Running just for me!

In an earlier writing I built upon the idea of doing what we can do that serves others. Today let’s focus a bit on just doing something for ourselves. I am going to concentrate on running but it also serves as a metaphor for whatever it is that you really want to do just for yourself. It could be writing poetry. It could be climbing that hill/mountain. It could be working up to lift a large weight. It could be learning a new language. Whatever it is, do it for yourself!

I have always wanted to run. It was a time that was just for me. I had nothing to prove to others. Others were not affected by how I ran. I ran just because I wanted to and I could. I had a very busy life as most do. A family and all those wonderful activities. Different work functions that allowed me to dedicate myself to helping/serving others. Being there for parents and in-laws in their end years, weeks, days and hours. I am a server by nature. What about you? I imagine you are as well.

Take some time just for yourself to do something just for yourself. I run. I always have – except when illness or disease prevented it. Then I worked hard to overcome the restrictions, do what I had to in order to recover and be able to get back to running. I consulted the Dr.’s and took the meds. I accepted that rather invasive surgery was needed, underwent that, recovered and adjusted to the new reality (much better than the disease!). If there are things that are getting in the way of you doing what you really want to do for yourself, do whatever you can to remove the blocks. This is your very own life and you need to find ways to do at least this one thing for yourself.

Remember, I am encouraging you to do this for yourself. You don’t need to earn awards and so on. You aren’t out to show the world. Well, actually, sometimes you want to have a tangible proof for yourself. Go for it! I ran a marathon in the National Capital run weekend when I was 55. I just wanted to have that little certificate to put on my den wall that was proof to me that I did it. To me it served to show what can happen if you just do it! There were months that I could not walk without a cane in my 30’s. Now I can run again. But very few people know about that. I did not do it to be able to show off my accomplishment to others. I still just did it for me.

Age does not need to get in the way of doing this thing for yourself. Remember, you are not doing it for others. Adjust as you must but do it anyways for yourself. It is part of living well, loving others and laughing out loud every day. 😎

Brain Plasticity

Our brain is like any other part of our body. It will loose its abilities if it is not used regularly. It will atrophy just like any other muscle if it is not used. I have heard an expression long ago that has resonated throughout my life – we start to die when we stop learning new things. I took that literally for a long while. Part of being alive is to be learning all the time. Learning stimulates the brain. But it is much more than that.

The brain has billions of neuro-transmitters that form connections that serve lots of functions. Memory, speaking, moving, understanding concepts, and so on. When we learn to tie our shoe laces, our brain forms a series of connections that are a pathway and that pathway is triggered when ever we need to tie our shoe laces. That is stored and accessed with very little effort so as to keep the brain ready for higher and new things coming in.

Dr. Doidge, in his great book, “The Brain That Changes Itself”, shows us how the brain is quite plastic. We have thought that the brain has certain functions that are exclusive to certain parts of the brain. If that area is injured or destroyed, we loose that ability forever. Not necessarily! Our brains have a remarkable capacity to form new networks and linkages if properly trained.

Where am I going with this? The brain is a sort of muscle. If we work it out and exercise it, it will stay healthy and actually grow (and I mean that literally). Our brains have stem cells that regularly form new brain cells all the time. So we have room for lots more capacity if we have new brain cells being formed throughout life. However, most of the new brain cells die quickly because they are not given a function. We don’t use them, so they simply die!

How can we keep more of the new brain cells? How can we keep our brain active and working? How can we stay sharper as we age? Can we fight off the ravages of time?

Our brains work a lot like our muscles. They build in a “memory”. We can do most things without thinking about it very much at all. What about if we just did things differently sometimes? Studies have shown that if we change up how we do a regular activity, our brain adapts and forms new pathways and that stimulates other areas of the brain to be able to do more. In other words, we can work our brain just by doing things differently once in a while. That has the effect of keeping some more of those new brain cells.

What can we do?

Change things up to exercise your brain and slow down the aging process. Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand for a week. Drive a different way to work. Try using other senses when you are taking a shower (close your eyes and keep them closed while you undress, turn on the shower, get in, find the soap, wash yourself, shampoo your hair, turn off the water, get out, dry yourself, get dressed having set out your clothes in advance). Give your other senses a chance to show you what they can do. This forms more and new pathways.

In short, do regular things in different ways. Life-long learning is not just “book learning”. It is everything. Stay engaged. Observe and experience always. By all means learn new stuff, but also enjoy new experiences and regular experiences in new ways every day.

Live well, love always and laugh out loud every day! (And brush your teeth with the other hand ;))

1 Pound of Muscle Burns 100 Calories!!

By the time we reach the age of 40 we have lost about 10 pounds of lean muscle mass. Have you noticed, like I have, that most of us have not lost any weight or size? In fact, most of us have gained weight and gotten bigger. Sounds like a bit of a paradox doesn’t it?

