Spring is a beautiful time of year! It seems like the expression, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb,” is holding true in the greater Detroit area. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the sunshine and warmer temperatures. Daylight savings time just started. Love it? Hate it? I must admit, when I was younger, I loved the change of time and the longer hours of daylight. Now? Not so much. I reckon it may be tied with the aging process, and the hormonal shifts that occur for many women like me who are in their middle years.
Circadian rhythms can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature and other important bodily functions. They have been linked to various sleep disorders, such as insomnia. Abnormal circadian rhythms have also been associated with obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder. That said, I still think these middle years are a fabulous place to be, and we can handle these time shifts with grace as long as we get enough sleep, strive for balance, eat right, clean our space, and set a doable rhythm with our workouts. If you are having trouble connecting with any or all of this, the time is now! Here are some quick tips to make it happen for you.
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. This will help set your internal body clock which controls our circadian rhythms, and have you feeling your best. Strive for 7 -8 hours of sleep per night. This is a general rule of thumb, and our bodies will tell us what we need if we listen.
- Take a break. Find balance by unplugging from all electronic devices. Play an instrument. Write poetry. Go to a museum. Sit by the Detroit River. Take a walk. Pray or meditate. Sit outside for 10 minutes during your lunch hour and soak up some vitamin D. Sign up for a yoga class. Try my favorite pose for restoration and relaxation: Viparita Karani, AKA, Legs up the Wall pose. Lie on your back with your butt against the wall, and your legs straight up and propped up against the wall. Elevate your hips with a small blanket. The reverse blood flow will do wonders for you. Try Dr. Weil’s 3 part breathing for relaxation. Very simple: inhale for 4 counts, hold breath for 7 counts, and exhale slowly for 8 counts. Repeat. Relax!
- Eat whole food (organic as much as possible) with half of your plate being fruits and veggies with a variety of colors. Eating this way helps provide powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients which are incredible for battling systemic inflammation, helps to fight off cancer causing free radicals, protect our cells against oxidative stress, strengthen our immune systems, promote healing, enhance sports performance, recovery, and more. For more info check out these web sites: www.choosemyplate.gov, and www.fitenterprises.juiceplus.com
- Clean your space. Get rid of all clutter. If you haven’t worn it or used it in a year, let go of it. Donate your unwanted items to a charitable organization like Salvation Army, Goodwill, Purple Heart, or a local women’s shelter- like Haven in Pontiac MI. Give back to those who are in need, get a tax write off, and see how much more productive you will be! Clear space = clear focused mind.
- Choose workouts that are fun, and enjoyable. You will find it much easier to stick with a regimen that you enjoy. While you need to do activities that you find fun, some stuff may not be as fun ( For example, I hate cardio and love weight training, while you may love cardio, but hate weight training) Do it anyways. So, the key is to vary your workouts by trying different modalities, like my way cool Drums Alive class. (www.drums-alive.com) You never know if you will like something unless you try it. Be open. Listen to your body. Make sure you are doing full body, strength training workouts at least twice per week. Strength training helps build lean muscle which helps to burn body fat, and builds bone density. Definitely a must as we age. 150 minutes of exercise per week is recommended as a minimum for health and vitality, and 30 minutes, 5 times per week is totally doable.
Lastly, get with a professional, experienced certified trainer to set your goals and help you get on a realistic path to reach them. For certifications, I recommend ACSM, NASM or ACE . Your routine should be tailored to your specific goals; weight loss, enhance sports performance, body building, toning, sculpting, etc. A good trainer will assess your entire lifestyle: diet and nutritional habits, daily activities of living, active range of motion, flexibility, help you with safe and effective movement patterns, set the right amounts of cardio and weight training based on your goals, and give you other tools to help with accountability. The bottom line is that you want a trainer with a proven track record who knows the body well, and will help get the results you are looking for. Definitely ask for referrals.
So, wherever you are on your health and wellness journey, just make a decision to do something. Don’t look at the bigger picture and get overwhelmed, rather slice your goals into smaller more palatable bites. You can accomplish whatever you set your mind towards. Believe it. Start small, and be consistent.
I leave you with two final quotes:
“The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. ” Ecclesiastes 9:11
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” Hellen Keller
The time is now. Ready, set, go!