Even if right now you are living with pain, obesity, gut disorders, sleep issues, low energy, or simply not feeling strong confident and energized much of the time, that doesn’t have to be how you feel forever. Everyone deserves to feel good in their body.
However, sometimes its FEAR that is holding us back. That F.E.A.R. serves a purpose …that is, until it no longer serves us. F.E.A.R. is an acronym which stands for false evidence appearing real. I’ve also seen it listed as F.A.T. False info Appearing True… What are some of these false beliefs?
Aches and pains are a normal part of aging.
I can’t afford the time or money to work out regularly
I’ve tried EVERYTHING when it comes to exercise but nothing works for me
I don’t have good genes for working out so I’ll never be good at it
I’m likely to get hurt if I work out and I don’t like feeling pain
Just look at some of these… are they real or have other DECISIONS been made which makes these appear like facts when in reality they are temporary.
For instance, can you really not afford the time or money it takes for an enjoyable workout? Or do you plan and save for other things and not prioritize your health? Could you reframe and exercise in 5-10 minute segments while baby is sleeping if you can’t get in a whole hour at once? Is midlife spread inevitable or a result of unwitting choices made from a lack of information about metabolism in midlife? Have you tried everything? Do you think that genes are destiny or that you can make choices which influence the expression of those genes-choices which can be mirrored by the next generation and become their inheritance?
In what way do beliefs such as these actually serve you? What are your F.E.A.R.S protecting you from? How do they constrain your potential? Do they do both?
I don’t think all limitations or limiting beliefs are necessarily detrimental! Sometimes they protect us from having to face deeper emotions we don’t necessarily want to feel or they allow for comfort. They serve us until they don’t serve us.
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This post involves discussions of Weight. If such topics are distressing or triggering to you please consider employing self-care tools and strategies which may include not reading this.
A February 2021 survey by the American Psychological Association reveals how the pandemic has led to unwanted weight gain.42% of US adults gained unwanted weight during the pandemic.52% of Gen Z adults report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 28 pounds.48% of millennials report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 41 pounds.Yet despite these statistics, for better health and a longer life span, exercise is more important than weight loss.
An interesting new scientific review of the relationships between fitness, weight, heart health and longevity found that obese people typically lower their risks of heart disease and premature death far more by gaining fitness than by dropping weight or dieting.
The review adds to mounting evidence that most of us can be healthy at any weight, if we are also active enough.
Glenn Gaesser, a professor of exercise physiology at Arizona State University in Phoenix (My alma matter, BTW), found overweight and obese people with significant health problems, including high blood pressure, poor cholesterol profiles or insulin resistance, a marker for Type 2 diabetes, showed considerable improvements in those conditions after they started exercising, whether they dropped any weight or not. The studies show that even if no weight is lost, obese and formerly sedentary individuals can lower their risk of premature death by as much as 30 percent or more.
And now, because the science needs to also explain that water is wet:
“Some past research shows that people who start to exercise rarely lose much, if any, weight, unless they also cut back substantially on food intake because the exercise they are doing burns too few calories and because they compensate for some caloric burn during exercise by eating more calories afterwards.”
This information begs the question: Is Obesity a Choice?
This short answer is..not usually. Sure genetics and bone structure, genes and upbringing play a part. However, some of us eat more and/or move less when stressed or anxious or depressed.. and for others its just the opposite! Some of us find sweet foods satisfying in some situations and salty in others (hint: there are actual biological reasons for craving salty in some situations and sweet in others–and its part of the glorious way or bodies are pre-programmed for survival).
Sometimes people are making choices, but they are only semi-conscious of them-for instance out of self-harm as a trauma response. Other times we don’t even know we are making choices because we are simply unaware of alternatives or we have never been educated about the way that stimuli such as emotions and specific foods trigger different responses within the body that set us up for a cascade of effects that are displayed visually or on our bloodwork results…
Information like how to combine which foods to achieve stable blood sugar and lower insulin response. A sensitive balanced insulin response can increase your sensitivity to feelings of hunger and fullness. That is necessary for true agency in one’s health outcomes (and visual outcomes). Listening to one’s body only works well when the body is working to give us those signals otherwise the whole system is rigged against us succeeding from the start (if our goal is to “listen to the body”).
There is a whole science behind options including which foods to combine or eat and when if you want to decrease cravings overall. Or which foods can make you feel fuller longer or think more clearly or have more energy. Which type of exercises performed which way for how long will make you hungrier and which will enable you to feel more full after the workout. If you would like to know more about those things, so you are more empowered to make changes smarter not harder, it is something I coach my 1:1 Private clients on.
Some people say, I can’t train with you Kayla, you’ve never been overweight like me. I have never been you, but there have been times I was overweight (5’5″ 172lb not pregnant, and 175 when pregnant) and I have also been mocked for appearing underweight (young teen), Fortunately I have mostly been in the normal range. I have discovered ways to hack the system both from reading and studying and talking to pros about it to be more stable over time and some of it has to do with hearing relatives who do have a good relationship with their bodies and food while growing up-which helps me reflect back to my clients when something seems off track. I’ve survived illnesses, injuries, and other setbacks. I’ve had a few pregnancies too…and struggled sometimes there too. Its important to select a trainer and coach (sometimes a counselor and/or RD) who does get you and who you are comfortable with and have the conversations so it can become more of a choice that your body is rigged to help you with instead of fighting with your body.
This year it seems World Mental Health Day got a lot more press in America. That’s a good thing because its really time to lower the stigma and thereby encourage everyone to get the help they need to to feel good.
