Do you love to exercise? Do you hate it? We’re told that if we want to lose weight, that we need to exercise and eat right. But is that really true?
We each have a relationship with exercise. What I mean by that, is how we think about it. For some of us, when we think about exercise, we like it. For others, we consider it a chore or punishment.
The good news is that it doesn’t really matter what our current attitude towards exercise is – we have the power to change the way with think about it so that we can get consistent, and believe that we’re disciplined.
Join me on the podcast this week as I share the steps that you can take so that you can change the way that you think about exercise, and not only get more consistent with it, but actually start to enjoy it.
There are so many different ways to think about exercise than burning calories. And if that’s been your primary focus, it makes total sense why you’re not doing it, and so the solutions I’m sharing on today’s episode are just the beginning.
You are listening to the Done with Dieting Podcast Episode number eight.
Hi, I’m Elizabeth Sherman, former corporate high tech executive turn life and weight loss coach. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was searching for that perfect diet, the one that would finally be the golden ticket to lose the weight that I so desired.
Fast forward past tons of failed diet attempts, exercise fads and painful lessons learned, and although I still have not reached the state of Nirvana, body love, my relationship with food exercise in my body is infinitely better than it was not only when I started this journey, but even as recently as three years ago.
The journey that has allowed me to ditch my scale, stop logging my food and exercise, eat food that I didn’t prepare and easily maintain my weight – something that I never thought was possible for me.
I created the Done with Dieting podcast to give you simple, easy to do and sustainable strategies to help you do the same without all of the drama that I went through.
If you’re a woman who’s looking to create a better relationship with food and her body, get off the diet roller coaster and free up a bunch of headspace spent on calories, how you should look what you should eat and beating yourself up for not doing what you think you should be doing. You are in the right place.
Let’s get started.
Hey there, and welcome to the show.
I have something really cool to share with you today. Every morning, I take my dog for a walk after I work myself out. And this morning, I saw wild tucan in the trees. It was so freakin cool. And I just had to share that with you. Because living in Mexico, it’s always an adventure. Nature is always around the corner.
But anyway, so today we’re gonna talk about exercise. And I think that this is an important topic to talk about. Because so many of us have had terrible, terrible relationships with exercise. We don’t like to do it, we don’t do it. And the incredible guilt that comes along with not doing it is just even worse, we feel like we should be doing it.
And we have all of this judgment about ourselves that we’re not. So if you’re someone who struggles with consistency, and you don’t feel like you’re disciplined enough, this episode is perfect for you.
Let’s start off with a story about my journey. Because I think that my journey is one that so many of us have when I was growing up, I wasn’t into sports. I wasn’t on any teams. When I was in high school, I was on drill team. And that was about the extent of it, which was actually kind of funny, because I’m not really a drill team type of person. And I never really played sports.
In fact, I used to joke when I was in my 20s that the words Elizabeth and exercise or sweat didn’t belong in the same sentence.
And so I had a huge aversion to exercise. It wasn’t something that I enjoyed doing. I didn’t understand why it was hard.
And it wasn’t until I turned 30 I joined a gym and started to exercise for the very first time in my entire life.
And I would guess that for a long period of time after that I really struggled with becoming consistent. I would go to the gym for a period of time, I would get really excited. And then something would happen. And I wouldn’t do it for a while.
And it probably wasn’t until we got our first dog that I started walking on a regular basis. And walking her allowed me to then exercise myself in the same process. That’s kind of where my journey starts.
And I’ve talked about how even for a long period after that, I really didn’t see myself as an athlete until I had run my first half marathon.
And one of the things that is so prevalent, is the number of exercise myths that are floating around. And I understand where these exercise myths are coming from.
They’re coming from fitness pros and gurus who want you to do their exercise program. And so what happens is they need to create a hook right? They need to tell you that their way is better than another so they create some confusion around what’s actually happening. So let’s take a look at some of the myths that I see that a lot of women come to me with that are preventing them from having a good relationship with exercise.
So the first one is so common, which is that we have to exercise to lose weight. Now this is absolutely not true. In fact, exercise is a terrible, terrible weight loss method. If you are exercising for the sole purpose of trying to lose weight, you are going to have a really hard time doing that.
So first of all, if you have not listened to episode number six, about moving more and eating less, you need to go back and listen to that episode because I lay out how eating less and moving more is not a technique that we want to use as women over the age of 45. But also, if we’re talking strictly about calories, exercising off 300 calories, which is probably what you’re going to do if you for example, go for a run for 30 minutes, if you exercise off 300 calories, it is so easy to eat 300 calories, the return on investment of burning 300 calories is just not worth it.
