Kara A. Witzke, PhD, leads the exercise and sport science program at Oregon State University-Cascades. Her work in the health and fitness industry spans more than 20 years and has included positions in personal training, cardiac rehabilitation, workplace wellness, fit- ness certification, weight management, education and research. Most recently, her research has focused on the effects of exercise on musculoskeletal and metabolic systems through funding from the National Institutes of Health.
When I was growing up, I was proud of my body. No one had shorter shorts than I had. I didn’t think twice about how my clothes fit or what I was eating. After I started college, I grew a few sizes pretty quickly and began thinking about my body image. I heard a few comments here and there about my body, and my clothes no longer fit. I knew I needed to change.
You know your next client, Doug, really well. He’s been working with you for 2 years, he’s committed to his fitness program, and while his body is already well-conditioned, he is determined to keep improving. His session will focus mainly on intense weightlifting, and Doug is used to “psyching himself up” before each set—he finds it helps—but you’ve both observed that it’s getting harder for him to make real gains. How can you help?
Think of a recent time you felt stressed. Maybe it was during an argument with your spouse, or a meltdown with your kids. Maybe you were stuck in traffic and late for an important meeting. Or maybe you were lying in bed, worrying about work. Whatever the cause of your stress, your body and brain were almost certainly experiencing the same thing: boiling blood pressure, a churning stomach, tight muscles and a racing mind.
I encourage my clients to breathe when they are working out, as in life. Jokingly, I say, “Breathing is the first thing you learned in life, so please do not forget to do it over the next hour that we are exercising.”
You have been recruited to change a life. A young man is out of shape and headed toward a life of obesity and health complications. But he desperately wants to change. Perhaps you saw him on television during the 2012 Summer Olympics. He appeared on a Nike® commercial shot in a rural area near London, Ohio.
Do you think of yourself as being in the happiness business? Whether you know it or not, you are. Happiness and all its related positive emotions—optimism, purpose, life satisfaction and a sense of well-being, to name a few—are powerfully linked with health (as we reviewed in the June issue of IDEA Fitness Journal). One of the most valuable keys to sustainable happiness may be exercise—bingo!
"I am not lazy."
"I don’t necessarily want or need to lose as much weight as you think I do. My biomarkers are good."
"I don’t have access to the same moisture-wicking clothes thin people do, and that can make working out more difficult for me, owing to chafing and lack of comfort."
"Don’t presume I don’t know how to eat correctly."
"My body is hard to carry around."
"Please give me time to do what you ask."
According to researchers from Kansas State University, people who use long-term thinking have a greater capacity for implementing healthier behaviors than those who consider only short-term consequences. As described in the January issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences (2010; 48 , 202–207), the study sought to discover how people’s perceptions of time correlate with health behaviors, and which measures of time best predict those behaviors.
Have you ever found yourself in a state of complete absorption in a complex and challenging activity that stretches your skills? This wonderful state is called flow, and is described in the best-selling book Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, PhD (Basic Books 1997). Csikszentmihalyi believes that being in flow generates the peak experiences in our lives. The more flow we experience, he suggests, the happier we are.