My mother thought “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was a documentary

Having a motivation, staying motivated and changing motivators are all necessary – no matter what you are doing.   It could be as simple as preparing meals, completing a project, or completing a marathon.

Whatever your intention is….. there is always a motivating factor.

Let’s talk fitness for a bit.  I have noticed my motivators have changed many times to reach my many fitness goals.  I have been on this planet for over 50 years, and my motivation to start exercising in my 20’s was my upbringing.

Growing up in a house where fat and carbohydrates were basic food groups (although a loving family I have to say), and vegetables meant pickled beets or cucumbers, I quickly realized that if I continue down this road, I will definitely grow to be a very ‘healthy’ woman.  By the age of 14, I realized that my nutrition was different from my best friend’s.  Ever see that movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”?  Well, although my family isn’t Greek, it is of eastern European descent my brother and I were.

I am sure my mother thought “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was a documentary.

In any case, my fitness intention in my late teens was to achieve a place that was 180 degrees from how I was brought up and nourished.

There – that’s easy I thought.  I just needed to do whatever it was I wasn’t doing all those years before.  Any time I felt tired or lazy, I would just think of how my mother would say, ‘I don’t like it when you’re sweating’.  That would only make me work harder. 

Interesting how I took such offense back then…..

Anyway, along with the tension release that physical exercise provided, I discovered that I was becoming more fit.  Plus the aesthetic benefits that tagged along with all that sweat worked well for me.

By the time I reached my 30’s, I wanted more definition and so my motivation was a more defined look.  And yes, although I was motivated to exercise anyway, I really, really wanted to achieve a more defined look.  So what is wrong with that?  Nothing. 

Now that I’m in my 50’s, my intention is to remain active to maintain quality of health in my later years.  I want to be that person who is 75 and has little to no issue climbing a set of stairs.  That’s it –

And so, after more than 30 years of exercise, I have had at least 3 main motivators: 

  1. My upbringing which strengthened my desire to increase my knowledge about food and exercise
  2. My desire to achieve a more defined look (aesthetic purposes I must admit)
  3. My desire to maintain quality of life – I would rather have a shorter and healthy life before a long life with pain

 Keep your motivators updated – and you will always have that to push you forward.

Overriding Your Subconscious

Our minds have a remarkable way of controlling our level of physical effort when taking on a stressful task. We all have it – an innate technique that keeps us from working too hard, in order to preserve energy for survival. 

For instance, have you ever noticed if a physical task proves to be difficult, our subconscious takes over?  Our bodies have the ability to adjust and compensate.

Here’s an example I want to share:

Recently, my husband and I were at our local gym and I was honing my balancing skills.  Try this balancing exercise and see if you experience the same as I:

Physical Challenge With a Partner

Stand with one foot directly aligned in front of the other.  Make sure your toes of one foot touch the heel of the other straight on.

Have your partner stand directly in front of you and have them throw you a weighted ball.  Throw the ball back. 

Now have your partner slowly throw the ball to you from different angles – so that you are forced to turn your upper body slightly each time when returning the ball, keeping your feet firmly planted. 

As your partner moves slowly at different angles to you, it is your job to catch the weighted ball. 

You will notice the difficulty in keeping your feet planted in exactly the same position as when you started. 

After a few throws back and forth, stop and take note of how your feet have adjusted to compensate for the different angles.

 If they have not moved at all, then Congrats!  You have great concentration and balance.  If they have adjusted, this just means your body intuitively adjusted for you. 

If you lose your focus on the task at hand, you will notice how your body will not let you down.  It will find that easier way to accomplish the task. That is your body’s automatic response and it does a great job too.

When my partner was throwing the ball to me from different angles, my one foot was involuntarily adjusting to an angle that would bear weight more easily.  In fact, I had to really focus hard on keeping my feet aligned so that my feet did not move – I had to Override my Subconscious.

So go ahead & try this exercise, or try another that you think of – anything from weight bearing to balance. And take notice how your body compensates for the level of difficulty.

 

 

What’s Your Thing?

I’ve always been one to over-analyze things – but as I grow older, I find myself doing more internal analyzing.  It’s not that I’m searching for anything in particular – it’s just that I often think about how people are identified with what they do.  And I’m not necessarily talking about what they do in their occupation because we all know that many of us are working in areas that are so often not related to our favourite interests.    It really is a rare few who have a career in what they know and love best.  Anyway, that’s a bit off topic –

What I am really talking about here is — what actions define any one person?  

