Use It Or Lose It – No Really!

Jannine Myers

My father has been dealing lately with knee and lower back pain, not surprising given how active he is. But his pain – the result of cumulative wear and tear – has reached a certain threshold that has forced him to either modify or put some of his usual weekly activities on hold.

My mother on the other hand, moves about with relative ease – or to better clarify, with minimal pain. Unlike my father, she’s more of an indoor person; she’d much rather stay in and read a book or stroll down to one of the social gatherings on-site at their semi-retirement village. Besides flirting over the years with a few sporting endeavors (netball in her youth, and golf and lawn bowling later on), she has never really put her body under too much stress or tension.

As I think about their situation, and the all-too-familiar phrase “Use It Or Lose It,” I have to admit that I envy my mother for being pain-free. But isn’t it ironic that she – the one who has hardly exercised, and with a far less impressive physical profile – is also the one who does not struggle with chronic pain!

Still, when weighing up the pros and cons, I think one has to consider personal lifestyle preferences, and what will ultimately provide fulfillment. How much will it matter to stay fit and active for as long as possible, versus settling for a mostly indoor and sedentary lifestyle?

Also important, is contemplating who might (or might not be) in your life during your retirement years. As much as my mother jokingly boasts about her pain-free body, she would not be able to deny that her quality of life is as great as it is because she has a husband who has worked hard to maintain a certain level of vitality.

Essential day-to-day tasks, for example – cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping – are no longer manageable for her. And forget about the road trips she still enjoys, or social outings beyond the village, since venturing out would not be possible without my father.

So yes, my mother is incredibly fortunate to have reaped the rewards of a gently-used body, but she is also incredibly fortunate to have someone do for her what her body can no longer do.

 

From Mum-Bod To Fit-Bod

No time to exercise? You’re a busy mum?

I get it; I really do. I remember when each of my girls were young and I felt pulled in every direction, all of the time. But honestly, now that they’re older, nothing much has changed. Life is still as busy as ever; it’s the same challenge, different focus!

Maybe you’ve been told this before (and found it condescending), but we all have the same number of hours in our days. To some degree – more or less – we mostly get to choose how we spend those hours. People are generally best at what they do more of, the implication being that whatever matters most will likely make it’s way to the top of their priority list. That mum you know, who looks ridiculously fit and healthy, doesn’t necessarily have more time on her hands; she may just have a priority list that looks very different to yours.

Part of the problem too, is that mums feel pressured to conform. If they struggle to fit into whatever “mum box” they believe is most socially acceptable, they no longer feel worthy or valued. That’s rubbish though! Whoever you are and choose to be, is of value, and perfectly okay!

Heck, I’m grossly inept as an efficient and organized house-keeper, or disciplinarian, or home-work assistant, and my girls would probably agree. In fact, on my last birthday they gave me a card that said “BE WILD & FREE” and inside was a hand-written message that said, “Not a traditional card, but that’s because you are wild and free!” They accept that I’ve never really been a conventional/logical/practical kind of mum, but they love me just the same.

They accept too that exercise has always mattered to me, and is an integral part of my life (I hope in turn that as they get older it will matter equally as much to them). When they were much younger, keeping fit was only possible via spontaneous and brief, but regular bouts of movement; ten minutes here, ten minutes there, basically wherever, whenever, and however. If I had cleaning to do, I would do it vigorously; if the morning brought clear skies, the jogging stroller was put to use; or if I had to choose between a quick calisthenics workout versus folding the laundry, I’d opt for the former (or do both simultaneously).

As my girls moved through different ages and stages of their lives, and required less hands-on care, I took advantage of their extra-curricular activities. I’d drive them to sports practices and while waiting I’d go run with the dog, instead of engaging in idle chatter with other mums. Or, as a military spouse, frequently encouraged to participate in group-bonding activities, I often chose not to. That meant that I missed out on developing relationships with other mums, but it was more important to me to nurture my own personal needs while participating in ways that at minimum, supported my girls.

In most “mum” situations, I believe it’s a matter of shifting mindset. I’ve listened to many mothers of young kids tell me that it’s impossible to workout, because a workout to them meant having to start and finish a specific exercise routine without interruption. But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and once you grasp the idea that anything done counts, you’ll soon get creative and good at fitting in lots of little “anythings!”

