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The 38 Best Methods of Successful Exercisers

Jul 18, 2014 - 2 comments

How do you form the exercise habit — really make it stick?

Take the first step.

Then take another. Make each step so important that you can’t miss it. And enjoy each step.

That’s my method, honed from eight years of forming the exercise habit. It works, for me.

But everyone has a different method, and it’s inspiring and massively useful to learn from others who’ve successfully created the habit themselves.

Today, we’ll look at a great list of those methods, submitted by folks on Twitter who have overcome the odds and successfully formed the exercise habit.

First, thank you, to everyone who submitted their successful methods. It was more than I’d hoped for, and incredibly powerful reinforcement of what works. But there were so many submissions that I had to whittle it down, tossing out good ideas and picking others that I thought were more universally applicable. Many of the ones listed here were echoed many times over in the submissions.

Let’s dive in!

I asked people who had successfully created the exercise habit — what worked for them? They answered (note – ones without a name after them were submitted anonymously):
Stop looking at it as a habit and instead as a lifestyle and an important part of my self-care. ~Lara Rininger
Work out first thing in the morning. You get it out of the way and it provides you with an abundance of energy for the rest of the day. ~Jen Zeman
Crank up your favorite music! I often see suggested play lists for workouts, but just listen to what excites you. It will get you moving. ~Jen Zeman
When I started running I started out at .5 miles and increased in .25 increments (I usually average 4 mile runs). It didn’t happen overnight – give your lungs and muscles time to adjust. Same with weight training – start light and build your way up. Results will start to show in about 3-4 weeks. ~Jen Zeman
Making it my #1 priority and doing it first thing in the morning.
30 day yoga challenges for myself that I then give updates on my Blog. Accountability. ~Kira Elliott
If I workout in the morning, before my day starts, I “earn: chocolate/beer/carb later in the day. Otherwise, no treats for me!
No excuses. I never miss more than 2 days. You have to insist on it and protect it.
Also: just put your workout clothes on. Once you do that it feels silly not to start. Just commit to 10 minutes. You will probably do more.
Also: no one ever regrets working out. Is there anything else in the world you can do, and know 100% you won’t regret it?
This is the one that’s helped the most: I’ve made a point to really, really, REALLY notice how much better I feel now that I exercise regularly; I’m sleeping better, my mood is better, I’m much less sluggish. It took about 3-4 weeks to see it, but it’s helped a lot. ~Polly
Make it a habit, don’t rely on motivating yourself to workout, consciously think of it as just something you do after ‘x’. This was a huge aha moment for me. ~Mark Feinholz
On that note, do it in the morning, habits are much easier to establish in the morning. the triggers are much more dependable (finish cup of coffee – put on gym shorts). Morning triggers are always there and the day has not polluted your plans yet.
A daily morning ritual to mark the beginning of training. In my case, tying up my bandana on my head meant ‘It’s running time’. ~Alfonso Acosta
I started running consistently the month before I got divorced. In theory it was the lowest part of my life — but I’d never felt better. I couldn’t get over that. I was sold on exercise, though it took me a while to make running the nonnegotiable part of my schedule it is now. After I got married again and when our daughter was a baby I used to run at the high school track near our house. I’d pretend the bleachers were filled with people cheering me on. “Good job!” I imagined them hollering. “Way to go!” And, “It’s great you’re leaving the baby with Dad for a while on this beautiful summer evening to do something nice for yourself.” Well, nice — and hell. It was hell. I wasn’t in shape, I didn’t want to miss a second with our new baby, and that was that. The pretend cheerleaders must’ve helped. Certainly they didn’t hurt. Because eventually, through a series of learning and unlearning and relearning the importance of exercising, it’s what I do. No discussion. No bargaining out of workouts unless I’ve made them up in advance. It’s soothing, really. There are no decisions to be made about exercise. I just do it. To the extent anything else good happens, I attribute it to this: running is magic. ~Maureen Anderson
Fixed a time of the day that HAS to be the workout time. Cleared away tasks around that time to make sure I don’t get stuck with something else. ~Elle Kaiye
Mentally preparing myself during the day for the evening workout helped.Mental preparation was important to prevent talking myself out of workout on the pretext of being “”exhausted”” or having “”more important stuff to do””. ~Elle Kaiye
Sometimes even looking at the pictures of Victoria’s Secret Angels helped ;) ~Elle Kaiye
I don’t have a workout buddy now but that had helped me to stay on track in the past. Support from my Mom helped me a lot! ~Elle Kaiye
Doing a sport that you love and try new types of exercise/sports. ~Chris B.
Do it a few days in a row, you – your body and mind- will get used to it. ~Chris B.
Enter a race or contest. ~Chris B.
