Category Archives: Well-being

Some Truth About Cancer

 

In loving memory of my sister Ann

In memory of my sister Ann

I’ve lost a few people I love to cancer. Most of us have. For years prior to my sister Ann’s terminal cancer diagnosis (she died more than 6 years ago), I had been perplexed at the lack of progress made in cancer treatments over the many years this has been on my radar. I know that chemo drugs have changed over the years and that the “chemo cocktail” is tweaked here and there, but basically the treatment options have been and still are the same. Your choice, if you have cancer, is chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery. I had heard of other treatments from alternative health care providers that seemed to be promising, but the above mentioned three options are pretty much “it” if you go to a conventional doctor, as most people do.

I’ve heard of the “war on cancer’ too many times to count over the years, but I’ve always been curious about why all the big research money was only being spent on the three above mentioned treatments. I’ve always wanted to hear and read more about some of the alternative therapies that have seemed promising, in particular intravenous Vitamin C therapy (http://orthomolecular.org/library/ivccancerpt.shtml) or Gerson Therapy to name just two. There are others, but they receive no research money even when there was money readily available for cancer research. All the available money has always gone to the three conventional ways of treating cancer. Is it because these ways are the only, or at least the best way of treating cancer?

I’ve never been one to think either business or government has my best interest at heart but the thought that there may be a deliberate repression of information and of treatments that may be more effective (and much less brutal) for cancer patients than the above mentioned three options was too horrible to spend my time thinking about.  After reading lots of research from orthomolecular and alternative sources, and also reading anecdotal  evidence from cancer patients who survived against all medical odds, I have been willing to conclude that there wasn’t a deliberate repression of valuable treatments. To think otherwise really is a very dark thought to hold onto! But I still believed there was a better way of both preventing and treating cancer than what was on offer and that the conventional treatment caused a lot of suffering for patients. I know it did for my sister Ann.

After my sister died I was tired of thinking that she had suffered and died needlessly and also a bit heartbroken, so I put this aside and just tried to be healthy and to help other interested people do the same. This cancer business keeps circling back to me though, so I want to share a small piece of what I have learned over the years. The truth is getting closer. Perhaps there has been repression of information from those we are meant to trust after all. We can only make a decision on this if we look at all the information, not that which is spoon fed to us.

Instead of a lot of words, I want to encourage any who read this post to take the time to watch a documentary called “The Truth About Cancer: A Global Quest”. It cannot be viewed on any mainstream TV channels, but you can watch it online. You will have to register to view it but it is completely free to do this. It is packed full of facts that are both shocking but also empowering. Many doctors, researchers, and pharmaceutical people come forward with verifiable stories that cannot be ignored and this documentary held my interest to the end. Here is the link for it:

https://go2.thetruthaboutcancer.com/agq/episode-1/

Just copy and paste into your browser, and as I said, you may have to register but it is well worth your time when you consider the statistics that 1 in 2 men will get cancer in their lifetime, and 1 in 3 women will. These are unbelievably huge numbers, and they show no sign of diminishing.

This film does not indict doctors, medical personnel, or even pharmaceutical personnel. But it does show a clear and verifiable history of creating the medical model we have today, and the people/businesses responsible for the lack of choice in cancer treatment and how and why we have all been duped so successfully. I encourage gently and lovingly all who take the time to read this to also take the time to watch The Truth About Cancer. Information is empowering.

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Loneliness – The “Illusion” That Feels So Real

Scan 5Many of us are lonely today. It crops up in my own life from time to time even though I am married, do work I enjoy, and have a few people I care deeply about and who also care about me.  You don’t have to be alone be lonely.

It is my nature to question things and look deeper (both a curse and a blessing!), so I’ve delved into this feeling of loneliness almost as an afterthought from writing about happiness. I believe that loneliness is a common and misunderstood obstacle to happiness.  Loneliness is a serious issue and impacts the quality of our lives.  There are many different kinds of loneliness. It is sort of a catch-all term that says very little about what is really going on. Are you lonely because you miss a best friend?  Do you miss being part of a group, something larger than just you?  Does it make you feel unseen because you do not have a place that seems familiar, where you are known? Are you missing a romantic partner in your life?  Are you feeling overwhelmed because you don’t have someone around whom you can lean on and depend upon when things get difficult?  Loneliness has so many faces and so is harder to pinpoint.

