Can you change your life 10 minutes at a time?
We All Have 10 Minutes! But can 10 minutes chart a new course for you?
Chart your course!
- Why it works: signaling your mind and body
- What systems make it work: the science
- How you can benefit: 10 Minute Tips
#1 Why it Works: Signaling Your Mind and Body
Neurons that fire together wire together: in our minds and muscles!
Ever hear that saying: neurons that fire together wire together? Neuroplasticity enables us to rewire our brains by repeating the thoughts and tasks we want to improve. This goes all the way to identity.
I run marathons and ultramarathons. Slowly. Very slowly.
Some elites have said to me that running a 5-hour marathon is more difficult than running a 2 hour marathon. I beg to differ, and they have a point. Our brains are energy hogs. In any normal day, they use 20% of all the energy our body uses. Because of this we have evolved to be as efficient as possible with the use of our brains. We default to autopilot. Back to the race. The toughest part of a 5-hour marathon is your brain must look and stay alert for the full 5 hours.
Once on the “other side” with a brain trained to stay alert and keep you upright and moving for 5 hours, staying fit for a normal paced marathon takes far less training than you would imagine.
If you are not a marathoner, how can you use this?
The real effort is in signaling your brain and body to rewire, not in the length of workout. What are you signaling and therefore rewiring? For me, it was the knowledge you can stay upright and alert for 5 hours. The knowledge that a marathon or any physical act is one step at a time.
A physical base of fitness is the first step. The bigger step is signaling to your brain and body through consistent rewiring (and often small bites of time) that this is what you do and who you are.
One of my friends got hit by a car on his bike and hospitalized 6 weeks before his first ironman competition. Hard to give up after the 9 months of training and lost time with friends and family. He sat in a tub in Epson’s salts for 6 weeks to heal and visualized the entire race. Race day, he had not run or been on a bike for 6 weeks. He completed the ironman. His brain had built the bridge.
Consistently build strong neural connections to support your new identity, while practicing consistent positive physical steps. These together signal to your brain and body that you love yourself and that it should prepare to move again tomorrow!
#2 What Systems Make It Work? The Science.
Override Your Natural Aversion to Change
Trick your limbic system (fear, flight, fight) by getting started! Every decision is a push and pull between your rational, evolved cerebral cortex, saying this is the right path, and your limbic system, primarily your amygdala, your fear center, saying it might not work out, so let’s wait. Your limbic system causes procrastination!
Shift your focus away from the unknown, fear-inducing unknown future to the present. The next 10 minutes. This moves your focus to output vs outcome. Starting obliterates procrastination. Then, consistent output changes your view of yourself, your identity!
Changing your identity drives daily behaviors, leading to a different long-term outcome
Via 10-minute stepping stones!
When we change behaviors, our identity is often slow to change. Logically, it is threatening to our “old” brain to change identities often. So our brain resists. This is why we (1) Often go back to old behaviors consistent with our old identity, and (2) Have trouble embracing our new identity.
I was not athletic as a child. However, I had athletic ambitions. I loved working out. I rode horses, ran and lifted weights. Some take longer than others. I took a while!
- At age 39, I was world-ranked and 9th in the US World Cup trials in dressage (equestrian).
- At age 51, I won silver in the US Masters Championships 100 meter and 400 meter dash, age group 50-55.
- At age 51, I was AAU North American Champion Physique Women Overall (all ages).
All the while, I was working in finance as a professional investor.
The next year, I was backpacking with a friend who is a pro athlete, and I said “well, I am not really an athlete, I am just an amateur, but…”.
She asked: “How many sports do you need to be nationally ranked in before you will call yourself an athlete?”
This was my challenge of identity.
My identity solution? A combination of consistency and reflection. I now call myself an athlete. That makes my healthy choices more automatic and easier.
Identity is your most powerful and most difficult path to change.
What identity is becoming real for you now? How can you embody your identity and believe?
#3 How You Can Benefit: 10 Minute Tips For Self-Care Rewiring
1. Nutrition 10 Minute Tip: Eat Whole Foods
Can you fix your nutrition in 10 minutes? In many ways it takes years of changing patterns. In other ways, it takes a moment, no time at all, to make a different food choice.
Decrease sugar. Why?
Processed sugar is not food. It is a chemical. Even worse, your body is only able to put the fructose component of processed sugar in two places: metabolism for burning or liver for storage. Thus excess fructose can be a path to fatty liver disease. Indeed, with sugar increasing in American diets we have seen an increase in juvenile fatty liver disease. To decrease sugar, avoid adding sugar, avoid drinks with sugar and keep in mind 85% of processed foods have added sugar. Sugar has other evil properties like being addictive (dose dependent), driving up insulin, thereby hardening your arteries, and more! I will cover this more in a nutrition article. Go with whole foods!
Decrease Processed and Fast Food. Why?
