Winter is coming. Why exercise? Why now?

winter exercise tying shoelace / Pexels
winter exercise tying shoelace / Pexels

Winter is coming. Why exercise? Why now?

With a second wave of COVID on the horizon, now is the time to get into that winter exercise routine. As we move into the fall and temperatures drop, many of us will be forsaking our daily quarantine walks and wondering how we will make it through the winter. If you have been healthy, it’s time to lock down your exercise routine and recommit to yourself. So, let’s use this fall as your time to honour your goals. 

Starting from what feels like from scratch can be daunting, but here are some things to keep in mind:  

Forget about numbers

Some people have lost weight during this pandemic, others have gained. In the end, it doesn’t matter. If there was ever a time to ditch the scale, it’s now. You don’t need some artificial set of numbers driving your output and your effort. Every workout that you participate in means that you aren’t sick and are healthy enough to be exerting effort. Whether it’s a walk with a friend or an all-out sweaty virtual power yoga session, the time you put in is your time. 

Focus on what you like

Forget about what you “should” be doing. Now is not the time to try boxing if you prefer a low impact weight session. But winter exercise can be a time to experiment. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try a boot camp class but were too afraid of looking like a complete novice. Take advantage of at home apps and classes to find something new. There is a bonus to learning on your own — you don’t have to compare yourself to anyone. You can play, replay, slow down, or speed through routines until you find one you like. 

Exercise makes you happy

You may hate it when you’re in the middle of a workout, but science tells us that exercise relieves pain and stress. Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, endorphins, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These brain chemicals play an important part in regulating your mood. With all this uncertainty, who couldn’t use a brain boost right now?

Exercise builds community

When I opened TrainingSpaces over two years ago, I knew this wasn’t going to be an ordinary studio. I was passionate and focused on inclusion. I strongly believe that no matter your size, background, or experience, exercise is for everyone. Just showing up makes you an athlete — and every single person who walks through the doors of TrainingSpaces is valued. Clients and trainers alike, we are all striving towards our own goals. In this time where we’ve seen so much isolation, anxiety, and depression, having a safe space where you can work out is essential. Seeing a friendly, supportive face is what so many of us need right now. 

I hope to see you back either in the studio or hear about your successes as you continue to train virtually with your trainer. 

Anxiety in the time of pandemic: fighting coronavirus with safe exercise, social distancing, and self-compassion

Capturing the anxiety of the moment / Image source: goodhousekeeping.com

Capturing the anxiety of the moment / Image source: goodhousekeeping.com

Anxiety in the time of pandemic:
fighting coronavirus with safe exercise,
social distancing, and self-compassion

The way we manage our lives is changing.

With social distancing in full effect and with the status of how we should manage ourselves changing hourly, this is a difficult time. Add to this general uncertainty about future plans, and COVID-19 can feel like an unstoppable force. We have to think about every move we make, adding extra effort and anxiety to decisions that were once automatic. While those on the front lines fighting the disease are juggling parenting, exposure, and unpredictability, the rest of us are trying to manage the best we can. 

But let’s be honest … this is a crazy time. We try to act as if everything is normal, that we’ve chosen to have a staycation and that we’ve always had the CDC on our list of browser bookmarks. We look at information from around the world and try to filter it down into how it can affect our lives. What does this news report mean? 

Living at times like these is hard. I know that you’ve seen memes about how our grandparents fought in wars and we’ve been asked to sit on the couch, comparing their sacrifice to our daily reality. And yes, that is true. But the fact is that it’s still hard. 

Some of us like change. We can easily manage shifting schedules and we make last-minute plans without thinking twice. But there are many of us out there, myself included, who find change difficult. There’s lots of psychological research tying our ability to cope with change to a stable childhood environment. But there’s also psychological research that aligns one’s inability to embrace change with brain chemistry. So, there’s no right childhood or wrong childhood that explains why you’re anxious. Maybe you can pinpoint an experience and maybe you’re just born with it. 

Anxiety targets everyone in a time like these — both planners and procrastinators are victims. The planners can’t make plans or find comfort in solutions. The procrastinators don’t want to think of the future. No matter who you are, no matter your past coping strategies, no matter your mental health status … you are going to be affected by a world in flux.

