DeAnna Dimmitt Mind Body Fitness


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The Wellness Triangle: Priorities Of Progress

DeAnnaDimmitt_TrianglePose

When discussing the concept of well-being with my personal training clients, I always explain to them that there are no isolated problems just as there no isolated solutions. To maintain a state of well-being requires conditioning and balance in all areas of life, not just at the gym.

The Wellness Triangle is made up of three components: Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Stress Management. Every aspect of your self care regime falls under one of these headings and no one part is more or less important than the others. For instance, physical activity can become a source of excessive stress if it is not supported by a foundation of nutrition, periods of relaxation and perhaps most importantly, the ability to diffuse stress. Nutrition is critically important but the body is not able to make optimum use of it’s fuel if it is sedentary and stressed out. And finally, I don’t believe it is possible to have any kind of real stress management in the absence of physical activity and nutrition.

When all three legs of the triangle are being tended to equally and the body comes into balance an interesting thing known as synergy occurs. With synergy we are able to become more than just the sum total of our parts. We are able to excel at an astounding rate. We are stronger, faster, smarter, happier and more capable than we ever imagined.

So why then do so many of us only attain synergy in small amounts, and for limited durations? Why do we work so hard to get up only to crash back down and start over again? Have you ever noticed that when life is going well, you start to attract more activity around you and then BAM! you get really sick and everything falls apart?

There is only one underlying reason for this and that is failing to understand the importance of balance. Can an F-16 jet break the sound barrier if the engine is ill-maintained and the gas tank is full of Diet Coke and Big Macs? Um, no.

I recently observed this cycle in myself and for the first time actually identified it for what it was. I call it “Too Busy Syndrome”. I was, as I always am, working hard to better myself, to make change, to inspire and help other people to do the same. I was going to bed on time, eating well, exercising (of course), I was mediating twice a day, taking my vitamins and even doing my sinus rinse every evening. All of these things are a practice, a regime that takes discipline to perform on a daily basis.

Things were going well, and because I was operating at a heightened energy level, I was attracting more activity into my life. But then I got busy and something happened. I began to prioritize the busyness. I would say to myself, I don’t have time to eat a proper meal or I don’t have time to meditate this morning after also not having time to sleep properly the night before.

And guess what happened? Yep, I got sick. I was flying too high and too fast with no foundation to sustain that level of activity. I did not neglect my workouts but I did neglect nutrition and stress management which caused the physical activity to become more stress than my compromised state of well-being could support.

While I was sick, I naturally became very motivated to resume all of my practices and, as I felt my state of well-being return, that was when the realization of the cycle and the importance of balance really hit me. Although I have lived through this cycle many times, I was so busy being inside of it that I never saw the big picture. I never saw how my own actions opened the door to illness. I never realized that no matter how busy I may be, progress only occurs in the presence of sustainability.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE Fitness) defines balance as: The ability to maintain the body’s position over it’s base of support within stability limits, both statically and dynamically.

Neglecting any one part of the Wellness Triangle erodes the base of support and creates a structure that is out of balance and cannot stand.

Practices first. Busyness second. These are the priorities of progress.

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Be The Screen Door

My classes have a way of, well, testing people.

“Hey guys, this ain’t a funeral. It’s ok to cheer up.”

It’s not like a test that you have to study for, with a bunch of different questions covering a broad range of topics.  There is actually only one question: if you can’t stay calm in here, how will you stay calm out there?

“You kids are looking awfully serious…”

What is this mind body mumbo jumbo anyway? Isn’t it like supervised nap time?

Emphatically, no, it is not.

You will not find a time during any of my classes when your mind is free to dwell on something that upset you yesterday or to worry about what might happen tomorrow.  We work in the now, the right now, the only time that there is.

Stay with me…

Being present in the moment creates a sense of flow and ease.  The path of least resistance is not necessarily the easiest path, on the flattest ground, with the fewest obstacles, it’s the one we travel without trying to grab on to every single thing that enters our consciousness.

Somewhere along the line we’ve mistaken working out for stressing out. Consider this: the way you do one thing is the way you do everything.  Do you spend your days stressing out about time, money, your appearance, your social status? Is your #1 concern: Am I good enough? And your #2 concern: how will I get the things that will make me good enough?  Let me ask you this: how will you know when you’ve arrived at good enough? Will your biceps be as big as your head? Will you drive a car that can go 3x the legal speed limit? How much energy is allocated to the stress and worry at the expense of the actual doing?  Is the quality of the work diminished if you go about it calmly?

With our highly competitive and stress inducing culture, it’s not the least bit surprising that we’ve turned exercise into a competitive and stressful activity.  No wonder so many people don’t enjoy it; they’re stressed out at home, they’re stressed out at work and the last thing they want to be is stressed out at the gym.

But is it really the gym that creates the stress?

I’ll be the first to admit that I teach the hardest yoga class I’ve ever been to, and Dynamic Body Sculpt – oh baby, we’re not messin’ around! But here’s the thing, I will not let you sink into that shroud of anxiety that most people wear like an iron mask.  I can see it coming on, the way too serious expressions, the shoulders creeping up by the ears, the lack of breathing.  As the level of difficulty increases, the body starts to experience stress.  The heart rate increases, lactic acid accumulates in the muscles creating the feeling of “burn”, the mind is scrambling to coordinate the limbs and maintain balance.  Suddenly we experience a feeling of turbulence and our knee jerk reaction is to hold on, to grab on to something, thinking that the only way to make it through, to survive, is to let our fight or flight reflexes take over and go into stress out mode.

