Thursday, October 24, 2013

Own Your Health

Good Morning

Today's blog is focused not on specific exercises - but on busy lifestyles and making the time in our schedules to fit an exercise program into our day.

Recently there was a photo posted by a woman named Maria Kang captioned "What's Your Excuse?"

Unfortunately many working mothers took exception to the photo and accused Maria of "fat-shaming" and showing off. I'm not one of those that is bashing Maria for her post or for being proud of her own accomplishment. My wife Joanne raised four children (three of them triplets) and juggled work, home-making, driving to sports activities and everything else that comes up during the day. She knows as well as anyone that a work-out doesn't hold much appeal when one falls asleep in utter exhaustion before your head barely hits the pillow.
And yes before you jump on me- I helped too!
It wasn't until the kids were close to twelve years of age that Jo joined a gym and started an exercise program. I'm sure if she could go back in time she would have done it sooner because of all the benefits she started to realize through working out. Looking great is only one result in choosing a healthier lifestyle. The more important long-term benefits are things like reduced stress, lower blood pressure, increased metabolism, improvements in bone-density, reduced pain in joints, better posture due to decreased back pain, and the list goes on.


So back to the photo of Maria. Her image outraged people because of the suggestion that a woman had to look like that in order be happy, healthy and fit. Whether she intended that or not- that's how many took it. This is not a new perception of course. The media and corporations have been doing it for years to sell products. They use models - male and female -  to suggest what the ideal body-type is and that if we use a particular product we have a better chance of assimilating. Perhaps a high percentage of people do start an exercise program to look better, but whatever the motivation is- if done properly-  the other benefits will follow. The trouble with the images models or competitive body-builders portray is that it's not usually a realistic goal for most "average" people. There is that all or nothing mentality. There is no point in striving to look a certain way if one is just going to fail (again) That's where people are mistaken - you don't need to have dramatic changes in your body composition just to improve your overall health and increase your chances of longevity.

Get Started

"I don't have the time" is likely the most common reason that people use. While there may be validity to that, there are still plenty of benefits to allotting 20 minutes a day for exercise. The other major issue is diet. When one is constantly running on a tight schedule, it's easy to get into the habit of grabbing fast or processed foods. High carbs, fats, sodium and processed sugar are the enemy, and quickly add pounds on the scale and do nasty things to the internal mechanisms of your body. There are many fitness and dietary experts available to help design a program. There are endless tutorial online workouts and websites. Joanne got started with for example. You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on gym memberships and personal trainers every single week. Once you establish goals and learn a few exercises you can go on your own. And you seriously only need 20 -30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week. If you think that you can't afford the time think again and be totally honest with yourself. How much time is spent on the computer or watching television? How long is a typical hockey or football game televised? Your health is so important so stop procrastinating. 

What to do then?

Not everyone can commit to attending a karate dojo 3 times a week (but I strongly recommend it ;-) ) It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Start to do something. There are some evenings where I don't particularly feel like doing "a whole workout" so I set a smaller goal for myself for that time. I will decide for example to choose 4 different exercises and perform a total of just 50 repetitions of each one. For example: push-ups, leg-raises, body-weight squats and inverted rows. Once I get into it and feeling good I will often end up doing more and before I know it a half hour has gone by and I feel 100% better- physically and mentally. 

The best way to start is moderately. Jumping into something that is too intense will likely just result in burn-out and even worse - an injury. You can enrol in a yoga program or a boot camp for beginners. Many community programs are available through schools or the city recreation department. You could join London Shido-kan Karate. :-)

Again if you're not sure how to get started or what to do- call someone who can help you. You could even call me.

Don't wait

The longer you put it off- the harder it gets. David Patchell Evans- the CEO and founder of Goodlife Fitness Centres has a great line that goes something like this. "Exercising is easy -living life unfit is hard" I apologize if that's not the exact wording but the message is clear. As well, the older we get, the longer it takes to heal. Don't let those minor aches and pains become chronic and debilitating for life. I see so many people in their  40's and even their late 30's who have just given up and it's sad to see. 

Have a great day and  be good to yourself - you're worth it!