Being a mum doesn’t mean you can’t look after you! Granted, it’s not a time when you can expect to train optimally and be in the best shape of your life, but there’s no reason to sabotage your health and fitness goals by giving up altogether. My exercise routine was average at best (during my girls’ younger years), but it was enough to maintain a baseline level of health and fitness, and keep the “happy hormones” activated. That in itself, as any mother well knows, should be motivation enough to make time for exercise!

 

PuraVida – The Simple Life, Made Better With Jewellery You’ll Love

Jannine Myers

Are you all about “enjoying life’s little pleasures, slowing things down, and living life to the fullest?” I definitely am! So when I saw this motto on a now-favourite jewellery website, I wanted to know more. PuraVida is the name of the company, and their story is just beautiful!

Conceived from a desire to help struggling Costa Rican artisans provide for themselves, families, and communities, PuraVida was the brainchild of two Southern Californian boys, Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman (you can read the full story here). What started initially as a small start-up business with modest goals and intentions, has now turned into a worldwide movement that not only supports the work of Costa Rican artisans, but also that of artisans in El Salvador and India.

The charity efforts don’t end there either; the work of these artisans is simple yet so unique – with super cool “boho” designs – and in such huge demand, that sales yield enough of a return to give back to multiple charities!

Why do I care, and why am I sharing about them?

A. Because I genuinely love their jewellery!

B. Because I love supporting anyone who is passionate about what they do!

C. Because I also love to get behind any individual or business that has as it’s underlying goal to serve the good of the greater community!

D. And because, truth be told, I’m “repping” for them, but A, B, and C are100% true!!! If you know me you’ll know I wouldn’t ‘rep’ for anyone whose values or products I didn’t believe in.

Go check out the amazing craftwork of these skilled artisans, and if you feel inclined to treat yourself (or someone you know), to any of their gorgeous pieces, feel free to use my rep code JANNIINEMYERS20 to take advantage of 20% off, anytime, every time!

 

 

 

 

If We Could Only See Ourselves Through Others’ Eyes

Jannine Myers

This is it ladies; the last – and probably most impactful – of my recent wellbeing series. This one is for every woman who frequently, or occasionally fails to see herself as beautiful and/or smart and talented.

Check out this image I saw on a friend’s social media page recently:

The dialogue in the above image really resonated with me when I saw it. It had been just a few days earlier that I had had what I call one of my “ugly days.” You know, the kind of day when you wake up and without intending to, mentally bash yourself the minute you see yourself in the mirror. No matter how hard you try, the ugly thoughts taunt you through the rest of the day. On days like that I’ve tried filling my head with positive affirmations and reframing my mindset, but always, it’s the negative thoughts that prevail and come out on top.

Something else I sometimes struggle with is the simple act of believing what someone else sees in me. I see plenty of other women do it too. In fact, just last week someone close to me was offered a job that she isn’t technically qualified for, but the potential for her to learn and grow into the job was recognized. As confident and capable as I know this girl is, her immediate reaction was one of disbelief, disbelief in herself and in her ability to deliver.

Why do women – in general – have such a hard time seeing in themselves what others see in them? I’m no expert but social and mass media obviously play a huge role in how we feel. You’d have to be living under a rock to escape the hundreds of daily ad impressions that pop up on the internet and other media outlets. Social media alone, excluding ads, is mostly just a showcase of beauty and success images. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when it seems as if everyone else in the world is nailing it and you’re not!

The good news? It ain’t true my beautiful and talented friends!!! While it IS true that the best looking girls receive the most opportunities, the most friends, and even the most pay – according to statistics – such girls are the exception. And good on them, if besides good looks they have genuinely worked hard to achieve great things! As for the rest of us, lol, we can take solace in the fact that modern psychology gives us an excuse for our self-deprecating behavior! Apparently, it is completely normal, as in, simply human nature, to care more about losses than wins!

You’re wondering what the heck losses and wins have to do with self-perception, aren’t you? Good question…… and the answer, is that we tend to care more about our weaknesses and flaws, and less about our strengths and talents. Our strengths and talents are not the problem; our flaws and weaknesses are! And because problems potentially lead to “losses,” they draw our time, energy, and attention to them. We become so intimate with them that eventually we stop seeing all the wonderful things about us. The end result? A very skewed image of ourselves, that unless controlled and put back into proper perspective, dredges up…..you got it…..those darn “ugly days.” Or, if not “ugly days,” then “loser days.”

