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  • Writer's picturePat Birnie

Why We Do What We Do -- This is What Makes It Happen!

I must confess I'm cheating a bit this month. Yes of course I cut corners at times; don't we all? However, as I was mulling over a blog topic, thinking about trying to maintain a 'pretty healthy' lifestyle in the midst of all the wonderful treats, parties, beverages and desserts I'll be enjoying this month, I was also calculating how I would squeeze in walks/runs or workouts over the next few busy days. We are hosting not one but TWO big Christmas parties, starting this weekend! The first is our big extended family get-together and the second is a friends party - both are the first since 2019 and to say I'm super excited is an understatement.

This is my agenda for the next couple of weeks -- Just add one more line that says "move".

Imagine my delight when I perused my old Contours Gym newsletters (yes I kept all the hard copies) -- from our gym owner days -- and found the perfect topic. It's from February 2009, and guess what? Not much has changed. I have tweaked the message a bit. At age 67, my perspective is a little different than it was at 55. Let's get a little deeper here and talk about why we exercise.

Most individuals' main motivator for exercising is to change the way they look. However, perhaps if we revisit our reasons, we'd be more successful and consistent? Losing weight and changing the shape of our bodies dominates the messaging we are bombarded with. If that's the motivation, let's be honest, immediate results are rare (or non-existent particularly as we age) leading to disappointment and loss of motivation. The message needs to be rewritten and our mindset tweaked. Moving our bodies, raising our heart rate and using our muscles makes us feel better. It reduces stress, improves sleep and often confidence. In our Contours days, I never once had a member say "I'm sorry I showed up today", but rather they said "I'm so glad I came in!!". It may have been a struggle to get there, but the mental benefits were always there. Without exception. So, there you have it - proof positive that the mental and emotional benefits are powerful.

Studies have consistently shown that physical activity reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety and improves mood. It can also decrease stress levels. Think about it -- heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels all increase under stress. All of these things can be decreased by moving our body. If we could stop worrying about the short-term and superficial changes and just enjoy the feeling good part I think we'd be more likely to stick to a routine. Know and accept that as we age, our bodies change. It's just a fact! Our middles soften, our skin wrinkles and our butts and boobs sag. However if we are consistent in moving and working our muscles, we will start to feel better about our bodies and who knows, the muscles may fill out those wrinkles a bit!

See-- they are having fun! What a goofy pic, but I couldn't resist.

Once of the biggest reasons older adults don't exercise is that they believe they cannot. There is ALWAYS something you can do! Maybe you can sit in a chair and use some 3 or 5 pound weights? Or, stand up and sit back down 20 times, using a wall for balance. Try this and you may notice that your balance is better and you're getting a little stronger.

I realize that I am a little different, in that I enjoy being active. But guess what? I don't enjoy lifting weights. However I also don't want to become a scrawny old broad that can't get out of a chair or up off the floor in 10 or 20 years! That's what keeps me going. (okay, okay I'll be totally honest -- I'd really like to firm up my saggy bum, but if that doesn't happen I plan to be running and playing with my grandbabies for many many years to come, scrawny ass be damned!)

I'm curious -- why do you do what you do? If your goals are unrealistic it could be why you struggle to be consistent. It's time to get off that seesaw and move daily - if only because we will be in a better mood when we are done, and who doesn't want that?

Ho-Ho-Ho, Pat xo

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