Viewing entries tagged
healthy mind

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Calm the Crazy

calmthe crazy.jpg

Are you a walker? I’m not in the least. It’s not like I don’t walk, but I just don’t love it, or even like it as a form of exercise.

I am willing to park far away or walk to stores and events, but I have never been an exercise walker. Walking with girlfriends is fun because we get to chat and I enjoy the scenery of a hike, but walking (or even hiking) for the sake of exercise kills me. My mind races escape me from the dread moments on a walk. I always think, “If I just ran it would be faster and I would be done sooner”; therefore, I have always taken to running more than walking (which has its own kind of crazy).

Early this year I had some injuries and health issues that prevented me from running, so I had to begin walking to keep from going crazy and keep up some form of cardio. As soon as I could run again, though, I started it up and left walking in the dust…until now.

Just recently, I came down with a cold and realized I couldn’t exercise hard or I would make it worse rather than better…. So, I started walking again. Feeling sorry for myself, I begrudgingly walked the last several days.

This morning, I was just getting started at work and I realized how calm I felt. I thought it was odd because being sick makes me anxious since I can’t move more. Then I relished in the thoughts of calm and thought about why I had so much peace, and it struck me: Walking is calming

Walking calmed my crazy!

Mental health benefits of walking for a highly stressed mind and body can be significantly more powerful than a high intensity workout or run because exercise is a form of stress on the body. Generally, that form of stress reaps positive rewards for the body. However, when there is an already taxed system from illness or a prolonged stressful life situation, a higher stress workout like running or HIIT can be detrimental to healing.

After recognizing the change in my mental state, I walked with enthusiasm for the peace it would bring. Now to share with you from a hard-headed runner and all-out, balls-to-the-wall exerciser, I am writing this blog about why you should walk (even if you’re a runner)!  

Here are 5 of my favorite psychological and physiological benefits of walking:

1- Walking is calming to the nervous system, reducing stress and increasing brain activity.

2- Walking at a moderate pace for 45-60 minutes 4 times a week will increase your cardio capacity, decrease your resting heart rate and blood pressure, and help maintain a healthy weight.

3- Walking can include a social element during a walk n’ talk, which provides a mental health benefits of bonding and reducing stress while feeling socially connected and supported.

4- Walking improved balance and coordination (although that second is still an issue for me). Think about it, walking is the act of falling forward and catching yourself again.

5- Walking increases bone density without supplying too much pressure to the joints. Basically, most of us will be able to walk much longer than we will be able to run. Even if you’re a runner, add a day of walking to prolong your running years.

My epiphany of walking versus my running comes at an fortunate time to release this blog. We recently launched our community walking groups! They are free and open to the public. We meeting Mondays at 8AM & 5PM. Please look at our website for details. There’s no need to sign up, so show up and join the fun!

Happy Walking Trails to You!

Additional Blogs about benefits of walking (and running)
1- 5 ways walking is better than running  
2- The physical and psychological benefits of walking  
3- Go for a walk  
4- Walking can lift your mood

 

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'Tis the Season

seasonal depression

It’s always a season.

Every moment of our lives is part of one season or another. Some seasons are longer than others and some seem indefinite, but we can always count on the fact that whatever season we are in will eventually change. And every aspect of our lives has seasons: we have seasons with our kids depending on their ages and stages, we have seasons with our friends where people come and go, we have seasons where we are flourishing and most things fall into place, and we have seasons that bring us to our knees because everything seems hard.

It’s difficult to remember that all seasons are and always will be temporary; nothing lasts forever. We get stuck on the idea of the good seasons, wanting them to never end because we feel entitled to the good season- that’s where life should stay. We think when things are good, we’re good, we’re OK. Which in turn means, if things are bad then we’re bad; then why would we want to let go of the good seasons? As I am certain we all know the truth on some level:

All seasons come with good AND bad, and we perform well AND horribly in all those seasons.

We live in dichotomy but there is something about the human brain that wants to choose one or the other. The brain is unsettled dealing with both sides of life simultaneously.

The dichotomy we live means we’re always performing well and poorly in different aspects of our lives in a single season. Sometimes there’s more good than bad, and sometimes it’s the opposite. Regardless, both good moments and bad moments are present in every season of life regardless of how one sided it seems.

The question then is how to we learn to live in this dichotomy?

For what it’s worth, here’s my advice from my time contemplating this truth.

Acceptance: Accept that there is always good and bad in all seasons and situations. We live in dichotomy and that is OK!

Awareness: Be aware of the soundtrack of our own minds when things seem one sided. Pay attention to our tendency to overplay the stronger feeling so frequently that we seem to be holding on tight to the season. This does happen in both good and bad. During the good we don’t want to let go of good, during the bad, we don’t trust things to get better. The longer we’ve been in a season, the truer this rings.

