New Year’s Day, 2011. The weather is cold and windy at the Jersey shore. Lu Ann Cahn is an investigative reporter who covers breaking news investigative stories for NBC 10 news in Philadelphia and a breast cancer survivor. Standing on the beach with dozens of eager members of the Polar Bear Club, Lu Ann prepares herself to dash into the freezing waters of the Atlantic Ocean as a participant in the Annual Polar Bear plunge. As she strips down into her bathing suit, she questions her judgement and sanity and wonders how in the world she got here.
A few months before the Polar Bear Plunge, Lu Ann felt stuck in her life. She had a successful career, a good family life and was in good health, but felt like she was just treading water. The excitement had gone out of life. She wasn’t growing anymore. A change was needed. Lu Ann made a decision that for the next 365 days, she would try at least one new thing every day.
Some of the changes were big like travelling to New Zealand. Some were small like cutting down a Christmas tree or eating a McRib sandwich. Some were uncomfortable like going an entire day without a mirror or not saying anything negative in a day. Some were emotional and rewarding like helping an accused murderer turn himself in to the authorities. All of the 365 ”firsts” together changed her life.
In 2013, Lu Ann published, “I Dare Me, How I rebooted and recharged my life by doing something new every day”, a book of her experiences.
Here are some of the lessons learned from Lu Ann Cahn’s ”I Dare Me” year along with how they can relate to your fitness routine.
“It’s the smallest changes that eventually change everything.”
Starting a new exercise program or adding more water to your daily nutrition are small changes that can have significant long-term effects on your health and fitness. Small changes made over a long period of time will produce enormous results. Change does not have to be hard or large. Adding 5 pounds to an exercise, increasing repetitions or decreasing rest time between exercises every few weeks can add up to large fitness and strength gains.
“There’s no doubt these first experiences dealing with facing a fear are the toughest and the most symbolic. In my mind, they are also the most rewarding.”
“Some research suggests getting fit will help fight fear and anxiety. One Princeton University study shows rats who exercise grow neurons in their brains that are less responsive to cortisol, a stress hormone.”
Cortisol is a hormone that is released in the body in response to stress. Cortisol is the same hormone that has been implicated in weight gain. Cortisol helps to replenish our body after a stressful event. When Cortisol remains elevated, your appetite increases tempting you to eat more. Exercise can mute our response to Cortisol and make weight gain less likely.
The Comfort Zone
“I found the more I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, the more rewarding and interesting the experience was.”
Many people are intimidated by gyms and exercise. Weight training can be intimidating, especially for women. Working out can be an uncomfortable experience. If you are new to exercise, out of shape or had a bad experience with fitness as a child, you may be uncomfortable or reluctant to join a fitness center. Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable as you take on the challenge of exercise.
Record your first. Find a way to keep the memory. You can look back on it when you need inspiration for another challenge.
Recording workouts or taking photos of the physical changes that accompany a good weight training program are an excellent way to judge progress and maintain motivation. Reviewing your records and photos will show how much you have improved since starting your exercise program.
Lu Ann Cahn completed her 365daysoftrying something new each day. The experience changed her life.
How can you “Dare Yourself”? Are you ready to start your journey to fitness and health? Are you ready to take your fitness to the next level?