Oh, and the reason we don’t see flaws in our friends, is because the loss/gain concept is a completely personal thing. Losses only matter when they affect us directly; we aren’t as concerned with the worries of our friends. That’s not to say we don’t care about our friends, but we can love them without taking on their burdens. That also leaves us in a position where, because we are not as intensely focused on their flaws and imperfections as they are, we’re able to see a more balanced and complete picture of them. Hence when we pay them a compliment, or see something amazing in them, we genuinely mean it.

All of this is unhelpful of course, without knowing how to refocus our lenses! I’m still a work in progress myself, so can’t say that I have any great advice, but hopefully some of you will chime in to let us know what has worked for you.

As for myself, something I try to do and have mentioned before is to accept compliments. Years ago, I made a pact with a close friend to stop brushing off compliments with a negative response. We both agreed that we would resist the urge to say anything at all, except “Thank you!” That was a great idea, but it hasn’t stopped me from focusing on my flaws. Maybe the next logical step is to actually consider the validity of the compliment?

I’ve been told for example that I have a beautiful smile, so maybe the next time I look in the mirror and see ugly dark circles under my eyes I’ll look for the beauty in my smile instead. Or maybe I’ll choose to start looking in the mirror for the cute figure I’ve been complimented on, instead of looking critically at the muscles that I’ve been told make me look “masculine.”

And what about the girl I mentioned earlier, who is scared to accept what is potentially a great job opportunity, because she can’t bring herself to believe the observations made about her. If she could switch off the self-doubt for just a moment, and do an honest assessment of the praise given her, she would probably see that it matches up with prior work and personal accomplishments.

The other simple – and usually effective – approach I sometimes take, is to put nice clothes on, fix my hair, and apply a little makeup (or a lot, lol). When I’m not in work clothes, I’m usually in work-out clothes. And in workout clothes, I am most comfortable but don’t feel attractive. It’s amazing how much better I feel about myself when I take a little time to care about my appearance. Even better, is scheduling a girls’ day-in/night-out! By that I mean planning an in-house spa day (nails, face masks, hair and make-up), followed by a fun night out – looking damn gorgeous and glam – with your favorite girlfriends.

Because as you know – and confirmed by the image above – girlfriends will lift you up and love on you like you totally deserve.

Most at home in my workout clothes, but happier when I care enough to make an effort with my appearance.

Time To Deal With That Annoying And Persistent Running Injury Once And For All

I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time now, in response to a few runner friends wanting to know how I finally beat an injury that kept me from running for months. Long story short, I wasn’t able to run more than a couple of miles without experiencing sudden pain. One or both my calf muscles would cramp while running, and lock up in spasm.

After seeking opinions from a few different practitioners (who mostly agreed that the absence of muscle, ligament, or tendon damage suggested referral pain), I opted for ongoing therapy with a holistic physio/massage therapist.

During our initial sessions it became evident that my muscles were in a fixed state of tension; what I was asked to do to help remedy that was completely unexpected, but I was at my wits end and willing to try anything.

My therapist, it seems, was quite intuitive, and picked up on things about me that I had not revealed but which she somehow knew. She was also from Europe, and according to her, culturally conditioned to not hold back the punches!

In her opinion, I needed to let go of “internal junk!” My muscles, she said, were in a fixed and constant state of tension because it had become a defense mechanism. It was, she believed, my way of subconsciously protecting myself from getting hurt, hence the resistance she met with each time she attempted to loosen my overly tight muscles. I had been tensing them for so long that I no longer recognized when they were not relaxed! From her practitioner’s point of view, massaging me was like trying to undo the most stubborn of shoelace knots!

There were a few specific things she suggested I do on my own, outside of the physical therapy applied in-clinic:

  • Meditate…… although for me that happened on my runs, since honing in on my state of awareness while staying still is something I struggle with (one day I’ll try working on that).
  • Journal my thoughts and emotions, especially those that came up while running, as that’s when my deepest self-reflections typically surface.
  • Read, review, then later address my journal entries! I had become skilled at getting stuff out of my head, but that’s where it ended. My therapist suggested that the same toxic emotions kept resurfacing because I never really attempted to address them. Until I was willing to do so, she gambled that I would remain “stuck,” with my muscles unable to loosen and relax.
  • Learn to differentiate between actual and perceived pain; in other words, I had to unscramble the messages in my brain that had me believing my pain was real. Laugh if you will, but my therapist encouraged me to “talk to the pain!” I was to acknowledge it whenever it appeared, but no longer accept it as a threat. I was to talk it down, so to speak, and say things like, “Thank you for letting me know that you’re there. You’ve done a great job at trying to protect me, but actually I’m fine, and nothing bad is going to happen. So for now, I’m going to keep running.”

