Pandemic Got You Down? Walking=Better Mood + Memory Boosts

Walking might be the simplest, low-impact form of valuable aerobic exercise.

Not only is it easy and free to take a walk, but there are many serious health perks. 

We all know that walking is good for your physical health, but did you know that walking for just 30 minutes each day can also significantly improve your mental health, mood, and life?

Studies also show that, as we age, daily walks can decrease cognitive decline and memory loss!

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins naturally boost your mood. 

And an added bonus of walking outside for exercise is that you also benefit from breathing fresh air, soaking up the sun, and appreciating your surroundings. 

Because walking is rather low impact, you can take a walk with a friend or your family and enjoy a chat and some quality time while you get your work out in!

It is a great activity for all ages. 

You can teach your children the value of daily exercise, enjoy time with your family, take your dog with you, or just get out on your own for some quiet, private time.

Taking a walk by yourself allows you time to slow your thoughts and destress. 

So whether it is taking a walk with your family after dinner or a morning stroll with your coffee before work – I challenge you to add a walk to your plan today!

Fitness and healthy lifestyles consist of daily choices. 

My passion is to help you learn how to make those choices. I have different coaching and wellness packages that I have developed with research, education, and my own personal experiences. If you are interested you can reach out to me here!

Getting Off The Couch, Part 2

Walking! All the Cool Kids Are Doing It!

If you haven’t exercised in a while, or are looking for something easy you can do every single day give walking a try. It’s perfect! It is low impact, easy, can go at your own pace, you don’t need any special equipment and you can start at the fitness level that you’re at.

If you are new to fitness , coming back after a long period of inactivity, or rejoining the ranks after recovery, listen to your body and get clearance from your physician. When you do, start by going for a 10 or 15 minute walk around the neighborhood and work your way up from there. If you’re already in great shape, walking with embellishments can provide an effective workout. You want to increase speed, incline, duration, or add some strength moves to up the ante.

If you’re like most of us, chances are you haven’t exercised consistently much since you got out of college and need to start small. Maybe your doctor suggested that you move around more, or maybe you just want to be proactive about your health and well-being. In either case, walking can be done any time you have available and it can be done anywhere–even at home without a treadmill!

Find a pair of comfortable shoes, put them on and go for a stroll through your neighborhood. You could also find a local park with a nice path you can walk on. If the weather doesn’t permit walking outside, head to your local mall and walk or hop on a treadmill.

You can even walk in place at home in front of your TV. Here’s a simple little idea to get you moving more. As you’re sitting on the couch at night watching TV, get up during commercial breaks and march in place until your favorite TV show comes back on. If you’re using a service like Netflix, make yourself walk in place for 10 minutes in between episodes. Or turn on the TV and challenge yourself to march in place during the entire show. Time will fly while you’re having fun watching TV and moving.

Speaking of having fun, going for a walk outside can be a lot of fun too. Mix up your route and walk in different areas of town, or visit different parks. Invite a friend to come along with you to walk. It’s always nice to have someone to talk to and having a walking buddy keeps you accountable. Last but not least, grab your phone or MP3 player and listen to music or audio books as you walk to make the time go by faster. There are podcast and walking groups, too. I belong one called Girl Trek.

The main thing is that you get out there, move around, and get some exercise in a way that’s gentle on your joints, your heart, and the rest of your body and that’s what walking will do for you. Just give it a try and see if you don’t start to feel better, happier, and stronger after a few weeks of regular walks.

Commit to three 15 minute walks this week! You can do it!

Also, please share strategies you use get moving and keep moving or your challenges to building a walking or fitness routine!

 

Getting Off The Couch (Part 1)

The Case for Exercise

By now, most adults are well aware of the physical and mental health benefits of exercise and understand the importance of engaging in some form of regular physical activity. As nations around the globe cope with life in a pandemic, business closures, social distancing, and changes in everyday schedules are disrupting just about every facet of live we consider to be normal — and exercise routines are no exception.

What about those individuals who weren’t active even before it became harder to be active?

This series addresses those folks. I know how easy it is to fall off the exercise wagon when it is coerced or feels forced. Despite lab results, a scale creeping (or sprinting) upwards, or even poor feeling and health concerns, it can be daunting to take the first step.

No need to insult your intelligence about the “Why” when it comes to exercise and its benefits. The real issue is “How”. How to get moving safely. How to find something you enjoy. How to just get off the couch.