But before we all crawl into bed for the next three to six months and abandon hope, there are small acts of self-care and personal kindness that can make things a little easier. Now is not the time to revolutionize your diet and cut calories. It’s time to slow down and make meals. You probably have more time to try out recipes and explore different types of cooking. 

It’s also time to do exercise that you love. While you can feel safe running outside, it’s time to do more fun runs and less high-impact stressful training…unless you love high-impact stressful training. Just like you might turn to comfort food, you can also turn to comfort exercise. 

And it’s also time to embrace self-compassion.You need to acknowledge what you can control and what you can’t. If you need help, ask for it. FaceTime a friend for a good gossip session or just to check in. Refill your prescriptions so you aren’t worried about running out. Subscribe to virtual zoos on instagram to be inundated with cute baby animals.Get off Twitter or Facebook and limit the amount of time you read the news.  

Nobody wins by being “strong” at a time like this, because being strong doesn’t mean shutting down. Instead, it means opening up, admitting vulnerability, and asking for help. 

The Future of Fitness explained: how CBD oil can help you feel better

CBD oil / Image source: openaccessgovernment.org

CBD oil / Image source: openaccessgovernment.org

The Future of Fitness explained: how CBD oil can help you feel better

If you love to learn about new exercise and fitness trends, The Future of Fitness explains it to you in a way you can understand and separate the hype cycle from actual results.

Do you want a shot of CBD in your coffee? How about in your ice cream? It’s almost like everyone discovered this miraculous cure for diabetes, epilepsy, anxiety, and cancer overnight. But do you know the facts about CBD?

What is CBD?

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that are produced naturally in our bodies and in some plants. Cannabinoids are similar to chemicals involved in appetite, memory, movement, and pain. There are more than 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant and the most common one is Cannabidiol, or CBD. 

How can I take CBD?

CBD is extracted from cannabis and is available as an oil or in capsule form. It can also be applied topically, inhaled, or ingested as an oil or in an edible.

How does it work?

CBD stimulates your endocannabinoid system by interacting with its cannabinoid receptors. This interaction activates the endocannabinoid system so it can better regulate the body and keep functions in balance. 

Can I get high on CBD?

CBD will not get you high. Unlike delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major active ingredient in marijuana, CBD is not psychoactive. CBD can make you feel relaxed and calm but you will not feel intoxicated. 

What is it used for?

CBD is used to provide relief to people suffering from pain and other ailments. CBD is known to provide relief for chronic pain, anxiety, inflammation, depression and many other conditions. At the moment, a great deal of scientific research is examining CBD as a treatment option for neurological conditions, autoimmune diseases, metabolic syndromes, neuropsychiatric illnesses, skin diseases, gut disorders, and cardiovascular dysfunctions. 

Does it work?

CBD wasn’t recognized as a medicine by the FDA until 2018. A pure pharmaceutical formulation of CBD called Epidiolex was approved for the treatment of two severe paediatric seizure disorders, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. 

Should I Try It?

Because of the stigma associated with marijuana, science hasn’t caught up to embracing CBD as quickly as it should. Most doctors are unaware of the benefits of CBD and may be reluctant to recommend it to patients. It’s also difficult to prescribe a specific dosage or best mode of administration. Additionally, we aren’t sure how CBD interacts with other drugs. 

But research is underway. As more countries legalize and embrace the benefits of cannabis products, CBD will move from the fringes to the mainstream. This will allow us all to make evidence-based decisions about how to incorporate this treatment into our lives. 

More Information Please!

Try these links and get educated about CBD:

Signing on for Dry January can reset more than just your relationship with alcohol​

Illustration for Dry January Image source: Viktoria Hnatiuk / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Illustration for Dry January Image source: Viktoria Hnatiuk / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Signing on for Dry January can reset more than just your relationship with alcohol

Each January, more and more people decide to commit to a month without alcohol. This year, it is estimated that one in ten drinkers will try Dry January. But does quitting booze for a month really make a difference to our health and should you take part in this new tradition? 

