There are 168 hours in a week: taking 5 hours to exercise should be easy. To make it a priority, bump it up on your “values list” or determine how it helps you honor other items that are higher on your list of values (Ex. Family and work are higher values, by exercising you will have more energy and exercise is a great stress reducer; lower stress and more energy will help you honor your higher values). Exercise is not rocket science, nor should you be intimidated by choosing the perfect exercise. Start by participating in any activity that gets your heart rate up. If that means a brisk walk, great! Eventually, maybe work your way up to a light jog. Swimming is an excellent exercise and low impact on joints. Yoga and Pilates are great for the body as well. Just get out, move, and get your heart rate up! The most important thing is that you’re out there. That is why I recommend scheduling your workouts. If that means getting up 30 minutes earlier, dig deep. Quality of sleep is much more important that quantity of sleep. And those who exercise get higher quality of sleep which means less desire for more quantity. See how that works? The more time you make for exercise the better you will sleep and the less sleep you will need. I bet your schedule is wide open 30 minutes before the alarm clock goes off.
Here is a list of low impact exercise ideas
Walking: This is king of low impact exercises but it can get stale fast. Try mixing it up as often as possible by changing routes.
Rowing: Whether in the water or on a row machine at the gym this is an awesome full body cardio workout that really strengthens the back.
Body Weight Training: This type of training is great because there are so many variations that can be eased into (like doing a push up against the wall, then from the knees, and working your way up to a strict form pushup). Pilates would fall under this category and it’s great for developing strength and improving range of motion.
Swimming: This is an amazing cardio workout but the key is to do it with good form and ease into it if you haven’t been swimming in a while. There is no shame in taking a few lessons to brush up on your form. This will allow you to get the most out of it and avoid injury.
Weight Training: Low impact weight training is great for building up endurance and power and it can also help with building bone mass. To get into weight training it is best to start with the machines at the gym until you feel your form is 100%. At that point you can move to the free weights.
Water Exercise: When it comes to water there are more choices than swimming. A great option is to use a buoyancy belt, move to the deep end, and jog or run in place. This is a great workout with minimal impact. Look for water classes at your local pool.
Group Classes: These classes are a great way to mix up workouts, stay motivated, and maybe even find a few accountability partners to attend class with. Make sure you talk to the instructor to ensure it is low impact.
A Positive Mental Outlook (Mindset)
There is a ton of research on the benefits of a positive mental outlook including: longer life, less heart disease, and stronger immune system. The problem is that people believe that these benefits only happen by chance or by circumstance. People believe that positive individuals don’t have the same number of obstacles/circumstances to overcome or that they are just lucky. This is not the case.
Creating a positive mental outlook is a process and it is a choice. I can tell you from experience that cultivating a positive attitude was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Notice how I used the word “cultivate”. Think of your mind as a garden. You could haphazardly toss up your seeds (your thoughts and actions) and hope they land in areas that they will grow into a positive attitude, or you can deliberately cultivate them.
To cultivate your ideas you have to understand that the way you see the world is directly influenced by your emotions and your emotions are created by your thoughts and actions. Change your thoughts and actions and you will change the world you see. You can accomplish this in a two pronged approach. First you have to remove the weeds.
The weeds are negative influences in your life and can include the news, gossip, media, and negative acquaintances. As you remove the weeds, strategically plant your seeds (positive thoughts and actions). The best way to do this is to start talking to yourself. I know this sounds crazy, but you talk to yourself regardless of knowing it or not.
Instead of putting yourself down, questioning yourself, and criticizing yourself, I want you to talk yourself up. That is what affirmations are. Instead of planting negative affirmations in your head like “I can’t”, “I’m not good at that”, or “I’m not”, plant positive ones like I can and I am. I was skeptical at first, too. In fact, the first time I looked in the mirror to try an affirmation I couldn’t keep a straight face. But over time I got good and now I own them. And what difference it has made!
There are a ton of affirmations you can do, but make them personal. Simply looking in the mirror and saying “I am a beautiful person, I love you, and I can accomplish anything” is a great start.
The best time to do affirmations are immediately upon waking and right before falling asleep, while the subconscious mind is most easily influenced.
The final tool for developing a positive mental attitude is meditation. I am not going to get to in depth on this topic because there is a ton of info on this out there. The easiest way to start is to search youtube or the internet for a guided meditation videos or soundtracks and start there. It can be as short as 10 minutes or as long as you like. 10 minutes is an excellent amount of time to start and you will love how you feel after meditating.
With a little discipline, over time, you will start to feel a positive change and those around you will definitely notice a happier you.
Eat Like a Caveman
There are programs floating around regarding eating like a caveman, namely the paleo diet and the caveman diet. I have a strong distain for the word diet. I do not believe in diets. What I do believe in are lifestyle changes. Diets are followed for short term goals, like fitting into a wedding dress. Once you have accomplished this goal, the diet goes out the window. Lifestyle changes are “big picture”.
There are a lot of great sources of information out there about the paleo diet, including a plethora of great science on the benefits of eating this way. Also, there are a ton of great recipes and blogs on the internet written by those eating this way and experiencing the amazing benefits of the paleo lifestyle.
Eating like a caveman means that if a caveman didn’t have it available, don’t eat it. If this is too intimidating, start by only eating foods that your grandmother would recognize as food. This means you must start to read labels. If you cannot pronounce the ingredient on the label or don’t know what that ingredient is chances are neither did your grandmother and you shouldn’t eat it.
The easiest way to implement a lifestyle change like this is to plan ahead. Scour the internet and paleo cookbooks and find recipes that you would like to try for the week. I plan my meals for the entire week on Saturday before we go shopping. That way, I am not caught trying to figure out what to eat last minute and resorting to something fast and unhealthy. This makes grocery shopping more affordable because you will not accumulate food you do not eat.
If you are not a “jump in with two feet” kind of person, I recommend doing it one day at a time. Start by removing one unhealthy food item (i.e. Diet Coke) a day and replace it with one healthy food item (water, tea, or smoothie).
The caveman diet consists primarily of clean proteins/meats (grass fed, free range, organic, hormone free, antibiotic free) and fruits and veggies. Again there are tons of free resources out there on the internet. Two of my favorite resources are the book. “The Paleo Solution” and “Wheat Belly” are go-to resources for science, implementation, and recipes. I should warn you when you do make theses lifestyle changes there are a few side effects. They include: weight loss, less inflammation, better immune function, high energy, and a more youthful appearance!