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Scheduling Exercise Time

How on earth am I supposed to fit exercise into my life? I have no time and even less energy.

The first fact to consider is that our bodies need some kind of exercise. We are designed to move. When we exercise, our muscles flex and squeeze toxins out of our tissues, we drink more water which helps to hydrate the cells of our bodies, and chemicals which make us feel good and happy are released in our brains, making us feel just a little better about life. Exercise is not only good, it is critical to our recovery from hormone health issues.

Here are the first steps to incorporating exercise into your already busy life:

1.         Stop feeling guilty about not exercising. Just stop it right now.

2.         Talk to a friend who you know will be sympathetic and supportive. Just talking about your intention to exercise and saying it out loud will help you get started. Maybe your friend will even exercise with you.

3.         Look at your life realistically and decide how much time and energy you can commit at this moment. Not everyone’s life allows them to hit the gym five days a week for two hours. If your life does allow this, stop reading this article and grab your gym pass!

4.         Whatever you decide you can do, however small, just do something. Get off the elevator one or two flights before your floor at work. Park at the far side of the parking lot when you go to the mall.

5.         As you become more active you may want to schedule some dedicated exercise time. This scheduling can be very challenging in our hectic work-a-day world. The best way I have found is to take out my weekly planner where I track all of my appointments and commitments during the week. I plot my exercise times into my schedule.   Once written down, it feels like an appointment with myself. With this method, I do still miss some of my exercise times, but I do manage to keep most of my appointments with myself.

Once you start exercising more regularly, you may still have times where you just feel too exhausted or time-squeezed to get your exercise in. Here are two little tricks I play on myself to get through:

1.         I make a deal with myself that I will start my exercise, let’s say the treadmill.  I tell myself I will do it for 10 minutes and then permit myself to quit.  At the end of 10 minutes, I almost always feel more inspired and I continue on for the full time.

2.         If your heart really isn’t into your workout, just go through some of the motions and do a little bit. If you normally walk the dog all the way to the dog park, just go around the block instead. Doing these pared-down sessions may not raise your heart rate, but it will keep the momentum of your exercise plan going and you will feel so much better about yourself tomorrow.

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How to Manage Stress

Real Life Suggestions on How to Manage Stress

My personal opinion is that, in life, we just can’t do it all…and be well. If something comes along which we cannot control, something else has to give.

Here are some suggestions on how to get a handle on stress:

1.         Stop. Just stop…and take a breath. Sit down with a pen, paper and your calendar of commitments, and be determined to make a change.

2.         Control the number of activities you and your family are involved in.  Until your kids can drive themselves to their activities, do they really need to belong to two sports teams, take piano lessons and ballet? Many times we feel guilty if we don’t provide them every opportunity to explore their interests, but sacrificing one or two activities in exchange for a parent who feels less stressed is a valuable trade off.

3.         Break it down. Decide what is “your stuff” and what isn’t. We can’t control other people or events ( as much as we wish we could!). All we have control over is ourselves and our actions and re-actions. We can be honest and take responsibility for our feelings and our needs. We also can’t control others’ response to our efforts at change. Communicate as honestly as you can, and stick to the plan which best works for finding balance in your life.

4.         Carve some time into your calendar for everyone in the family to just “be”. This time doesn’t have to happen all together, it can happen differently for everyone. Create some breathing room. The best tonic for keeping our hormones balanced is to get rest; to just “drop out” for an hour, an afternoon, a weekend. Whatever you can manage.

5.         Exercise. Just take a walk. When our bodies and hormones are stressed, it puts stress on our system to try to go to the gym and crank out 100 reps. Walking doesn’t take a lot of energy, but it gets the blood circulating to your cells and your brain and fresh air in your lungs. Plus, after seeing a change of scenery while walking around the block, it is amazing the new perspective we can have upon arriving home. Also, take Fido with you. He picks up on the stress in the household and could use the benefit of exercise too!

6.          Talk to your doctor.  Sometimes we need a little chemical help to endure a prolonged period of sadness or stress.  Having experienced depression myself, I do understand that there is a place for anti-depressants.  It doesn’t mean that you’ve “failed” or you are “too weak to tough it out”.  These thoughts are actually the depression talking.  Use of anti-depressants must be initiated and closely monitored by your physician.  The purpose of an anti-depressant is not a “happy pill” to make your troubles disappear.  Depression is a chemical gap in the communication of cells in your brain.  Medication can bridge this gap to get you back to where you can function in your daily life.  Often times, it is only a very small dose that is required for a specified period of time.  Whatever happens do not take yourself off of your medication early or reduce your dose without your doctor’s supervision.  A depression relapse can be worse than the initial bout.  You and your doctor can determine together when you can start reducing your dose to get off of the medication.

7.           Talk to a counsellor.  If you have an extended health plan at work, often counselling is included in the list of services which are covered by your plan.  Ask your plan administrator at work.  Speaking to a qualified counsellor can be beneficial, if not critical to our recovery from, and ability to manage, stress.

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Exercise is Essential

Exercise is is not just a suggestion or recommendation when attempting to balance your body’s hormone function. Exercise is a necessity!