It is interesting when I meet someone for the first time and they ask me ‘So What do you do?’ – In other words, they are asking me what I do for a living, what I get paid for – not what my interests are.  Why is that?  Why is so much emphasis placed on what one does for a living? – assuming that your answer will quickly define for that person who you are – This is interesting especially when many do not work in an occupation they prefer.  Many people work to pay their bills and put food on their tables, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have other interests that define them. 

For instance, when I think of my brother, I automatically associate him with instruments and his love for fishing in northern Ontario.  Although he has a successful career not related at all with these interests, his profession does not identify him in my mind. 

Another example is my mother, one who chose teaching as a career.  Now here’s an example of a career that actually does define the person.  Almost 30 years after her retirement, she still brings that ‘teacher’ character into our lives. And yes, although this was her occupation, my mother will always be a teacher through and through – her teaching defines who she is and that definitely did not stop in her Grade 2 classroom – it still is a big part of her life and it often spills over into our lives and anyone who knows her.  That teaching spirit has been woven into our celebrations of Christmas, Easter and other family gatherings.   

Another example is my husband.  He operates two very successful businesses of his own – but again, these do not define him. His positive attitude and life interests define him more than his businesses; he is a recreational pilot, he plays accordion; and focuses on maintaining a healthy mind, spirit and body. 

So – What Defines My Personal Fiber?  What is my definition?  Well I guess it depends on what time in my life we are talking about.  As we all know, interests may come and go – we might be so interested in something that we master that interest, but then years have a way of finding other distractions and perhaps providing new paths for new interests. 

Health and nutrition have been a big part of my life ever since I was in my early twenties.  So – I guess that says a lot – I hope that is what I am able to express to others – that I so strongly care and practice that in my day-to-day life.  I am also a huge fan of goals of all sizes – some I overcome easily and some I still have not met and so continue to work toward – But I never drop those challenges to the side – once I dedicate myself to a challenge, I continue until I’ve successfully achieved it.  It doesn’t matter how small I perceive my goal to be – it’s MY goal and that’s all that matters.

So next time you meet someone new, try this.   Ask them what they do for fun or what their interests are.  I guarantee that your conversation will be fun and you might even discover a common interest or a new interest!

What’s Your Thing?

 

Keeping Healthy at 50 and On – Do you Deserve a Reward?

You bet you do!….Give yourself a big pat on the back for the good work you do keeping your body healthy.  That can sometimes be a struggle in your 50’s, let alone in your 20’s and 30’s.   For all of us, some days are better than others – even if you’re not 50!  Struggles with ‘why should I bother’; or ‘I’m too tired’; then guilt……’I should exercise’ rather than ‘I want to exercise’.

Energy…..Exertion…….Effort.  All words that sound like work.  Well — it is.  Hey!  If it were easy, EVERYONE would be in stellar shape.  But, try not to look at it as if you need to train at Olympic-like levels.  All we need is enough to be a stronger, healthier person.

Here’s why.

Mentally, we might be thinking…”why even bother anymore”  — it’s not like we’re going to live to 200.  Well, while that may be a very true statement, I’m sure that, given the choice, one would choose quality of life rather than a longer unhealthy life.

But then, let’s be honest here – a better diet and exercise does not come with a guarantee for a long and healthy life without any pain – but it will certainly decrease your chances of it!  So it only makes sense to do what you can to decrease those chances.

Here’s a few Top Tips on rewarding yourself:

1. Go shopping and buy yourself 1 item – within budget of course.  That way, every time you see that item, it will remind you why you bought it – because you earned it!

2.  Make a list of your goals and incentives.  Each time you reach a goal, reward yourself.  Make these rewards something you really look forward to.  Whether it’s an activity, or purchasing a new accessory, or a new workout outfit, taking a trip, taking on a new adventure  – Whatever it is, you will have earned it!

3. Schedule time out for yourself:  Yes, that’s right.  Put this time right in your calendar and don’t book over it.  I love scheduling a workout with a friend once a month, then doing breakfast afterwards.  This is a great reward – not only do you get to workout, but you get rewarded with social time for yourself!  Taking time for yourself allows you to be more productive in your day with all your priorities and puts a positive spin on the rest of your day.  Think about it – you’ve already done something positive for your body, have spent some time with a friend, and now you’re ready to deal with the day.  You’ll be surprised how much more calm and positive you are when you take that time.

4. Take a hot bath after your workout.  Tell your family you are not available for 45 minutes – or as long as you need.

And Finally, you will see that working out is its own reward – and you will only want more of it!