understand it’s depths or its full power. Scientists still seek to understand the full effects of nature versus nurture, the distant impacts of our family tree on our behavior or how exposure to artificial light is changing our sleep patterns. Mental health has been a huge subject in our world recently as all sorts of variables (diet, hormones, random acts of God, etc) collide in creating sometimes highly volatile moments of experience. We are getting used to words like “depression” or “bipolar disorder” because we’re finding countless more friend, family and colleagues who live with them. If no one comes to mind, it is reported that 14.8 million adults in the US are affected by depression in any given year.

So what do we do? Continue reading

Stop Procrastinating and Pre-Commit to Healthier Habits

Procrastinating can cost you so much more in healthcareWhat if I told you that we, as a nation, waste $317 billion a year in medical expenses just because of forgetfulness and procrastination? Research from Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefit manager, shows that the biggest healthcare issue facing the nation today is not illnesses related to smoking, excessive drinking or obesity due to overindulgence in bacon cheeseburgers, super-sized sodas and curly fries. No! It is what the healthcare industry calls “non-adherence” – not taking our medications as prescribed by the doctor, following guidelines and sticking to our promises to take better care of ourselves in general.

We all know the importance of diet and exercise. Yet, often times we just think up some lame excuse. My husband, for example, won’t eat dark, leafy greens as he claims he’s got supersensitive papillae on this tongue and therefore they taste way too bitter. And a friend of mine won’t get on what she terms the “Dread-mill,” even now in NYC when it’s too icy to walk outside, because she knew someone who caught her foot in the belt when it was moving and fell off. (Truth be told, I feel the same way about the “H-elliptical” machine!)

And how many people do all of us know who don’t sign up for a 401K even when it means they are losing out on the match made by their employer, just because they never “get around to it?” Voila! Procrastination at work!

Getting everyone to regularly focus on their health-related behaviors is the best method for combating issues ranging from obesity to missed doses of important maintenance medications. While the approach may be appealing, unfortunately, it may run headlong against millions of years of evolution. According to Bob Nease, Ph.D., Chief Scientist at Express Scripts, “Our brains, though amazing machines, simply are not made for continuous focus on anything that isn’t immediately painful or pleasurable. The gray matter in our heads can process about 10 million bits of information a second — the same bandwidth of the original Ethernet cable. Yet the conscious part, which we think of as our mind, can only process 50 bits every second. We are wired for inattention.” (Yikes! That’s a thousand times slower than dial-up!)

Ergo, the intent-behavior gap, which explains why we behave in ways detrimental to our health, despite our best intentions to do otherwise.

Nease cites Adam Davidson, who writes the weekly “It’s the Economy” column for The New York Times Magazine, as an example. Apparently, after a lifetime of trying and failing to lose weight, Davidson recently succeeded by committing to a program that left him no options. “Most diets and other good intentions fail because there’s always a third option — an easy way out — that allows us to tell ourselves we tried even while undermining our own success,” he explains. “And when we make a firm commitment that eliminates these escape routes, we are more likely to get results.”

According to Nease, there’s a concept known to behavioral science as ‘precommitment.’ The idea, in fact, was first documented as far back as the 8th Century BC. “In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus needed to sail his ship past the Sirens, who’s enchanting song tempted sailors to their deaths. So before entering those waters, he lashed himself to the ship’s mast so he could resist. His precommitment helped him stay the course.”

Nease contends, however, that he has yet to hear of a diet guru taking Odysseus’ approach literally –e.g., lashing our arms to the dining-room chair. “But some companies are working to make it easier for people to impose big financial penalties on themselves if they fail to meet their weight-loss goals. And precommitment strategies in the tradition of Odysseus propose a good way to navigate through modern life’s multitude of options and temptations to arrive at a healthier place.”

For their part, Express Scripts discovered, for example, that offering their employees the opportunity to precommit nearly tripled actual participation in a company exercise program. “If they agreed in advance to let us block the time on their calendar,” Nease insists, “they ultimately overcame the day-of excuses, showed up, and got in some good exercise.”

The real costs, both financially and heath-wise, come from non-adherence to taking prescribed medications. Forgetting to take a heart pill, for instance, could endanger your life. My husband must take the anti-blood clotting medicine Plavix thanks to his three coronary stents (hellooo filet mignons!!). His cardiologist doesn’t want him to miss even a single dose as that could mean a heart clog and possible death. (He always hides his pills when we have an argument, fearing that I will switch them for a placebo!)

Discipline and willpower are the simple answers, but remember what Bob Nease said about our being wired for inattention and inertia? Below are some simple pre-commitment techniques, starting with the ones I recommend to my audience:

• Use only smaller plates and eat in a room outside the kitchen, away from the refrigerator.

