TO EXERCISE OR NOT WHEN IN PAIN?

This morning I went running despite pain in my left foot and lower back. Yesterday I did the same thing and the day before too. The pain was there every day and has been for at least three years. It is so severe that when I sit for a while, every step forces me to stop and regroup before advancing with another step. I do not take traditional pain meds and hope to never do so. Is it unhealthy or healthy that I do this? It is healthy for a few reasons.

  1. First, I am getting my aerobic exercise of at least 150 minutes per week. I run on mostly soft grass and make sure my foot is supported well and warmed up before running. I do not bounce up and down but instead focus on moving forward quietly on my foot. I stay tall throughout the run and know that if I slouch I will bring more weight down on the foot, resulting in more pain. I also listen to my body and do not risk injuring myself further. My foot will not get any worse if I am smart and focused.
  2. Second, I have learned through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) how to view my pain differently. I have learned to question the beliefs that lead me to think that the pain can stop me from being as healthy as I can be. I know that if I warm up and secure my foot properly that my foot will feel better. I know that my self-talk and the way I view the pain is critical to my long term health. CBT has taught me that I create my own experiences in life and that includes the way I cope with any kind of pain.
  3. Thirdly, running helps manage any depressive symptoms I have because of the physical pain I feel now or the emotional pain I’ve felt forever. Depression is so hard on our physical bodies and it is so important to learn to manage our depression for our long term health. CBT and other evidence based theories along with moderate aerobic exercise has helped many of us. Treat yourself well.

What we tell ourselves and the way we relate to the pain in our lives is critical to our long term health. It is vital that you exercise and work around the ailments that you use to stop you from achieving your best health. No matter what you struggle with, you can keep and achieve good health. It just takes your belief that you can work through things that stop you. Begin as soon as possible. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!

www.miraclesofphoenixfitness.com

 

THE REAL KEY TO HOW HEALTHY WE WILL BE AS WE AGE?

In recent weeks I have been studying and sharing with you about telomeres, the caps at the end of each strand of our DNA that protects our chromosomes. I have telomeres described by several people as being like the plastic tips at the end our shoelaces. And like the tips at the end of our shoelaces, as telomeres age with time they shorten and lose their effectiveness. And why are they important? Telomere aging is most likely the key to how healthy and functioning we will be as we get older. The shorter the telomeres become, the more likely we are to suffer with more disease, ailments, and a less functioning life. In other words telomeres are vital to our life and it is important to take care of them.

Taking Care of Telomeres

  1. Aerobic Exercise While resistance training and being strong is important to the way we age, our telomeres prefer you to do 45 minutes of aerobic exercise or High Intensity Interval Training. The HIIT workout consisted of also performed three times a week, was high-intensity interval training, consisting of a 10-minute warm-up, four alternating intervals of fast and easy running (at three minutes each) and a 10-minute cool down.
  2. Watch The Yo-Yo Weight Loss If you regularly lose weight and gain it back again you are harming your telomeres, according to research. It is important to lose the belly fat and to limit the amount of sugar we take in for healthy telomeres but yo-yo dieting is more harmful than helpful,
  3. Eat Fish, Flaxseed, and Seaweed Longer telomeres are linked to a diet rich in omega 3’s. Omega 3’s are also great for our heart, brain, and joints. Eat fish!
  4. Manage Depression  Research is showing that depression directly affects our telomeres in a negative way. Depression is also known to be a direct path to heart disease, many cancers, and bone deterioration. If you suffer from depression, there is help available. Get it! On the other side of the coin, meditation is showing through research to lengthen and strengthen our telomeres. Meditation can also teach you how to manage thoughts of depression if done correctly.

It is so important to take care of our telomeres. I am not shocked that the same things that affect our overall health also affect our telomeres. Exercise, eat fish, maintain a healthy weight, and please manage your mood and seek fulfillment in your life. Your happiness and health depend on it. Begin as soon as possible. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!

www.miraclesofphoenixfitness.com

CHANGING YOUR FAMILY HISTORY OF UNHEALTHY CHOICES

How did we get to where we are today? The road has taken many turns but began with what we inherited through genetics and early life conditioning, or socialization. It is called nature and nurture. Genetics are the traits we are born with while socialization is what we have learned from observing others, believe deeply, developed from life experience, or have learned from media, among other things. It has helped us to develop our customs, beliefs, and philosophies about life. It is the environment that shaped us. It is the way we have been conditioned by family and culture, neighborhoods, schools and institution, and even ourselves. Socialization and conditioning teaches us how to act within a certain culture and shapes our views of race, the opposite sex, male/female roles, crime, employment, potential for success, and EVERY view of life, including the way we eat and our approach to exercise.