You do not have to exercise in order to lose weight.
And so the second piece to that – the second myth is that we think that we can out exercise a bad diet. And for women over the age of 45, we cannot do this
Gone are the days where we could drink a bunch of beer on Friday night, and then over the weekend, go out and run a little bit more or over exercise and have that balance out.
That doesn’t work for us anymore because of our hormones. And again, if you haven’t listened to Episode Six of move more, eat less, I really encourage you to go back and listen to that because in that episode, I completely lay out why we can’t out exercise a bad diet.
Now one of the other myths that we see is, it’s just not worth it. Meaning that the reason I don’t exercise is because I don’t have enough time to dedicate to the entire thing. And this was something that I fell into a lot. When I was running for an hour a day. I was doing that for a period of time, I had this idea that if I couldn’t dedicate an entire hour to my run, then it wasn’t worth it to me to run for 20 minutes. And hopefully in today’s episode, I’ll be able to show you how that’s not a helpful thought. And that every little bit counts.
A similar concept that will often sink is that in order for a workout to be effective, we have to have either sweated or we need to be sore afterwards. Again, those are just not true.
In terms of the soreness, we will often get sore. If we do something for the first time that we haven’t done in a while. I am a certified personal trainer. And it’s actually really easy to get sore if I haven’t done an exercise in a while, or if I do it in a new way. And so muscle soreness really doesn’t have a lot to do with the effectiveness of a workout, there are some workouts or there are some muscle groups that regardless of how I train them, they consistently get sore.
The other piece to that is sweating. So sweat does not necessarily indicate the measure of a good workout, or even calories burned. All that a good sweat really means is that your body’s physiologically getting ready to be overheated. And so its natural cooling system is automatically kicking in.
The final myth that I want to talk about right now is the myth of muscle confusion. I remember walking into the gym one day and seeing a friend of mine and we were just chatting and I was asked her how she was doing it. And she was like, Oh, I’m just doing a bunch of different classes. I’m trying to keep my muscles confused.
And I get where this is coming from. This is coming from p90x and Tony Horton. The idea is that we cannot do the same exact workout over and over and over and over again and expect to see results, new results. So for example, if you do 10 push ups 10 squats and then you do 10 crunches and you do that with the same weight every single day with the same rest amount in between, then you probably won’t progress you won’t get sore you Your body will adapt. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to do something crazy in between.
There are a lot of different techniques that you can use that will still challenge your muscles and help them to continually grow. So muscle confusion really isn’t a thing. Your muscles don’t get confused. Some of these myths will directly play into why we don’t do it, why we don’t exercise.
And so I want to address some thought errors that we have around exercise, and why they’re not helpful. Thought errors, like, I don’t feel like it, or it’s hard. And I totally get it. exercise can be difficult. And there are times that Yeah, I don’t feel like doing it.
But like I talked about, in Episode Four, about why we sabotage ourselves, these thoughts of I don’t feel like it or it’s hard. That is your lower brain working on what’s called the motivational triad. The motivational triad being that we always are seeking pleasure, we’re avoiding pain, and we’re doing it as efficiently as possible.
When we are scheduled to exercise our brain is immediately going to the place of Oh my god, this is going to be really difficult.
For many of us, we still view exercise as a punishment. These thoughts come from our past experiences with exercise, things like being in gym class in high school or grade school diet mentality that we have to earn our food by exercising, or that the whole calories in versus calories out thing, that if we’ve over eat, and we have to pay penance in the form of exercise, in order to work that food off. Or in order to be deserving of a treat that we have to have exercised first, in order to be worthy of that.
Oftentimes, parents or teachers will also tell us that we should go work out in order to work off the weight, or that in past experiences of dieting, we’ve also started a crash exercise program, which was too much too soon. And so all of this past experience does not create a good relationship with exercise. Therefore, much of our past experience is creating these negative thoughts in our head about exercise going forward.
One of the other thought errors that we have is that we think we need to go in 100%. And this is a really unhelpful thought. So I see this all the time with folks who do New Year’s resolutions, that we have this idea of who we want to be in the next year, what the goal is. And so we believe that we need to start out at the level that we want to ultimately finish in.
So for example, folks who start out new year’s resolution saying, I want to run five days a week, we don’t have to start running five days a week at the beginning, we can start out slow and slowly build up our stamina.
And part of the reason why we have this problem is because we know that we used to do this in the past. And so we think that even though we haven’t done it in maybe a year, six months, two years, we think that we can immediately go back to the fitness level that we were when we left off. And oftentimes our body needs time to adjust to that new level of fitness.