A sense of connection is often the missing link in our lives and is a common thread with loneliness. The Welsh have a word for a special kind of loneliness, called Hiraeth. It doesn’t have a precise English translation, but in general means “a homesickness for a home you cannot return to, or that never was“.  It is similar to the Portuguese “saudade” which is the theme of Fado music. Hiraeth is a mix of longing, yearning, tinged with grief or a sense of loss and a desire to connect with or touch that which has been lost. It is the feeling of separateness or disconnection that is at the root of any type of loneliness. There is help for this deep existential form of hiraeth  as well as the temporary fleeting feelings of loneliness we all experience from time to time.

Nurturing a sense of connection is the best (and maybe the only) way to shift a feeling of loneliness. I believe that we are all interconnected and interdependent with each other, but the illusion of separateness persists due to our egoic minds, modern life, and our culture of fear and lack. But since I also believe our view of reality is almost entirely perceptual, the “illusion” of loneliness is a very real part of a lonely person’s life.

I do not intend to trivialise the problem of loneliness, but sometimes actionable steps are simply the best way out of a bad cycle.  Just taking a step in the right direction immediately improves our perception and thus our situation.  Try some version of my suggestions, tweak them as much as you need to so they are meaningful to you. and take a step out of any bleak feelings you are having. (The only reason I “know” about this is because I have felt it myself, and edged my way out of bleakness by trying something different.)

  • Make a habit of nurturing others. For happiness in general, studies show that it is just as important to give support as to get support. Make eye contact and smile at someone. Even if they don’t smile back, it cost you nothing to do this and is likely to bring about a lovely smile in return. Offer to get groceries for an elderly neighbor, foster a dog or cat, take care of a friend’s children, teach a class, volunteer in your neighborhood or community. Giving support to others creates a feeling of connection.
  • Make real attempts at connecting with other people. Sign up for an exercise, language, art, sewing, craft class, join a book group, show up at the weekly office coffee hour, take a minute to chat with a co-worker, neighbor, or acquaintance, attend a community talk or lecture, start or join a local walking group. (Yes, I know. All the advice we’ve all heard before. But it really works!)
  • Get better sleep. Sleep deprivation under any circumstances brings down people’s moods and exacerbates negative feelings. You will not feel like building connections if you are suffering from chronic sleep deprivation. It is important to tackle this issue. Give it your attention by trying different things for a couple of weeks at a time. (There is a mountain of information out there to cure insomnia, but my next blog will be about this very thing.) Chronic sleep problems are usually the result of bad habits that need to be changed. 
  • Make a habit of staying open. This can be as simple as being aware of the next breath you take or the food you are tasting. It involves staying open to life and experiences as much as staying open to people. I know that loneliness itself can make people feel more negative, critical, and judgemental. Sadly, people who are lonely are far less accepting of potential new friends than people who are not lonely so the hurdle comes down to feeling what you are feeling and gently pressing on anyway.
  • Ask yourself, “What is it that I really want?” We often avoid this question in anything but a trivial way because it can be painful and can bring up what is “missing” in our life. But it is easier to know how to address an issue if you are clear what you really want. Chances are, you do not really want the third chocolate brownie or the 5th piece of pizza. Overeating is a common quick fix for feelings of lack or of not “being” enough. There are other things we do to mask discovering what it is we really want of course, but by far overeating is the most common. Without getting into a deep rut with this, touch into the question “What is it that I really want?” for a few minutes each day. Beginning to feel comfortable with this question – and the resulting answer – will go a long way in resolving feelings of loneliness and unhappiness.

Sometimes the wanting or longing you feel can be a marker for you to follow along your path. I wish you well as you listen to the whisperings that come along when you ask the important questions.

If you try, or have tried, any of these ideas to step out of feelings of loneliness and darkness, please let me know how they worked for you.