Gratitude: Be grateful for the good things happening even if they seem few and far between. Also, spend time being thankful for the hard times because you will grow more from those bad moments and hard times than the good moments. Ironically it’s harder to be grateful for the bad things during good times than during the bad times. However, it will do more for a balanced perspective in the good times so we don’t get too married to those good times.

Be present: Be present and allow yourself to experience the good moments and the bad moments fully! And during some seasons that all happens within seconds. Laugh until you cry or scream until you smile, but experience every feeling, every emotion. The more of life that is experienced in the present moment, the more quickly you learn and move through the season.

Set limits: When things get hard or bad, it can feel like the season is indefinite and may, in fact, never end. If you feel this way, it’s time to set a limit. Make a pact with yourself by saying “I am going to give myself a month to fumble through this season. After a month it’s over or I am reassessing.” In a month, if it is not over, reassess where you are compared to where you started and set another limit. Our brains handle finite periods of distress better than indefinite periods. And the limit can be an hour or a day if a month is too long. Just choose what you need to get through that time.

Remember: Like our four seasons (or a kidney stone), this too shall pass….

Relish is the good moments so you don’t lose sight of all you have to be grateful for, and accept the bad moments as life’s classroom.

Enjoy this crazy ride we call life, people. We just never know which season will be our last! 

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The #1 Reason You’re Unsuccessful & How to Change It

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The #1 Reason You’re Unsuccessful & How to Change It

Success comes in all forms. Only an individual can define success for him or herself, but somewhere along the way, our American culture decided to streamline what success is for all of us. What were we all told when we were young? “Get good grades so you can go to college, so you can get a good job, find a good spouse, buy a nice house and car, have 2.5 kids, own a dog, and be happy.”

Although we may have been the few blessed with good parents who saw the world a little more well rounded, the truth is that the rest of the world’s message held more weight. I never knew I had an option to do anything but go to college after high school until I was recruited by the Marine Corps for my music skills. Wait! What? I can be a US Marine AND play music! WHAT?! I’m sure my mom told me that I had other options of what I could do after high school, but they never felt like options because the information never even stuck in my brain…PEOPLE! The only reason I became a US Marine was my mother convincing me that I could do all the things she knew I wanted to do and didn’t have to go to school right away.

I had turmoil in my decision making process, but not for long. I am a “balls to wall” decision making person at my core, so I don’t sit on decisions too long. (Obviously, I was destined for the Corps.)

My point remains the same. How do we define success? Well “we” collectively cannot determine success for any one person. We have a unique journey to fulfill and there are no duplicates in the world.

So why have we bought into this one picture of how life is supposed to work? Of how success should be measured?

The reason you’re unsuccessful in life pursuits is most likely because you’re trying to pursue some fake life of success.

Who said you have to go to college to be successful? I don’t think anyone is doubting the success of people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Sophia Amoruso, David Neeleman, Paul Allen, and Larry Ellison.

Who said you had to get married to be successful? There are many unsuccessful married and unmarried folk.

Who said the big house with the white picket fence is what makes you happy? I have an uncle who can buy a dream home in any city in the country and he chooses to rent a small 3-bedroom house because he wants to move when he’s ready to move, and he has no need for extra space to fill with extra stuff. He’s a guy who loves experiences, not things.

Who said….OK. I think you get my point, and if not….The #1 reason you are unsuccessful is because you are allowing society to define success. Only you can define your own success.

You will never be successful trying to live someone else’s version of success.

And to that point: How many people consciously want that life for you? If you ask most of your friends and family, they will probably say, I just want you to be happy. Well good news! It’s easy to please them! Just choose to be happy, and if you find that difficult, it’s probably because you’re attempting to live someone else’s life.

So today, instead of trying to choose happiness in a life that isn’t meant for you, choose you. Choose what you want out of life. Maybe that means you choose to go back to school so you can eventually leave a job only your parents wanted for you. Or maybe you choose to leave school to experience the world the way you always wanted to experience it.

If you don’t know who you are at your core, you’re not going to be able to choose wisely. And all of the personality assessments in the world won’t be able to decide for you. They couldn’t possibly supply enough questions to determine the infinite possibilities of who you could be.

The good news? You can work to know yourself better and define your own version of success. Success that only you can define. In order to get to know yourself, you have to be purposeful and intentional about understanding your ins and outs. And here are a couple of activities that can help you with that.

Question it. Even if you think you know how you define success, there may be more you haven’t figured out. So spend a little time asking yourself these questions:

  • Do you know what makes you happy?
  • And what makes you sad?
  • Do you have a fire that feels like an inferno every time you hear of or see a particular situation?
  •  When do you feel energized, like you’re on top of the world?
  • When do you feel completely drained?
  • Do you know any things at which you seem especially gifted? You’re a natural _________
  • Can you describe yourself in 4 words?

