How and when do you feel good about yourself? Your workouts? Your goals? Defining what “feeling good” means to you is the first step in evaluating the ways in which you can feel good/better in various aspects of your life.
Feeling good can be a physical sensation, an emotional state, a mental state or a combination of all three. Any of these states can be triggered in a moment’s notice. Think about how you feel in different situations and what affects you in what ways. For example, reflect on how you feel when you wake, after a run, after working out, after sitting in traffic, etc. In any of these situations, how you feel comes from the act of doing, being, accomplishing, or a combination.
Ask yourself: Why is feeling good important? Feeling good is certainly better than feeling bad. How we feel can shape our day. It effects how we are able to cope with our life, being productive, focused, and or handling what tasks lie in front of us. Maintaining a healthy physical state, emotional state, and mental state provides an overall sense of wellbeing and happiness which makes life much more enjoyable.
Let’s begin by looking at the physical part of feeling good. How do you know when you physically feel good? Is it how you wake up in the morning or is it because you performed well during a workout? Is it because you feel strong, fast, light, powerful, awake, and/or energized? Notice there is a variety of ways in which each of us decides what “feeling good” means to us. First and foremost decide for YOU what “feeling good” is and how you physically get there.
One way to feel good is to workout. For me, working out can mean a run, a hike, a bike ride, training at the gym, a yoga class, a walk, swimming, downhill skiing, skate skiing, etc. Part of my prerequisite for a workout is exertion. I need to do an activity where I feel as though I am exerting myself. When my heart rate goes up, I sweat and I begin to feel alive. This brings about a good feeling inside of me. During these workouts, I feel strong, powerful, agile, and free. Soon after my workout I feel centered, calm, focused, pleased with myself, and accomplished. This is what “feeling physically good” is for me. It is very important for me to begin my day with a workout because it allows me to stay on top of my daily game.
There are many other physical ways we can create “feeling good.” For example, getting enough sleep, eating nutritiously, and hydrating all contribute to feeling good. These topics were covered in my previous article: Energy.
It is also worth examining what makes you feel bad physically. By knowing both sides of the coin you will feel more in control to create “feeling good” in your daily life. Train/workout in a way that makes you feel good about yourself, where you feel successful and accomplished. Refrain from evaluating yourself against others. Your evaluation should only be comparative to yourself, and no one else. Stay within to reap your rewards.
What about emotions? Let’s stay in the camp of relating to your workouts, training and competitions. Certainly we feel and have emotions connected to our physical self. So if we feel energized, most likely we’re feeling positive and happy within ourselves. There is a direct correlation between the physical and emotional world. However, it has occurred to me and I’ve seen many people develop a negative emotion despite their positive performance. This is often the case when we have set our personal standards to an outside standard, which will never be optimal. Avoid comparing yourself to anyone. It is the beginning of the end to not feel good about you!
Here are a few tips to help you stay positive: Find something in your workout or training everyday that makes you “feel good.” This will impact your training, goal setting, your ability to compete and most importantly, how your life goes. Next, have reasonable goals. I’m going to exercise today, get enough sleep tonight, have a day of rest because I’m over trained, or fuel my body with appropriate hydration and fuel. Setting goals that teeter on the impossible will set you up for failure. Your emotional state is delicate. Treat yourself and your emotions with care. Start your day off in the right direction with a physical good feeling to emotionally set the stage for a positive day for yourself.
Your state of mind is also key, and comes from the combination of your physical and emotional state. If you physically and emotionally feel good, most likely you will mentally feel strong. Mental strength truly is the key to your personal strength, endurance, success and happiness. It must be acquired through your physical and emotional states. It is virtuously impossible to be mentally strong when you’re down on your physical and emotional game. Your mental strength gives you the power to survive one’s daily life. I usually begin my day with the physical, building my emotional and mental state for strength for the rest of the day.
I’m sure many of you may go in a different order; maybe you start with your mental state, or emotional state. What is important is to find the state you can access the easiest to give you that “good feeling” to begin your day with. From there, I highly recommend playing around with the idea of developing the capacity to access your “good feeling” from any of our states. For example, let’s say you take a day off to rest to recover. On this day you may find that you are “feeling good” from your mental state by knowing a day off is going to benefit you tremendously. The more you are able to shift states to create your sense of well-being, the healthier and more functional of a person you will be in the world. Relying always on one state for “feeling good” can be very dangerous, and lacks flexibility. First, learn for yourself how you cultivate “feeling good.” Next begin to play around with “feeling good” physically, emotionally, or mentally.
Soon you will be happier, feel more satisfied with yourself and your life, so you can enjoy and live your life to the fullest.
