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    Exercise Makes Everything Better

    fitnessInside Out Fitness is not about what you look like. Most people exercise from the outside, from an outside motivation. They exercise to change or maintain the way they look. That is kind of like being on a hamster wheel of feeling bad about yourself and then using exercise as a punishment or an “or else.” Can you think of anyone you know like that? Or maybe you’ve experienced it yourself.

    When you are exercising on the hamster wheel, you absolutely need motivation. Because it is not a natural path that feels good, you have to force yourself into action. That’s what motivation is–you forcing yourself to take an action. At Inside Out Fitness we tread a different path. We teach you how to find a good feeling place and then do a bit of exercise. You can build an inspired exercise practice instead of one that needs motivation. When you follow Inside Out Fitness instructions, you will find the way to ease into exercise and well-being.

    The standard exercise motivation topics are weight loss, body shaping and health outcomes. I put health outcomes on this side because everyone knows that exercise improves your health, but using that as motivation does not come from a good feeling place. It’s like this: Let’s say you are worried about diabetes, so you want to exercise and lose some weight. When you exercise from a place of worry, you will never experience ease about it. Without having ease, you will never find the inspired place of well-being. Even though exercise does improve health outcomes, using that as motivation does not feel good and so is not sustainable.

    This is the point where some people will say, “Get over yourself and get moving, already.” Like the Nike “just do it” campaign. We want to say to them, “We’re doing it, but are just taking a different approach.” That’s all this is: a different approach. Once you get a foothold here you will never be stuck again. You will not need motivation because you will naturally follow your body’s cues and inspirations. Your well-being is assured.

    Let’s look at some outcomes from exercise that do not directly affect your size or shape. For example, when you exercise you sleep better, and you don’t have to exhaust yourself for this to be true. Even a bit of exercise during the day will help you to sleep better. This is really important to me as my sleep patterns change as I get older. Also, if you are prone to cramps at night, a few simple stretches before you get into bed can really help. I’ll give you my favorite one at the end of the column.

    Better sex is another positive outcome! Exercise improves your sex life because increased blood flow helps you to be ready. Exercise also improves your energy, and energy is obviously good for sex. Here’s a funny thing: When you work up a bit of a sweat and rosy cheeks, you can be mistaken for someone who has just had sex! I often feel sexy when I’m exercising. I feel really sexy when I’m in my body and fully present. You cannot be fully present in your body if you are beating yourself up, or feeling lousy.

    Exercise improves your mood. It works in the moment. If you are stressed out, take a breath, focus your thoughts to something nice, and then squeeze your butt 10 times. I’m serious; don’t knock it until you have tried it. Exercise improves your mood overall, as well as in the moment. These outcomes–better sleep, sex and mood–will make you more productive at work, and happier and easier to be around at home. None of these outcomes require you to lose a pound.

    If you are exercising regularly, look for ways in which your practice feels good in your life. If you are not moving much, that is no real barrier because you can just start your new path gently and happily. Look for some great beginning exercises by searching YouTube for Cinder Ernst.

    If your calves cramp at night, try this stretch before you get into bed. It’s called the flop over hamstring/calf stretch. Stand in front of your bed, legs straight, front of thighs touching the edge of the bed. Bend forward from the waist and flop your upper body onto the bed. You should feel a stretch in the back of your thighs and in your calves. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. If you have a cat or dog on the bed, you can increase your well-being by petting them while you stretch!

    Cinder Ernst, Medical Exercise Specialist and Life Coach Extraordinaire, helps reluctant exercisers get moving with safe, effective and fun programs. Find out more at