Joyful Rejuvenation

The harder you train, the more important it is to prioritize recovery and fun. If you add increasingly harder workouts without adjusting sleep quality or adding time for stress management, you run the risk of burning out, straining a muscle, or injuring yourself.

Joyful Rejuvenation
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Some of my clients recently asked for strategies to increase movement during the holidays. They expressed concerns about diminished activity due to numerous video conferences. My own client sessions have become less active for me since I began Zoom sessions. I still demonstrate exercises, but mostly I supervise clients completing their workouts at their homes or coach through struggles while I stand at my treadmill desk screen.

Note the operative words: stand and treadmill desk. Grab every opportunity to stand instead of sit. If you have an adjustable desk and can stand for at least half your work time, great. Build opportunities to walk during work meetings or phone calls. My hiking buddy actually started a conference as we returned to our cars after a recent hike. Increase daily movement however you can.

recovery_Focus

If you feel stuck with your workouts, or you struggle to make any gains despite herculean efforts, check your overall volume of activity and the quality of your sleep. Rest and recovery play an enormous role in performance as well as in injury recovery. Most adults don’t seem to get enough sleep.

What are some indicators of overtraining? The following behavioral indicators are your body’s way of making further increases in stress volume and performance improvement nearly impossible:

  • Apathy
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Decreased libido
  • Increased thirst or sugar cravings (beyond the norm)
  • Lethargy or sluggishness
  • Loss of ability to concentrate
  • Unexplained irritability

Our bodies are remarkably intelligent. Can you tune into what your body is telling you?

Physical indicators include:

  • Change in resting heart rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue or muscle soreness beyond DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Lymph gland swelling
  • Reduced performance (slowed times, weaker on climbs or lifts),
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Unusual weight fluctuation

None of these is a “sure” indicator. However, if you have several at one time, your body may be asking for rest.

 

mountainMindIcon

Mindfulness has become a popular practice in yoga and therapies, but it also has its place in the mountains. To be “mindful” means paying complete attention to what’s going on, both inside your head and outside of yourself, and being fully present at the moment. If you are multi-tasking, you are likely not being mindful. Likewise, if you are rushing to get things done or tag the summit and get back to the car, you probably don’t have a good chance of being mindful. The other component of mindfulness is accepting yourself exactly as you are, or treating yourself the way you would treat a good friend. The next time you’re out in the wilderness see if any of these mindfulness tips help bring you back to the present moment.

 

breathwork_Techniques

Whenever I struggle with focus, I return to something very basic. Something most of us take for granted: our breath. Below are a few breathing techniques to try. Consider it a new tool in your toolkit, one that is completely free and accessible to anyone.

Whenever you feel like you’ve “flipped” and need to recenter yourself, focus on your breath. Where do you feel the air coming in? Into your chest or your abdomen? Is your breathing shallow and fast, or slow and deep? Breathwork helps if you are climbing a vertical wall and your heels start to bounce up and down (a sensation known as “sewing machine leg”). But it can also help if you see red, such as when a driver swerves too close. Or when some nincompoop with fifty grocery items is in the express-only line in front of you.

 

ditch_Scale


This may be one of the hardest articles I have written because of my own emotional battle with the scale that dates back to my teenage years. As an adolescent, I loved seeing the number on the scale go down. And I hated the confusion that arose when, despite best efforts, it went up. Well before I understood that weight can fluctuate several pounds from morning to night, I sometimes tortured myself by getting on mine multiple times a day.

Worse, I fell into the judgment trap, sometimes getting knocked flat by a number my developing brain interpreted as “too high”. (According to whom?) After decades of struggle, one day I finally realized it was high time I ditched the scale.

What the Scale Measures

A typical scale measures how much mass your physical body has in earth’s gravity. Nothing more, nothing less. It cannot tell you anything about your intrinsic value, your personality or skills, or how you manage crises in the real world. A digital Tanita scale uses bioelectrical impedance to supply information about body composition, but only if the user is properly hydrated. A recent online article in Forbes estimates that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. So at best, scales provide a snapshot of relative trends rather than absolutes. At worst, they can destroy delicate self-esteem, especially in teens whose bodies are changing hormonally and growing into their adult forms.

positive_Self-Talk

Are you constantly thinking, “I should be doing X” or “Why can’t I ever do Y?” If so, you are not alone. And there is hope! The way to make progress lies in focusing carefullyusing positive self-talk, and resetting your expectations.

