The Magic Results of Exercise

the magic of exercise results


Why do you exercise? 

Do you exercise to control your weight? 

Do you exercise to keep fit? 

What type of exercise do you do? 

What time of the day do you do your exercise? 

Do you exercise to combat depression and/or stress? 

These are questions I (Suz) am asked frequently. I am responding in accordance with my own experience, in free writing style, that is, gushing straight from my heart and with little regard to style or organisation. Enjoy, if you so wish!


Why do you Exercise?

Exercising means that I am doing something to myself and with myself, from which I, and all of those around me, benefit. 

When I exercise, my joints move, which means they benefit from lubrication, and I maintain my mobility for as long as possible. “When you stop using them, they stop working for you”. (For example, your thoracic spine– how many people do you know that have great mobility, rotation, flexing, extension in every plane possible? A very few, I bet the answer is.  Sedentary lifestyle does not calculate or consider thoracic mobility, instead it is focused to keep your eyes fixed on a square screen, for as long as possible). Because my joints move and my body changes position, I travel, I transfer my body – my muscles have to respond, they contract, release, they flex, bend and twist. Thus, my muscles stay healthy, supple, and strong and they maintain their tone. They have demands placed upon them, to which they must respond, which keep them ‘ready for action’. Healthy bodies are mostly always ready for action.  

Due to my muscles working, it means that my heart and lungs, in fact my whole circulation system, need to change gears, to enable sufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients for my muscles to perform. Equally, my kidneys, sweat glands and the rest of my organs and gut need to activate too, to ensure that my body gets rid of all the toxins.  

Thus, in short, exercise keeps my system clean, all the pumps working. When you don’t open showers or flush loos, they block. Keep the supply of healthy nutrients in a consistent flow, faster and more efficient when the demand is there, slow and calm – perhaps time for more absorption– when the beast is calm. 

Due to my body and systems functioning, my hormones, brain, viscera, fascia, etc need to calculate and perform to keep everything in balance, they are concerned with balance, rhythm, coordination between brain-muscles. Hormones and chemical levels are activated, either up or down or remaining stable… creating and maintaining homeostasis and equilibrium throughout.  

After exercise, I feel good; emotionally, mentally, and physically, on all levels I have derived a benefit and a feeling of satisfaction. That clear conscience – when the essential, the necessary, has been done and you feel good about it. A bit like brushing your teeth, filing your accounts, paying your bills, tiding up, maintaining your relationships – family, friends and romantic.  

From this disposition, I crave healthy foods, I want to drink water as I am thirsty, I want to sit down, because I have worked hard, which means I can relax. I want to go to bed, because I am tired, my body is tired and needs to rest, which means I can shut down and my brain and organs cannot be happier as they also get the time to sleep and restore. Memory and digestion soar.  

I wake-up fresh, ready, feeling vitality and oomph, ready for my day. Wanting to get more of the good stuff. Exercise relates into healthy work habits, due to a fresh brain, good short and long-term memory, work becomes more effortless, even big decisions under pressure become easier and feel less intense. A disposition of being prepared, having things in order, being confident. You can relate this to any competition, any exam any speech that needs to be made, any interview that has to be done…. Prepared bodies; prepared minds; prepared hearts.  

Because of exercise, I can make good decisions regarding food, drink, work, family, friends, my life. I feel confident in my body, I want to play, make love, dress up or down – as the occasion requires. Because of exercise, I am tolerant, have greater levels of compassion and empathy. I am not drowning in my own toxins – chemically, emotionally and mentally. A clean, circulatory, internal system makes for healthy external relationships.  

Exercise makes me Efficient. The healthiest, most readily available drug that this planet has on offer.  

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Do you Exercise to control your Weight?

I am fortunate, I have been overweight only as a baby/toddler, I was a very fat toddler, and no shoes were wide enough, for my short, puffy feet. Unlike my older sister Liz, with long, slender, delicate feet. That meant more knitting for the grannies and no pass-me-downs to Suz.  

I had two more interludes with gaining a lot of weight in a very short period. The first being as an exchange student in Germany for 6 weeks – phewee, let’s just say that Dieter, my German Dad for the 6 weeks, did not hold back on any level. I have never consumed so much cake, bread, ice-cream, chocolates, and beer in my entire life!!! 

The other was when I was early 20’s and visited my sister (the one with the slender, skinny feet) in the UK and we also travelled to France, Germany and Italy. I ballooned. I should have heeded the alarm bells when she told me her daily treat was a jam doughnut, and not only one, but two!!!! 