Keep Fighting For Your Limitations, and – They’re Yours!

wordpress meditation imagesRecently, I was talking with a friend about all the reasons her life didn’t seem to be working for her. One of the things I kept noticing is the way she insisted she could not do things any differently because of these very unique circumstances she was embroiled in. I said to her, “but if you continue to do things the exact same way, don’t you think you’ll continue to get the exact same results….ie, more of what you don’t want?” She heard me loud and clear but was on the verge of getting upset because she thought I wasn’t hearing and understanding her. What I heard was a woman fighting for her limitations. I had a Eureka moment when I realised what was happening is something that I also do from time to time. We all do.

We will think about what it is we really want – but then spend lots of time and energy going over and over why we cannot have it or what is in our way. While knowing our roadblocks is part of getting clear about solutions, this insistence to and attachment to our roadblocks is what is keeping us stuck. I want to keep this simple and honest, so I will claim that statement: My insistence and attachment to my limitations is what is keeping me stuck.

Now you may be thinking, “I am certainly not attached to my limitations, I want them gone!” I believe that you want them gone but in order to remove them you must stop fighting for them. You fight for your limitations when you insist that you could never retrain in a new field because you are too old. You fight for your limitations when you state, with certainty, that you cannot travel because you would not be able to keep your job if you did that. You fight for your limitations when you say you could never get your book published because you don’t have an agent and don’t know how to self-publish. One thing is certain; if you fight for your limitations, they are yours. I am going to stop doing this even though some of the reasons I have for not getting what I want seem very big and unresolvable. I think it is easier to take small steps in the direction of my goals than to give up on them all together.

We all create a story about ourselves and the way life works based on past experiences. We’ve all had negative experiences that have hurt, shamed, or frightened us and so usually parts of this story are pretty negative. Because hurt, shame, and fear are so powerful – and we all have a strong tendency to put more emphasis on the negative than the positive – we have all built negative stories around not achieving enough, not being enough.

Here are some common deflating and self-defeating limiting beliefs we hold onto:

  • I do not belong.
  • I am not enough.
  • Life is hard.
  • Money is hard to come by.
  • People are not to be trusted.
  • Bad things always happen to me.
  • Everyone else is better than me.
  • No one loves me.
  • Something is wrong with me.
  • I should be doing more.
  • Even though I don’t want to, I have to ______________ because of ___________________.
  • Love is painful.

Do any of these sound familiar? Once we have formed these limiting beliefs,  we go out and collect evidence that supports our story and tend to disregard things that don’t go with the stories we’ve made up about ourselves. For instance, if you believe that bad stuff happens to you or life is hard, you will use everything from not finding a parking space to losing a job as evidence to reinforce this limiting (and untrue!) story but will think it is a one-off fluke when something positive happens. Once you have the belief that “Life is Hard” your mind will filter out most of what happens that contradicts this. It’s how beliefs work.

Why do we keep repeating a story we don’t want to tell anymore? It has become habitual for us to do that. We can choose a fresh alternative, even if we had some very bad stuff happen to us in life. We don’t have to keep re-living the bad stuff. My past is not my identity. I am not my story. I find that I do sometimes believe “the story” (yes….I think sometimes I am too old to get a qualification in Nutrition, or that I don’t have the IT skills necessary to self-publish a book I wrote more than a year ago…) but it helps when I soften the edge of my “knowing” and just get curious about that which lights me up. One step at a time, I go a little further in the direction of what attracts me without putting any requirements on myself. I  allow myself to get pleasure from the process and not get consumed by the goal. 

I don’t always accomplish and achieve huge goals quickly this way. But I definitely enjoy my every day life more when I incorporate the juiciness of participating in what attracts me without shutting myself down with…”You’ll never get that book published”….or, “who do you think you are?” kinds of feelings.

Please stop coming up with all the reasons you cannot afford something. Or do not have a great relationship. Or are stuck in a job you don’t like. Or whatever else you are convincing yourself is unchangeable. Maybe you cannot do it all right now, but you may be able to take small steps in the direction of That Which Makes You Smile. (I recently bought a Mac Pro that I “couldn’t afford” by saving my spare change for a couple of years! I am using it right now.)