Another thought error that we commonly have, is thinking that we don’t have time. Now this goes back to the myth that if I don’t have an hour, then I can’t possibly do 20 minutes 20 minutes isn’t going to be good enough. But often if we take a look at how we’re actually spending our time, we can carve out 20 minutes because exercise really doesn’t have to take a lot of time.
The last thought error is a very valid one. But it doesn’t have to be and it’s the thought that I need to get in shape to go to the gym or feeling the weight stigma that many of us have when going into the gym for the first time.
We see the gym as being a very intimidating place, because there are just tons of really fit people and we don’t feel like we fit in. What I want to offer you in terms of this thought error is that everyone who is in that gym has been a beginner at some point.
And are there jerks in the gym? Sure. There are jerks pretty much Everywhere. However, be aware that for the most part, most everyone who is in that gym has been in your place at one time before.
So that being said, let’s define what we call exercise. For the purpose of our conversation today, exercise falls under the umbrella of physical activity. So physical activity is broken up into, let’s say, two different categories. There’s exercise, and there’s what I call movement.
Now, movement is exactly what it sounds like. It’s just moving. It could be cleaning your house, it could be grocery shopping, it could be clothes shopping, it could be walking your dog, it could really be anything. And if nothing else, we know that movement throughout the day is going to be better for your health than intentional exercise.
That’s one of the reasons why you do not have to exercise in order to lose weight, do you need to move Do you need to be physically active? It helps, it really does help. Because we know that you can sustain physical activity for long periods of time, it’s possible to be active all day long. Whereas when it comes to exercise, we know that you can only sustain that for a very short period of time. And so general movement is much more valuable when it comes to creating that calorie deficit than using exercise to do it.
Now the other piece to physical activity is the exercise component. So let’s break that down. When we talk about exercise, what I’m really talking about is intentional exercise. And that can actually be broken up into two different categories. We can talk about strength training, and we can talk about cardio or aerobic exercise.
If we look at the definition of what strength training is, Wikipedia says that strength training or resistance training involves the performance of physical exercises, which are designed to improve strength and endurance. And it’s often used with weights, but it doesn’t have to be alright. So generally, when we’re thinking about strength training, we’re thinking about doing things for the purpose of getting stronger.
When we think about cardio or aerobic exercise, Aerobic exercise is defined as being performed by repeating light to moderate intensity movements or activities for an extended period of time. So think about walking or running or biking or those things that you’re continually doing the same thing over and over and over again.
Now typically, when we think about exercise, we think about weight loss or weight management. However, as I mentioned before, exercise is a terrible, terrible method of losing weight.
And so I want to put in a caveat here, that if you’re looking at what you’re doing for cardio or strength training, to create your calorie deficit, you’re going to have to work much harder than your perceived payoff, because it’s actually hard to exercise. But when we strength train, we are building muscle, which is more metabolically active. So there is something to be said for increasing our metabolism through strength training. But be aware that that technique is really playing the long game.
And so I want to present some of the many amazing things the other benefits that we get from exercising and when we start to focus on those other benefits of exercise, I think what we can do is we can see all of the positives of exercise and decouple exercise from needing to lose weight and have it becomes something that we do for ourselves.
Exercise can become a form of self care, and it can become a form of stress management too. So some of the benefits of exercise are that one, it reduces our risk of heart disease. When you’re exercising, you are strengthening your heart muscle. And so of course, it’s going to help you to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Exercising will also help your body manage insulin and blood sugar, because blood sugar is the fuel that your muscles used to contract. And so by exercising, what you’re doing is you’re using up that energy that’s in your blood or blood sugar and insulin is the hormone That your body uses to remove blood sugar out of your blood and into your muscles and liver.
It also helps to improve your mental health and mood. Because when we exercise, our body releases chemicals that help improve our mood. And it also helps improve thinking, learning and focus. It’s always crazy to me when I go out for a run or a walk, and I have a problem on my mind. And immediately the process of what’s called diffuse thinking, which is just having something in the back of your mind, that movement will often help me solve my problems.
Exercise also helps strengthen our muscles and our bones.
And it can reduce the risk of some cancers, cancers like breast cancer, colon cancer, uterine and lung cancer. That’s, that’s incredible. And if you’ve listened to the first episode about who I am, and why I’m doing this podcast, you’ll understand that my mom passed away from breast cancer. And that’s one of the major reasons how I got started on this journey myself, and why it’s so important to me.
Exercise also helps improve our sleep. So this is actually a really good one. Because oftentimes, what we find is that if we haven’t exercised our bodies during the day, and I talked about my dog right, in exercising her that my dog is a much better dog when she’s been exercised. And so to bring that analogy over to humans, that we are much better humans, when our bodies have been exercised as well.