• Eliminate leftovers by buying food and preparing dishes in smaller quantities.

• Banish snack foods from the house. You can’t eat what you can’t find.

• If you’re a late riser, put the alarm clock across the room to avoid simply reaching over and swatting the Snooze — or worse, Off – button.

To precommit to your medications, I defer to Bob Nease:

• Tape a note to your refrigerator or set an alarm that will help make taking your pills part of your daily routine.

• Having your prescriptions delivered to your home in 90-day supplies has been proven to increase adherence.

• Check your prescription insurance plan to see if automatic refill reminders are available and how you can sign up to receive them.

• Long before you near the end of your final refill, schedule an appointment with your physician to renew the prescription. If you wait until the last minute, you might not be able to get there in time to stay on your therapy.

• Take advantage of being able to ‘opt out’ if your automatic enrollment gives you the choice. This approach leverages inertia – the opposite of patient engagement — by making you do something to stop the delivery.

No matter what method you use to pre-commit to all aspects of your personal wellbeing, remember that better decisions today lead to healthier results tomorrow. In other words, to feeling Better Than Before.

Exercise for Joy, Energy, and Happiness

woman-and-scale-shutterstock1Every year I set the same resolutions – lose 15 pounds, cut out refined sugar, meditate daily, exercise 5 times a week – resolutions that seem like nostalgic wishes by mid February. This year I set the intent I am living with the intent to feel energetic, creative, joyful, centered and inspired

And, while I am making a commitment to work out more often and eat more mindfully, I am committing to physical activities that make me feel connected spiritually and full emotionally rather than torturing myself just to shed pounds.

I am discovering a love of yoga (believe it or not, I am not a yogi – read about it here!) through a group class I am doing with other mom friends.  Historically, yoga has been a struggle for me as I have felt like I am “bad” at it.  But this year I am approaching it differently – inspired, as I often am, by the guiding philosophy of my good friend Tara Stiles.

Tara and I recently hosted a SCLA event in San Francisco and as I watched Tara twist and turn in amazing ways to hip hop music during our event, I noticed the intention to find joy, creativity, and challenge by those in her class. Tara’s approach to yoga made it fun, rich and fulfilling for all those in the class, even if they couldn’t keep up with her!

In an interview I did with Tara last year, she talked about the joy she discovered in yoga:  “(As a dancer), everything has to be perfect or you’re not completing the movement. That’s what was so exciting about yoga. You’re going to your own limit and finding the ease in that moment.  From a mental, spiritual and emotional aspect it was definitely key. I was like, ‘I have to do this forever!’”

What I am enjoying about my own weekly yoga class is that I can do it at my own pace.  And its social!  I have as much fun chatting with the other mom friends as I do stretching and breathing. We’ve always been big supporters of yoga here on Intent and encourage all of you to give it a try if you’re looking for a practice that not only works you out but also helps you connect to your body through your mind and spirit.

I’ve also been on a few hikes on the lovely trails here in Santa Monica where I live, not checking my phone for emails, and walking in silence noticing the beauty of nature. 

And, this weekend I plan to start running on the beach again – one of the most emotionally healing things I have done in the past. For my 40th birthday, I ran a half marathon and found a love for running because of how it made me feel emotionally. Working out with an activity that makes you feel happy and better about yourself is much healthier than doing something you hate because it’ll trim fat.

Hopefully my strategy of living with intent this year will help me realize some of the changes I am seeking in my life more effortlessly and with lasting impact.  And more importantly, because I am having fun, feeling connected and inspired, I am anticipating my physical time, rather than feeling burdened by it. This will keep me motivated to stay on the path to healthier living!

Like Mallika’s blog? Support these similar intents on Intent.com!

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6 Household Stress Busters to Beat the Stress Monster

stress monster ballFeeling the stress monster coming to get you? In our fast-paced, results-driven world, it’s a common complaint among working adults to experience stress. Consider the following things you should keep around your home to send that pesky monster on its way.

Use a Sunrise Alarm Clock

If the thought of your alarm clock going off in the morning adds stress to bedtime, consider getting a sunrise alarm clock, such as the Philips Wake-up Light. These types of alarm clocks are designed to gradually add light to your room and help your body gradually wake up rather than being jarred awake.

The best part about it is you can decide when the “sun” rises. For 30 minutes before the set time to wake up, the light will gradually get brighter and brighter. It’s especially helpful in the winter, when you might need to wake up before the actual sun rises.

Essential Oil Diffusers

It’s been found the essential oils have many useful properties, and diffusers are a great way to add the lovely scent of essential oils to the air while relieving stress. Common stress-relieving oils include lavender, citrus fruits, and vanilla. There are a few options when it comes to diffusers.