On both occasions, everyone burst out into laughter when I entered the room on my return…   

Let’s revert to ‘normal’ (btw ‘normal’ in Germany was very ‘not normal’ in SA…I had felt quite good about myself and my physical state in Germany). 

In my teens, and especially my 20’s I most definitively used exercise to keep my weight down and to keep my body toned and fit. Physical appearance in SA was, and I believe even now is, very important. When I suffered from depression in my late 20’s, running saved my life, I ran for miles. The miles of sanity which then so easily can turn into obsession, escapism – the ‘isms’ of life…. 

However, at one point, no matter how long, how fast, how undulating, how adventurous your run, the ‘pain’ does not go away. It becomes worse and anyone’s body can tolerate only so many miles. Then it is time to ‘chat’, to have ‘trusted discussions with professionals whom you trust’. 

When I exercise my disposition is such that, most of the time I crave healthy food. I crave nutrition. I have always been a keen believer in the old 80-20% rule. 80% I eat, drink healthily, 20% I eat, drink what I fancy, love; which gives me great delight in small amounts. I think we used to call it ‘a treat’. Sad how ‘treats’ became daily commodities and in other cases ‘guilt and acts of punishments’. 

Exercise and creativity, along with great, honest, open discussions sustain my want to make good decisions for myself. I don’t eat because I am lonely, or stressed, or bored. I don’t drink, because I had a bad day at work… in reality, they are stop-gaps and you remain stuck in a negative cycle.  

When you are in doubt, ask yourself, how would you feel in 5 mins after the drink or the snack? The next day? Is it worth it? We all know those days come where you say ‘abso-bloody-lutely, and I don’t care!” – go knock it for 6 then and enjoy yourself to the max.  

the magic results of excercise d
the magic results of excercise c

Do you exercise to keep fit?

Yes, deffo! Being fit means able, means mobile, strong, flexible, confident, enabled, energetic, wanting to do and try stuff, up for a challenge… it means freedom, choice. A fun, explorative way of living. From sport, to dress, to adventure. The ability to say YES, because I can, and I want to. It also keeps my brain, my thoughts, my humour fit… The ability to respond and to act. I totally believe in ‘embodied intelligence, energy and influence’ – fit, non-ego bodies radiate power and energy, I am naturally drawn to those people… I love their energy. I have to include healthily fit, that kind of fitness wants to share, ignite fitness in others, it is an inclusive fitness – everyone is welcome.

What type of exercise do you do?

Gosh, 46 years of age now, so I must include more gentle stuff and less hard-core. Also, my work is demanding; mentally, emotionally and physically, thus there are no extra resources for ‘extreme sports or events’ at the moment as I need to recover within a night’s sleep, at most within 24 hours.   

I run short distances, undulating, mountains and/or in nature. (In my 20’s I could run for miles, literally, with no detrimental effect, now my hips suffer and I become very stiff and sore). 

I am very disciplined with my mobility, strength and flexibility training (in order of priority). I would say three times/week at least for mobility, twice strength and flexibility. 

I bike, for optimal strength in my legs and great CV (quick 20-30 min HIIT, 3 times/week).  

I do yoga-based routines, for flow, spirituality; dance combinations for creativity and to use my body in every single, possible way I can. I love a little challenge, whereby I would break a complex sequence down into small building blocks – every item has a new challenge. (I also incorporate these explorations in my teachings – I love it and it is fascinating to see how people react and respond when they are taught something in a creative way). 

I walk in nature – when I don’t, my soul suffers and my connection with peace and love becomes faint. The brain also struggles to switch off.  

I play golf – This is the one activity that I ‘take seriously’ and the only one that gets measured. (I count my rounds and I have an aim for my handicap towards which I actively work. I have two coaches and I practise with intent). I also schedule events in my calendar – that keeps the focus and the motivation high.   

In general; I move 6-7 times/week, it varies, but most days I do, I love it and the benefit is great. I get stiff within 48 hours. No thank you! Travel – a nightmare.  


Super Training Zones – The ‘musts’:

Holidays in SA (large numbers of people I love and want to spend intimate time with; these always involve copious amounts of food, especially meat and alcohol – toxic bomb with exercise, a nuclear disaster without). 

Holidays – the only times in the year when my exercise focuses on ‘my needs’ and is not balanced in my routines to teach and serve others. It feels beautifully indulgent, and I love those periods. Diminished focus and responsibilities towards others. 