That if we don’t exercise during the day, oftentimes at the end of a stressful day, we’ll be wired but tired. If we exercised our body, we wouldn’t have that same restlessness that we have at the end of the day. And so exercise will definitely help with sleep.
And it’s kind of interesting, these two habits, exercising and sleep just go hand in hand, they are so interconnected. Because when we sleep well, we feel like exercising. And when we exercise, we sleep well. It’s really a symbiotic relationship between sleep and exercise.
And here’s something for y’all. Exercise improves our sexual health. I mean, who doesn’t want that right? Regular exercise may lower the risk of erectile dysfunction for men. And in women, exercise may increase sexual arousal.
Now, the last point that I want to make about benefits of exercise is that oftentimes, there’s a perceived relationship between exercise and living longer. Now, there really isn’t a lot of data to prove that however, exercise can improve our quality of life as we age, because of all of the advantages that exercise gives us.
So improved balance, cognitive function, it’ll give us some autonomy. And so it probably won’t help us to live longer. But it’ll probably help us to be more independent as we age. And who doesn’t want that.
Now, all of those benefits of exercise, really don’t add up to a hill of beans, if it’s something that you don’t want to do. Or if it’s something that you feel guilt about. It’s something that you should be doing.
So I think the most important thing to consider when you want to change your relationship with exercise, is first of all, decoupling the relationship of exercise with calories in versus calories out. And I remember when I was first introduced to this idea that my brain just exploded, I just did not know how to possibly do that.
What I want to outline for you Next are the series of steps that you can take in order to start to see exercise as a form of stress management. And also starting to see exercise as a tool that you can use for self care, so that it becomes something that you actually enjoy doing. And it doesn’t become something that is just this heavy thing, something that you should be doing. Another way that you can use to beat yourself up about why you’re not good enough and why you’re not doing enough in this world.
Okay. So the first thing I want to offer you is if you don’t like doing it, you have permission to not do it. I know it sounds absolutely crazy. But if you don’t enjoy doing something You should not do it, because then you’re just going to harbor resentment towards it.
That being said, I’m going to invite you to find some sort of physical activity that you actually enjoy. There are so many modalities these days. So figure out what works for you.
You can do group exercise, or you can do exercise by yourself. You can do guided exercise, or you can do independent, you can choose a sport, or it could be something that’s just personal achievement, something that’s social, or something that’s really not depending on whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, you could be outdoors, or you could be indoors. And so it really just depends. And there are so many different exercise types out there. And especially since COVID, and sheltering in place, there are tons of different YouTube videos and instruction that are available to us. Things that we can actually do in the privacy of our own home. And so you don’t have to go to a gym, if you don’t want to. If that’s one of your barriers, then exercising at home is totally a possibility for you.
Now, the next thing I want you to do, is when you are physically active, I think that this is actually really super important, you need to make a mental note of how you’re feeling after you’re exercising. So another little plug for my podcast if you haven’t listened to episode number seven yet about how to listen to your body. In that episode, I talked about something called a body scan.
And so when you finish exercising, I’m going to invite you to do a body scan. And just notice how you’re feeling. And this is important, because the next time that you have exercise on your schedule, and your brain tells you that it’s going to be hard, or that it’s going to be difficult or that you don’t want to do it, what you can do is talk to yourself more than you listen to yourself.
And what I mean by that is sure, going through the process of exercising is actually going to be difficult. But if you can remember how good you felt on the other side of that, then the pain of going through the exercise can be worth it. So make a mental note about how you feel after exercising, and then talk yourself through it. Remind yourself how good it felt to do that thing.
Now the next piece is to set a time limit. And what’s really super important is honoring that time limit. If you haven’t been exercising, don’t bite off more than you can chew, lean into it.
So often, we have this perfectionistic fantasy of who we’re going to be next week, next month, and next year. And to be honest, the person that you’re going to be next week, who’s going to have to do the workouts that you’ve planned today, that person is probably a lot closer to who you are today than who you think you’re going to be. So be nice to yourself. set yourself up for success by doing next week, what you can handle this week.
So if you don’t feel like exercising today, chances are that next week, you’re not gonna feel like doing it either. So be nice to yourself. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start from where you are not from where you were last year, or six months ago or two years ago. Okay? honor where your body is today.
Start from a beginners point of view. I know none of us like to be beginners. But if you’re starting a new exercise program, that’s where we need to start. Be willing to be bad at something and be able to laugh at yourself and have fun with it. Make it super stupid, simple. What I mean by that is, when you lay out your plan for next week. When you look at it, I want you to think to yourself, there’s no possible way that I couldn’t make this happen.
