This pillar could be called Confessions of an Exercise Nut. Or, Why I Won’t Give Up Exercise Even for the Revolution.
Jane Fonda once said that about getting a massage and I liked how her message was made clear. Once you make it a habit to move your body, you will find it much easier to continue to do so. Getting hooked on how you feel after a hearty work-out is part of your success formula.
In this last pillar, I have a clear intent. Namely, to share with you how and where movement and exercise show up in my life, for the express purpose of inspiring you to incorporate it into your life. Many of you reading this are already in love with moving your body. In that way, we are kindred spirit. My husband and I live in a 55-plus community in Northern California. We are surrounded by exercise nuts. I take a Zumba class with a spry eighty-three year old woman who shakes her booty with the best of us.
What do getting older and moving your body have to do with each other? Answer: everything. I was once on an inline skate expedition. We skated through Idaho over five days for a total of 187 miles. At one of the lodges, we got to soak in a hot tub. There were four couples who had been meeting for bike trips since college, which was over fifty years ago! I wish I could find them to thank them for such inspiration. Ever since then I’ve held this sense inside of me, the commitment and desire to be able to move for decades to come. Your reading this means the world to me. Sharing a lifetime of sporty adventures is among my greatest joys. This really has been my life.
In 2016 I fulfilled a dream of skating in an annual race to raise money for the True Health Foundation. I had race-walked the race for over fifteen years. This year, along with my buddy from Canada, we skated the race, which was a complete peak experience for me. You might or might not be as enthralled as I am in the pursuit of sporty adventures. However, I hope I can inspire you to become enthralled with how you feel when you move your body. Skating might not be your thing. But everybody can find something that they enjoy doing.
A new client discovered that the most important thing she could do to launch her new wellness lifestyle was to get off her butt and walk daily. We agreed that she would text me each day for accountability. (This is not a requirement for my clients, although many find it encouraging and helpful.)
After three days, she texted me, “Can I tell you how AMAZING I feel? :) ”
I texted her after a couple of weeks of daily check-in texts that she sent me. (She was now walking every day.) Here was my question: “What do you most enjoy about walking every day?”
Her answer, “My ankles are less swollen, and it gets easier every time to forget the time. Also my mind and spirit are more focused. One strange thing: I’m not as hungry. I thought the opposite would happen.”
You can see how I just had to share this with you! When my clients give me feedback like this I tell them that they have the power to make my day.
Moving your body is the last in the Five Pillars of the Health Matters System. I do not have enough fingers and toes to even begin to tell you all of the times that refreshing movement improved every aspect of my day. Nor the countless times others have told me the same thing. Since you have been with me on this journey, and we are still in this together, let’s wrap up the five pillars with a bang.
Fundamentally, you must move to optimize your health. I saw a beautiful sports car on the freeway today. That machine, like our bodies, is built to move. We don’t have to move fast like the sports car. Speed is not for everyone. But if you are ready to take complete responsibility for your body serving you with radiant vitality, you must move.
There are some key functions in your body that literally depend on moving your bones and muscles and breathing fully in order to provide you with excellent health. These are a few examples of that:
There is an excellent description of the benefits of getting regular exercise on the Psychology Today website. I urge you to have a look in order to determine the benefits that could have the greatest impact for you personally. These benefits can be used to motivate you to get up and get moving. Another way to consider the author’s recommendations is to imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have that particular benefit in your life. In the Health Matters System we call this your Personal Motivator.
Having compelling reasons to move is a powerful way to overcome excuses not to. You can easily do a Google search for all of the benefits of getting exercise. You will see physiological and psychological rewards, and you can experience them for yourself like my client who sent me that an enthusiastic text. Since this information is so readily available online, I’d like to take a different approach and share with you what movement and exercise mean to me personally, in hopes of leaving some clues for you to find your own path.
1. Feeling strong.
Doing push-ups is symbolic to me to build a reserve of strength. There are countless times during the day when I feel a payback from the strengthening routine I do in the morning. These are usually mundane moments but they are more special when I feel the strength in my body. Bringing groceries in from the car is an example. Our dog had an injury so we push her in a stroller in our hilly neighborhood. I love being able to do this comfortably. I lift my carry-on bag up and down the stairs in the airport. I figure that if I keep doing this I will always be able to do this. Where would it make a difference for you to have more reliable strength in your body? If you keep this in mind, I bet you will find many examples.
I'm sharing one of my all-time favorite pictures with you. My friend, Russell, is a practicing vegan, like my husband and I are. We asked him to demonstrate his strength, since he loves to work out. This picture says a thousand words
2. Feeling flexible.
Yoga came into my life when I was 19. (If you want, you can read about this in my Origin Story.) I have had a love affair with yoga for over forty-five years. I realize what a great blessing this is. For you, if you are new to stretching, there is no time like the present to begin to bend, twist, and reach your body into new positions. I prepared for you a two part podcast to coax you into stretching. (www.RosieBank.com/14 and www.RosieBank.com/15).