To reframe a moment is essentially taking where you are in a certain moment or situation, and shifting it. This technique is applicable to your physical, mental and emotional states. Once you master “reframing” – it will likely become your greatest gift to yourself and to your level of success in the athletic world, and in life.
This is probably the most important question to answer. Where you are physically, mentally, and emotionally tremendously effects your performance. If you’re having a “bad” day where you feel fatigued and sluggish, where it is hard to run and you’re easily out of breath, most likely you are mentally feeling down and lacking the will to continue to train or to perform. This situation often starts with the physical, and quickly shifts to the mental, and finally, your emotions are also effected. It is critical in these moments to be able to shift to a new state of being. By creating a shift, a whole new world opens up for you, a world where you can be positive and successful.
Let’s say you go on a run and you are tired and sluggish. What do you normally do? How do you feel about yourself? Do you start to feel upset, disappointed, or discouraged? Do you start to doubt yourself? Do you stop and give up? As these feelings begin to surface, think about how you deal with the situation.
Next time you feel this way, try a new approach. Try to find a place where you are feeling good. This may be as simple as acknowledging the fact that you are running. This in itself is great and worth feeling good about! When you are able to shift from a negative state to a positive state, not only does your experience in the moment change, your life changes.
The HOW starts with your awareness about how you are feeling: first physically, then emotionally, and finally, mentally. If it’s not good, the WHEN is NOW! Why now? Because you just became aware. You are now conscious of how you are feeling and this is truly the best moment to shift your attention to find something good in the moment. It can be a very simple, positive thought, such as: “My breathing is at ease, my arms and feet are happy today.” Find something positive to focus on. Then that “something” will become everything, and will become your focus.
WHY do this? Because if every run, every training session, every experience could be amazing… how would your life be, let alone your performance? This approach, this shift gives you the ability to change and improve. Having this powerful tool to use in the moment allows for excellent outcomes in your life as well as in competitions. On a daily basis you can learn to find goodness and happiness no matter what is in front of you.
Think about what a day, a week, a month, or year of your life would be like if you knew you could shift things from dark to light. Take a moment to imagine what your world would be like if you had both the awareness and the power to make this change in every area of your life. Perhaps you can begin now. Start today by becoming aware, find out how you’re physically feeling, then how you mentally feel, and take note of your emotions. Find the moment where you can make a shift. Through awareness you can make the changes to make a positive impact on your life.
Knee pain is no stranger to athletes of all kinds. Running, in particular, often gets a bad rap for creating knee pain. However, knee pain isn’t created from running, it ‘s more about the biomechanics while running, cycling, hiking, skiing, and even sitting.
What you do in your daily life makes up your biomechanics. So if you have a desk job, most likely you are stiff and tight in your hips and hamstrings from the continuous habit of sitting. After a long day of sitting, it is challenging to immediately open the hips and lengthen the hamstrings. So if you head out for a run right after a day at work, you will most likely lean your upper body slightly forward to compensate. You may not even feel it until reading this article and begin to notice. You may even simply jet your head out slightly which will have the same affect. Such a slight bend forward will allow the hips and hamstrings to remain tight which then pulls on the knees. It is utterly impossible to lengthen your leg behind oneself with tight hips. So the tight hips and hamstrings, keep the knees slightly bent which increases direct pressure through the knees. So is it really the running, or sitting at the desk all day that brings pressure and pain to the knees? The same goes for avid cyclists and skiers. Both of these activities tighten the hips due to the incredible demand on quadriceps and hamstrings. In fact, cycling can be the worst because you never get to fully extend the leg while spinning. Many specialists suggest cycling will help prevent knee problems. I heartily disagree if you don’t properly stretch after a ride or spin class. In fact, sitting on a bike with the hip area closed for long periods of time not only tightens the hips tremendously but tightens the hamstrings, which directly adds pressure to the knee joint.
Over a period of time, without proper stretching, the knees can begin to feel stiff and painful when you have lost the ability to fully extend your leg. I know, how many times have you been told to stretch? Many. So stretch. It is critical to stretch all the muscles deep in the pelvic area to avoid knee pain. In addition, as I mentioned earlier, it is critical to open up the mid-back, thoracic spine area to keep the knees pain free. Think of the entire body. To notice, feel and become aware of how you feel in your upper body as well as your lower body. Are your shoulders rounded? Does your head feel forward? Are you able to extend your leg fully behind yourself?
There are several ways to stretch effectively. One is to go to a stretch class, or a yoga class. Secondly, you can stretch on your own. To do so, you must make the time; go slow, and be consistent. What is most important is to stretch after the activity whether it's running, skiing, cycling, or just a long day at the office. Here are a few simple “active” stretches you can do at home: