Exercise has taught me to be in the moment. Truly connect with my body and mind.
Running used to mean getting lost in my music, but now, it's evolved to being present, connected to my body for miles and miles. Listening to the birds, the planes, and the random dude screaming. (It's Miami, after all.)
Lifting heavily is pushing my mind to connect with muscles I didn't know I had.
It's taken time to develop my mind-to-body connection. Not only forming the neuromuscular connections needed to run faster or pull heavy things but creating the habit of down-regulating my body after an intense session. It took a career change, and MAJOR boundaries to be able to stop my "go, go" mentality.
I used to train 6-7 days a week.
I used to train for 2 hours a day at times.
I ran from meeting to meeting, driving all over South Florida.
During the pandemic, I had meetings scheduled back to back for 10 hours at times.
Until I realized my body was breaking down, my anxiety was at its all-time high, my intrusive thoughts were taking me down a dark path. I was constantly sick, constantly exhausted, and didn't sleep for more than 6 hours a night.
Educating myself changed it all. I realized that I needed more than JUST physical activity and exercise. I needed adequate stress management techniques and recovery days. I needed to sleep more than 6 hours a night. Nutrition plays a huge role as well, but that was last week's posts (check them out here if you missed it)
In this week's blog, we are discussing the key components of every wellness/exercise program that are not talked about as often as they should be.
Stress Management is a major component of fat loss, a 2018 study by Xenakis, they placed obese individuals in two groups, one group received an 8-week stress management program that comprised diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided visualization, and instructions about healthy nutrition/dietary habits; another group received standard weight loss instructions. The group that received the stress management program reduced their BMI score significantly.
What this means for you, in a noncontrolled setting is that taking time to connect with your body, often, is essential in a fat loss journey.
Even if you are NOT on a fat loss journey, as an athlete or someone building muscle, stress management is essential in staving off chronic conditions like heart disease and immune disorders. It will also help you build resilience, avoid burnout and perform your best.
"How? Though, I do not STOP all day."
I know the feeling, I too feel like this at times, especially when I have neglected the mental wellness exercises I perform DAILY.
Take the time for stillness when you first wake up. I know, it seems counterintuitive, you were JUST sleeping, BUT, if you're like the 3% of Americans that suffer from generalized anxiety (ADA), chances are you wake up in a panic every morning. Start with 5 minutes of silence (you can enjoy your coffee) and every 2 weeks, work yourself up to 10 minutes. Added bonus- catch those morning rays.
Being grateful. Changing the channel on negative thought processes. I like to journal in the morning. Sometimes it's a brain dump, sometimes it's a small sentence. Sitting with my coffee and simply being thankful for my creamer has helped me with my coping skills. Studies show that positive mind control can restructure negative thinking.
Meditation. Five minutes of silence in the middle of the day or at the end. Just 5. Master this for 4 weeks, then we increase it to 10 minutes. My clients receive individualized Habit coaching through my online and in-person programs. You can check out a 3 Mindful Breaths meditation, that they may receive as homework, apart from our training sessions. It opens to my private Youtube account.
Mindfulness. Practice being mindful. Yes, simply being in the moment. I like to drive in silence and note every tree or crazy driver that passes by. Those moments of silence before I pick up my oldest from school helps me refocus and get into "mom" mode.
This one has thankfully started to take traction in the social media world, with elite personal trainers recommending and actually providing specific moves for you recovery days.
Ben Bruno @benbrunotraining knows what he's talking about, and recovery days are essential in your health and fitness journey. It's not only the muscles that need recovery, since you're literally tearing your muscles every time you challenge your muscles, your nervous system needs time to reset so it is fresh for your next challenge.
Some coaches and trainers will actually argue that active rest is important for these days, as they allow the blood flow to circulate and oxygenate your muscles.
Coach Ria takes the middle ground, it depends. We are unique individuals, and like people require personalized workouts, they also require personalized rest days. A few tips to decide it's a full rest day or an active rest day.
Are you feeling down and lethargic?
Are you getting sick?
Do you have muscle soreness?
Have you slept 7-9 hours every night?
If you answered YES to any of these- it's time for a FULL recovery day. Remember, physical activity differs from exercise- so get those 10k steps in, unless you're SICK!
Next week, I will go a little more into detail on rest and we will deep dive into sleep.
Hope you had a great holiday!
Have you grabbed my freebies yet?
Xenaki, Niovi et al. “Impact of a stress management program on weight loss, mental health and lifestyle in adults with obesity: a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of molecular biochemistry vol. 7,2 (2018): 78-84.