The most common mistake people make about stretching is thinking that they are too stiff. Nothing could be further from the truth. Since the experiences and history in your body are completely different than the experiences and history in someone else’s body, then obviously you will have different capacities when it comes to how flexible you are. In my own experience, I believe I am doing you a huge service by encouraging you to take a stretching class, or work with an instructor privately. Learning to do yoga through online videos is okay, but not great. Without the eye of a trained instructor, it’s next to impossible to release all of the strain patterns in your body that lurk in your posture. One can do yoga stretches without unwinding from one’s holding patterns, which limits the ultimate benefit to you. Having said that, if online videos are all you are able to access, that is way better than not stretching at all.
Being flexible is obviously a physical phenomenon in your body. But it is not only physical. When you stretch and open your body, there is a lovely effect in your mind. The relaxation helps you navigate through life. This can make a huge difference if you encounter challenging situations, difficult people, or emotional traumas. The way you open your body through stretching and yoga literally gets energy moving. It is easy to imagine all the ways you will feel better when you get unstuck.
3. Feeling alive.
I coined this phrase after experiencing this countless times. Getting the exercise in your body, so that after you move, breathe, and stretch, there is an afterglow. In my book, Health Matters, I dedicated an entire chapter to this concept of taking your body with you. How alive are you able to feel? How awake are you throughout your day? How much do you feel your body parts? Movement and exercise will give you a huge payback to these questions. One of the reasons I am so dedicated to my morning routine is because I want to spend my entire day with the results of my work-out. Swimming, biking, kayaking, and hiking are often the highlights of my day. This is not only because of how enjoyable these activities are. It is because the feeling of turning all of the lights on in my body is sacred to me.
4. Feeling positive.
Exercise has a direct impact on the chemicals released by your brain. Not only does movement increase the feel-good neurotransmitters from your brain, movement also mitigates the negative impact of stress hormones. Movement and exercise are essential components of living a life of positivity and maintaining a bright outlook. Perhaps you or someone you know swears by the fact that one always feels better after a yoga class, spin class, or Zumba class. I told a story in the Unwind from Stress online course about a time recently when I was about to pull my hair out because of a technology snag I hit while at my computer. My frustration was reaching epic proportions. My husband told me to get up, it was time to take the dogs around the block. That was all I needed to get out of feeling overwhelmed and able to tackle the problem again. The technology riddle was solved. The only way I could get through this was by shaking it off physically.
I love this quote from Paul Dudley White. “A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.”
5. Feeling healthy.
Either through the article in Psychology Today that I mentioned, or through your own online search, the physical benefits of movement and stretching are significant. With that, I feel it is most important to help you feel healthy, literally, not just put the information in your head. What does it mean to feel healthy? What palpable signs lead you to sense, deep in your experience, that you and your body are on the same page
Here are a few that I believe correlate with boosting your body’s health through movement and exercise:
I’d like to leave you with some encouragement.
If there is a word that is stronger than passionate to describe how I feel about you giving yourself the gift of movement, I would choose that word. Your body is built to move. Your muscles are built to store energy, strength and power, and you have the influence to turn on that switch. Your heart is designed to support you while riding your bike up a hill or making love with your partner. But your heart needs for you to provide it with some exertion and exercise. Your metabolism is designed to burn fat while you rest, one of the most glorious rewards to you for getting a sweaty workout. I love what Jim Rohn said.
“If you don’t have a body, where will you live?”
That we are on our fifth and last pillar of the Health Matters System touches me. There are so many parts to your living a life of vitality. As you embrace the lifestyle component of enjoying a life of health and vitality, many pieces fall in place for you. In the Five Pillars we have addressed loving yourself first, falling in love with nutritious food, unwinding from stress, healing your gut, and now movement and exercise. Getting on a healthy track has countless rewards, many of which have been described to you throughout this five-part discussion.
Like I tell my clients, you can make my day by letting me know how you resonate with this series. I hope you will pour your heart into taking care of yourself.
Today I asked a new client what would be the most significant first step she could take on her wellness journey, something that she already knows would be smart for her to do.
Each time I ask someone this, the person intuitively knows the answer right away.
So, I will ask you:
What is the single, most important thing that you should start to do, or stop doing, to show your body that you care, and to demonstrate your commitment to be well?
You are welcome to text me or send me an email with this information so that I can cheer you on. I know that you know the answer, and you know this too.
It’s never too early to get started on your wellness journey, and it’s always too late to wait. Please let me know if you want help. I did not get to my own radiant state of health by myself. I believe in coaching for so many reasons. For you, in this case, because you are worth it.
Copyright ©2019 Rosie Bank