Guess what happens in stress out mode? The workout is harder. You accomplish less and leave the gym with more anxiety than when you arrived.

If you’re trying to take your workout to the next level and are frustrated by a lack of progress, I have three words for you: let it go.  When the stress comes, and it will, don’t grab on to it, let it go.  Breathe through the moment.  Fall out of a pose? That’s alright, don’t get mad. Take inventory of where the tension is accumulating, where the flow of chi is being blocked, and relax. Focus and breathe and try again.  When the waves of tension start to rise up, be the screen door and let them pass through you without the need to hold on. Your mind and body will thank you. 🙂


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Before and After: A 12 year progression

The picture on the left is the day I moved back to Albuquerque from Las Vegas, NV.  I was weak and tired, had little spaghetti arms to boot and was also about 15 pounds lighter. 15 pounds of muscle goes a long ways towards a new outlook on life and a new attitude.

I teach a lot of stuff that appears on the surface appears to be exercise, but the only thing I’m actually trying to teach is that you, yes you, should be confident in your own abilities.

DeAnnaDimmitt_BeforeAfter

You have the tools.

I can show you how to use them.


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Self Efficacy

Self-efficacy –  the measure of one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals.

This is a tale about self-efficacy as it pertains to exercise.

So one day about 10 years ago, Rick ordered some fitness DVD’s from an infomercial on TV. We were staying in a cheap hotel in Carlsbad, NM and the TV in our room only got one channel. It showed the same infomercial for the entire duration of our stay.

There on the screen behind the 1-800 number and the Beach Body logo was Tony Horton explaining how to completely transform your body in 90 days using his system, Power 90. Now you probably thought I was going to say P90X, right? This was before P90X.

Tony appealed to Rick more than he did to me. At that time, I had no interest in fitness but Rick was enamored with the success stories.  I assumed Tony was a meat-head plus I was skinny and therefore saw no need for what I referred to as “unnecessary physical exertion”.

A couple weeks later, the dvd’s arrived and found themselves a comfy home on the shelf next to (not in) the dvd player and there they sat.

Eventually I got curious and decided to try one of the workouts. One morning, being absolutely naïve about the non-existent status of my fitness level (because I thought skinny equaled fit), I put on some shorts and sneakers and fired up Sweat Level 1-2. I didn’t eat or hydrate first (why would I need to do that?!?!) and I certainly didn’t listen to Tony while he repeatedly said “go at your own pace” and “listen to your body”.  I had no idea what those things meant, I just assumed he was talking to the other (out of shape) people and I thought, “I’m gonna match Tony!”

It didn’t go very well. Less than half way through the 30 minute routine I was dizzy and lightheaded, staggered out of the room and collapsed on my bed where I spent the next half hour or so begging god to “just take me now.” I felt like crap the rest of the day. And for a lot of people, myself included, this might have been the end of the story.

I tried.

I failed.

Game over.

I could’ve spent the remainder of the time between then and now, explaining to people how I’m just not strong enough to exercise, how I get dizzy when I exert myself too hard, how working out literally makes me sick. I could’ve created a convincing tale, which would include my stellar example of how exercise isn’t for me. I probably would’ve made you believe it too , because I certainly believed it. I would’ve wrapped the whole thing up in a tidy little bow by finishing with “…and besides, I don’t need to work out because I’m skinny and Tony Horton can suck it!” We would’ve laughed at this and patted each other on the back for being righteously sedentary.

To be honest, I don’t know why that didn’t happen.

What happened instead was exactly the opposite. Yep, I was embarrassed by my pathetic performance in the living room and, nope, I didn’t find that particular exercise experience to be enjoyable at all. What I did have was a hard core reality check. But instead of quitting, as was my plan, the next morning I awoke full of unexpected fire and determination. “I will not be defeated by an entry level fitness video!” No paraphrase, that is exactly what I said to myself.

Days and weeks and months went by. I collapsed more times. I got back up. I did the Sculpt Level 1-2 video with 3 lb weights, I tried hard to power out 3 or 4 little push ups from my knees, I had to press pause during the lunge squats. During the Sweat video, I willed (begged) my little stick legs to not break off during cross hops and during the power yoga warm up, I landed on my face during every single chaturanga. We won’t even get into the hilarity that ensued when I embarked on my first real yoga experiences with Rodney Yee.

By all accounts, I sucked at fitness. My only redeeming quality was this, I refused to be defeated and I kept coming back so Tony, Bob, Rodney, Jillian, Chalene, and Bryan could kick my butt, again.

Why am I telling you this? Because I didn’t just hatch out of some spontaneously magical fitness egg.  You can’t embark on a road to fitness expecting to already be fit and you can’t use not being fit as an excuse to stay home.  I’ve worked long and hard to achieve my current fitness level but I’ve not done anything that you can’t do.  No journey starts from the destination and, in truth, there is no destination, only a series of ever evolving goals.  You meet your goals, you set new goals. This is how life works.

Time goes by regardless if you get off the couch or not.  So why not make a push to better yourself?

Did you try a workout that exposed some truths you didn’t like? That’s ok, but I won’t indulge your story of “can’t”.

Get up.

Get dressed.

Try again.