Some use ultrasonic technology to break the mixture apart and diffuse it into the air. Others use the heat from candles to diffuse the oil into the air. By using essential oils, not only will it help relieve stress, but it will also help disperse unpleasant smells in the air without using chemicals.

Comedies

Did you know that the average a child laughs 300 times a day while an adult only laughs 17 times a day? According to a paper published on the National Institutes of Health website, laughter and positive emotions produce improvements in how your immune system functions. Those people who choose to cope with stress by laughing have a greater daily positive attitude and are able to deal with stressful situations easier.

There are a variety of ways to increase the amount of laughter you experience every day. One of the easiest ways is to watch comedies, whether TV shows or movies.

Meditation Apps

With today’s technology, it’s no surprise that there are apps designed to help you relieve stress and anxieties. One of the best ways to relieve stress is with daily meditations. When we feel stressed, the adrenal gland produces higher levels of the hormone cortisol. Prolonged exposure to cortisol results in adverse effects.

According to a study through the Center of the Mind and Brain, meditation helps to decrease the resting levels of cortisol. Meditation apps help you to focus on your meditation and take you through the steps to relax your brain.

In addition to meditation apps, there are other apps that you can have on your phone to help reduce stress. Breathe2Relax takes users through diaphragmatic breathing exercises that are known to help interrupt stress receptors in the body. The Worry Box app is a great way to control stress caused by worrying. In the app, it asks questions about what is worrying you, whether that worry is something within your control, and gives you techniques for dealing with worries.

Exercise Equipment

According to the Mayo Clinic, almost any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever by increasing the amount of endorphins in your brain. When you focus on a specific exercise, whether racquetball, running or yoga, it acts as a form of meditation to help you forget about the day’s stresses. For that reason, having exercise equipment in the home is a great way to beat the stress monster.

There are a lot of options with an exercise ball to work out your entire body such as push-ups and abdominal tucks. If you love aerobic exercises that get you moving, get a Wii or Xbox Kinect and some dance games like Just Dance to work off stress.

Start a Compost Pile

Environmental awareness and lowering your carbon footprint can contribute in making you feel better about your lifestyle and help to alleviate stress. In addition to recycling and switching to eco-efficient lightbulbs, starting a compost pile in your home or apartment is a great way to do your part for the environment. According to energysavings.com, keeping a 50/50 ratio of both brown materials and green materials in your compost heap is the most efficient way to break down the organic waste. Brown materials include everything from yard waste, newspapers, peanut shells and compostable paper products. Green materials include grass clippings, egg shells and fruit and veggie scraps.

With so many ways to relieve stress, there’s really no reason for stress to build up and weigh you down. These are just some items for your home that help you release that stress that you can use whenever you start feeling tense.

Keep Your Health and Fitness Intents by Varying Your Routine

bepresenteachmomentThe most popular resolutions that are made for New Year’s relate to health and fitness. At Intent we really push the idea that you should strive not to make resolutions or physical goals like “I want to lose 30 pounds” but dig deeper in yourself and set intentions about how you want to feel for the new year – “I want to feel healthier and have a better sense of wellness.” It’s also important that to achieve your intent you set realistic smaller goals to motivate you to satisfy the intent desire in your soul. But once you have set your intent and created realistic landmarks to help you get there, how do you stay on track? According to StatisticBrain.com, 24% of people never reach their intended resolutions.

Your chances of succeeding at your intent increase as long as you keep the passion for it alive, and that means not letting yourself get bored. More than half of new exercisers quit within three to six months after starting a workout program, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). If you get bored or dread working out then you are much less likely to keep up the regimen. So how do you step out of your comfort zone? Try these tips.

  1. Try a new healthy food or recipe once a week – By expanding your food vocabulary you force yourself to learn more about the nutritional values of food, making it easier for you to make decisions about meals and snacks in the long term. Think of finding a new recipe as a new adventure. You can learn to love new foods or love your current favorites in brand new ways and this will prevent you from getting burned out on the same routine meals. “Find healthy foods you love, or learn creative ways to prepare foods so that eating is not a punishment, but a pleasant, (sometimes even spiritual) experience that involves mindfulness and togetherness,” says Sports Club/LA nutritionist Karen Sherwood.
  2. Take a group fitness class – There are so many ways to get in shape besides tying yourself to a treadmill or elliptical. It can be as simple as going for walks outside or changing your running route. Look at your local fitness center for their classes and pick something that you’ve never tried before. In September, Sports Club/LA launched their “Recess” classes, which helped adults work out by playing the games they had so much fun playing as a child.  Or you may try one of their Blitz classes which is a full body work out designed to improve your endurance, strength and power. Take a yoga class for a month and then switch to cardio dance classes. Not only do you allow yourself the chance to try new things and meet new people, but also you work out different parts of the body and you allow exercising to be something you really enjoy rather than an appointment with a machine you’ve grown to dread. You are not a hamster on a wheel, so why create a work out routine that makes you feel like one?
  3. Stay centered and in touch with your intent – Sometimes our intents evolve as time goes on and it is important to stay connected to that feeling. Trust yourself to change as your intent changes. By building a meditation or yoga practice to keep your center you can feel when a routine has started to not work and you can use your inner instincts to adapt your routine to what your body and mind are telling you it needs. “Physical activity along with peaceful practices such as yoga or meditation to help build a refreshed sense of self. This is the glue that seals in the new lifestyle as the body begins to change physically, resulting in a new stream of motivation,” Sherwood explains.

