We are basically cheerleaders and guides, in our office, for patients to find and achieve health and wellness for themselves and their families. Our main focus is on pregnant moms and children, but we see anyone and everyone who comes into the office. The difficulty of our job is- WHERE THE HECK DO WE START?!?! Therefore, we simply start where people are at when they come in. With everything we teach our patients and recommend, there are 3 essential things that they MUST do in order to reach their ultimate health potential. Without these, it is impossible for the body to truly ever be “healthy”. For true health there are 3 components you HAVE to do:
1. You must MOVE well. That means great exercise sessions with equipment like weighted gloves.
2 You must EAT well. Eat the right things – fruits and vegetables.
3. You must THINK well. Read, write, use your brain!
These are the 3 components to health, if you leave one out there is absolutely no way that you can achieve the health you want because your body absolutely won’t respond 100%. I’m only going to cover one of these points in this post and will cover the other 2 in following posts.
“To me, if life boils down to one thing, it is movement. To live is to keep moving.” Jerry Seinfeld
On a basic level, everyone knows that they need to move more to improve their health. Or, even better than that, they understand that they need to exercise consistently to feel better, lose weight, and improve overall function. But, in this post I wanted to really dig a little deeper as to the ultimate importance of exercise. I want to get a little scientific on you, and go a little more in depth to really explain what all you are doing when you go for that walk, or when you hit the gym. It goes so far beyond weight loss that you could never imagine; it is literally the difference in truly living or slowly dying.
1. Exercise reverses insulin resistance.
Insulin, produced in the pancreas, is one of the most important hormones in the body. Its main responsibility is to transport the glucose (or dietary sugar) we take in from the foods we eat and transport it into the cell for proper use and energy production. Without this effect, the sugar we eat begins to build up in the blood and will be stored in the body and into fats cells by glycogen. Working out, even one time, has been shown to increase the “sensitivity” of your cells to insulin, which means that it helps insulin actually work correctly. Check out a study on this here. So if working out has that profound an effect on your insulin levels each time, wouldn’t it make sense to start moving consistently every day, or every other day…..to help your body use all the sugar you are taking in?? I certainly think so! So what happens when you don’t workout as much as you should, your insulin levels start to dip, and your cells aren’t bringing in the glucose like they should?? Well, one of the most common issues that starts to become a problem is a condition called hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is where your blood sugar drops to levels too low for your body to function. It is seemingly not a big deal, but it can be a very dangerous condition. Passing out is very common when people suffer with hypoglycemia, along with emotional and mental changes, while waiting on food to balance you out. Not a good thing! Working out regularly helps to regulate the use of sugar and helps you be able to stay stable throughout the day. You obviously need to eat consistently to help with your workouts, but I’ll talk about that later.
2. Exercise increases Lipolysis.
What the heck does ‘Lipolysis’ mean?? FAT BURN!! Lipolysis is the process your body has to go through to melt away fat cells. They don’t just fall off on the ground as you run (sorry to burst your bubble), they have to be removed by a specific process in your body. When you exercise (aerobic or resistance training), your body releases two hormones called epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones are involved in your fight or flight response in the body. Both of these hormones stimulate a hormone called HST or Hormone Sensitive Lipase. This is the hormone that regulates fat breakdown and will literally break apart the triglyceride/glycerol molecules that make up fat in your body and allows them to be shuttled off into the blood. Without the physical stress on your body you receive during exercise, it is impossible for the body to break down your fat stores. You may loose weight, but the what you are loosing is most likely not fat.
3. Exercise reduces mental stress by balancing yor brain.
Say WHAT?!?! It’s true. Your brain is split into two separate halves, left and right. The right side of the brain is your stressed out, colorful, creative, big picture, anxiety center, musical, talkative, estrogen dominant side of the brain. This is the side of the brain you use when you stress out and are feeling overwhelmed. The left side of the brain is our calm, stress relieving, digestive, mathematical, linear, focused, engineer, testosterone side of the brain. This is typically (but not always) the more male side because it is a more one tract side of the brain. We’re created to be able to use both sides of the brain equally to achieve whatever task at hand- to be creative, looking at the entire picture, but able to focus and make a decision at the same time. With culture and life set up the way it is now though, most people live and function too much out of the right side of their brain, otherwise called your sympathetics. This will eventually lead to hormone imbalance issues, sugar handling issues, digestive trouble, memory loss, muscle breakdown, and the list goes on and on. So we have to find things to do on a daily basis to fire the left side of our brain to keep us leveled out. Well, exercise does just that- balances!! Doing a repetitive exercise, whether it be aerobics, running, weights, or some other sort of cardio set up, fires your left brain- giving more information to your parasympathetic side of the nervous system. This, in turn, will activate your digestive tract- if you have IBS or Crohns or other digestive issues: Exercise helps! It will balance hormones, increase the absorption of calcium to help level out your thyroid, reduce stress on your cardiovascular system, and again release fat cells (which will decrease the amount of estrogen in your system). This type of movement is essential for helping people with emotional stress or depression issues. Post-Partum Depression is a huge issue right now- and, for mothers who have just had babies, movement and exercise is ESSENTIAL to resetting their emotional centers and healing them mentally and emotionally.
Lets talk about the best options for working out, and in this post I’m going to focus on the ladies. The question I get after talking to patients (mainly young mothers or pregnant women) about their need for physical activity is, “Well, what do I do?”. There are so many options, it is almost impossible to make a decision. Do you run? Do you do resistance training? Do you do aerobics? Do you do abs or pilates? The answer is, YES!! You need to do them all!! The absolute best option when working out is to change it up and do all kinds of workouts to keep the body guessing and continually stress your system to create the changes you need. For mothers with children, there is no better option for this type of workout than Stroller Strides. We have been involved with this company for about a year now and the changes we are seeing in moms and the community it is building is absolutely phenomenal! The workouts are geared toward group circuit training and led by professionally certified instructors. The groups meet in parks, malls, gyms or other indoor/outdoor locations. Each class is an hour- involving warm up, stretching, walking/running and/or other cardio, and resistance training with resistance bands. The workouts are intense, but are completely customize-able for any mom who decides to start. The great thing about this company is that it’s moms training moms. The instructors know and completely understand where you are at in your quest to get your body back or to fight of the emotional strain you are going through with the addition of children to your family. It is a great support group for moms and the groups have play groups after almost every workout to involve the kids. The workouts involve the children, as well, and even work with your kids on spelling, counting, and singing songs! Hands down, it is the best set up for workouts for mothers. But don’t think it is a “weak workout” or just for beginners. The workout classes are intense, and can be as intense as you want them to be. I do the classes with the families over the weekends from time to time and also participated in the group training workouts at the recent national conference and let me tell you….IT’S NO JOKE!! So you will get an amazing workout no matter what your fitness level.
So what if your children aren’t in a stroller anymore but you want to hook up with this company?? Come anyway!! Or try one of their other workout groups, like Body Back (for any woman of any age), or Fit4Baby (for pregnant expecting moms) or their new Barre classes.
Men can workout on their own and do whatever and get benefit out of it and stay motivated because men are wired that way and we are…well…simpler. 🙂 Women need the community and the support to really get the changes and to stick with it so this is an incredible option.
So do yourself a favor and MOVE!! Just get up, and do something. In the next couple posts, I’ll talk about different options to work out and ways to simplify and make your workouts easier on a tight schedule. Nothing you haven’t heard before, just thoughts that are in my head!
Take care and be well!