I understand that sometimes there are circumstances that are difficult. I know that sometimes it seems like you do not have choices about certain things. Sometimes it means the dream has to be modified, or it means not now (not no), or it means you must do something entirely different.  Even if you cannot change an external circumstance (right now), you ALWAYS have a choice about how you perceive and respond to it. I know this is old advice, but it is Truth. I am not a victim of my circumstances. I do have a choice in what I do next, even if the choice is how I respond.

 Stop fighting for your limitations, or they will surely be your truth!

Exercise: Just Do It!

exercising womenBy now we’ve all heard  about the overwhelming amount of evidence confirming that exercise is is crucial in disease reduction, optimal mental, emotional and physical health, and longevity. Not just beneficial, but crucial. The part of my research that I found really encouraging is that you can receive outstanding results no matter what your age when you start exercising. One reason this is such good news for me is I have a mother in her 80’s who has stopped almost all exercise and I know it is still within her grasp to become more physically, mentally, and emotionally fit just by taking up exercise again. (Not that she does it….but, if she did do it, the remarkable benefits would be there for her.) I hope this knowledge is encouraging to all of you who sometimes feel you’ve left it too long. You can start right now, right where you are, and still get remarkable benefits.

The next four short paragraphs are taken from a wonderful site, called Wake Up World, which states succinctly that not only is exercise crucial for health, but that the benefits are substantial no matter what your age when you begin.

“After reviewing 40 papers published between 2006 and 2010, researchers found that exercise reduces the risk of about two dozen health conditions, ranging from cancer and heart disease to type 2 diabetes, stroke, dementia and depression. Exercise also slows down the rate of aging itself, providing perhaps the closest example of a real life fountain of youth as we will ever find.

Ideally, you will have made exercise a regular part of your life long before you reach your “golden” years … but if you haven’t, there’s no better time to start than the present. Research has shown that regular exercise, even initiated late in life, offers profound health benefits. For instance:

Even a small amount of exercise may protect the elderly from long-term memory loss and even help reverse some of the effects of aging.

Moderate exercise among those aged 55-75 may cut the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which increases heart disease and diabetes risk.

Among those who started exercising at age 50 and continued for 10 years, the rate of premature death declined dramatically, similar to giving up smoking and mirroring the level as seen among people who had been working out their entire lives.”

Remember, It’s NEVER Too Late to Improve Your Health.

It should be obvious by now that optimal health is dependent on not only an active lifestyle, but also on eating fresh whole foods and avoiding as many processed foods as possible, good sleep, and addressing the stress in your life. I have written about these four cornerstones of health before (Diet, Exercise, Sleep, and Mental Outlook).  Ignoring any of these basic tenets of health will eventually lead to a decline in health. But knowing that exercise itself is – crucial! – to good health and disease reduction makes me wonder….why aren’t we all doing it? This time of year, it is easy to stay indoors and forego outdoor exercise for a time, but that is very different from just not doing any exercise at all, ever. 

If you haven’t yet made physical exercise part of your daily routine, let’s challenge ourselves to incorporate it into our lives for the next 30 days. Make a plan that is within your means, even if it is simply a 20 minute walk every day. I combine fast walking and yoga, for example. Then at the end of 30 days see for yourself the difference this simple practice can make in your life. No matter what your age, if you can walk you can exercise, and immense rewards are there for you, no matter what your age.

I’d love to hear from you if you try this exercise challenge. Let me know how you fell at the end of the 30 days.

Why Having Compassion For Yourself Is Important

downloadHave you ever heard someone say, “I am so hard on myself.” or, “It’s not easy for me to be kind to myself”. Truth be told, I’ve said this myself in the past. But I’ve come to realize that being hard on myself makes it impossible to have compassion for someone else. I’m sure the same is true for you too.

