You know exercise and staying active will help you with your grief, but where do you start?

My friend, I can help you.

Confucius said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Grief is a journey that lasts a lifetime. It doesn’t end after a thousand miles. It only changes as we learn to live with it. This is why it is imperative we have the best tools and coping skills needed to handle our grief in the healthiest possible way. We need counselors, healthcare providers, support systems AND we need our bodies to be strong and healthy through this journey. We have to take care of ourselves because we need the benefits exercise and eating well can give us.

But, how? How do you start? Where do you start?

Confucius had it right. You start with a single step and I’m here to help you take that first step.

Chances are your grief is weighing on you and you don’t feel like working out. You know what, that’s ok. You don’t have to start with a workout. You don’t have to start with weights or running. But, you can’t stay where you are if you are inactive. You can’t stay “stuck.”

What you NEED to do is start simple. Life is already complicated, right? Right. Why add to the stress? I say don’t. Now, I know this must be a little confusing coming from a personal trainer, but the truth is… I’m not your average trainer. No, I’m not. I know pushing you right now might not be the best thing for you. I know you want to feel better, but get overwhelmed at the thought of the process. I know because I’ve been there… I’m still there sometimes. My son, Mac, was stillborn. I get how hard this can be. I also get how IMPORTANT pushing ourselves just a little past our comfort zone for the sake of our health, wellbeing and growth is.

Exercise can help.

The problem is picking ourselves up and not becoming stuck can be difficult. Difficult because we are unmotivated and sad and it’s the last thing on the list of things we want to do. But, we have to move our bodies.  It’s the ONE THING you can do today to help yourself. I want you to try. Don’t over think this just get up and move even if it is for 5 minutes, just move your body.

You know what would help you even more? Having a plan. Allowing someone else to get you started by giving you something to do. That’s what I want to do for you.

I’m going to give you a plan to move.

Below you will find my “Move Your Grief Plan” along with additional helpful information and tips needed to help you be successful.

Okay, here we go!

Starting today, we are walking buddies! I want you to start walking with me, leisure walking to be exact. I’m excited to move with you and would love to hear how it is going along the way.

What is leisure walking?

This is a great question because so many of us get walking wrong. What mean is, we think if we aren’t moving our bodies in a way that produces increased heart rate, leaves you drenched in sweat and burns countless calories it isn’t worth our time. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Leisure walking is beneficial… restorative exercises are all beneficial, especially when it comes to grief. It is an activity that requires nothing more than for you to put on comfortable shoes and step one foot in front of the other. This isn’t a fast paced walk. It is slow and leisurely. Imagine if you would, sipping a cup of coffee while talking with a friend when you walk. The pace is slower, peaceful and un-rushed. If you can grab a friend (Furry or non-furry) to walk with you go for it! It makes no difference if you walk solo or walk with a friend, but it does matter how you are walking.
*An effective leisure walk will last 15, 30 and up to 60 minutes 4 or more times per week. However, if 15 minutes to start is overwhelming to you, start smaller… walk to the end of your driveway or street and then turn around. Or starting out with a goal of 2 minutes around your yard or in your neighborhood, build from there. The focus should be on simply moving our bodies and this doesn’t require over doing it. 
Focus on a slow pace, taking your surroundings in. If you are walking with someone use this time to listen to them, be present in the conversation rather than thinking ahead on what how to respond. I personally love my leisure walks solo and in a country settings- the more trees and birds singing, the better! I often take my boxer, Rocky Meatballs, along because he isn’t much for chit-chat. 😉  I make sure to set a slow pace, allowing Rocky Meatballs (I know, it is hard to take me seriously when my dog’s name is Rocky Meatballs.) to sniff all the good stuff as I slow my thoughts, taking in the sights and sounds around us. I notice the birds as they fly from tree to tree and the crickets talking. I become aware of the faint and ever so gentle breeze blowing my hair. I often talk to God during these walks too and sometimes, I talk to Mac. I tell him about my day or tell him I miss him.  It’s my time to enjoy, let go and de-stress.

My point here is, slow down, be present during your walks. When you are walking, be right where you are. Let go of your to-do list and the stress from what happened earlier or the anticipation of what’s to come. Stop worrying about what you will need to hurry back to. Open your heart to everything around you. That is when you will get the full benefit from these walks.

Why leisure walk?

Walking (leisure walking) is beneficial mentally, physically and spiritually.
  • Leisure walking combats stress and lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol levels increase when stress increases… loss, daily life, intense workouts all cause our bodies stress. Not that this is our main reason, but lowering cortisol helps us lose fat. Seriously, leisure walking helps us lose fat!
  • It clears your head. We all need a break from ourselves every now and then. Leisure walking is a good time to schedule in that much needed mental time out.
  • It eases stress, combats anger (it is kinda hard to be angry when listening to birds chirping all around you) and tension.
  • Improves mood.
  • Increases energy.
  • Builds relationships. Yep, if you are walking with a buddy, furry friend or spouse it is a good time to focus and be present on nothing but them. This opens communication and creates stronger relationships. (Just ask Rocky Meatballs 😉 )
  • Counts towards daily activity. Moving your body in a healthy way each day will create a strong and healthy body.
  • Spiritual benefits. You can often spend this time listening to Christian music, in prayer or deepening your relationship with God.

Helpful tips on starting you leisure walk routine.

  1. Make an appointment to walk.
  2. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you.
  3. Tell someone when you are walking.
  4. Have a favorite play list ready.
  5. Wear comfortable shoes.
  6. Invite a friend.
  7. Promise yourself, write it down in your journal.
  8. Set a timer on your phone for your goal walking time. (2 min, 15 min or more)
  9. Plan your walk location in a place you enjoy.
  10. Plan your walk for a time of day you might be more motivated to get moving.
  11. Ask someone to commit to walking with you- either in person or online. Communicate to one another about your goals and times scheduled for walks.
  12. Recognize and celebrate when you push past the urge to skip out on your walk.
  13. Set a time or distance goal to build up to.

Okay, there you have it, all the reasons and tips you need to get going. Now, here is your homework: You are to walk 5 minutes today and then again tomorrow. Next week you will bump your walks up to 7 minutes.  Your goal is to walk at least 3-4 times this week. If you get in more, great! If you get in less, look over the list of tips and try implementing as few to see if it helps.

I want to know how you are doing. How do you feel after your walks?  You can email me personally @info@natalierensi.com or comment here on this blog and tell me how you are doing.

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