Don’t we all just want a quick fix for our health?  If there were a magic pill out there, we would all give our kingdoms for that pill!  When it comes to diets, and diet pills and exercise programs, I always think that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  We may try fad items, but I think we all know in our hearts that the only solution to maintaining or regaining our health is old-fashioned exercise and watching our diet.

Our bodies are made to move and many of our internal systems are designed to run with exercise.  Balanced health is only accomplished by having activity as part of your life.  This doesn’t mean you have to join a gym, but if you can that’s great!  Take your kids to the park or walk around the block after supper.  Our bodies are so amazing that even a small amount of exercise is going to improve your health and your outlook!

There is no “secret” to exercise.  The infomercials show a myriad of different exercise equipment and programs to follow.  The great news is there is no right or wrong plan.  You are not going to miss the “magic solution” if you don’t think a particular method appeals to you.  Choose something that works for you.  I always say it’s so great that there are so many forms of exercise, because there are so many people with different tastes and budgets.  Everyone has a chance to do something that appeals to them.  I have a girlfriend who loves to go for a run — on the pavement out in the city.  She loves it.  This would be my own personal torture.  I can hear my ankle tendons snap just thinking about it!  My favourite activity is a 30 minute brisk walk on the treadmill and some yoga stretches.  Another friend of mine loves golf.  She opts out of the golf cart and wheels your golf bag across the links.

The key…the absolutely key to exercise, is regularity.  Whatever activity you choose, be faithful to yourself and do it several times a week.  Two, three or even four times a week.

Things to consider when choosing an activity:

1.  What is your goal?  What are you trying to accomplish through exercise?  There is a big difference between wanting to improve your general well-being and wanting to join the ladies’ weightlifting team.  Be honest with yourself about your goal and be realistic.  If you set too high of an expectation, you will not stick with your program.

2.  What is your health condition at the moment and what may be some physical limitations to keep in mind?  This is the time to talk to your doctor about wanting to begin an exercise plan.  Your doctor and your health history will dictate the type of activity and the intensity.  You must see your doctor before implementing any change in diet or exercise to your life.

3.  Consider your budget.  In these trying economic times, we don’t need to add extra pressure on ourselves by thinking that if we can’t join a costly gym, or attend yoga classes then there’s no use in trying to get in shape.  If you have a bicycle, get on it or go for a walk.  Plain old push ups, sit ups and jumping jacks are effective exercises that the military still uses to this day.  But don’t forget to check with your doctor before attempting anything new.

The great thing about exercise is that it’s never too late to start.  It is an investment in your future health!

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Difficulty Losing Weight – Hormone Weight Gain

It can be very difficult, if not impossible, to lose weight if hormones are unbalanced.  Weight gain from hormone imbalance usually collects around the mid-section (belly) and thighs. It can seem that no matter which diet you try or which exercise you pursue, the weight doesn’t budge.

Particularly, once we hit menopause, it seems that all the old rules of fitness which we’ve clung to our whole lives no longer work for us. The rules have changed and no one has given us the new play book! It is imperative to understand that we will not lose our “hormone weight” until our hormones are balanced for our optimum health. The first step to this balancing act is to have our hormone levels tested, through blood test, saliva test, Vega test, or all three.

Once you receive your test results and have agreed on a plan with your doctor as to how to correct your hormone balance problem, be sure to speak to your doctor about what type of exercise would be appropriate for you. This is very important because depending on your particular hormone profile, some exercises may be better than others, and some exercises may even be dangerous for you to try during this time.

It should be noted here, that even if your doctor recommends an exercise plan for you, be sure to do just a little investigation on her recommendation yourself. This comment comes from my personal experience. When I was diagnosed with an extremely overactive thyroid, my doctor at the time said that it was okay for me to continue the heavy cardio exercise program that I was on. This in fact was very bad advice. My own research showed me that cardio in particular, was very dangerous for my condition. This was due to the fact that in an overactive thyroid state, my resting heart rate was already 120 beats per minute. My exercise was throwing my rate through the roof and into a dangerous zone of cardiac arrest.

Battling this weight gain can be such a discouraging time for women.  Earlier in life, when our hormones were perfectly balanced, our exercise was often a means-to-an-end — to get fit and slim and improve our appearance.  Now, in the midst of menopause or other hormonal upset, it just doesn’t seem to work that way.  We have to put a “new tape” in our head as far as how we talk to ourselves about this.  The only way to succeed in losing hormone weight gain is, let me say it again, to ensure that our hormones are balanced.  Then we have to be faithful every day to eat properly and exercise.  It can take a long time for the body to release this weight.  Sorry for this bit of bad news, but there is no magic formula.  While we wait, continue to be faithful to yourself.  Instead of succombing to a pill that promises it all, spend that energy examining your diet.  Drink lots of clean water, and incorporate fresh veggies and lean proteins into your diet.  Be aware of what you are drinking when it comes to alcohol and caffeine.

We must always consult with our doctor when we make a change in our lifestyle, and just as importantly, we must take responsibility for ourselves and do just a bit of research on our own.