Processed food is more chemicals than food. Your body thrives on nutrient diversity and density. It is not designed to absorb chemicals and turn those into energy. Our miraculous bodies are resilient, so we can eat processed foods, but over time, these chemicals take their toll. Fast foods include all those chemicals of processed foods and are mostly cooked in oils created over the past 50 years, that our bodies find harder to digest. These oils are associated with multiple cancers and metabolic diseases.
Decrease Frequency of Meals. Why?
Decrease number of meals and even intermittent fast (saves time). Decreasing the window in which you eat, as well as the number of times you eat, gives your digestive system time to recover and rejuvenate. Our body’s resilient process called Autophagy, cleaning out dead or sick cells in our body, occurs after digestion is complete. Autophagy increases intermittent fasting, i.e. when we eat within a time window.
2. Exercise 10 Minute Tip: Try less. Smaller more consistent increments work.
Can 10 minutes of exercise make a difference? Yes! In fact, many of us work out at too high of a heart rate, so 10-minute boosts of exercise can keep you aerobic.
Most of us are trying too hard in our cardio workout.
Pain = Zero Gain!
Working out at too high of a heart rate means wer are in the anaerobic range, and NOT building aerobic capacity. Aerobic capacity is the efficiency of your heart and lungs to process oxygen from air and power your mitochondria, your energy. We exercise to be fit and energetic, yet our efforts go against our goals. Less effort brings you to the goal faster!
What is your ideal aerobic heart rate? Lower than you think!
Phil Maffetone is the most prolific trainer of Ironman World Champions. His athletes have the least injuries while winning the most. Funnily enough, many elite athletes who join his program, after several years of ironman competition, initially have to walk during their run workouts! The Maffetone method takes 180 minus your age to get your heart rate. Subtract 5 for injuries. 5 more for diseases like high blood pressure. Add 5 if you are over 65 and in great shape. You’ll get a much lower number than expected. Mine is 126. That is 100% effort. Aerobic workouts are at a max of 85% effort, thus mine would be 107! Thus, walking briskly builds more aerobic capacity for me than running! For more on MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) by Phil Maffetone, see this article.
What is your ideal exercise? The one you enjoy!
Your intuition knows more than your mind. Your intuition is a bank of knowledge both physical and mental, too big to process into your current conscious thought. For exercise, recovery and nutrition, listening to your intuition as your guide will pay big dividends!
Try a brisk walk around the block, in nature, or a walk at sunset. Dance, do yoga (pick your favorite easy poses and practice for 10 minutes), or even 10 minutes of weights placed near at your desk!
Variety is your friend in exercise and self-care!
Variety avoids boredom so you can continue be consistent. Variety builds out different dimensions of our mind and body, keeping both younger, longer.
3. Recovery for Resilience: 10 Minute Tip: Yoga, Meditation, Journaling…
Yoga: I don’t have 60 minutes!
Working 80-100 hours a week while competing at top level sports, I was often told I should “relax more”, try meditation, yoga, etc. I found they took too much time. Then I learned they don’t have to! I figured out the yoga poses that benefitted me the most, like warrior 2, one legged chair pose, frog post, pigeon, and squat. If yoga calls to you, find the poses that work best for you, and ease into them!
Meditation: Who has time to learn?
For meditation, I realized 10 minutes, or even 5-8 minutes, of relaxed breathing makes all the difference. With breathing meditation, just breathe and say to yourself “I breathe in, I breathe out” with the breath. This helps keep your thoughts centered. When they wander, come back to that chant. Loving kindness meditation, where you give yourself and others love can be done in 10 minutes and improves your vagal tone (ability to relax), mental and cardiovascular health.
Journaling: Aren’t there courses on journaling?
You intuitively know how to journal since you know how to read and write. You will know which type is right for you when. I journal when I want, and how I want. Stressed? Journal as if you are in a venting therapy session. Feel pressured to come up with full sentences? Use bullet points to get out your thoughts. Feeling like you need more direction: journal your daily manifesto the night before and set yourself on the path you want. Gratitude journaling is writing down what you did well and what you are grateful for. Like loving-kindness meditation, gratitude journaling is the fastest path to improving your ability to calm your heart and lungs and gut through better vagal tone. Journaling can include drawing, painting, writing a short story. Explore!
Summary: Chart Your 10 minute Course:
- 10 Minute Actions Obliterate Procrastination and Build Consistency
- Physically rewire your brain, changing our identity and trick your limbic system
- Move, Nourish, Recover, and Rewire 10 minutes at a time!
Hi, I’m Emmy. I help and inspire busy professionals to reach their goals.
Having fit it all in, I light the way as you find your best path forward. What are your leverage points to your goals in business, fitness, nutrition, and life? I coach and give My10Min Corporate Workshops to help you achieve the success you want in a positive, manageable way.