By combining these tips you not only increase your chances of reaching your intent, but you also give yourself more opportunities to grow and learn more about your health. Being adventurous with your fitness and nutrition routines not only makes the journey more interesting but you get a deeper appreciation for the journey as you go on, and that will propel you forward. We hope you take these tips to heart and that your 2014 is healthier than ever.

Why Wait: Setting Realistic Intents for 2014 to Increase Your Success

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As December draws to a close people begin looking towards the year ahead and making their resolutions. At Intent, we encourage people to think a little deeper, to set their goals based on the desires of their soul. As you are creating your list of intents for 2014 there are several things to consider. Often times people set goals that are unrealistic and when they realize that they won’t be able to reach that expectation they give up entirely. Don’t let that happen to you,especially if you are setting intents related to your health and fitness. Create goals that challenge you, but that you know you can reach so that it motivates you to keep going.

To help you start off 2014 in a healthier way, and maintain that change throughout the year, we talked to our friends at Sports Club/LA on how to set Intents that are realistic for your personality and lifestyle to help you create permanent change. Follow these tips when making your 2014 New Year Intent lists.

  1. Avoid Specific Numbers and Go for Overall Change – The most popular “resolution” on lists this year will be “Lose x amount of pounds.” Stop right there. There have been several studies that show your weight number does not necessarily correlate to your overall health, so don’t put that pressure on yourself. If you start playing a numbers game then you already set yourself up for unnecessary pressure. Instead create an intent similar to “I intend to create a healthier lifestyle for myself.” It’s more general, but it leads to more lasting change. It means not only are you going to work out, but take into account your nutrition and spiritual health as well. When you begin to think broader about your overall health, you don’t tie yourself to a treadmill trying to sweat it out into a new pair of jeans. You begin making small changes in several aspects of your life to make you a happier person in general. Challenge yourself to think deeper, not heavier.
  2. Choose Smarter Nutrition Over Fad Diets – Your eating habits can account for up to 80% of your overall weight loss, so beginning to change your nutrition needs to be taken seriously. If you start automatically on January 1 (or tomorrow) on a fad diet that cuts out all of the foods that you’ve been used to eating, you won’t last very long. Instead it is about baby steps and making small, gradual changes so that you build making healthy choices into your routine instead of something you torture yourself to do for a few weeks – because then the results will be temporary as well. Look at improving your nutrition for good as your gateway to a healthier you! “What we choose to put in our mouth is the most intimate experience we’ll have, therefore it’s important that food be looked at with the intent of supporting and nourishing the body,” says Sports Club/LA nutritionist Karen Sherwood. “Foods that the body recognizes, i.e. fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats, and some grains should round out a person’s diet in moderate portion sizes. Weight loss is then just side effect of a truly nourished body. “
  3. Plan Challenging Routines that Don’t Ever Extend Yourself – The likelihood of you being able to go from couch to a 7-days a week work out regimen and sustain it is very unlikely. That is nothing to be ashamed of. Instead set a more realistic goal of 2-3 days a week to begin. This way if something comes up and you can’t make it one day you are still getting in a regular routine. Or start a regular class to get your feet wet – some place that will hold you accountable without overwhelming your schedule. As Karen also explains, creating a life change is about baby steps. “To make a complete life-change, taking baby steps and “leaning” into a new way of being is key. This enables us to pave a new foundation and build from there. It must begin with nutrition, and include an active life-style with focus on self care, rest, and stress management. When all of these wheels are working in harmony, the body and its relationship to food and the outside world begins to make sustainable change.”

Look over your list of 2014 intents and check them with these tips. If your current intents feel too numbers based or too specific, take a minute to think deeper – why are you setting that intent? Why is that something you desire? When you can answer those questions,  that is your true intent and focusing on that more encompassing goal will be more fulfilling than checking off a simple box. Setting an overall intent can allow you to make smaller goals, to create a plan of baby steps to reach it. Realize that creating true change in your life takes time and don’t rush it – allow yourself the patience to get there at the pace that is right for you.

Have you started your 2014 Intent list? We’d love to hear them so share in the comments below!

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