Exams, interviews, high pressure at work – the best regulatory and prep tool I own, nothing can prepare me for a ‘pressure tank/demand’ than a practice in solitude on my mat, a run in nature, or a long ride on my bike along the coast or through the mountains.  

the magic results of excercise b

What time of the day do you exercise?

School days in the past, now work days, are intensive, what I need to get done has to happen in the mornings before my day starts. Too many challenges and demands, even outside of scheduled structure. The energy at the end of the day is depleted.  

Weekends allow for more room to play, I can even choose to do my training in the middle of the day, mid-morning or evening before I go out. Exercise can be a great way to ‘wake-up’ before I go out, shower, get dressed etc.  

When the days are long, a spiritual run in dusk is one of my most favourite things – this will be a slow run in solitude, immersion in nature, silence except for nature itself. I want no-one in those times around me.  

A run, in the drizzle can also be hugely satisfying and I am usually ‘alone in the forest’ or ‘on the pathways’ – these times in solitude in public spaces in cities are pretty rare and very special when they occur. Another good time, is the early bird window around 6am… yet, my workload and bed time need to be geared towards this, at the moment, they are not.  

Any space, any time, is my rule, whenever and wherever, whatever is available. 

Give me 1-2 meters, I will get down on the floor and practise my routine. There is zero excuse in my life for not doing my exercise, unless I choose to rest and I feel that I go into a zone of ‘must do it’ rather than ‘want to do it’… 

In the beginning, when you are out of a habit and you enter a new routine, we know the rule that it takes 21 days to form a routine. There you have to use the word ‘must’, ‘should’ or be the person that does what he/she said they would do… once the habit has been formed, the should/must becomes a yearning/a longing/a desire. It is simply too good not to have and in reality, what it takes is so little compared to what one gets out. I cannot say that about too many things in my life. 15-20 min/day changes that day.  

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the magic results of excercise a

Do you exercise to combat depression and/or stress?

Yes, I get blocked, clocked up, compressed in my head when I don’t exercise, as if the brain expands and is unable to recede to normal levels. As if I am stuck in my own pollution. Exercise, running/walking in nature immediately decompresses, creates space, I feel easier and lighter, I connect with peace and love (two huge ingredients in my life, and when they are not there I am not well). 

I am a spiritual person, I think and reflect a lot. I am known to myself and those in my inner circle, to have the ability and at times, tendency, to enter dark spaces, deep sadness and pain. That is who I am. I don’t choose to, neither want to, dwell in those spaces for too long, however I equally do not want to avoid them, mask or camouflage them by exterior motives, e.g. shopping, drinking, working, putting a fake smile on, being superficial etc. I want to allow myself and feel courageous enough to face my darker sides. It is through those darker sides where I derive my greatest learning and it deepens my work, hopefully from which more can benefit.  

My darker side was not allowed as a child, my nickname was Ms. Sunshine, the child that always laughed and was easy-going and happy. This was not truthfully how I felt inside, however I somehow believed that I ought to be ‘sunshine’ so I played that role really well. I was only able to meet, get to know and allow my darker side, much later in my life to hold the balance of both sides…  

I can feel lethargic, not in the mood, at times I can find it difficult to access joy and to feel genuinely relaxed. Those bland times usually occur when I do not exercise for long periods of time.  In severe cases I will become disembodied, I can’t really connect with feeling and I would physically withdraw from people. I am usually a very loving person that is very comfortable with touch, love hugs and physical contact. So yes, I would say that there are much less oxytocin and good opiates in my body when I don’t exercise, and these become readily available when I do move/train/play. Would I be depressed without exercise? I reckon I would, and if not depressed, going off my head. I would end up with so much ‘excess’ I think I would explode. What a nightmare, can’t think of it. 

I have also explored and will continue to explore other ways to ‘self-sooth’, for example, I derive a lot of calm, peace and love through creativity. 

However, above all, exercise/movement does get my engines fired up on all levels and it turns me into an animal that wants to move and play within groups, rather than to be by myself ….  

Most important to me about exercise is to re-define exercise as a place for self-exploration, expression, a place to contact yourself and to get to know yourself. To be embodied, to feel, to sense, to have senses, cravings, yearnings that will bring nourishment and vitality. Exercise is one of the most joyous things in this world, endeavour to find ‘that something’ that ignites your imagination and that makes you enter your ‘high dream zone’… 



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