Ghostwritten Excerpt from:
Nancy Dunne, N.D. and Bill Slater, M.B.A.
Health Solutions Press, Seattle, WA, 2006
Chapter 14: Tips for a More Satisfying Workout
There are many resources available that offer suggestions for exercise regimes of varying intensities. Consult with your physician and/or professional trainer to design a workout that you can live with on a daily basis. Here are a few tips that can make any workout more satisfying:
- Put aside rigidity and practice being fluid. Recognize that when you are breaking new ground physically or emotionally, the little hobgoblins of resistance, reluctance, discouragement, fatigue or failure begin to show up. Respect the information they’re giving you about your condition. Recognize that with perseverance, these little hobgoblins will quiet down and take their place on the bench. What replaces them ultimately is a remarkable sense of well being, satisfaction and self-esteem. Find a balance point between healthy exertion and injury and stay conscious of that point as you strive to improve the quality and duration of your workout.
- Precede each workout with 5-10 minutes of deep breathing to gather your energy. As you breathe, quiet your mind and begin to gently stretch and warm up. This tells your body that you’re about to do something wonderful with and for it. It sets an intent. Intent + focus + attention = success.
- Focus your attention on your body when working out. Rather than let your mind wander, practice “being present” with your muscles as they stretch and contract. This amplifies your workout because your attention is inside your body rather than on outside distractions.
- Cultivate the habit of breathing deeply through your nostrils to bring oxygen into your entire body
- Be attuned to your body’s natural cycles, its ebbs and peaks. Your energy fluctuates during the day, just as it does during the week, month and year. There are just some days that your body is tired. There are some times of the day when you’re perkier than other times. Try to understand and cooperate with these fluctuations rather than stressing yourself by working against them.
- Visualize success. In your mind’s eye, see your body in top form, moving freely and easily. As you work out, form clear and vivid images of your muscles becoming strong and flexible, your body shedding what no longer serves your well-being, your cells absorbing plenty of oxygen, and your entire being becoming strong and healthy.
- Use affirmations to create a positive thought pattern. “I love to work out,” is a good one to start with. Other affirmations might be, “I love feeling fit,” or “My body loves to move!” or simply, “I can.” You can make up your own affirmations if you want to. The only rule is to keep them simple and positive. The word affirmation means to “make firm”. Affirmations are direct and repeated efforts toward changing negative patterns that don’t serve your well being.
- Let go of perfectionism. It’s a seduction.Replace it with a process of excellence — doing your personal best and feeling complete about it. This way, results become a byproduct of a healthy internal process rather than an external obsession. Keep an exercise journal of what activities you do and how you feel about yourself when you do them. It’s a good way to keep track of the process and will tell you a lot about who you are.
- Exercise is transformational if you flow with it. When you focus on your body and muscle group(s) being worked, and when you pay attention to what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, you’re less likely to exhaust yourself and you’ll be more energized afterwards.
- See your workout as a dance between you and your body, a joyful process of natural movement that can lead to great satisfaction.
- Stay conscious of your physical state. Accept what you cannot change and change what you can. As you get fit, you will want to expand your workout. Recognize that each time you expand, it’s important that you commit to ‘going the distance’ to the new level. Remember that fitness is a process, not a destination.
- Make exercising a priority and a habit. A good way to do that is to choose a time of day, e.g., first thing in the morning, before work, over lunchtime, after work or in the evening. Sometimes people stay on track with an exercise program more easily if they exercise with a friend. But if you choose to do it that way, don’t let your friend’s schedules or attitudes interfere with your resolve to get and stay fit.
- Goals create a relationship between what you dream and what you do. They direct your energy to what’s most important. Set exercise goals for yourself and strive to reach them. Research from the University of Minnesota has shown that people with high physical activity goals have more long-term weight loss than those who had less ambitious goals.[i] And when you reach your goal, celebrate!
Exercise offers you a way to cultivate health and well being by discovering who you are and what you’re made of. It gives you the chance to “fall in love” with, and cooperate with, your true and spontaneous nature. Think about this before a workout so you will approach the session with an attitude of cooperation rather than resistance.
Be patient. It takes time to develop endurance, strength, willingness, perseverance and a healthy body. Every time you exercise, you’re proving that you’re worth the time and energy it takes to become healthy and happy.
[i] Jeffery RW et al, Physical activity and weight loss: does prescribing higher physical activity goals improve outcome?, Am J Clin Nutr, 2003, 78(4):684-89