Scientific research has shown that being exposed to things both good and bad early in life is HUGE in our personal development and our belief system (National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Children, 2009). Many of us have been conditioned to eat in a certain way (we must eat everything on our plate), react in a certain way (I am being treated unfairly because of who I am or where I am from), or believe in a certain way about ourselves (I am limited in what I can do in life because of my family, neighborhood, ethnic background, cultural or racial heritage). It is VERY TRUE that some of us may start with a disadvantage in life. In a nutshell, it is no wonder that many of us have become the way we are today. For some, it is all that we know. Fortunately for us there are examples of individuals who have overcome the EXACT problem you are facing and been faced with the same disadvantages as you are encountering.  How were they able to enact change and how can we create the transformation we seek? The answer—the same way we learned it. We just have to learn a different way to believe. We must change our core beliefs and the environment that we place ourselves in and what we place into ourselves. But what does that mean? Continuing to place ourselves in the same environments, relationships, and situations will only slow the change process. No duh right? Then why do we continue to engage in this? Because it is easier for most people to continue to react, behave, think, and continue on the same path that has brought them to where they are today, whether successful or not. It is hard to change the way we react, behave, and think but it will be a crucial component to the change process that you desire. “You are the company you keep” was no fluke. In the coming days and blogs, I will illustrate some ways and environments that you may have allowed to create the current belief systems that you utilize. I will start with family.

Family and Cultural Conditioning

As stated earlier, what we are exposed to early in life could impact us throughout life. For most of us, our family or who we were raised with were the first lessons of exposure in our life. These individuals taught us how to walk, speak a language, religious practices, prejudices in some cases, expectations of success or failure, being advantaged or disadvantaged, violence, drug/alcohol use, importance of love and relationships, eating and health practices, belief in oneself, and the list could go on and on and on. Here are some examples of how some of us could have been conditioned by family and those involved in our childhood upbringing.

  1. I have a close friend that was raised in a VERY strict religious manner. As a child, she was told to dress in a certain way, treat men in a subservient way, and worship God in a certain way. This created feelings of confusion and frustration for her that led to other excessive behaviors in areas of her life, especially the way she ate. She was able to overcome this, develop her own belief system about religion, spirituality, and God. She also uses the strictness of her childhood to be disciplined in her life with nutrition, exercise, thinking patterns, and to educate herself.
  2. I grew up in an area of many different ethnicity, cultural, and economic diversities. There were working poor, wealthy, people of every race including a large Native American population due to the small town’s proximity to two large reservations. My Native friends regularly ate fry bread, potatoes, and desserts. Often, meals were a celebration or family gathering. Many ate this way because of economic conditions and not knowing how to eat healthy on a tight budget. As a result, many of my friends developed diabetes and other health related issues due to obesity and other poor health practices. My friend Jeff was one of these people. After being diagnosed with type two diabetes and weighing 275 pounds at age 34, Jeff decided to make some positive changes with his health. He began to study nutrition and exercise moderately. He did not change where he lived or family. Although he had many struggles conquering his addiction to food because of his early life conditioning, he eventually won the battle and dropped 90 pounds. After one year, he had no signs of diabetes and ran his first half marathon. He did not love his culture or family less. In fact, many of his family have joined him in creating a healthy lifestyle and are making major changes themselves. He did not allow others to influence him, HE DID THE INFLUENCING!

And you can too. Please recognize how you may have been conditioned by your family to eat, exercise, respond to life events, reward yourself, punish yourself, see the world or any other way that may sabotage healthy lifestyle practices. Self-awareness of your choices because of family conditioning  is so important to the change process. Also, if you are conditioning your family to make less than healthy choices please be aware of the consequences and take a different approach for the health of your family. No matter where you are you can change for the better. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!

www.miraclesofphoenixfitness.com

DEPRESSION WORSE THAN OBESITY FOR OUR HEALTH RESEARCH SHOWS

At the young age of 14, I witnessed my father die of a brain aneurysm. He had also suffered two heart attacks prior to that and received stents. My uncle on my mother’s side had four heart attacks before he was 50. On the surface, it would appear that because both had unhealthy lifestyle practices, both suffered heart problems. But could it have been the way they saw life, the way they coped with adverse events, and prolonged periods of sadness and not the way they ate? The answer could very well be yes. According to research, depression can have more severe health risks than obesity or in some cases even smoking. Researchers studied 3428 men over a 10 year period who ranged in age from 45-74 and found that people suffering from depression were at a high risk for cardiovascular disease and premature death. In fact, they found that depression was the cause of 15% of cardiovascular deaths while obesity only 8-20%. There is more and more research showing the harmful physical impacts that depression has on us.

What To Do

If you suffer from depression, there is help available. Seek a counselor or someone who understands mental illness and how to treat it. Exercise and take care of your physical health. Do things (a lot) that bring you fulfillment and serve others who are also suffering. If necessary, explore medications until you can learn to manage the depression in a healthy way.  Whatever you do, please do something to help your depression before it causes you even more physical misery. Our mental health is a vital part of our physical health. Begin today. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!

www.miraclesofphoenixfitness.com

HAVE YOU CONDITIONED YOURSELF TO USE FOOD AS A REWARD?