Arthur Ashe, acclaimed Tennis Champion, gives us the best advice EVER: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can”. He was talking about taking on challenges, something I suspect he had quite a bit of experience doing on the court and off. Let us apply to beginning to exercise!

Start Where You Are

If you are on your couch, start there. Begin by writing what you hope to gain from taking the first step to a healthier you. List 3 to 5 consequences of remaining sedentary and 3 to 5 benefits or gains from being more active. Look at your list daily. It will help keep you focused on improving and motivated to keep trying.

Making exercise a part of a healthier lifestyle will not happen overnight. One unhealthy meal does not make a person unhealthy. One workout will not make a person healthy. It is the habits that ultimately define not just what we do, but who we are. Habits are build one choice at a time.

Use What You Have

I always suggest in home walking to start. Walking is low cost upstart and you already know how to do it. It is available at any time and in any weather. All you need are comfortable clothes and a good pair of well-fitting sneakers. They need not cost a lot. I just recently purchased a pair of name brand shoes on clearance for less than $30. They are supportive, comfortable, lightweight, and most importantly for me–they have memory foam inserts! Easy walking!

As you get started, review your benefit and consequence lists. Maybe add a statement about choosing to life a healthier life because of those benefits. You can always add to your list. Jot down about your thoughts surrounding exercise. Any patterns emerging?

The bottom line is that NOT exercising has become comfortable. To bust through this pattern, you will have be uncomfortable. Facts. You are going to have experience periods of discomfort to get to those benefits. So hopefully you have some killer benefits written down. Writing down a benefit like “lose weight” is not as motivating as “losing weight so that I feel proud of myself when I look in the mirror”. That is something you can SEE in your mind and FEEL that rush of pride.

Ready to move more? Let’s go!

Do What You Can

There are tons of workout at home videos for FREE on platforms like YouTube. Working out or even doing yoga from a seated position is still being active. It is a start and beats not doing anything. This is a marathon, not a sprint. If all you can do at first is 5 minutes, or 2 minutes, that is all you can do. You can do multiple short rounds throughout the day or you can just aim to improve by 15 or 30 seconds your next attempt!

The idea that you need to kill yourself when you are just starting out is not only preposterous, it most often has the opposite effect. The “No Pain, No Gain” thinking leads to discouragement, negative self talk, and frequently injuries. You are moving to improve your health. You are not in a competition. If you prefer to move your body with someone, find a buddy that will support free of shame or judgement. The online classes found through the Whole Health Fitness Online Gym has several online classes offered through different instructors (Yes, I am one!) that you do within a supportive community.

The second part of this series will look more ways to incorporate movement, namely walking into your day. For now, a true beginner or person who is overweight can focus on the following and still start to see benefits:

  • Journal writing and reflection
  • Putting on your walking shoes daily (whether you walk or not)
  • Walking in home with a video or outdoors at a casual pace for as long as is doable.

July: Free Yourself

On the wings of Juneteenth and America’s Independence Day, I thought it a good time to dedicate the remainder of the month to being free. In the current politicized racial disharmony, freedom is being discussed as it means so many different things to so many different people. While I am not going to get into that aspect of the conversation here, I decided to ask those that know me and are on a journey like me to improve awareness and metrics pertaining to our health and fitness levels to consider the following: What bad habits are like shackles and are impeding your progress? Do you feel enslaved by salt, sugar, or fast food? Does your mind and negative self-talk oppress you? Is your relationship with food, exercise, or even healthcare professionals indicative of a need to change your perspective?

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery.
None but ourselves can free our minds.

Bob Marley

We are generally harder to ourselves than others. Use this month to reflect on those things or habits that are holding you back. There is no time like the present to work towards liberation from any thing that no longer serves you–toxic relationships, bad habits, or even trauma.

We all have the power to be cycle-breakers. For me, recognizing the very unhealthy all-or-nothing mindset when it came to food AND reconciling that while my parents were good people who loved me, they did not do me any favors in how they shaped my views of food. Giving myself permission to change and still love and admire them went a long way in coming to view food as fuel and not as a reward or crutch.

Give yourself permission to do what is right for you, and set yourself free!

FFATX 2: Improving Our Health in Uncertain Times

For most of us, the current state of the world is an unprecedented and uncertain time. The Covid-19 pandemic, racial struggles, and the financial strain of the closures are all taking a toll on the holistic well-being of the global citizenry. Collectively and as individuals, we are more aware of our health status, and many are seeking to improve it, protect it, or both!