Sounds a bit out there, right? But I can say with absolute certainty that the day I first ran without any pain at all, was also the day I instinctively knew that my calf issue was a thing of the past.

I could, if I wanted to, attribute my recovery to the physical therapy applied……….which by the way included:

  • Postural awareness and correction, with a specific focus on fixing an anterior pelvic tilt and rounded upper back
  • Lower back/core strengthening
  • Deep tissue and trigger point massage
  • ART (Active Release Technique)
  • Temporary adherence to a Walk/Run training plan

………however, none of the above techniques were any different to those I had already tried. What was different, was the shift in mindset that occurred after following all the mind-therapy “stuff.” Once I became aware of that shift, I somehow knew that my runs would be pain-free.

There is a lot of new and fascinating stuff coming out now on the web about psychosomatic pain and what one might subconsciously be doing to “feed” such pain. Running Coach David Roche, for example, wrote a very insightful article in which he said:

The body is complicated, which makes sense because life and the universe are complicated. If the body handled stress in a straightforward, predictable way, it would be entirely out of character for what we know of existence. The unpredictability is especially evident if you zoom in and view training on the small-scale. Great workouts can come out of nowhere, as can injuries and three-hour crying episodes and the worst runs of your entire life. There’s a lot of noise mixed in with a little signal.

If you’ve been struggling like I did, and your injuries haven’t responded to conventional physical therapy treatments, then maybe it’s time to consider that your injury is a physical manifestation of accumulated stress, and if so, then perhaps it’s also time to look at alternative forms of treatment. I did, and it’s now nine months that I have been running without pain, just saying…..

When Our Kids Fail……

Last week my teen experienced a couple of disappointing setbacks; one was of an academic nature and the other had to do with a dance audition. She’s a sensitive soul, so it hurt me to see her have to deal with the pain of failure and rejection. I wanted to tell her not to worry, and that in my eyes she’s super smart and talented. But, I also never want her to feel that her self-worth must be determined by her ability to produce certain outcomes. No, I’d rather she accept her failures for what they are and know that they are stepping stones to whatever is next.

Fortunately, I’m well acquainted with the sting of failure, so I was able to offer what was hopefully some sage advice. I mean, if not for my past failures many of my successes may never have been realized. So, drawing on a couple of recent experiences, I shared with her how at first the sting feels unpleasant, but as the pain subsides it gives way to a clearer view and understanding of what just happened.

With fresh eyes and a less clouded perspective, it’s then easier to discern if continued effort and persistence is worth it, or if maybe it’s time to completely move on. There is after all, often a fine line between knowing when to keep working on something and when giving up is actually the better/healthier option.

Thankfully, our heart-to-heart helped her to find the clarity and peace of mind that she needed. She was able to make choices that personally, I am proud of. Additionally, she understood and accepted that although failure and rejection sucks, it’s not personal! It’s not about her, it’s about her work/performance. And that revelation alone, small as it was, provided the greatest comfort.

Your 2019 New Year Resolution Tips – Tip # 3

Here it is ladies, the last of my New Year Resolution Tips for 2019. This one has to do specifically with weight loss and fitness goals, since those two seem to always be at the forefront of most women’s minds.

“I want to lose x-amount of weight in x-amount of weeks,” or, “I’m determined to exercise five days a week,” is what I have been hearing a lot of lately. Not surprising either, since I work in a gym and have been meeting lots of new prospects lately, all wanting 2019 to be the year that they get “into shape!”

love that intentions have been set, but from my experience few will achieve and maintain either of the above goals, and here’s why:

  • The weight loss goal will fail because the end goal is too far away, and people are generally not motivated by delayed rewards.

  • Or, maybe the end goal (desired amount of weight loss) is within reach and able to be accomplished. That’s great, but keeping it off is where the success will likely end, since the focus is always on getting the weight off, not keeping it off (if it were, so many women would not be repeating the same goals year after year).