If you approach Dry January thoughtfully, it can feel less like a fad and more like an opportunity to reset. Dry January can help you commit to a New Year’s resolution to cut back on alcohol after a month of indulgences.The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines moderate drinking as up to four alcoholic drinks for men and three for women in any single day and a maximum of 14 drinks for men and seven drinks for women per week. 

Dropping alcohol for one month can lower blood pressure, improve your insulin resistance, and reduce blood levels of a signaling protein linked to cancer, according to a small study. People who quit drinking for a month also find it easier afterward. Additionally, refraining from alcohol will relieve metabolic stress on your liver — as about half of all liver disease deaths are from alcoholic liver disease. It can also positively affect your sleep habits, immune system, and help reduce anxiety. 

However, it’s important to remember that abstaining from alcohol for one month will not make up for eleven months of binge drinking. The true health benefits associated with cutting out alcohol are based on long term abstinence. 

The biggest benefits of Dry January, a short period of abstinence, are psychological or psychosocial ones. If you think your regular (or excessive) drinking habits might be contributing to how you are feeling (mentally, physically, socially, etc.), removing alcohol can give you the perspective you need to make sustainable, healthy changes. 

While Dry January won’t directly cure your depression, stepping back from your nightly drinks can provide the distance you need to assess your motivation for drinking. When not self-medicating, you’ll be in a better position to recognize that you might need help from a doctor or therapist. 

When you remove alcohol from social situations, does it change how you want to spend your time? Are you ordering that mimosa at brunch because you like it…or because that’s the expectation in your friend group? How much is external pressure part of your alcohol consumption? It’s hard to critically observe these situations when you’re in the middle of them. Taking a step back always helps, and Dry January gives you an excuse, if you need one, to observe the dynamics of your personal relationships. 

Like cutting out any other harmful substance in our lives, focusing more on what we gain — rather than what we lose — is key to success. Participating in Dry January can provide you with clarity and inspire you to make larger positive life changes.   

What happens when the whole idea of exercise triggers anxiety?

Is there a link between exercise and anxiety? / Image source: 3steplifestyle.com

Is there a link between exercise and anxiety? / Image source: 3steplifestyle.com

What happens when the whole idea of exercise triggers anxiety?

It’s difficult not to be anxious in these turbulent times. Just turning on the news can trigger any number of emotional events. For those of us who suffer from anxiety, the outside world can be a scary place when matched with our internal predisposition for catastrophic thinking.

Recent studies have found that exercise can significantly help you reduce anxiety. Scientists believe regular aerobic exercise decreases overall levels of tension, elevates and stabilizes mood, improves sleep, and elevates self-esteem. While there’s no one single reason why exercise helps, we know it increases endorphins. These natural painkillers reduce stress and make us feel good about ourselves.

But what if the idea of exercise causes anxiety?

Being afraid to start something new or even getting back into exercise can be a source of anxiety. We judge and compare ourselves to others who effortlessly pick up moves or look like they were born to be at the front of the class. We can’t even imagine that these people were ever crippled by self-doubt as they approach the gym like a second home. Insecurity matched with our personal narratives about fitness can create more fear. A vicious cycle keeps you from engaging and your brain reinforces these negative relationships.

The best advice is to start off small. Instead of turning to rigorous routines that get your heart rate up, look into activities that you may enjoy. You might benefit from a calming environment instead of a competitive one. Activities like spin, with darkened rooms and loud music, can provide overstimulation for some people — while others will take comfort in the darkness  and the way the class relies on predictable routines. Hot yoga can feel claustrophobic with soaring temperatures — but many classes follow a set sequence of poses which can alleviate the worry of what comes next.

Your first step in using exercise to help alleviate anxiety is to find a routine that works for you. Routine removes surprises and putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. Try to exercise frequently for smaller amounts of time so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Then focus… concentrate on every movement you make, your breath, and being fully present. Even if you are just going to a walk, make every step count.

Using exercise to combat anxiety doesn’t need to make you feel more anxious. If you are working with a personal trainer, open up and let them know what you’re dealing with. They can modify your workout to improve both your mental and physical well-being.