Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fitness Training Goals

Under the surface, every body is built the same. Each of us has an athlete's body buried down there somewhere -- and we all have the ability to move like athletes. Some of us are just ahead of others in terms of our fitness progress. However, with appropriate nutrition, sleep and exercise, everyone can jump and move just like athletes do. This is how life is meant to be played, and our bodies are built for exactly this kind of movement!
Before you begin a training regimen, it is important to determine your specific training goals. Are you a professional athlete training to increase your level of performance? Are you a general health-and-fitness enthusiast who wants to slim down and feel great? Are you a physical laborer who wants a permanent solution for your back pain so you can start feeling strong and healthy again? Are you seriously overweight, and ready to make and stick to a life-changing commitment?
Only after you have determined your major health and/or fitness concern can you begin working toward that goal. For example, it wouldn't be very productive to train like a bodybuilder and put on a lot of nonfunctional muscle that weighs a ton if you had a goal to compete as a professional boxer. It is essential to identify your primary goal and remain focused on it without getting sidetracked into a training agenda that will only detour your success.
You must be specific when you design your training program, ensuring that it will accomplish the specific things you desire from it. Be clear and precise with your goals. Have a realistic timeframe. How much time are you willing to commit to this exercise program -- per day, per week, per month? What is the best time of day to fit exercise into your busy schedule? Determine a time that will work, and adhere to it -- no excuses. Admit honestly how far you are from achieving this goal, so you can gauge how long it's going to take to get from your starting point to that goal.
The most important thing is to design a program that is specifically tailored to your needs. A general one-size-fits-all plan, or one created for another individual, will not necessarily work for you. Your level and ability are different from others', as are your goals. So don't look to train like anyone else, and don't expect others to train like you.
Once you've identified your goals and designed a program to help you accomplish them, all that's left is to begin!
This article introduces ways to set attainable fitness training goals. It lays out realistic steps for designing a personal program tailored to one's particular goals.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Helping Friends and Family to Understand

Trying to explain a chronic illness to friends and family can result in glazed eyes and that familiar distracted look. With acquaintances it is usually best to keep the explanation short and to the point. After all, it doesn't affect you much if they don't understand. When family and friends don't understand what you are living with, their reactions can take a toll on your self-esteem and add more stress to your life.
After 14 years of trying to explain my health problems (polycystic ovarian syndrome and hypothyroidism) to my family and friends, I know that some of them still think I am lazy, a hypochondriac, a drama queen, or simply nuts. I am keenly aware that what I eat, how much sleep I get, whether I exercise, and a myriad of other decisions influence how I will feel today and how my body will function tomorrow. I can't count on having a certain amount of energy or plan how I will feel at any given time in the future. For healthy people who don't need to think about these things it can look like a self-centered obsession.
Loved ones and friends may feel you are lazy when you are suffering from fatigue. They may be angry when your lifestyle changes interfere with their needs. They may feel that you focus too much on your illness. They may want to understand-but they have no frame of reference. To explain snow to a desert dweller is nearly impossible unless you can show them the frost in your freezer.
The following ideas will help you to explain chronic illnesses:
* Understand that these concepts are probably new to this person. Remain calm and avoid acting defensive.
* You may find it helpful to have your family read the "Spoon Theory" at It is an excellent explanation of how an illness limits your resources. Healthy people do not have to make choices about how to spend their energy. They have more freedom to make personal and financial decisions.
* You may need to explain both large and small concepts. Try to keep the explanations simple. Having a chronic illness has likely forced you to learn more about your body than most people understand. Use simple language instead of medical terms. Try to compare symptoms to things everyone is familiar with, for instance, the fatigue that comes with the flu, nausea that comes with motion sickness, etc. Let them know it is OK to ask questions.
* Explain that you don't show your worst symptoms to the world, when they see you it is usually when you are feeling well enough to go out, not when you are feeling lousy and need to stay home. You may not seem to be sick because usually see you when you are feeling well.
* Clarify that your illness takes an emotional and financial toll as well as a physical toll. Explain that it takes time from your schedule to deal with symptoms, medical appointments, lifestyle adjustments, etc. Let them know that support makes it easier to deal with the symptoms, but that there may still be times when you are depressed.
* Let them know that you have good days and bad days. Help them to understand that sometimes planning ahead is difficult.
* Make it clear that your illness does not define you, even when it influences the choices you make.
* If after doing your very best to explain your illness to your friends and family they still aren't supportive, accept that not everyone can understand what you're going through. Be patient.
* Finally, if you can not find the support you need within your circle of friends, join a support group or find other forms of support such as a life coach who specializes in coaching those with chronic illnesses. Social support is important in helping you manage your illness and in maintaining your emotional health.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Listen To Your Body

As a sometime Masters Athlete, I have learned that my body lets me know when its a bit 'down'- a touch of tinea; the tickle of a possible cold sore; the feeling of being 'run down'. These are signs that my immune system is depressed, and that putting in a hard session today will lead to a cold or sore throat tomorrow. The body's talking, and I've learned to listen. If I'm sensible, I'll also try for an early night, eat some good food, and take some extra vitamins- especially C.
As I've learned about health and nutrition, I've not only learned to listen to my body, but I've come more and more to respect traditional remedies and wisdom. Many traditional sayings are proving to have a scientific basis. Take these few examples;
- "Eat up your carrots" -it really DOES help you see in the dark.
- "Fish is brain food" -takes on new credibility as we learn about Essential Fatty Acids.
- "Drink tea with lemon for a cold"- works, although it's probably the bioflavonoids in the tea, not the vitamin C in the lemon!
Not only do many old sayings have validity, but so do many old remedies. Numerous traditional herbs have 'given birth' to modern drugs. To name just a couple...
- Valerian led to Valium
- Willow Bark led to Asprin
In fact, Nuturopath Chris Wainwright tells me that about half of the pharmaceutical drugs around are derived from natural sources. So we invented drugs thousands of years before we invented pharmaceutical companies! Grandma and natives in the Amazon DID have some idea of what they were saying and doing!
As well as a tendency to disregard 'old-fashioned' knowledge, we have an unfortunate tendency to react to symptoms, rather than trying to understand why we are feeling the way we do. Today, happily, modern science is catching up with the fact that we shouldn't always resort to modern science when the body does something different!
Coughing, pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, fatigue, sneezing and inflammation are standard defences used by the body. We mask them at our peril. Here are a few examples.
- Coughing clears the airways.
- Fever raises the body's temperature to help destroy pathogens.
- Pain is there for good reason. As someone pointed out, "Pain
isn't nature's way of telling us that we have an asprin deficiency"!
While I'm not suggesting that every occurrence of these symptoms should be ignored, and assumed to be no risk to our health, we have a pathetic tendency to rush out for the latest product advertised on TV to cure the symptom. Or to ask the Doctor to prescribe antibiotics!
A new field of study in medical science has developed in recent years. This field, of understanding how the body evolved the way in which it operates, is called Darwinian Medicine.
Having respect for a couple of thousand years of accumulated wisdom, can help us enhance our body's ability to maintain good health.
A greater understanding of why our body is acting the way it is, will help all of us to respond more appropriately to the symptoms our body develops from time to time.