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Move it or lose it.

According to new research, sitting all day is bad for you. This is what I like to call a “Duh!” study.  We all know we’re supposed to exercise but it turns out that even if you exercise regularly but then sit all day you’re doing more harm than good.

According this article from NPR:

…mini-breaks, just one minute long throughout the day, can actually make a difference. You can simply stand up, dance about, wiggle around, take a few steps back and forth, march in place. These simple movements can help lower blood sugar, triglycerides, cholesterol and waist size.

My suggestion – set a timer on your computer, find a favorite song on YouTube, and throw yourself an hourly dance party. If you can get your coworkers to join in, so much the better! If the idea of public humiliation doesn’t float your boat, try using the restroom farthest from your desk, preferably on a different floor. Hopefully you are drinking enough water to make this an hourly trip anyway.

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I do what the voices in my head tell me to do.

One of the things that separates humans from other creatures in the animal kingdom is that we can think about ourselves as selves. As a matter of fact, I often refer to myself directly with statements such as, “Self, you need to get out of bed.” or “Self, is that cupcake really worth it?” Generally, this ability comes in handy. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to our self awareness and that is our inner voices insistence on making us miserable.

I was reading a really old O magazine at the gym the other day and I came across this quote from Byron Katie:

All the suffering in our minds is not reality, it’s just a story we torture ourselves with.

Some suffering is created by outside forces – job layoffs, war, illness, violent storms, etc. We’ll call this “Actual Factual Suffering.” However, most of our daily suffering comes from the little voice in our head telling us that we, like Wayne and Garth, just aren’t worthy. I’m going to call this “Perceived Suffering.” It’s that constant monologue filled with negative comments, regrets, insults, and fears that we all have in our mind. People who have gone through big Actual Factual Suffering experiences generally come out of them with a new found ability to ignore or at least lessen their Perceived Suffering.  They no longer sweat the small stuff as much as they did before. This is because they’ve gone through hell and back again and discovered that it ain’t easy, but it’s survivable. The story of their lives was briefly rewritten for them but they’ve discovered they still have control over the coming chapters.

If we’ve been lucky enough not to have those experiences to force us into, how do we get to to that epiphany? Think about the quote again: All the suffering in our minds is not reality, it’s just a story we torture ourselves with.

If it’s all a story, we have the power to rewrite it. We simply have to recognize that our reality, just like any “Reality” TV show, can be edited to express whatever we want it to. So find your script and start mentally cutting and pasting your way to a happy ending.

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Spring Public Service Announcement

I live in New Hampshire where there are four distinct seasons – Summer, Fall, Winter, and the one we are currently in, affectionately called Mud. For those of you rejoicing in the fact that winter has fled and we can finally go outside, I’d like to remind you not to forget your sunscreen. There’s nothing like the long, long New Hampshire winter to make us forget sunburns of the past.

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“It’s not my bag, baby.”

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” — Albert Einstein

I teach BodyJam which is a dance based cardio class. In order to do so I have to learn an hour’s worth of new choreography every 3 months, none of which is ever the same. This is no small feat. That being said, if you throw me into a step-aerobics class I turn into a spastic mess and can’t follow along to save my life. If all I ever tried to do at the gym was step class I would probably consider myself a failure (although hopefully I’d get better).

Moral of the story? If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. If you still don’t succeed, try something else!

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To Dream the Impossible Dream

Do you have big dreams?

Maybe you’ve been wanting to get another degree. Or write a novel.  Or you’ve considered running a marathon. Or you want to lose 50 pounds.

We all have those dreams but only a few of us actually turn them from dreams to reality. Why is that? I’d venture to guess it’s because when looked at head on those goals seem incredibly daunting, if not impossible. “Me, write a novel?! That’s like 400 pages! I could never do that. Where would I find the time?”

The thing is, that time is going to pass anyway. Why not be working on something in the process?

Any goal takes time and effort but when broken into small pieces like a puzzle, rather than the finished product it’s not so bad. A novel, written 1 page per day, would take about a year to complete. 50 pounds, losing only half to one pound per week would take a year or two to lose. How many years have already gone by since you first started dreaming your dream?

I’d venture to guess that you’ve been thinking about this goal for awhile now. Stop looking at the box the puzzle came in and start putting together the pieces.

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“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” – Marilyn Monroe

I’m sure you’ve had at least one of those days when you’re feeling absolutely awesome about yourself. The kind of day where you strut down the street like John Travolta at the beginning of Saturday Night Fever. Suddenly, someone walks by who embodies your idea of perfection and your self-esteem instantly evaporates out of your body. You are crushed and must stop strutting to go crawl into a hole and nurse your poor battered ego.

The truth is, there will always be someone “better” than you. How you or I choose to handle that reality is what matters. Do I look at some of the cute perky little women at the gym and fell bad about myself despite the fact that in most other people’s eyes I AM the cute perky little woman at the gym? Absolutely. Could I weigh less? Yes. After reaching a certain baseline for health purposes, am I willing to give up the balance I have in my life between leisure activities, eating out, and simply living to do that? No.

Instead I strive to embrace my imperfections, realizing that if I was perfect I’d have nothing to strive for. Then I think about John Travola again but this time as the exuberant Edna Turnblad in Hairspray. He/She is absolutely ridiculous. Which is absolutely perfect.

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Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it. ~Salvador Dali

I was talking to one of my favorite class participants today about body image and self esteem. Her take as she nears 50 is that at some point you have to just say, ‘This is who I am. I may not be perfect but I can still be perfectly happy.’ Unfortunately, she pointed out that we live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by images and reminders of what it means to be attractive and we’re forced to feel less than in a multitude of ways. We’re too old, too big, too thick, too thin, too small up top, too large on the bottom, too pale, too dark, etc, ad nauseum. In this sort of cultural milieu, when is good enough good enough?

What’s infinitely sad is that this woman’s mother is in her 80s and I see her in the locker room weighing herself. It’s usually followed by a sigh and some negative comment about the results. Although I want to say “Shoot me if I get to 80 plus years old and still care about the number on the scale!” I can’t help but wonder why I don’t have the same reaction right now as someone who has made it to her mid-30s and has a great life. What age will I have to be before I can say good enough? Is there a magic threshold I have to look forward to?

I don’t know about you but I’m going to make an effort to be a little more perfectly happy now than potentially perfect later. In the immortal words of Stuart Smalley – I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!