I had to stop setting goals – as is advised by pretty much every source out there! I just got discouraged that I wasn’t moving as fast as the ‘programme’, or that I still felt no closer to running a marathon I seriously didn’t want to.
>What works instead: feeling great about just turning up. I do what I feel able to when I’m there, and if it’s not much or not as much as last time – fine. I showed up. I get to say “I went to the gym” which impresses on its own, without me detailing what I did! ~Sarah
A lot of people take days off when they’re exercising, which I think is great and important for your body to recover. However, I’ve found the habit of going to the gym (or wherever you go to workout) is important for me to do EVERY DAY. I run and do some strength training most days, but when it’s time for a recovery day I still go to the gym- to play racquetball, take an easy walk, shoot a few baskets, whatever. ~Dave Hall
What worked for me was strong commitment to myself that I do exercise on these days on this time NO MATTER WHAT. I do not accept situations I wouldn’t exercise on my planned day if for example I felt tired, or couples of friends invited me for a meeting, or it was raining (running is essential part of my routine) or anything else. These are all small excuses that we have to actually struggle with. They are too small to prevent us from fulfilling the plan. I only omit my exercise session if I’m on vacation or if I’m seriously ill. In other cases there is no way to break the habit. ~Przemyslaw
Don’t think about it, just do it. Even though I’ve consistently worked for over 15 years, it doesn’t mean I don’t have days that I just don’t feel like working out. I do have those days, but I push through it and do the work out anyway. ~Caroline
Schedule time for exercise and keeping to it like you would any other appointment or meeting. ~Katie
First I picked some awesome skills I wanted do be able to do from this website for motivation. While working towards them I basically only had a single goal: Do at least a single exercise every day, one pushup, pullup, sit up, … If I didn’t feel like it, wouldn’t do more, just a single one. Now I’m can do one armed pushups, one legged squads, l-seats and quite a few pullups. What also probably helped was that I didn’t need a single piece of equipment. ~Michael
I exercise every single day. Every. Single. Day. That’s my secret. I don’t give myself the choice of whether to exercise or not. Every time that you give yourself a choice, you give yourself the opportunity to decide not to do something. ~Mark Cancellieri
Sleep in my exercise gear (makes me feel mentally ready for action the next day). ~Ruth Seatter
Plan to exercise with a friend (running or gym class etc). $20 wager if you don’t make it. ~Ruth Seatter
Make it into a game or do it as a social activity with a friend. the more enjoyable it is the likelier you are to continue it. ~Matthew
Accountability. I am a very lazy person and I hate being answerable to people. I like to do things at my pace which is why I never stick to anything for long. But this time when it came to eating healthy and losing weight, I made myself answerable and accountable to my cook! I asked my cook to keep a check on what I eat and not offer me any junk or fried. So each time I entered to kitchen to grab some snacks, I saw him standing there and to avoid answering to his questions, I would step out with eating. This worked for me and now I am used to ‘not’ eating when I am not hungry. ~Surabhi Surendra
Focus on effort: Set yourself goals around effort, not around results. ~Chiranth
Don’t let weather deter you. Once you do one or two runs in the rain you’ll see that they are liberating. ~Patty
I started very small. Starting small cancelled any excuse not to practice daily. I have refrained from overdoing in the first two weeks. This left me more energy to become more stable in practicing daily. I have committed with my girlfriend on a feasible outcome in a medium term, like being fit for our summer vacations. After some weeks the reason of my motivation shifted from being willing to satisfy the external source (girlfriend’s expectations) to being more confident and happy with myself. Starting one single habit is giving me the confidence to change other habits and the clarity to identify which other habits do I want to develop. ~Niccolo’ Stamboglis
No more than 1 day off in a row. Find an exercise you really enjoy (I love lifting weights!). Try new types of exercise. You will be tired when beginning a new exercise program so eat well to fuel exercise and get enough sleep. Religiously stick with it for the first two weeks, then you will begin to notice an improvement in your energy levels that is very motivating. ~Patty
I joined a sports team (soccer), which is a fun way to exercise and ride my bike to work daily. This way I am physically active without really realizing it. I lack motivation to do exercises on my own. I almost need a team or coach or class to do well. (i.e. if I go to the gym solo, I get less results than if I joined a class). ~Bradlinn
Source: Leo Babauta

Non-Drug Solutions for Pain Relief

Jul 17, 2014 - 0 comments

Non-Drug Solutions for Pain Relief

   Before resorting to a narcotic pain reliever. Below is a list 18 non-drug treatments for pain. These options provide excellent pain relief without any of the health hazards that prescription (and even over-the-counter) painkillers carry. This list is in no way meant to represent the only approaches one can use. These are just some of the best strategies. If you are in pain, please try these first, before even thinking about prescription painkillers of any kind.

Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars from your diet. Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels and decrease insulin and leptin resistance, which is one of the most important reasons why inflammatory prostaglandins are produced. That is why stopping sugar and sweets is so important to controlling your pain and other types of chronic illnesses.
Take high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat. I like krill oil. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (they manipulate prostaglandins.)
Optimize your production of vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun exposure, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a drug-free approach for pain management of all kinds. EFT borrows from the principles of acupuncture, in that it helps you balance out your subtle energy system. It helps resolve underlying, often subconscious, negative emotions that may be exacerbating your physical pain. By stimulating (tapping) well-established acupuncture points with your fingertips, you rebalance your energy system, which tends to dissipate pain.
K-Laser Class 4 Laser Therapy. If you suffer pain from an injury, arthritis, or other inflammation-based pain, It can be an excellent choice for many painful conditions, including acute injuries. By addressing the underlying cause of the pain, you will no longer need to rely on painkillers. K-Laser is a class 4 infrared laser therapy treatment that helps reduce pain, reduce inflammation, and enhance tissue healing—both in hard and soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments, or even bones.
The infrared wavelengths used in the K-Laser allow for targeting specific areas of your body, and can penetrate deeply into the body to reach areas such as your spine and hip.
Chiropractic. Many studies have confirmed that chiropractic management is much safer and less expensive than allopathic medical treatments, especially when used for pain, such as low-back pain. Qualified chiropractic, osteopathic, and naturopathic physicians are reliable, as they have received extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders during their course of graduate healthcare training, which lasts between four to six years. These health experts have comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management. I gymdandee, personally like osteopathic medicine!!
Acupuncture can also effectively treat many kinds of pain. Research has discovered a "clear and robust" effect of acupuncture in the treatment of back, neck, and shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, and headaches.
Physical and massage therapy has been shown to be as good as surgery for painful conditions such as torn cartilage and arthritis.
Astaxanthin is one of the most effective fat-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than anti-inflammatory drugs. Higher doses are typically required and you may need 8 mg or more per day to achieve this benefit.
Ginger: This herb has potent anti-inflammatory activity and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.
Curcumin: In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. A past study also found that a turmeric extract composed of curcuminoids blocked inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the overproduction of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.
Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or "Indian frankincense," this herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Bromelain: This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form but eating fresh pineapple, including some of the bromelain-rich stem, may also be helpful.
Cetyl myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a "joint lubricant" and an anti-inflammatory.
Evening primrose, black currant, and borage oils: These contain the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
Cayenne cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.
Medical cannabis has a long history as a natural analgesic. At present, 20 US states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes. Its medicinal qualities are due to high amounts (about 10-20 percent) of cannabidiol (CBD), medicinal terpenes, and flavanoids.
Methods such as yoga, Foundation Training, massage, meditation, hot and cold packs, and other mind-body techniques can also result in astonishing pain relief without any drugs.