It is actually fairly easy to understand when you know a bit about metabolism. Muscles burn more calories than fat. What this means is that it takes more calories to maintain the lean muscle mass as it does to maintain body fat.

What’s going on? As we lose muscle mass, we need less calories on a daily basis to maintain our bodies. However, we usually do not reduce our intake. In addition, we tend to move a bit less because we are working more and “playing” less. Again, we do not need as many calories but we continue to take on the calories we have been accustomed to eating. Our bodies take this excess of calories and turns it to fat and stores it up in the event that we do not get enough food in the future. That is how we are designed. So, we gain more fat and lose more muscle mass. This leads to steadily increasing weight and loss of fitness. This leads, naturally, to health problems!

Time to take control! You know it and I know it. BUT, we just do not have the time or inclination to spend hours a week at a gym or running to burn calories. In fact, for most of us, we do not find any enjoyment in these sorts of activities. Further, we need to “eat better”. Maybe a diet! We have been told that we just need to increase our activity and reduce our intake of food. While that is essentially true, it is not that easy, is it?

If you think about that 10 pounds of muscle mass that we have lost by the age of 40, we  can understand that we would have to run for about an hour every day to burn the 1000 calories that the lean muscle mass used to burn. Who can or wants to do that? Why not just get the muscle mass back? That makes so much sense doesn’t it? Can we? Yes, we can!

Don’t want to spend time in a gym with the gym rats? Don’t know what to do and can’t afford the time or money for a personal trainer to “yell” at you to “work harder, more, more ….”? Well stay tuned. I will have some great answers very soon. 🙂

 

What to do about fitness!

It is a fact that overweight and obesity is a real issue for us to deal with, wether it is a personal issue or something we want to avoid. People who are overweight and/or obese stand a much greater risk of developing diabetes requiring massive change to life style. Some will develop heart problems restricting what they can do. Some will have a stroke.

Another risk factor is simple aging. That is primarily due to the fact that lean muscle mass decreases naturally (unless we do something about it). As that happens. we add fat to our bodies, thereby increasing the risks of the issues mentioned above.

How do we reduce the risks? Get more fit! Simple! Really!

What stopping us? We have tried lots of things and we still do not feel fit. Why is that? Frankly it is because we have been told to do things that just do not work for us. We do not have the time to spend going to, and,in the gym. If you are like me, you hate gyms. An hour of exercise is just torture. I also do not know what to do and how to do it. Personal trainers cost too much and, again, take too much time! I won’t even talk about the fad diets this time. I will save that for another issue.

So, what is the solution? Find a program that coaches, educates and guides you in exactly what to do to increase lean muscle mass (which leads naturally to reducing body fat). It has to be flexible enough to fit into any hectic schedule. There should be a strong community that is very supportive. A community that encourages and congratulates us on our progress. It should be a program that allows us to participate to the level that we are comfortable with and able to. We should not be made to feel like failures, ever.

Here are 5 points to follow:

1 Do not start with diet!

2 Redirect your calories. Aerobic only burns calories while exercising. When you stop, burning stops.Muscle mass burns calories all day long. (10x more than fat). Build strength.

3 Be proud and praise yourself.

4 Be open-minded to accept and try new ideas. Not diet but exercise!

5 Support each other.

All we need now is the site that will do these things.

 

Stay tuned! 😉

 

Fat prejudice spreads around the world

I was drawn to this segment of an article I was reading in our local newspaper this morning. It is not so much the headline about how prejudice is spreading around the world against "fat folk". Rather, it is the fact that there are huge health problems associated with being overweight.

 

 

According to a new study by the University of Arizona, many cultures that once associated curvy bodies with youth, fertility, wealth and beauty have gobbled up North Americans anti-fat prejudices and now associate obesity with laziness, lack of self-control and moral failure.The study reports that obesity rates are rising around the world except in sub-Saharan Africa, with developing countries now identifying obesity as a major public health concern. An obese persons life is, on average, nine to 13 years shorter than someone of normal weight, and obesity is linked with an increased risk of illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart attack and stroke.

via You shouldnt be eating that: fat prejudice spreads around the world.

So, never mind that there is a tendency to look on "fat folk" as lazy, or undisciplined or whatever other negative things pop to mind. The known reality is that is simply dangerous and life-shortening to be over-weight. I also want to tell you that it is not the fault of the "fat folk". They are not lazy or undisciplined. They are simply victims of industries that target them and get them addicted to foods that are harmful and activities that are not helpful.

The fitness industry has been focused on telling us to just work harder! Even if it is something we hate! Of course, if we hate something, do you think we will stick with it? Not for long. I have always enjoyed the oft quoted definition of insanity: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Why has the fitness industry not come up with help that will work? Simply put, it is not in their interests because money is made by charging on an hourly rate for the gym coaching and personal training.

A better way is about to be introduced to the world very shortly. It focuses on doing what makes sense and encouragement, rather than shouting and blaming.

Stay tuned. :)