I used to think that Trainer Bob, of The Biggest Loser, was a little…edge-less. A little too nice.
That was until the Most Glorious Moment of Reality Television Ever, when he flipped the switch and handed Joelle her own bum for breakfast.
Do yourself a favor this Thursday morning and take four minutes to watch this whole clip. We can probably all be a little like Joelle at times, but hopefully you will identify with Trainer Bob in this instance.
Because happy parents tend to raise happy children, I recently launched “Spring Cleaning for the Brain”: a four-part series in which I (and you!) discuss the techniques we use to be the happiest selves we can be. (Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.)
Exercise is the single most effective tool in my arsenal to keep me on top of my ‘A’ game. Since most of us, unfortunately, do not have a Trainer Bob to drag our asses to the gym, below I’m sharing…
Seven Mistakes I Sometimes Make Regarding Exercise, and How You Can Avoid Them:
Mistake #1: Thinking I can go 3 days or more without exercising, and still maintain my effectiveness.
You know the science: exercise releases endorphins, increases oxygen transport to the brain, enhances the removal of toxins and waste, reduces stress, and helps us sleep better at night. It also stimulates the hippocampus, the segment of the brain linked to learning and memory.
So why would any of us think we could be our best selves without exercise? Captain Obvious has news for us: we can’t.
How many days can you, personally, go without exercise and still be effective? Test this out, be honest with yourself, and then act on it.
I’ve figured out that my bare minimum is 35 minutes of moderately-high-intensity cardio (HR > 150) every three days. Once upon a time, I was doing a lot more than that. Nowadays I shoot for 35 minutes every other day.
Mistake #2: Not using a heart rate monitor (HRM.)
In order to become a certified Mad Dogg Athletics Spinning Instructor, I was required to receive 50 lashings with the chest strap of a HRM.
Okay, that’s not entirely true, but they did figuratively beat it into us that everyone should wear a HRM while exercising.
And I ignored them, until I got pregnant, and I wanted to continue spinning (and teaching spin) without hurting my baby.
Now, if I work out without it, I feel like I’m wasting my time.
Key take-away: your perceived level of exertion is probably inconsistent with your actual level of exertion.
Mistake #3: Not using music.
I used to feel guilty about watching TV before bed. So I bought a spin bike for my living room so that I could watch “Grey’s Anatomy” without guilt. Here’s the problem with that plan: when I was observing McDreamy and McSteamy, I wasn’t McListening to McMusic.
Mistake #4: Forgetting my goals
Exercise provides a cornucopia of benefits. The only of those benefits that currently lands on my list of priorities is mental clarity. I can enjoy the other advantages (weight loss, muscle-building, socializing, etc) if they coincide with my cardio, but I have to be careful not to get so distracted by them that they compromise the cardio.
Mistake #6: Not hydrating.
Given my tendency to overdo things, I think it’s pretty remarkable that I have only once worked out until I vomited. (Long story short: Hot Yoga + Iced Coffee – Water = Up-chuck.)
Exercising without water is like driving a car without oil. I am no mechanic, but I know oil-less driving is not advisable.
This link provides guidelines for determining how much to drink during exercise.
Mistake #7: Thinking I don’t have time to exercise.
Here’s a thought-provoking post by career advisor Penelope Trunk on this topic.
Let’s agree on one thing: we don’t have time to not exercise.
Mistake #8: Planning to work out for too long.
If I plan a 2.5 hour workout, I will find 147 excuses not to do it.
Here’s a great trick you can use to get your butt in gear: promise yourself you will work out for 25 minutes, no longer. Twenty-five minutes of cardio is sometimes all that is separating me from mental clarity.
Come on, you can motivate for 25 minutes, for crying out loud.
Mistake #5: Thinking about it too much.
There’s a reason Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign is so successful.
So, tell me, how are you going to get your exercise today?
Hold up–looks like we have a prudent interruption from Trainer Bob:
“Words, words, words, words, words! Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk! Shut the F up–just do it! Just stop talking and do it. Don’t say one more word: JUST DO IT.”
But seriously–how do you get your exercise? I could use some fresh ideas.
If you are a parent, how do you fit in your workouts while juggling kids?
If you don’t exercise, why not?