From the comfort of your own home, you can use these well-intentioned moments to improve your health with a few small changes. I know, I know. You want to emerge from the cocoon that is quarantine like a glistening butterfly! Drop 25 pounds! Go from the couch to a 5k! But, small, doable, steps are the key to not only big changes but lasting changes! We are talking about improving the overall quality of life! The following five tips can be tackled one-at-a-time or all together for a sure-fire jumpstart to a healthier you!

  • De-stress yourself-and enjoy it!

While activities like meditation, walking, or more rigorous exercise have all been common suggestions for reducing stress, simple but enjoyable pastimes like reading, listening to music, or stroking a pet are effective self-care strategies that can really pay off when it comes to soothing the systems of the body. Prolonged stress releases different chemicals and hormones in the body that have been linked to things including heart disease, stroke, hypertension, migraines, and obesity. These are common co-morbidity diseases that can be better managed or even prevented when stress levels are keep in check.

Tip: Tight on time? Spend a few minutes with your eyes closed. Take a deep breath in through your nose for a count of four, allowing the belly and chest to expand. Exhale through the nose to a count of four, pressing the air out from the belly. Repeat a few times in a moment. You can repeat as your schedule permits and before bed!

  • Pass on the salt. Foods naturally have salt, or sodium, and if your diet includes frequent meals out or processed foods, it is likely that you are consuming too much sodium, which can increase blood pressure.

Tip: Swap the salt for flavorful salt-free seasoning blends and only use salt during meal preparation.

  • Skip the added sugar. Much like salt, added sugar lurks everywhere. A common culprit of weight gain and contributor to sustained high blood glucose levels, reading labels and simple swaps can go long way.

Tip: Seems daunting? Swap one sugary drink a day with water and enjoy whole pieces of fruit instead of juices.

  • Stretch it out. Taking a break at work to stretch or making sure you do so before and after exercise can prevent injury and maintain healthy range of motion of joints.

Tip: Not exercising that day? Find a natural time of day to limber up like when you are getting out of your car after your commute!

  • Get more sleep! The strategy that dreams are made of! Adequate sleep is critical in allowing the body the chance to restore and rejuvenate itself. Sleep shortage has been linked to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, regardless of weight, exercise, or other factors. An adult needs an average of 7 hours of shut-eye nightly.

Tip: A brief stretch and deep breathing can help balance hormones and relax you so that you can fall asleep faster.

These strategies can be easily and quickly added to your daily life despite all that is going on around us. The road to optimal health is not linear, or smooth. The thing to know and focus on is that it is never too late to maintain or to improve your quality of life by building healthy habits. You are worth the effort!

Leslie

FFATX 1: Welcome

Greetings and welcome to Fierce Fitness ATX!

I am a wife/mom/health and wellness enthusiast and constant student. I started my classes as a side hustle a few years ago. I have relied on my pursuits to keep me moderately healthy and in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, found myself wanting to really invest in myself and my health, and to help others to do the same. I hope to provide more than just workouts; I hope to share and build a community atmosphere of like-minded health seekers that are welcoming, nurturing, and supportive of each other.

This site, which will include a blog/vlog, free and premium content, and links to other sites, is the beginning of the community I hope to build, uplift, grow, and connect. It is borne out of my love and concern for the health and well-being of all and is predicated on the fact that we are on a journey, a continuum of becoming the best possible versions of ourselves.

Here, you will only find encouragement and acceptance. I offer no judgments, but will share affirmations and validations that you are enough and the desire to become healthier in whatever way you chose will be supported.

Here you will find the following:

  • My personal triumphs and struggles regarding weight loss, improving health and fitness, goal-setting, and self-love and acceptance
  • Posts within my lane (I am NOT a medical doctor but do have formal training and professional, quality expertise in some areas) including issues/research about public health, rehab after injury/sedentary periods, fitness, basic dietary information as it relates to improving health and fitness to name a few. Please check out my full bio here.
  • Videos/links to workouts that may not be for everyone (please consult your physician before beginning any type of exercise program or dietary changes)
  • Appropriate comments, questions, and thoughts of the community (those that are not in the vein of support or decency will be deleted)

I am excited for this site to be a connector in a larger community of health and wellness seekers! I look forward to learning and growing with each of you!

Leslie, Founder of Fierce Fitness ATX