Four years ago a friend gave me the book Younger Next Year for my birthday. The title grabbed me, because I am always trying to motivate myself and look a bit younger. The book stresses the importance of exercise, so I bought the audio version and started listening and walking.
The premise of the book is simple–you’re either growing/building your body or you’re rotting. Rotting is a powerful word with strong visual imagery! I didn’t want to rot. Very soon I became obsessed with this book … listening to some of the chapters over and over. The book is based on 7 principles, or “Harry’s Rules”
Exercise 6 days a week for the rest of your life.
Do serious aerobic exercise 4 days a week for the rest of your life.
Do serious strength training, with weights, 2 days a week for the rest of your life.
Spend less than you make.
Quit eating crap!
Take Care of yourself.
Connect and commit.
Now I am not saying that this is the greatest book on fitness ever written and you may not like it, but it changed the way I think and act about exercise, aging and my overall health.
Walking is and is a great way to exercise but I needed to get my heart rate up so I took action and joined the Y. I started off with a Zumba dance class thinking, “great cardio” and as a bonus I would have some fun. Now here’s where the truth about exercise, at least for me begins: The music was great, but my body was hurting and my heart was pounding. I was not is shape and half way through the class I was looking at the clock as the minutes slowly ticked by. I was struggling and the next day it was easier not to go… but I went.
“You have to work through the discomfort and the negativity when you start out. It does get better!”
It’s 4 years later and I am addicted to exercise – Zumba, body pump, cardio combo, body flow, yoga, and soon cycling. So what moved me from dread to joy?
Here are some of the tricks I have learned to keep me motivated, and exercising every day.
Think of working out as part of your career success. Look at it as part of your job and you have to show up every day. The pay is amazing but not half as good as the benefits.
Group classes worked! I am an extrovert and the group classes worked best. I need a team around me. Hint- Make friends with the regulars who stand near or during the workout. It helps.
Make friends with the instructors. That will keep you motivated and obligated to show up for them!!!
My first Zumba instructor,Shannon
Buy cool looking workout clothes and if you are lucky enough to work from a home office like me, put them on in the morning. And don’t be stingy. But several of everything so you don’t have the excuse that nothing is clean.
Write down how you feel after every workout. It is a great way to journal your journey and you’ll motivate yourself with your own feelings and words.
Do not look at the clock. Listen to the music, and stay in the moment. I have created a great playlist of songs I would never have heard if it weren’t for Eliot, my favorite instructor. He keeps me young and fun.
My personal motivator Eliot Perez – Heights Y
Before you decide not to go, ask yourself, “Will I regret skipping today?” Guilt is the Killer App.
Go for a walk, invite your dog and listen to audiobooks! You will find that you walk longer.
9. Make exercise your favorite thing to do.
10. Pat yourself on the back because you are getting stronger!
One of the great perks in being a professional speaker is that I do get to hear mind –blowing presentations. Last week I had the privilege of listening to Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, founder and leader of the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas. Dr. Chapman shared her knowledge on brain health and shared how we can increase our brain’s health and actually make our brains even smarter than they are right now calling it, “Turbo-Charging” your brain.”
She opened her keynote saying that our IQ is not a fixed number and “yes we can” get smarter by engaging our brain’s frontal lobe. The frontal lobe of the brain is the decision making, planning, and problem solving section of the brain and…the frontal lobe the last part of the brain to fully develop (by age25) and the first to decline (age 40).
That makes sense. I recently read that teens do some crazy things in their lives because their frontal lobes are not fully connected but I had no idea our brains started to decrease so soon- 40 seems too young to be on the decline! The good news according to the Doctor is that we cannot only stop the decline but we can actually reverse it! Halleluiah!!!
Here are her suggestions to help increase blood flow and connectivity in our brains and turbocharging our brain!
Think single task – focus only at the task at hand – with no distractions. That means that multi-tasking is actually making us dumber. Research now shows that the brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking splits the brain and our brain jumps from one task to another diminishing the focus. It creates something researchers have called“spotlights”. When we multitask it’s like we are actually getting dumber and making more mistakes.
Look at your to-do list and think of the two most important tasks that are most important and spend your prime time doing- and do them. “When you are hunting elephants, don’t get distracted casing rabbits, rabbits take all our day away”Dr. ChapmanI have heard to only have 5 items on your to do lists…two is so minimal but if it increases my blood flow I am on it.
Think deep- most transformative – power of deep – is to synthesize constantly- take information from all sources abstract and concrete ideas, talk shows, conversation – get off of automatic pilot, and talk about your ideas with others. It’s in the sharing of ideas that our brains dance. She said that people that stay home and do crosswords alone every day are not helping their brains.
Brains power of less – our brains need to rest. Constant stimulation makes us dumber and reduces the flow of blood. Dr. Chapman said that airplanes are a great place to rest vs. work. She suggested that we take time to rest our brains rather than constantly be filling them with data, crosswords, or even sudoku.
Detox distractions. Every time we look at an email or text while working we actually get dumber, and slower and make more mistakes… It takes 15 to 20 minutes to get back into the groove when you are busy working .
And then take a break every 90 minutes and give your brain a rest. Go and do something mindless… don’t take a break and read… let your mind rest and let the blood flow! The brain need down time, for aha moments
Finally, she reminded us the importance of good eating, sleeping and exercise – I found this interesting. Dr. Chapman said we need at least 7 hrs of sleep because our brains kick in and unload between the 6th and 8th hour of sleep.
So there you have it. I have to unlearn things I was sure I was doing to make my brain smarter. I am thinking … well, I’m actually unthinking how I do things because I want to be smarter next year!
Misty Williams and I am noticing that I am having a tough time falling asleep. My mind keeps going over all of the NEW projects and creative ideas that are being presented. Being an (ENFP) entrepreneur I like my day to be open and lose- that means I don’t always follow the processes in place – but now with so many new ideas on the table, I need to focus and determine where to put my energy and my time.
I need to get my ideas and projects out of my head and on to paper. I might even need to stat making a daily to-do list.