And then slowly start to add intensity, frequency and density, everything that I talked about in Episode Number three, and add more to your program.
Now here’s something that’s really important. When I said set a time limit and honor that limit. It’s really super important that you don’t go over that limit. What we want to do here is we want to start building self-trust. One of the reasons that so many of us aren’t consistent, And one of the reasons that so many of us have judgment on ourselves for not being disciplined, is because when we say that we’re going to go out for a 15 minute walk, let’s say, and we go out for 30 minutes, or 45, because we’re enjoying ourselves.
Next time, we see that we’re scheduled a 15 minute walk, we’re like, oh, I don’t have time for that. Because last time, I know that I went over. So it’s really important to start to keep commitments to yourself. Because if you don’t keep commitments to yourself, you’re not going to trust yourself going forward.
And then the next piece to that is make sure that you write it in your calendar. And be aware that when you do, you’re not going to want to go exercise, your brain is going to tell you that it’s going to be terrible, that it’s going to be too hard. And that you shouldn’t do it – that sitting on the couch is much more rewarding. And you’re going to be tempted to do it. But if you’ve made it super stupid, simple, and you honor your commitment to yourself, and you talk to yourself more than you listen to yourself, then chances are that you are going to go ahead and follow through with that commitment to yourself.
Okay, so I have some final thoughts that I want to leave you with today. The first thing is when it comes to exercise, there’s really no wrong way to do it. I mean, yes, there are wrong ways to do it, you want to make sure that you have good form, and you want to make sure that you’re not going to injure yourself. So you may want to invest in some personal training appointments, if you are interested in strength training.
However, if your form is good, then there really isn’t a wrong way to exercise. As long as you’re getting physical activity in. I think that’s fantastic. And you can always add more as you become more fit.
Now, that being said, the old adage of if some is good, more is better doesn’t necessarily work for exercise, especially for women over the age of 45. There’s for sure a bell curve here, where we want to do some and some is better, but there’s a law of diminishing returns.
And so for most of my clients, I will suggest that you work out in terms of strength training two times per week, because our muscles need to recuperate, and anything more is for sure going to be better, but it’s not going to have a ton of impact. And so the bar is actually pretty low as far as what you quote unquote should be doing for optimal health.
Now, that being said, some exercise is a stress. And so more exercise is going to create more stress in our lives. And so we want to make sure that we have the right balance for us. And if we start to notice that we’re starting to have cravings, or increased hunger or energy or sleep as poor, then it’s possible that we need to back off on the exercise a little bit. So just be aware of that.
We actually don’t get stronger, when we’re exercising, we actually get stronger when we’re resting, when we’re exercising, we’re actually breaking our muscles down. And when we’re resting and giving our body the nutrients that it needs, that’s when we’re actually getting stronger. When the body is repairing itself those other 24 hours in the day, that’s when our body is actually getting stronger.
Now the last thing that I really want to leave you with is that since there are so many modalities of exercise, and there are so many different ways of doing it, and there aren’t any wrong ways, you really owe it to your body and your mind to find something that you enjoy doing.
Because this is the only body that you have. You can’t trade it in for another one like you would do a car. And if we treat our bodies Well, our bodies will actually treat us well.
So like I said before, that when we exercise, we may not be able to live longer, but we know that our body is going to be strong enough and be able to carry us through our older age and have a better quality of life as we age.
If you need resources, I have tons of resources on my website. And I will put links to all of the different episodes as well as the resources that I have available to you in the show notes. So go ahead and click on that.
But I have a full exercise library that details each of the exercises. They have video as to how to perform the exercises, and then if you have any injuries will show modifications to those exercises so that you can make them easier. Or I even have suggestions for how to make them more challenging if you need that as well. And I have tons of different 20 minute workouts on my website, which is actually the style of workout that I use to train myself.
When I think about that past version of myself, the version of Elizabeth who used to joke around saying that the words Elizabeth and sweat don’t belong in the same sentence, I think that she would just be completely in awe of who I have become.
And if you have a poor relationship with exercise, right now, I’m telling you that if I could make the change that you can make the change to, it’s just a matter of having new experiences with exercise so that your brain doesn’t call up the bad experiences that you’ve had with exercise in the past. And that you can start having a new relationship with exercise, one that you can actually enjoy.
I know it’s kind of crazy when I think about the two different mindsets that I’ve had within my life, about having a really negative experience with exercise. And then today having a very strong relationship with exercise.
So again, if I can do it, anyone can do it. It’s just a matter of creating those new experiences. So have an amazing week. That’s all I have for you today. And I will see you all next time. Bye bye.
Hey, thanks for listening!
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