  • The exercise goal will also fail – if the bar is set too high. Setting too high expectations of yourself does nothing for self-esteem. Because, as slip-ups start to occur – and they will – self-esteem progressively drops and the desire to quit (and try again next year) becomes stronger than the desire to keep going.

  • Additionally, if the exercise is too-much too-soon, the likelihood of crashing and burning is significantly greater, and often the momentum to get going again doesn’t happen until…..you guessed it…..next year!

So, what to do:

 

  • Break the big goal down into bite-size goals, and celebrate every milestone accomplished. Get your focus on losing just 1kg instead of 10kg, and then another 1kg, and so forth. Learn to enjoy the process as much as the outcome.

  • Turn your goal statement from one that has a finite ending, to one that leads to rituals. In other words, have intentions of making your new habit changes a lifestyle, not just a means to an end. Willpower doesn’t last; rituals do!

  • Don’t set a bar at all; simply determine in your mind to own up to the intentions you’ve made and take some action. If at first it’s only once a week that you get yourself moving, take it and celebrate it. And if every day is jam-packed and you can’t find a spare hour, then find a spare 20 minutes. Lose the all-or-nothing mentality! Do something; but don’t do nothing

  • Visualize and weigh up the outcomes of pain versus pleasure; the pain of doing something less enjoyable that gets you closer to your ideal “you,” versus the pleasure of doing what’s most comfortable but accepting a less optimal version of “you. Which do you want more?

 

 

Your 2019 New Year Resolution Tips – Tip # 2

I don’t know about you, but when I run and see my shadow, I like chasing “her.” She’s always one step ahead, and impossible to catch, but I like trying anyway. The other day she caught my attention again, but around this time of year her appearance is always a stark reminder of another year passed by. She had me questioning who she was, and if she was the same girl whose footsteps I followed last year, or was she someone different?

The thing I love about her is that she can be whoever I want her to be. At the start of each new year I enjoy reflecting on previous paths travelled, and in my mind’s eye I visualize the next journey and destination. I transfer my hopes and thoughts to a vision board so that I don’t forget, and then I start the chase all over again.

I challenge you to have a little fun with me. Determine who you want your shadow to be, set a course for her to run in 2019, and then smile every time you see her because she is beckoning you to follow!

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Lessons Learned From My Runs – Lesson # 2

I usually look forward to the end of my runs, especially when I have worked hard and know that the last kilometre or two is along an easy, flat stretch of road. But I don’t always take the easy road home. Every now and again I choose another route that requires me to finish on a hill. On tired legs and pre-stressed lungs, it takes a lot of grit and focus to finish with a moderately hard climb, and I never enjoy it!

If you’re wondering why I choose to make things tough for myself, I do so for two reasons: the first is because I have run enough races by now to know that they don’t all end with a cruisey fast flat or downhill slope, and second, I’ve learned that these types of runs do wonders for character building.

There have been many periods throughout my lifetime where certain trials have forced me to dig deep and find the mental grit needed to get out from under whatever hard rock I’m under. During those periods it’s always been liberating to finally see a light shine through, but it’s often required a final hard effort to break through and let all the light in.

 

Your 2019 New Year Resolution Tips: Tip # 1

A few years ago, I was asked by the Marketing Manager of Health and Fitness site top.me, to suggest just one key fitness resolution for the New Year. I recall thinking at the time that it would be difficult to put all of my tips and ideas into one small basket. I still think it’s a difficult assignment, however looking back at what I wrote I’d probably write the same or something similar today; check it out below:

  • If I were to suggest just one fitness resolution for the New Year, it would have to be one with a two-fold approach. It sounds a bit like a cliche, but I’d first recommend visualizing what your lifestyle would look like if you were in the best shape of your life. What would it take to achieve that lifestyle, and considering all the influencing variables, then ask yourself if such a lifestyle were really possible? If not, go back to the drawing board and paint another picture, the “next best” scenario. That’s part one!

 

  • Second, take another look at the picture you’ve just painted and if “getting there” requires setting the same goals that you traditionally set yourself every year, then maybe you need to get even more honest with yourself and ask if that’s really what you want. Because if you’re going to simply go through the motions of setting the same old goals, knowing that next year brings with it another opportunity to “try again,” you’ve already lost the battle.

Get real and honest with yourself, because once you have decided what you most care about, you’ll stop sabotaging your goal efforts and start taking small, intentional steps that each day, move you a little closer to your desired lifestyle.