GETTING IN SHAPE (PAINLESSLY)
Feeling stuck? Can't seem to sustain your efforts at the gym? No matter what you've tried, you can't seem to lose weight? Can't help feeling defeated and discouraged? It's not all your fault.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dr. Joseph Luciani
Feeling stuck? Can't seem to sustain your efforts at the gym? No matter what you've tried, you can't seem to lose weight? Can't help feeling defeated and discouraged? It's not all your fault. Well, not entirely. Human beings are, first and foremost, creatures of habit. If it weren’t so, you’d have to relearn to tie your shoes every morning and relearn to touch-type every day at the computer--habits make our world more efficient. And yet habits can also set you up to resist change, any change--even positive change.
Change usually entails some degree of stress as you replace the old with the new. Losing weight, gaining strength and muscle, changing your attitude and self-image, are all necessary and worthwhile goals, but achieving them requires that you effectively manage the stress involved in breaking old patterns and habits. Stress management becomes your insurance that your goals will be reached.
When you exercise you systematically stress your body, forcing it to adapt to the demands of physical effort. Too little stress, no adaption takes place and you find yourself stuck, not improving and discouraged. Too much stress and your body can't recover as you experience deterioration, fatigue, and burnout. Physical stress is converted into psychological stress, which can often lead to corrosive thoughts such as: "I can't do this!" "I need another day off." The question is what's the right amount of stress to ensure physical adaption as well as psychological resilience?
Let's try a simple experiment. With your thumb and index finger, and very lightly so you almost don't feel it, pinch your forearm. Now gradually increase the intensity of the pinch until it become and "ouch!" Exercise is optimum when you're definitely feeling the "pinch," but just before it becomes painful. This represents the range where you want to keep your body and mind. This is also the range where you will be able to sustain a positive, can-do attitude.
Bottom line: if you do something that is painful, long enough you will rebel. Do something too easy and your lack of results will create negativity. But if you maintain what I call the Stress Management Zone, you will constantly be feeling refreshed, encouraged, and looking forward to the next day's workout.
Try it today. Monitor your stress during every exercise, Too much? Too little? Just right?" Remember you're the only one who can determine the optimum level of stress. The more you stay in this range, the easier it will become to sustain an invigorating healthy lifestyle--for the rest of your life!
The above article is part of the M3Lifestyle, NO PAIN--ALL GAIN, Power Thinking philosophy. To learn more, please visit us at www.M3lifestyle.com.
Dr. Joe Luciani is a psychologist and author of the Internationally, bestselling, Self-Coaching series of books. He is also the co-founder of M3 Lifestyle (www.M3lifestyle.com) and author of the program's Power Thinking motivational component.