Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Exercise for Daily Life

We all know that limiting exercise to the weekend is not enough to keep fit and is hard on the body. Although we can’t all bike or walk to work, I like the idea of integrating exercise into daily life in as many ways as possible. It capitalizes on the momentum you develop around work. It builds on the schedule you already have for work. It can help you tap into your inner grit.

How about these options for you?

*Go to the gym right before or after work
*Walk, run bike or go to the gym at lunch
*Use the stairs instead of the elevator
*Walk or bike to your next appointment
*Schedule gym, yoga or biking time in your work-week
*Keep a yoga mat, stationary bike or exercise clothes/shoes at the office in case you get a break
*Use a jogging stroller, kiddy bike seat or baby back-pack to incorporate exercise into the work of childcare
*Use the exercise room at hotels during business trips
*Explore new cities on foot, walking or running when traveling
*Take a dance, exercise or yoga class during lunch
*Do short family/couple/friend hikes, walks, rides and runs during the week

Think about what might work for you. Each option will not work for everyone, and you may come up with some better ideas (please leave a comment) that work for you.

Tunes for daily exercise:
Boom Boom Pow, Black Eyed Peas
Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody dance now), C+C Music Factory
Just Dance, Lady Gaga
Life is a Highway, Tom Cochrane

Monday, November 15, 2010

Self-esteem or Self-indulgence?

In a discount shoe store I browsed recently, my eye was caught by the clogs called “Self-esteem.” And BTW, when did we start naming shoes? Do we now have to have the right shoes for good self-esteem? Or will wearing the shoes give us good self-esteem?

I’d like to call attention to the anti-self-esteem movement. Okay, I just made that up. There’s no such movement. But there are those who argue that self-esteem is not all it’s cracked up to be. Some psychologists have decried the emphasis on self-esteem because it leads to grandiose expectations that will be forever unmet, and others because it emphasizes self-absorption in the never-ending battle to be the best at everything.

Instead of aspiring to have higher self-esteem, perhaps we could aspire to have more gratitude or greater self-compassion. Most of you are familiar with gratitude, but self-compassion or self-kindness is newer to many. Self-compassion includes:

* Being tolerant and non-judgmental of the self, particularly in the face of failures.

* Recognizing that we all have pain as part of the human experience and we need not be isolated in our pain.

* Not needing to exaggerate our failings or indulging in self-pity when in pain, but instead trying to maintain emotional balance.

Not surprisingly, people who practice self-compassion tend to be, you guessed it, more compassionate toward others. They’re also happier and better able to attain goals, and less anxious, depressed and angry.

So maybe instead of buying the self-esteem shoes, we’d do better to focus on mindfulness, compassion and kindness.

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Instant Karma, John Lennon.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bad Decision Blocker: Tempering the Temper Temptation

Writing about the endangered art of letter writing, Kate Bolick concludes that one of the great losses is the time lapse. That is, the time between penning your temper tantrum, and sending it. The presumption is that you can change your mind while writing, or perhaps before you get it stamped and mailed. Thus, the letter is a bad decision blocker.

Acknowledging your doubt about self-control is honest and useful. That’s why good dieters don’t have junk food in the house if they’re trying not to eat it. Why tempt yourself? Grocery shop with a list and don’t shop when hungry are other ways to temper temptation.

When it comes to anger, you must identify whether or not you’re an impulse complainer or temper tantrum tell-all. Once you know you are, you can temper your emailing or other electronic communications. I often write things on the computer and put them in drafts while deciding whether to send. Or sometimes, like a journal, I write them without intending to send.

Tempering your temper involves identifying and acknowledging your difficulty with self-control in particular situations. Don’t allow these things to be present in your environment if possible. You can’t always manage that, but often you can. But like shopping while hungry, don’t go in difficult situations when already teetering on the edge. It’s your internal bad decision blocker. For example, don’t start a conversation that you know will involve conflict when you’re in a hurry or feeling stressed out; it’s obviously going to add to your stress, and you won’t take the time to be careful in your choice of words, to listen, to be empathetic. Don’t send an email when you’re upset. Wait until you have a chance to cool down and think it over. Don’t ask your boss for the raise when you’ve just had an argument with your 17 year old (or 47 year old).

Let’s face it though, we’re not getting rid of texting or email anytime soon. So I do love the idea of the iPhone app Bad Decision Blocker. When you absolutely, positively are not sure you can refrain, the app does it for you.

Mood music:  Temptation, Tom Waits