Many of us have been given or chosen food as a reward for good behavior, a job well done, a long day, etc. The media and advertising also helps us with reward conditioning.  “You deserve a break today” was the slogan for a leading fast food chain. The commercial showed a woman with two children, her hair standing up, a frustrated look on her face and obviously overwhelmed. The commercial touched on the emotions of all who watched it but it did not promote healthy outlets—it promoted easy and even worse unhealthy eating practices. What happens with the person that has a rough day and wants to be healthy?  The person who wants to be healthy rewards themselves by treating the body with care and respect. This individual has re-conditioned his or her reward system to include healthy eating, responses to life events and yes—even a tough day. Reward yourself with long term good health and you may also teach the children in your life to respond the same way. You will be healthier, happier, and impact future generations. Way to go!

I Deserve It!

The “I deserve it’ thought process usually stems from two directions. The first example I will use is when we feel as though we have done something good and “deserve” to reward ourselves with “a treat.” Many of us have been conditioned to do this through sports, home or school activities as a youth when we have won a game or worked hard to achieve some level of success. The way that many of our brains work is that we get “locked into” telling ourselves that unhealthy food is a good reward. When we have had a good accomplishment in our day, gone through a tough exercise session, or worked extra hours it is very common for some of us to reward ourselves with unhealthy practices such as food.

The other “I deserve it” is created when we have not had such a great day or feel as though we have not been recognized properly, feel overwhelmed by events of the day, or feel as though we have been “done wrong” in some way in our lives. Having stress, anxiety, and sadness during our day will lead to the “I deserve it” response because of our automatic (brain locked in) way of coping with discomforting situations in our lives. The advertising geniuses at companies that promote unhealthy eating practices play on our emotions to billion dollar profits for them and poor health for many of us.

What You Truly Deserve

Everyone that I know works hard and are generally good people. They devote their lives to career and families and often neglect personal health and self-care. The “I deserve it” that you do actually deserve is a healthy life. You deserve to spend your hard earned money on vacations and things that you can enjoy with long term good health practices. You deserve to play with your grandchildren, to walk normally and without pain, and the happiness that good health brings. Your family and those who love you also deserve someone who cares for their health and does not cause extra work or burden prematurely.  Begin to create the life and health you deserve as soon as possible. Begin to be your own miracle!

www.miraclesofphoenixfitness.com

HOW BEING SENSITIVE IS HARMFUL

Many of us are highly sensitive, prideful, and ego driven when it comes to receiving feedback from another person. I understand we do not want to appear dumb, weak, or as if we don’t know the answer. It is of huge importance though to be open-minded to feedback from qualified people and materials that can help you to achieve the healthy life you desire. If you study people who have been successful in business, sports, weight loss, or have overcome any large obstacle, they all are open to the feedback of others. They never make the person responsible for their own success or failure but they do listen to advisers and even get challenged on occasion, without defensiveness or feeling shamed. I know that many of us have been judged or shamed for years so we automatically feel attacked when someone else challenges us. Being open to the feedback of another person requires us to be present with the way we are responding emotionally and automatically. One of the people who I like to get feedback from calls this response-ability. It is important to listen to the feedback so you can listen to the feedback, not listen to the feedback to respond. Through self-regulation, manage the way you are experience the feedback emotionally, breathe deeply if you need to, and then communicate as clearly and calmly as your verbal response.    Even people who are unqualified to help you with your goal will give advice. Listen openly to them, communicate consciously, say “Thank You” and move on. For those that are qualified to help you, please seek as much advice and direction as you can and adapt it to you and your goals. Close your mouth, open your ears. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!

www.miraclesofphoenixfitness.com

RESEARCH IS SHOWING THAT MIND WANDERING LEADS TO SADNESS

The human mind is the only mind with the ability to think about more than one thing at once, worry about the future, or ruminate excessively about the past. We are the only animal brain that spends as much as 50% of our time thinking about things other than the events we are engaged in at the moment. Just since beginning this post, I have thought about my schedule, hurtful people, what is for lunch, and how cute my dachshund is. While the ability to multi-task may help us on some levels, research is showing that mind wandering too much leads to poor health and unhappiness. Harvard research psychologists Killingsworth and Gilbert conducted a study on mind wandering and happiness using an app called Track Your Happiness. The study followed over 1000 people who at random times across the day reported their activities, thoughts, and happiness level. The study revealed that those who in engaged in the most mind wandering were the least happy. Wishing they were somewhere else, ruminating about the past, worrying about the future, and focusing on others’ negative behavior were examples of some of the mind wandering thoughts the participants reported. Those who were the most engaged in current activities; feeling purposeful, and who dealt with adversity in a resilient manner were the happiest.

Cellular Health Impacts

As I have shared in the past few weeks, our telomeres (the ends of our chromosomes) play a HUGE role in how healthy we age, how long we struggle with pain and disease, and our overall quality of life as we age. Depression, anxiety, anger, resentment, lack of exercise, and unhealthy nutrition makes our telomeres shorten. Shortened telomeres lead to poor health, disease, and a lower quality of life. A wandering mind leads to an unhealthy life. Being happy is healthy and only comes with an engaged, present moment mind. There are so many types of meditation, exercises, and other ways to increase your focus and ability to stay present in the moment. There are free online videos and classes you can attend in person. Health is more than just eating and exercise. It is about the way we think of the world, the way we see others, and how resilient we are. Please begin as soon as possible to work on your present moment focus. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. So is a life. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!

www.miraclesofphoenixfitness.com