“Listen to your body and address its needs accordingly…”
Today I want to talk to you about the benefits of walking and running and discuss which workout is actually going to be better for you. I’ll be sharing my top tips and tools that I personally use to set myself up for the best workout possible.
Cardio is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle and including a walk or run into your weekly workout routine will have many benefits. Apart from being great for your heart and lungs, cardio is also known as a brilliant tool for weight loss. It increases your metabolic function, improves digestion and decreases bloating or water retention. Exercise in general helps to release stress, boost your mood, increase your energy levels and it improves your sleep. It can also improve your skin and immune function too!
Although walking and running are both fantastic forms of exercise and both can be greatly beneficial to your health, there are a few things I want you to consider before your next workout…
Check-in with yourself on your stress levels and mindset because they can both have a massive impact on the way you train and that will determine your results. Let me give you a few examples…
Let’s say that you’re working towards losing excess weight, naturally you might think that going for a run is the fastest way to burn calories and therefore the quickest way to lose the excess weight. However if all you can think about during your entire run is that you feel fat, hate the way you look and you’re stressing every moment about trying to lose the weight… then I hate to break it to you babe but chances are you won’t lose the excess weight and even more concerning, you might even gain more weight! Yikes! Not ideal in this situation right!!! Now, this would happen in the case where you have triggered the “flight or fight” response.
What is the flight or fight response?
The “flight or fight” response refers to a biochemical reaction that occurs when our body senses stress or fear. Our bodies perceive both mental and physical stress in the same way, whether we are worried that we won’t make a deadline in time or we are actually in real, physical danger… our stress response is activated and our survival mode kicks in.
Our primal instinct is to survive, our body has been ingeniously designed to do everything in its power to keep us safe and alive no matter what. If you think about the threats our ancestors faced back in the caveman times… real threats such as hunger, cold and the risk of being hunted down by a hungry saber tooth tiger, it’s no wonder our bodies needed to have an automatic stress response to survive!
When this reaction is triggered, hormones like adrenalin and cortisol are released which increase our heart rate, pumping the blood away from the centre of our body and into our extremities. This reaction provided the body with a surge of energy and a burst of strength to fight for life, or more likely try to out run the predator (who would very much like to eat you for dinner!). This reaction also caused our metabolism to slow down and fat deposits to be stored around our mid-section so that our body could quickly and easily access it as fuel. This energy source would also be used to keep us alive should we go through a time of famine and help to keep us warm in severely cold temperatures.
I’m very thankful that we have this automatic response, if you think about it our ancestors wouldn’t have survived without it and we wouldn’t be here today. The problem however is that our beautiful body is still switching into survival mode every single time we perceive anything as stressful… even if that stress is not in a physical form.
Our body is doing a brilliant job protecting us from “danger” however we find ourselves sitting at our desk, feeling stressed because we’re swamped with work and we’re wondering why we can’t budge the bulge that’s clinging to our stomach, hips and butt!
So getting back to your workout…
The best advice I can give you is to listen to your body and address its needs accordingly. You know yourself better than anyone and if you’re feeling stressed in anyway then I personally wouldn’t recommend that you go for a run. Instead try to do a type of exercise that is going to relax you and calm your adrenals… like going for a walk or doing restorative yoga. Walking might not burn as many calories as going for a run but once your body is feeling relaxed and safe the excess weight will drop off naturally and easily. Of course a healthy, well-balanced diet also goes hand in hand with this.
Another thing to be conscious of before doing a workout is your mindset. Our thoughts and words are extremely powerful and I believe we underestimate the impact that our mind has over our body. If you constantly think to yourself that you’re fat and lazy and you’ll never be able to lose the excess weight you’ve been carrying around, then that is exactly what’s going to happen, but if you change your mindset and start to speak words of positivity over your life then I guarantee your perspective is going to change for the better and you’ll start seeing positive results too.
I use affirmations, power thoughts and visualisations in many areas of my life and exercise is no different!
Affirmations and power thoughts are positive statements that describe your desires, goals and dreams… For example, if you want to be healthier you could write down something like:
“I make the healthiest choices possible every day and my body responds positively because of this…”
Once you’ve written down your affirmation, pin it up somewhere that you will see it every day. The bathroom mirror is a great place because you’re sure to see it first thing in the morning and that’s a very positive way to start your day!
Visualisation techniques are used to create an image in your mind of what you desire. The idea is that this image will seep into your subconscious and from there your mind will take action to turn your thoughts into reality. You’ll start to make choices towards your intended goals weather you’re aware of it or not. Basically you’re lining yourself up for success. I like to listen to an evening visualisation by Jon Gabriel as I’m falling asleep or having a relaxing bath. This way I can close my eyes and focus 100% on forming that mental picture clearly and in detail without any other distraction. This visualisation helps to relax me and prepare my body for a deep, restorative sleep. I’ve also found that it helps me to make healthier choices the next day too. So beautiful I encourage you to give it a try, I promise, this stuff works!
My Top 10 Tips:
1. Before you do your workout, stop and access how you are feeling. If you’re tired or stressed don’t push your body – rather go for a brisk walk, do yoga or even meditate if you realise your body just needs to rest.
2. Mentally prepare yourself for your workout – choose to be in a positive mood and think about the positive impact the workout will have on your body.
3. Dress appropriately – wear good quality runners and comfortable active wear.
4. Be prepared – take a water bottle, hat, sunnies & music if you want to.
5. Start every workout with a warm up (10mins of moderate walking should do it).
6. Remember to do slow, safe stretches after you’ve warmed up to avoid injuries.
7. During your workout notice if you start to feel anxious or stressed – if you do, simply take your workout down a notch and allow your breathing to settle and your body to come back to a state of calm.
8. While you’re exercising you can use this time to think about your goals and action steps you can take to get you to where you want to be.
9. Remember to do a cool down and safe stretches after your workout to avoid muscle tightness.
10. Have a luke-warm shower after your workout – sweat opens your pores allowing toxins to leave the body. If you have a cold shower right after training your pores will contract, trapping in unwanted toxins. (Yuck! No thank you!)
So gorgeous, if you learnt something new and plan to take a new approach to your workouts then I encourage you to share this article with a girlfriend and hopefully it can help her too!
P.s – I’d love to see what works best for you, take a pic before, during or after your favourite workout and tag me in it when you share your post on Facebook or Instagram! @kathryn.chandler #kathrynchandlerworkout