The Corruption of Peer Review Is Harming Scientific Credibility

Jul 15, 2014 - 0 comments

The Corruption of Peer Review Is Harming Scientific Credibility
By  HANK CAMPBELLJuly 13, 2014 6:32 p.m. ET
Academic publishing was rocked by the news on July 8 that a company called Sage Publications is retracting 60 papers from its Journal of Vibration and Control, about the science of acoustics. The company said a researcher in Taiwan and others had exploited peer review so that certain papers were sure to get a positive review for placement in the journal. In one case, a paper's author gave glowing reviews to his own work using phony names.
Acoustics is an important field. But in biomedicine faulty research and a dubious peer-review process can have life-or-death consequences. In June, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and responsible for $30 billion in annual government-funded research, held a meeting to discuss ways to ensure that more published scientific studies and results are accurate. According to a 2011 report in the monthly journal Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, the results of two-thirds of 67 key studies analyzed by Bayer researchers from 2008-2010 couldn't be reproduced.
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Getty ImagesThat finding was a bombshell. Replication is a fundamental tenet of science, and the hallmark of peer review is that other researchers can look at data and methodology and determine the work's validity. Dr. Collins and co-author Dr. Lawrence Tabak highlighted the problem in a January 2014 article in Nature. "What hope is there that other scientists will be able to build on such work to further biomedical progress," if no one can check and replicate the research, they wrote.
The authors pointed to several reasons for flawed studies, including "poor training of researchers in experimental design," an "emphasis on making provocative statements," and publications that don't "report basic elements of experimental design." They also said that "some scientists reputedly use a 'secret sauce' to make their experiments work—and withhold details from publication or describe them only vaguely to retain a competitive edge."
Papers with such problems or omissions would never see the light of day if sound peer-review practices were in place—and their absence at many journals is the root of the problem. Peer review involves an anonymous panel of objective experts critiquing a paper on its merits. Obviously, a panel should not contain anyone who agrees in advance to give the paper favorable attention and help it get published. Yet a variety of journals have allowed or overlooked such practices.
Absent rigorous peer review, we get the paper published in June in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Titled "Female hurricanes are deadlier than male hurricanes," it concluded that hurricanes with female names cause more deaths than male-named hurricanes—ostensibly because implicit sexism makes people take the storms with a woman's name less seriously. The work was debunked once its methods were examined, but not before it got attention nationwide.
Such a dubious paper made its way into national media outlets because of the imprimatur of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.
Yet a look at the organization's own submission guidelines makes clear that if you are a National Academy member today, you can edit a research paper that you wrote yourself and only have to answer a few questions before an editorial board; you can even arrange to be the official reviewer for people you know. The result of such laxity isn't just the publication of a dubious finding like the hurricane gender-bias claim. Some errors can have serious consequences if bad science leads to bad policy.
In 2002 and 2010, papers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences claimed that a pesticide called atrazine was causing sex changes in frogs. As a result the Environmental Protection Agency set up special panels to re-examine the product's safety. Both papers had the same editor, David Wake of the University of California, Berkeley, who is a colleague of the papers' lead author, Tyrone Hayes, also of Berkeley.
In keeping with National Academy of Sciences policy, Prof. Hayes preselected Prof. Wake as his editor. Both studies were published without a review of the data used to reach the finding. No one has been able to reproduce the results of either paper, including the EPA, which did expensive, time-consuming reviews of the pesticide brought about by the published claims. As the agency investigated, it couldn't even use those papers about atrazine's alleged effects because the research they were based on didn't meet the criteria for legitimate scientific work. The authors refused to hand over data that led them to their claimed results—which meant no one could run the same computer program and match their results.
Earlier this month, Nature retracted two studies it had published in January in which researchers from the Riken Center for Development Biology in Japan asserted that they had found a way to turn some cells into embryonic stem cells by a simple stress process. The studies had passed peer review, the magazine said, despite flaws that included misrepresented information.
Fixing peer review won't be easy, although exposing its weaknesses is a good place to start. Michael Eisen, a biologist at UC Berkeley, is a co-founder of the Public Library of Science, one of the world's largest nonprofit science publishers. He told me in an email that, "We need to get away from the notion, proven wrong on a daily basis, that peer review of any kind at any journal means that a work of science is correct. What it means is that a few (1-4) people read it over and didn't see any major problems. That's a very low bar in even the best of circumstances."
But even the most rigorous peer review can be effective only if authors provide the data they used to reach their results, something that many still won't do and that few journals require for publication. Some publishers have begun to mandate open data. In March the Public Library of Science began requiring that study data be publicly available. That means anyone with the ability to check should be able to reproduce, validate and understand the findings in a published paper. This should also ensure that there is much better scrutiny of flawed claims about sexist weather events and hermaphroditic frogs—before they appear on every news station in America.

The Truth About Exercise—The Case for High Intensity Workouts

Jul 12, 2014 - 0 comments

Research shows that a mere few minutes of high intensity exercise per week can deliver many of the health and fitness benefits you get from hours of conventional exercise, including improved insulin sensitivity

When healthy but inactive people exercise intensely, even if the exercise is brief, it produces an immediate change in their DNA

Contraction-induced gene activation promotes genetic reprogramming of muscles for strength and other structural and metabolic benefits associated with exercise

Ideally, you’ll want to do high intensity exercises two or three times a week for a total of four minutes of intense exertion with recovery periods in between

For optimal health, you’d also be wise to incorporate non-exercise intermittent movement, strength training, core exercises, and stretching, for a well-rounded fitness program