What is compassion exactly? My dictionary defines compassion as follows: “Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.” A few years ago, I lived several years of my life single mindedly being of service to my then-new extended family. I don’t say this to make myself sound like a saint – far from it, because I sometimes secretly resented all I did for them with little or no recognition for my efforts. In this era of my life, I became increasingly unhappy and unfulfilled as I ignored my own wants and needs and let myself become preoccupied with the needs and wants of everyone else. My obsession with what “everyone else” needed was not making anyone’s life better, least of all mine.  For me, things had to come to a head and become intolerable before I was able to take a step back and shift my thoughts and behavior to a healthier way of living that reflected a little better who I really was. I learned a lot from this period of my life.

What I now know is that it is a lovely and positive thing to want to help others….if the motivation and intent is right minded. Many people become helpers of others for all the right reasons. But it my case, and in countless others I have since come in contact with, there are those who will nearly exhaust themselves helping others because then they do not have to look at themselves or their own lives. In their minds, they are constantly focused on someone else’s troubles and so have little or no time to really get to know themselves. There can be quite an arrogance in helping others to the exclusion of giving yourself what you need. How easy it is to fix others, compared to the hard work in fixing yourself!

Yes, it can be painful to see ourselves as we really are at times; our pettiness, our jealousy, our judgements. But what a wonderful freedom can be had by doing this. At first, it is so painful to see these traits in ourselves that we quickly look the other way at first glimpse. “Whoa! I don’t want to think about that!” But then, using techniques described in my last blog, you observe, breathe deeply, and feel the emotion. You see that you can survive that first awful blow of recognizing yourself as a flawed human being. Learning compassion, really learning it, is to look right at the awful, embarrassing things you know about yourself; to look them square in the mirror and get closer to that messy, yucky part of yourself that you really don’t want to see. That is the true start of learning compassion. To see these unattractive parts of yourself and not have to turn away, not have to deny. To experience the feelings these parts of yourself bring up in you. Acknowledging them and casting the light of day on these things helps them to melt away, to lose their teeth and claws. Then you will begin to know what it is like to have compassion for others.

The inability to look at oneself in this way, even if one goes to great lengths to be helpful to others, is arrogance.  True compassion is not possible for one who refuses to look at their own shortcomings in this soft and thoughtful way. This is the unvarnished truth about learning to be compassionate.

Start with yourself.

Mental Outlook – One of the Four Pillars of Health

Be the type of person you want to meetSince you are the only one that thinks inside your head, it would seem that choosing positive thoughts and creating good healthy mental patterns would be quite easy. But for any of us who have tried to walk this path and create thoughts, behaviors, and habits that lead to the life we want to manifest, we all know that it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Despite our best intentions,  at times we get engulfed in the negative story line.

Besides going through emotional upsets and even traumas in each of our respective lives, as a species we also have a negativity bias built into our brains that makes it easier to lean towards the negative. Indeed, left to our own devices, we all tend to put more weight on the negative than the positive in our lives. Yes, we can get a nice warm glow when someone gives us a sincere compliment or praises our achievements. But where is the residual value of this praise if we are wounded so easily by criticism or a harsh word by an unmindful, thoughtless person? Think of how easy it is to allow a negative story line to spiral out of control in our minds until we are convinced that we are not loveable or worthwhile. It often doesn’t take much for us to sink to a low depth in our self esteem.

You can devote some time to doing things that make you feel good, that make you laugh, that give you a high. But those same demons will sneak in the back door as soon as something goes very wrong, or someone decides to take their frustration or own low self esteem out on you. The yo-yo method of Mental Outlook doesn’t work any better than the yo-yo method of dieting. We swing from “vine to vine”, looking for something else (we’re not sure exactly what) because we don’t see we are already whole and complete as we are right now. We have to wake up and tune into this.

What really helps take you further down the path of love and acceptance is a conscious choice, then being willing to do the work to make this happen. Geeze,,,,it’s like so many other things, eh? Even a positive mental outlook takes work, a bit of mental and spiritual weigh-lifting. This is not because we are lacking in any way, but most of us have learned what we know and believe from others, who had their own wounds and issues to work out. “Unearthing” the richness of who we are and what we have to offer takes work mainly because we have to get rid of the unnecessary baggage before we can dive deep. It is simply part of our life’s work to discover first hand what is true for us and not just blindly accept another’s blueprint for our life.