Another great way to know how you would define success is to write your own eulogy. I did this exercise once with my business coach, and L-O-V-E-D it! You know why? Because my life isn’t over yet! I can make all of those things real – until the day I die, I have that chance.

What is it you want people to say about you when you’re gone? If you can write that down, you’re on your way to redefining your own success and setting your path on the right trajectory. Don’t be hard on yourself, nothing is written in stone…yet. Until the day we're buried 6 feet under, we still have a chance to make our dreams a reality.

And let’s be honest. I’m sitting here writing this as a 36-year-old woman, a mother of a 13-year-old, running a business, and on the verge of some big changes in my life – I expect my eulogy and my definition of success to change and grow as I change and grow. Don’t be so married to this picture of success that you aren’t allowed to change your mind. You always have that right, so be kind and forgiving to yourself.

If this is something you're interested in discovering more about, but you're not sure how to proceed, you may consider signing up for a complimentary 30 minute health and wellness coaching consultation. Our coach will help you pin point some of the areas that you may be holding yourself back from being your authentic self. We'd love to walk with you on your journey, so don't be afraid to ask for help. Visit our homepage, fill out the form, and our health coach will contact you to set an appointment time. 

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"I'm proud of you"

I'm proud of you. I don't know about you, but those four little words strung together can make an impact like few others in my life. 

Just today I received a phone call from my big sis. She really amazes me sometimes with her perspective of me and my journey to my business. (She also has a sixth sense and always knows things before I tell her, but that's a different topic all together.) When she called me kind of out of the blue, it was just to catch up. She went on to tell me that she was just talking about me and how she believes a friend of hers can be successful in her similar business because I am successful in mine.

It stopped me in my tracks filled with humility and uncertainty. Rather than being appreciative of the comment, I was almost argumentative with my sister saying that it sounds like this person is even more successful than me.

You're probably reading this thinking: But you ARE successful. You're in business, your doors are open and things are growing; how many people have that?

The truth is she's right and you're right! I have success in my business and my life. I see it when I pay attention, but day-to-day it's easy to forget the journey at which I've already succeeded and the little steps along the way. 

In early years on this journey the thought that someone else was more successful would have gotten stuck in my head. I would have decided that since they are more successful, I am a failure (now that's a blog for another day). I would have allowed it to eat me alive, defeating my future attempts at the next milestone of success on my journey ahead. 

This time was different. I heard the words my sister said, almost immediately tuning them out. I felt and heard the loud and negative bitch in my head telling me I am not successful- I've failed. But then I heard my sisters words again. She was trying to tell me that she was proud of me, and a couple sentences later, that's exactly what she said. Had I allowed the loud negative thoughts to plague me, I never would have heard the most important words my sister had for me today. 

She would have said those positive words, but I never would have received them as the gift she intended. If I hadn't opened my mind to receive those words, when things get harder during this journey (and they will), I wouldn't have that gift to lean on. 

I'm eternally grateful to my sister for her words of encouragement, and not just for the content of her being proud of me, or for the future memory of that moment. I'm also grateful that her moment of kindness unlocked awareness of strength inside me and gratitude for my journey, completed and incomplete.

The healing and growth I have had over the last few years is not only palatable, but it is being put into action even without conscious effort. If this sounds a little like a self-kudos moment-- IT IS! I'm proud of me for numerous reasons right now! 

Thanks to my big sis for always being my cheerleader and supporter, and for helping me see an accurate reflection of my journey in this moment.  

I hope this encourages you to keep working towards a healthy mindset and emotional health. You are worthy of believing in yourself. Until you believe that about yourself, I'm here to remind you!

I'm proud of you for every bit of effort you have put into you, for making every hard decision that allowed you to step into a better version of yourself, and for just showing up, reading a blog, getting out of bed, or saying a prayer when it was hard to even exist. You're valuable to this world just because you are you!

Please feel free to comment below, share with friends and family or email me personally. lj@infinitely-fit.com. 

LJ Eastmead

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LIES VS TRUTH

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LIES VS TRUTH

After much lamenting over what to write, I realized that many of the things I am tired of or don’t want to do are because there is a possibility of a “should” being placed in front. We should exercise, we should eat well, we should be grateful, we should be disciplined, we should be diligent with money, we should be kind to ourselves and others. Again, like a teenager, I’m rebelling against all responsibility. It doesn’t matter right now that these are things I enjoy and have benefits. The rebellion is all in the should!

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You're worth more than leftovers....

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You're worth more than leftovers....

I believe modeling good self-care is as important as engaging with our kids. We need to take care of our own needs so we’re not just giving our loved ones leftovers. It’s a hard concept to practice, but completely worth it for you and your loved ones.

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Exercise to Fight Depression

By Kelsey Brown

It’s 6:00 am. Your alarm is blaring, beckoning you to begin your day. You roll over and hit the snooze button, unable to sleep but not yet ready to summon the strength to get out of bed. Your low back throbs and you hardly slept all night.     

You lie there, contemplating whether or not you should even get out of bed at all. You have a good job and a wonderful family and yet, you can’t figure out why you are so unhappy. So tired. So unsatisfied.

Depression is a debilitating disease affecting at least 6.7% of the U.S. population.

It is associated with low self-esteem, pervasive feelings of guilt and worthlessness and a loss of interest and pleasure. Depression, with its multiple contributing factors, can sneak up on you when your life is going horribly wrong or when it’s going perfectly well.

If you’ve ever experienced a bout of depression, you know how crushing the disease can be. It is as if your whole life, your every action, is being weighed down by a boulder that is built entirely of your own misery.  

Depression comes with other negative side effects such as physical pain, poor sleep, weight gain, social withdrawal and higher risks of substance abuse and chronic disease. Thus depression is cyclical and self-promoting; its symptoms serve to deepen the disease.  

So what does exercise have to do with this? We know that exercise is impactful in preventing and treating cardiovascular disease and Diabetes, but what can it do for depression?

As it turns out, quite a lot.

Research has found that individuals who report the lowest levels of activity have the highest levels of depression. Other research reveals that as societal levels of physical activity have decreased, rates of depression have gone up and multiple studies using exercise as a treatment for depression have shown promising results.

How Exercise Helps

There are a few key explanations for how exercise helps to prevent and reduce depression.

  • Exercise increases feel-good hormones called endorphins that may be low in people suffering from depression. This is the idea behind the famous “runners high.”

  • Exercise has been shown to boost self-esteem, something that is characteristically low in depression sufferers.

  • Exercise can improve sleep, which can help to break the cycle of depression.

  • Exercise can serve as a coping or distraction strategy.

  • Exercise can be a great way to allow for social interaction in individuals whose disease may limit this.

And the benefits of exercise exist independent of changes in fitness. That means you don’t have to lose 20 pounds or run a sub 7-minute mile to experience the mood-enhancing benefits.

However, there’s one little problem with this whole exercise to beat the blues idea...

When you’re depressed you don’t really want to get out of bed, let alone lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement.

How then, can you find ways to use exercise to help you overcome depression?

Practical Strategies for using Exercise to Beat Depression: 

  • Start small. Build exercise into your daily regimen slowly. 5-10 minutes at a time is a great starting point.  

  • Anything counts. You don’t have to run 5 miles or enroll at your nearest Cross Fit.  Any movement, be it walking, dancing, roller blading or even gardening will do. Focus on finding activities that you enjoy instead of forcing yourself to exercise in ways you think you should.

  • Frequency > intensity. Exercise that is comfortable and enjoyable is most likely to yield results. Low to moderate intensity exercise done daily is better than high intensity exercise done a few times a week (don’t discount walking – it has a ton of mental and physical health benefits)

  • Exercise with others. This is a great way to increase your social interaction and build feelings of camaraderie and support

  • Exercise the body and mind. Work mindfulness practices into your exercise sessions to reap maximum benefits. This can include deep breathing, and stretching. I love to finish my exercise sessions with a few minutes of deep breathing and checking in to see how my body feels.

  • Reflect. Exercise can be especially powerful in treating depression when you reflect on your experience and accomplishments after each exercise session. This can be done in your head or written down 

  • Combine with other forms of treatment. In many cases, exercise cannot act as a stand-alone treatment for depression. Consider combining exercise with CBT or antidepressant therapy. You can even look into alternative treatments such as vitamins and supplements or acupuncture.

There have been times in my own life where I struggled through periods of deep depression. Exercise was, and is, an integral part of my healing process.

Committing to taking action towards overcoming your pain can be a powerful strengthening process. Exercise is an excellent step that you can take today. It requires no money (beyond the cost of a pair of shoes) or resources and delivers immediate and cumulative benefits.  

If you’re struggling with depression, begin building small increments of exercise into your daily schedule (remember – walking counts!). This small habit, when repeated consistently, can have a profound effect on your happiness and quality of life.

 

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Celebrate! Good Times! Come on! It's a celebration!

What was the last accomplishment you celebrated? I ask because I know, that in my own life, I have a hard time celebrating small accomplishments.

As I continue to bring awareness to my own thoughts and habits, I have taken notice of how unwilling I am to be content. I am regularly unkind and unforgiving to myself because I feel if I give an inch to contentment, I will become lazy and unmotivated forever. Why is that? Why do I believe feeling content or proud of a small accomplishment is somehow succumbing to the idea that I am settling for less than my best?

 

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