So many of us have been affected by lifestyle changes brought about by Covid and I’ve seen many tip lists and articles about how to lower anxiety and increase happiness but some of it is dense and hard to remember so I created this handy dandy chart compiled from some of them. See if you notice what I did:
OK. Technology wasn’t on the list. Did you see how often EXERCISE was on the list?!?
Exercise has multiple physical health benefits. AND it can have a positive impact on emotional well-being.Regular physical activity can increase your dopamine and serotonin levels, making it a great option to boost your happy hormones. In addition, you’ve probably already heard of the ‘high” that many feel from endorphin release intense exercise triggers.
According to one article focused on using food to boost mood, here’s how to Maximize the Mood Boosting Power of your workout:
To see even more benefits from exercise:
Include a few friends. A small 2009 study (of men) found evidence to suggest group exercise offers more benefits than solo exercise.
Get some sun. Move your workout outdoors to maximize your serotonin boost.
Time it. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at a time. Any amount of physical activity has health benefits, but research associates endorphin release with continued exercise rather than short bursts of activity.
Most data I have read indicates that comments about someone’s weight or size have the opposite effect that the speaker is hoping for-assuming their intentions are good and not about sabotage or intending to demean. The data indicates discussing health is better. (Though something inside me is nagging that this too can be problematic depending on how its done.) Some research says parents should never discuss weight or bodies with their children. This leaves some parents wondering if this is going to leave their children overly coddled and dependent and unable to handle the “real world.” They wonder if they won’t be honest with their children they would be negligent in parenting toward helping their children reach their highest potential.
A few years ago there was an op ed or article that gained widespread popularity that claimed we should never ever talk about bodies except to discuss what bodies can do rather than how they look. The premise was that to do otherwise would be to cause or lead to a disorder.
I do think laying off the body shaming talk can be helpful. Furthermore, talking about what fit healthy bodies can do is very empowering and not at all dependent upon body size. In my opinion, making all body talk off limits can be dangerously unhealthy in a different way to some people and extreme discomfort talking about bodies may be symptomatic of trauma or disordered body image. Any time we make certain topics taboo, it raises a red flag for me.
Remember when cancer was discussed in hushed tones or not at all?..Or abuse? I want my kids to know they can talk to me about anything and that nothing is so shameful that it can’t be discussed at the right time with the right person. I know girls who looked to boys to tell them they were pretty because they didn’t feel like they got that kind of attention at home. Seems to me telling your child or anyone that they look pretty (assuming its done tastefully) shouldn’t be off limits. Only talking about what bodies can do or how they feel can also make someone feel invisible. However we know there are some folks who take body talk and especially body shaming to outrageous lengths and you may encounter some of these folks at your holiday dinner or in the street.
Take for instance a pregnant woman who was told she always carries large in her pregnancies by a casual acquaintance. Maybe it makes you wonder if you are somehow letting yourself go. How about the relative who comments about your pretty face? Maybe this makes you wonder if the rest of you is dumpy. When a relative comments out loud that she shouldn’t be eating that fried item which you also have on your plate, does it mean that you shouldn’t be eating it or that it makes you a bad person if you do. Or the friend who is talking about how she is going on a diet tomorrow or how she went to the gym for 4 hours before coming to the event. Does this make you want to eat a whole pie or become a hamster on a wheel to work off everything?
If these comments evoke strong emotions or a compulsion to act in self-destructive ways, noticing that you are triggered is a fantastic step! Noticing the feeling before acting on it or before the tsunami of emotion takes over and you’re out of control with your response is tremendous.
Once you noticed that this stirred up a strong emotion for you. Ask yourself the question: What are my interpretations, thoughts and assumptions about what this person said.
Test your assumptions. Do they fit the facts?
For instance: The pregnant client who is told she carries large might say.. Ah I notice that I am feeling angry. I am angry because when this woman said this I (I’m making this up) felt shame, I felt worried that I was less than, or it reminded me of a time when….and I felt…. Then she can ask herself if its true. Do I carry large? If so, and her doctor said its fine, then no worries or if she is on pregnancy number 5 and this stranger has only seen other mamas on their first pregnancy maybe she is the one with the unrealistic expectations of what a pregnant body looks like rather than that she is carrying particularly large. Any other possibilities? Perhaps the person who made the comment is concerned about her own body image and is projecting that outwards. There are many possibilities.
If you are sassy, maybe you can come up with a great comeback on the spot. For instance the lady who took the comment about her pretty face shot back with, “so what you’re saying it the rest of me is kind a piggy right.” Or the woman with the friend who talked about her hours and hours of workouts and dieting shot back with, “Are you saying all this because you’re so afraid of ending up like me.” If that is your style who am I to complain? Sounds like they asked for it.
Perhaps its more your style to educate the commentator by letting her know size isn’t always an indicator of health or maybe you prefer to remove yourself from the triggering conversation by leaving the room or not going at all.. Maybe you want to be more direct and let the person know that body talk or diet talk isn’t helpful to you in reaching your goals and what would be more helpful is…(and insert what is helpful to you). I can’t help you decide what is the right response for you but with some preparation and tuning into how you feel in your body might tell you what is.
If you know that you’re going to be with people who trigger you at holiday time, prepare in advance. How many times do we wish we had another 45 seconds to plan out what we’ll say and how we would have had the perfect response if we knew what was coming? If you have one of those kinds of holiday gatherings, you can anticipate in advance what will be said and how you want to feel and how you want to act. You can role play it with a friend or therapist in advance