For me, a meditation and yoga practice is important for clearing the clutter in my mind and tuning in but there are other practices that can be just as valuable, including Tai’ Chi and Qi gong (pronounced Chi Gong).  I believe a spiritual practice of some sort – whatever that is for you – is important for a sense of fulfilment and vitality. Does the word “spiritual” bother you?  Then pick another word.  But a practice where you can quiet the mind and stop the chaos, and feel a part of something greater than just yourself and your problems is crucial for good health.  This positive spiritual practice will help you plug into things that really nourish and recharge you.  You must nourish yourself, otherwise it won’t take long for you to become depleted. Even if your time is limited, you can set priorities and let something go so you can have a mini-break and recover. You only have 30 minutes while the baby sleeps? Spend it meditating instead of watching some silly TV program. The meditation will leave you more calm and refreshed than the TV. Remember that you can only do one thing at a time well, whatever the hype is about “multi-tasking”. If you try to open up too many windows on your computer, what happens?  It crashes! So will you. Get calm, close some windows, take a deep breath, and focus on the one thing you need to do in front of you. When that is done, you can move on to the next thing. Work on one “window” at a time.

By now, we’ve all heard how important a positive attitude is for health and happiness, and more than likely you’ve incorporated some of this sage advice into your life already. If so, good for you!  If not, don’t take my word for it – just commit to adding some positive practices, such as positive affirmations and a gratitude journal, yoga, meditation, etc. into your life every day for one month, and then see if your life improves. If it doesn’t you’ve lost nothing.  But you will never know that life can be so much better if you don’t give it a try.

Suggestions to get started:

  • Commit to devoting time to becoming the person you want to be. Writing an agreement with yourself is good, or teaming up with a good friend can also be beneficial. It is not easy to stay the course on your own if you have no experience with this. Work out one or two small steps to begin in the direction of your goal (even if the goal is just a vague idea like “I want to be a better person”). You can get more specific after you begin and get more clear on what is important to you.
  • Start small, and add to this as you have some success. Meditate for a few minutes (10 is good, then add more time.), write in a gratitude journal every day for 30 days without fail, look at yourself in the eyes every morning and say something positive. 
  • Practice mindfulness. Try “closing all the Windows” and being present – to the activity you are doing, to the person you are with, to the feelings you are having. Notice the next breath and place your full attention on this. Place your focus on the sensations in your body….is your jaw tight, are you slouching, are you warm or cool, is there discomfort anywhere in your body? Tune in and really feel what is happening for a few moments. It can start this small, but be fully present to what is happening now.
  • Bring more positive people in your life. Spend more time with the ones you already know. Limit your time with people who bring you down, make you doubt yourself. Don’t waste your precious time with people who want to tear you down.
  •  Be persistent but kind to yourself. Don’t immediately think, “I’m no good at this” when you try meditation and your mind is all over the place. If you had to fly a jet plane, you would probably not feel confident your first try. So just show up for it, no matter what happens. Be present for the chaos, for the calm, for the anger, and for the happiness. No judgement.

Feel free to let me know how you do with this, or for that matter, how you feel about this post.

 

Exercise – One of the Four Pillars of Health

cycling on a beachWhen it comes to exercise, most of us simply don’t get enough. Our bodies are designed to move much more than most of us do. Every system in our body performs better when we have regular daily exercise. It doesn’t have to be complicated; Sit less, and move more. You can start that simply.

Besides allowing our bodies to work better and more efficiently, getting enough exercise sets us up for better health by ensuring that our weight and muscle mass stays in optimum range. The more muscles mass you have the more you need to eat to maintain this muscle (wthout gaining weight) and to keep going each day.  If you have more  lean muscle mass, you’ll also have more energy, and you will require more food to maintain your weight.  This is why once a person goes down the road of too little muscle mass (caused by not moving and exercising enough) it perpetuates an endless cycle of gaining weight and attempting to diet to lose the excess fat. Someone with less muscle mass just does not need as much food as one with more muscle mass. Proper nutrition is important (see the post on Diet and Nutrition), but you are never likely to lose the fat and keep it off unless you move your body more. More important than this, you will never have optimum health and vitality without exercise of some sort.

