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Vicious Cycle vs. Virtuous Cycle

Week two of “Health for the Holidays!” and we’re going to explore the commitment I asked you to make to a (minimum) 30-minute cardio workout six days a week from now until the end of the year.

There’s nothing really magical about 30 minutes. In fact, next week we’re going up to 32.5 minutes. Yeah, you heard me. Workouts need to change and grow. They are progressive and cumulative. Today’s workout is a pre-requisite for tomorrow’s. You’re not gonna want to miss one. Catch up doesn’t work very well and adhering to the schedule is part of the bigger picture. You’re holding yourself to a higher standard than you have before. You’re digging deep and finding out what you’re made of. You can’t do that if you slack off and make excuses. You beat that horse till it was dead, so we’re doing it different this time, remember?

Exercise is definitely a part of the weight loss and weight maintenance formula. But the plain and simple truth is you can’t exercise yourself thin. And you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. Exercise is important for cardiovascular health, cleaning gunk out of your arteries and flooding your brain with ass-kicking endorphins, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of weight loss.

Having said that, exercise is extremely important in your overall healthy living plan and here’s why: the more in touch you are with your own physicality, the less likely you are to do bad stuff to your body.

There’s a  “Vicious Cycle vs. Virtuous Cycle” power play going on here. Whether you realize it or not, you’re engaged in one or the other. If you’re overweight, you can probably guess which one.

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Here’s how it works: essentially, overindulging feels bad, both physically and psychologically. The uncomfortable physical feeling passes within a few hours, but the destructive mental stress lingers. You feel demoralized because you let yourself down again. These negative feelings undermine your motivation to exercise. You skip your workout.

And then you do it again.

And again.

And again.

The Vicious Cycle.

How exactly do you break this negative pattern? By tuning in to your physical body. By making demands of it. By pushing it.

I walk the walk on this one, baby. I push my body very hard, nearly every day. As a result, I feel amazing! Obviously, I endure untold soreness, aches, pains, and occasional injuries. Some serious. Is this a reason to give up? No, and hell no! I’ve learned that the best way to care for my body is to move it.

Traditional exercise is a great way to get in touch with your body, but really doing anything physical will work. Horseback riding, hang gliding, archery, chopping wood, belly dancing … whatever! The more you move, the more you will enjoy moving. And the more you enjoy moving, the more you will move! It’s an absolute win-win any way you look at it.

One caveat here, as much as belly dancing sounds like a blast, you’re not going to do it often enough or hard enough for it to constitute a workout. So by all means give it a go, but no, it doesn’t count toward your 30 minutes. Nice try.

Just like the vicious cycle can hold you in its grip, you can harness the energy of the virtuous cycle to create a self-reinforcing healthy lifestyle.

When you respect and love your physical body you treat it with care. You give it the best possible fuel. You work it to its limits because you know that in so doing you are making it stronger and more resilient. You come to realize that your physical body is an amazing tool, an awesome gift that you are the caretaker of. You have a responsibility to treat it well.

Getting in touch with your physical body, through regular cardiovascular exercise is the only way I know of to break the vicious cycle. It doesn’t happen overnight though. You’ve got to commit to moving your body 30 minutes a day (minimum), six days a week so you start to feel that connection. You’ll feel it, I promise. Stick with it! The virtuous cycle feels great and it’s waiting for you just ahead!

Like losing weight, exercise is hard. Unlike losing weight, it may never get easier. But so what?!? Have you ever done anything in life that was worth a hill of beans that wasn’t hard? And you’re so damn worth this!

Let’s go get it!

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