Focus Carefully

For anyone who is constantly fixated on that little number on a scale, remind yourself of one very simple truth. Ready? YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN YOUR BODY MASS. Print it in triplicate in 72-point font and hang it up everywhere you need a reminder. Scales don’t know your BMI, cannot ascertain how much muscle you have, and know zero about all of your outstanding personal qualities. The scale only tells you ONE tiny bit of information, and yet so many of us obsess over that number. If you rely on the scale reading every single morning, ask yourself why.

Whenever you have a medical appointment and your doctor insists on weighing you, explain that you are trying to have a healthier relationship with your body and want to break the scale habit. Face the opposite direction and ask the doctor not to tell you the number. And if your doctor cannot respect that, find one who will. The media tries to get us to obsess about our exterior looks, but what about the rest of us? If you have great bloodwork, healthy blood pressure, and a consistent movement routine, then celebrate that. Forget about the scale for now!

 

 

 

 

beginner_Mindset

Earlier this summer, my husband, teenage daughter, and I went on three different outings: disc golf, pickleball, and birding. All three are mild physical activities, done outside, and require different skill sets. They also provided me with a wonderful insight into how important it is to maintain a beginner’s mindset for optimal fun.

Disc Golf Reminded Me of the Value of a Beginner’s Mindset

We started with a “practice hole” at North Park since our daughter had never played before. I wasn’t sure how my right wrist would do, since I was still rehabbing it from a break four months earlier. My first throw went perpendicular to the intended direction. I have zero control. I’ll have to throw leftie. Unfortunately, I pitched the next disc into the street. Mortified, I considered walking the entire course as a spectator. Not once did I think, With my injured wrist, it’s like I am a complete noviceBetter change strategies.

Meanwhile, my husband (who has played a lot of golf and disc golf) reached the chain basket in 3 throws. Me? Try twelve. I used to be able to throw much harder and fartherI can’t win; I can’t even compete. My wonky throwing will only slow us down.

joy_Treasure_Hunt

After I broke my wrist on February 22, 2022, during our vacation in Moab, I found it difficult to feel anything close to joy. At times I struggled to do everything left-handed while enduring the pain. But once I got over the initial discomfort and overwhelm, I began hunting for what makes me feel light and content.

As a family, we listened to Ingrid Fetell Lee’s book on CD, Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness.  In it, she introduces ten aesthetics of joy. What makes you say “Yay” or “Wow”? Can you hold your own joy treasure hunt?

active_Recovery

You may have just crossed the finish line for a marathon, triathlon, or another long-distance event for which you’ve been training long and hard. Maybe you’re riding a high after your event, or you might even feel beaten up. What is the best way to begin recovering? Let’s take a look at “active recovery” and its uses, benefits, and applications.

Traditionally Defined

Exercise physiology texts refer to “active recovery” as the cool-down or tapering-off phase of a single bout of exercise. Continued movement (i.e. walking after an intense run, or a few light laps in the pool after a race) may help prevent muscles from cramping and stiffening up after intense exercise; furthermore, it helps facilitate the recovery process.

Active aerobic exercise immediately following extreme exertion accelerates lactate removal and also prevents venous pooling or the tendency for blood to pool in the lower extremities if an exerciser stops moving immediately. By continuing to move around gently, the muscles continue to pump blood back up to the heart.

In contrast, “passive recovery” (i.e. lying down, taking a cool shower, or getting a massage immediately after exertion) does not seem to have the same benefits as active recovery and should be included after active recovery or as a separate session altogether. “Active recovery” can also be used in the broader sense, after a periodized training phase and not just a single training session.

forest_Bathing

Before I share my recent experience with forest bathing, I wish to extend deep gratitude to Chloe Lee, affiliated with Cascadia Forest Therapy. She first introduced me to the practice in March 2021. Chloe has a unique and deeply personal way of extending “Invitations” to enjoy the forest.

Last Tuesday, she invited me to join her on a guided walk in the Arboretum. During our two hours, she asked me several questions about my own practice which I thought would make a good introductory blog post. Any errors herein are mine alone.

What Is Forest Bathing?

Put most simply, forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is the Japanese practice of self-care and mindfulness that involves opening your senses to all the forest has to offer, from noticing movement, seeking tiny objects, experiencing colors in new ways, or finding a place to sit and absorb whatever Mother Nature offers.

If after reading this post you’re interested in learning more, please visit Cascadia Forest Therapy’s article on a “Typical Forest Bathing Session” or scroll down for some wonderful resources I found on my shelf.