Hitting the Wall

Hitting the wallWe all hit proverbial walls every single day of our lives. It may seem overwhelming at first, but we all can overcome them.  So what are these walls?  Many times they come in the form of those around you – people who tell you that your goals aren’t realistic, that you aren’t capable of making your dreams a reality.  Those people might be friends (great friends, right?), or family, or co-workers – but we can’t listen to the naysayers.  Especially the greatest naysayer of them all. . . that little voice in our heads; something I like to call the Itty Bitty Shi*ty Committee.  You know the voice I’m talking about – the one that never ceases to point out all of your supposed inadequacies.

That little voice can either disable or enable you.   And the most effective way to quiet it down so you can “scale the walls” that stand in your way is to identify your negative thought patterns so that you can eventually shift them.  It all starts with a simple adjustment to your state of mind.  But how do we do that?

I’ll tell you my favorite method for overcoming those walls.  Drumroll please . . . You guessed it!  Exercise.

When people have asked me over the years what motivates me personally to work out, my answer has always been the same:  It’s not the number of calories I’ll burn or a desire to tone my abs – it’s knowing how good I’ll feel afterward, and how it will set a more positive tone for my entire day.  And it’s not just because I’m a fitness junkie.  Studies prove that exercise produces brain chemicals known to have anti-depressant effects called beta-endorphins.  Those beta-endorphins act as natural pain relievers, fight stress levels, and wash all over your body when you exercise, creating that delicious “high” that you feel.  Tony Robbins has a great quote:  “Your physiology affects your psychology.” Simply put:  change your body, and you’ll change your mind.

Need proof?  Try this little exercise right now, from where you’re sitting.  Slump your shoulders.  Round your back.  Droop your head in classic “poor posture form.”  Just hang out in that position for a minute and see where your mind goes – what kind of mood is instantly created?  Now, sit up straight.  Engage your abdominals, relax your shoulders back, and open up your chest.  Smile.  If you can, try giggling a little out loud, even if it’s phony, and even if it makes you look like a nutcase.  Now what’s going through your mind?

So it’s no wonder that when I’m feeling stressed-out or overwhelmed, my first instinct is to go for a workout.  But which mode of movement I choose depends on the particular obstacle or emotion I’m battling.

  • Strength Training:  Bust through it.

Feeling weak, wimpy, or timid?  Pick up some dumbbells.  While you may have heard me talk endlessly about the other benefits of strength training (boosting metabolism, preventing bone loss, improving posture – don’t get me started), it’s also incredibly empowering.  It’s like a “reset” button that leaves you feeling (and often looking) like a superhero. A total body strength training workout can sculpt your legs, arms, buns, shoulders, and abs at the same time, but also transform your state of mind.

  • Cardio:  Dance through it.

Cardiovascular exercise is proven to boost seratonin levels – it’s truly a mood-shifter.  So if you’re looking for something to lift your spirits, remember: Cardio is good for your heart – not just physically, but also emotionally.  Getting out for a brisk walk in the fresh air or jumping onto an elliptical can do the trick – but there is really no cure for the blues like a solid dose of dancing.

  • Yoga:  Breathe through it.

These days, anxiety levels are definitely on the rise.  You’ve heard about the benefits of yoga when it comes to keeping the body flexible and limber – but yoga is also where the mind-body connection really comes into play.  Its power to quiet the mind’s chatter, reduce that jittery feeling, and help you find some peace and stillness is truly astonishing.  Yoga is designed to promote a feeling of deep relaxation and calm.  Who couldn’t use that right about now?