This concept does not have to mean expensive equipment and gym membership….if that’s your thing, but all means go to the gym but if it’s not something that feels comfortable to you that is not a problem. You can still get all the exercise you need without purchasing any equipment at all. The first step is just to begin moving more. It really starts that simply. Don’t let this be daunting for you. Walk more, take the stairs instead of the elevator, don’t park right at the door of the shops but make yourself walk a little further than usual. Move your body throughout the day in as many creative ways as you can think of. If there is an activity that you enjoy, do more of that as often as you can. Do you like to dance? Then let that be your exercise. What a fun thing to do, all by yourself! Pick out a few songs that make you want to move – clear obstacles out of the way in the room, and let yourself go. Love to play tennis, or wanting to learn? What a great form of exercise that is!  You can get on a bike and explore your neighborhood in a different way, take a walk around the block, go swimming (indoors or out, whichever is more accessible for you, go to a yoga class, or play an outdoor game with the kids. Exercise does not have to be difficult or dull. Begin to re-frame exercise in a way that is fun for you and you won’t have to force yourself to do it.  I also think it helps to think of exercise as a way of being good to yourself, of increasing your health and well-being and NOT as a way of looking better.

Once you begin, you may want to go a little further and add more into your daily routine.  If you are happy with the results you get long-term by increasing movement in your life, that’s great. If you have other health problems such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, excess body fat (particularly belly fat), or want to bump up the benefits, then you may want to add Interval Training to your routine. A good time to do this is when you reach a plateau with your weight.  If you’ve never heard of Burst, or Interval Training, it’s very simple and there is lots of information you can read about it on the internet. Once the domain of elite athletes, Interval Training has become a powerful tool for the average person too. In a nutshell, all you do is sprint, climb stairs, jump rope, jog, etc. to whatever is your maximum effort (this will be different for everyone, depending on how fit you are) for the interval that you decide – there are different protocols for how long the “interval” of intensity should be. There is quite a bit of research that shows “burst” intervals of less than 15 seconds in length burns the most body fat. Then you rest for 30 seconds. You want to have several “bursts” – different protocols suggest different things – but the intention is to have at least 3 bursts, followed by double the rest time. Then you want to walk at a normal pace for 10-20 minutes. It’s that easy.

You may be thinking that if shorts bursts of 15 seconds of intense exercise is great at burning fat, then longer bursts would be even better, right?  But you’d be wrong. These short, less-than-15-second bursts tend NOT to increase lactic acid build-up in your muscles. The reason that is a good thing is because lactic acid can inhibit your muscle’s ability to burn fat as fuel. When lactic acid is not present, muscle cells can use fatty acids as fuel more readily. The end result is, you can burn fat much easier. (This is a simple explanation that is true, but there is a lot more to the physiology of Interval Training that is fascinating. Research it a bit if you want more science.) There are endless combinations of interval protocols which do different things, but shorter than 15 seconds is ideal for unlocking your body’s fat burning chemistry. And – here’s a bonus – it is less demanding on your body to do such short bursts! Win,win.

Longer intervals, or bursts, are appropriate too though, and may be better for normalizing blood sugar. The idea is always the same….You have a bout of high intensity, followed by a recovery period of 1.5 to 2 times the burst, and repeat this three to five times. Then, have a few minutes of lower intensity walking. Whatever you start with, my advice is to use a combination of different interval training workouts so your body doesn’t get used to what you are doing. Our bodies are cunning at adapting, so keep it guessing! The variety also keeps you from hitting a stubborn plateau.

If you’ve already been walking more as part of your exercise routine, you might incorporate short bursts of jogging into your regular brisk walks. If you’re less fit, perhaps you could alternate leisurely walking with periods of faster walking. For example, if you’re walking outdoors you could walk faster between certain mailboxes, trees, or other landmarks. You can make a little game out of it and easily implement Interval Training into your life painlessly and easily.

An expert on this time of exercise is Yuri Elkhaim. His posts are clear and very readable if you want to find out more about both the science behind Burst Training, and different training protocols.