Why Listen To Me About Fitness?
Yeah, yeah, I’m a doctoral student of physical therapy. We are trained in anatomy, biomechanics, movement analysis, pain management, exercise prescription, rehabilitation, motor learning, etc. all backed by current research. But that isn’t why you should listen to me (well, maybe a little bit).
I have been where you are. I was lazy, grossly overweight, and master of excuses. I tried every fad diet, and followed every “fitness guru” but nothing was ever permanent. It took emotional trauma to make lasting change. My mother was diagnosed with cancer during one of the most stressful periods of my life (getting into school ain’t no joke). I began to have massive anxiety symptoms. I had a constant tension headache and was stricken with insomnia caused by racing thoughts as well as neurological symptoms like shooting electric pain down my back as I was going to sleep. I felt like I had a pulsating lump around my adam’s apple that made it difficult to breath regularly, not to mention prevented me from wearing the dress shirts that I so loved to wear. I thought I was going to die.
Thinking you are going to die has a way of inspiring action. After pharmaceutical treatment failed me, I decided that movement would be my medicine. Every day I vowed to do something active for at least thirty minutes. Guess what happened when I did?
Exercise saved my life.
No joke. No hoo-doo. Simple daily stretches and calisthenics made an immediate change in my energy, and improved my daily headaches. I signed up for a gym. I began to weight train as well as enrolled in a yoga class. I began to go to dance classes again. I also began to meditate and created a night time come down ritual to calm myself before bed.
I began to feel better. I remember that there was a specific moment during a difficult yoga pose where I felt a supernatural calm flow over me and I knew that I was on the path to getting better. Incidentally, that was the class where my Japanese yoga teacher had mentioned the concept of kaizen (origin story, what?!). The symptoms began to decrease, and after a few months I was back to normal.
Needless to say, I was hooked. Exercise was the best medicine that I had ever experienced. It was like a magical drug that gave me energy, took away my pain, and made me look better in a suit. Although I had sent out my applications for med school, I decided right there and then that DPT was a better fit for me. I had considered the profession (my father has been a physical therapist for thirty years) but had never given it serious thought until this point. I made a call to get some volunteer experience and started on my application. The rest is history.
I know that there are many out there who are in pain, or who just feel that they have been putting off your physical fitness for too long. I’m talking to you. I want you to experience what I felt on that day at yoga. I want to share the power of this panacea with everyone who isn’t already doing what our bodies were meant to do: moving. It’s my goal in life to accomplish that. Even if I can help just one person out of pain or despair, then I will consider myself a success.
All the content you need to get started will be here. I’m a resource you can contact. No more excuses.
Still Not Convinced?
Here are some cold, hard facts about the benefits of exercise. Exercise has been shown to:
- Reduce risk of premature death¹.
- Reduce risk of heart disease².
- Improve or prevent diabetes³.
- Improve mood, depression and anxiety4.
- Reduce risk of cancer5.
- Improve memory6
Exercise is also a great keystone habit. Starting a habit of exercise will help you improve in everything else, moving you closer to that goal of continual daily improvement.
Let’s Get Started:
Take a second to try this mental exercise.
Imagine yourself in a few months—you wake up before the alarm goes off. You immediately fire off a few pushups to get your blood flowing. On the way to get a glass of water, you put your pants on and realize that they fit better. No popped buttons on these jeans! Rather than reach for the sugary cereal, you heat up some oatmeal and stretch a bit while the water is heating up. After finishing your breakfast, you put your shirt on and catch yourself in the mirror. You see the changes in your body. Your face looks clearer and you notice the skin on your arms is tighter and more defined. Confidence flows through you and you are ready to face the day.
That is not an impossible dream. It can be a reality if you believe it and start some action TODAY. Start with something small: Do one pushup. One. Cheat if you have to, but get it done. If you can do another one, do it. I think what you’ll find is that after you get over doing one pushup, that the second is doable.
This is how I started. I made small changes, and built off that foundation to increase my repetitions and duration of exercise. I’ve said before that daily exercise is a keystone habit that can lead to a cascade of good habits that follow after. I soon noticed that I was in a better mood, had the energy to start new projects, and ended up eating a lot better after I started the habit of daily exercise.
I know it is hard to start. Believe, I know. That is where I hope to help you: I want to give you strategies that make starting (and continuing) an exercise program easier and more efficient.
Here are my plans for future content:
- Articles on methods for getting over inertia and keeping a proper habit of exercise.
- Ideas for combining exercise with skill development(dance) to create simultaneous improvement. This makes exercise a high yield activity.
- Some current evidence-based research to cut through the “bro science” that is prevalent across the internet. I want to educate you about how your body works, and how the vast majority of fitness gurus are selling you quackery and temporary quick-fix solutions.
- I will use that same evidence-based research to offer sound strategies that are efficient, easy to learn, and progressive to make sure you keep improving daily.
- Teach you how to assess your progress and how to create outcome measures to track your improvement.
- Easy to follow exercise videos on YouTube/Instagram. I will show you proper body mechanics that are, once again, backed by research rather than fear mongering.
- Office stretches/exercises to perform while you are at your desk. These keep you moving and out of constrained posture throughout the day and can reduce/prevent your pain.
- Some fitness success stories that go over the strategies and habits that helped people overcome their difficulties in starting an active lifestyle.
- Live events so that I can show you in person how to create an active lifestyle through social engagement.
- You tell me! Let me know how I can get rid of the obstacles to your kaizen.
Phew. I’m going to have a busy year.
References (aka Proof I don’t just make stuff up)
- Erikssen G. Physical fitness and changes in mortality: the survival of the fittest. Sports Med2001;31:571-6. [PubMed]
- Berlin JA, Colditz GA. A meta-analysis of physical activity in the prevention of coronary heart disease. Am J Epidemiol 1990;132:612-28. [PubMed]
- Ivy JL. Role of exercise training in the prevention and treatment of insulin resistance and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Sports Med1997;24:321-36.[PubMed]
- Dunn AL, Trivedi MH, O’Neal HA. Physical activity dose–response effects on outcomes of depression and anxiety. [discussion 609-10]. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2001;33:S587-97. [PubMed]
- Thune I, Furberg AS. Physical activity and cancer risk: dose-response and cancer, all sites and site-specific. [discussion S609-10]. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2001; 33: S530-50. [PubMed]
- Heisz J, Clark I, Bonin K, Paolucci E. The effects of physical exercise and cognitive training on memory and neurotrophic factors. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 2017; 29, 11;1895-1907. [Mitpress]