Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Why at the Y? Embracing Change

We all know how important it is to exercise. I get that and have written books (Lose It For Life) on the multiple benefits of exercise. But when the Y (it is no longer called the YMCA) completely revamped its exercise program a few weeks ago, I’m struggling to keep up. The new computer generated programs are complicated! I’m trying to be flexible, work with the new system but everything in me says, “Really, I don’t want to exercise in the first place and now you are going to make it rocket science for me!”

I go to the gym three times a week because I am a grown up and know I need to do this, not because I enjoy it. I don’t! I am used to getting in there, hitting the cardio machine and then cruzing over to the weight bearing machines. I am in and out in an hour and feel like I’ve accomplished something towards better physical and emotional health. Yesterday, it took me two hours (that I couldn’t afford) to figure out my computer print out instructing me towards improved physical health. And the patient trainer, trying to be helpful, told me to save time by entering all the data and learning the exercises at home on my computer. To which I responded, “I’m trying to get off my computer, not spend more time on it! I just want my old routine back and don’t want to work this hard at learning another new system.” Sensing I was on the verge of break down, he tried reassuring me that life at the Y would improve once I learned the new system.

So why am I in a tizzy about my exercise routine? Bottom line, it requires change. And right now, I don’t want to learn a brand new system and take the time to watch videos to explain what a heel crunch is! I’m trying to simplify my life, not complicate it. But everyday life is all about change. And change is fast and constant in today’s world.

However change, even when positive, is stressful.

After a few moments of realizing how worked up I was becoming, I looked at the struggling trainer and smiled. “Thanks for trying to help. I know what I need to do.”

1) Embrace the change and not fight it. Wishing for the old system when it will soon cease to exist was not helping me calm down. Change was happening whether I embraced it or not.

2) Change my thoughts from negative to positive. So instead of thinking the Y was part of a conspiracy theory to make my life more complicated, I shifted my thinking to a positive reality. The old system caused me to plateau in my routine. This new system would shake up my routine and provide better results. The Y was trying to help me!

3) Look at this as a new challenge versus an imposition. When I put my mind to it, I can do new things. And novelty is good for brain health.

4) Calm down. We are talking exercise here, not loss of life. A few deep breaths and muscle relaxation while I read the scriptures plastered on the walls, calmed my body and mind.I don’t think the Apostle Paul intended the passage,  “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”, to help with exercise, but certainly when we face difficult change, God is with us to walk us through the stress and circumstance.

5) Problem-solve. How can I make this change work for me. I generated a few simple solutions (e.g., ignore the machines when I don’t have time, do what I can in the time frame I have, grab a trainer who can show me the exercise so I don’t spend hours on the computer, etc.)

6) Live in the moment. Instead of thinking life as I knew it was over, just roll with it and see where the changes lead me. My blood pressure was rising because I was anticipating all the problems. Stop. Refocus on now. Today was a little easier. Eventually, I will transition to the new system and be OK. Relax, embrace the moment. Focus on the benefits.

In the end, we can fight change or embrace it. I’m saving my energy for things that really matter!

Check out Dr. Linda Mintle’s book, Breaking Free from Stress, for more help with change and stress.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rosie W

    This is my first time ever to see this column and it sure won’t be my last. Just today, you mentioned about a zillion things that applied to “me and mine” and it was helpful, delightful and wonderful…Thanks for sharing your life with us.
    from Indiana

  • http://WhytheY Laurie

    I really enjoy the Y – and love the personal time I get working out on the machines.

    I also enjoy the Y for its sense of community – in North Toronto we see people from so many nationalities – it is like a mini United Nations – we learn about the other cultures and sometimes get to share in their delicious foods.

    I also like our Y because they have a great vision to quote from their new strategic plan : “ensuring that people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities and identities feel a sense of belonging, are able to participate fully, share in decision-making through having their voices heard and find opportunities to grow”.

    Yes – it is a change to our mental and physical body that results – and one could almost say, a transformation!

  • lmintle

    And I forgot to mention that I now have to carry around a clipboard, read a print out (glasses needed for that).

    Bill, living the reality of change that comes without my consultation.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment William Brown

    Sorry Dr. Mintle – I guess that would be point #7. :)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment William Brown

    Might I add a point #6 – Remember, most change happens without your consultation. Thus the sooner you engage it the more quickly you can accomodate it, and the change is usually not as bad as you first imagined.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Dennis Marquardt

    Just think of the extra adrenaline from the frustration that you got that enabled you to exercise even harder! Stress can also be useful as you said by redirecting it. Now get down and do 50 push-ups!

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