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Welcome to The Quest, a newsletter intended to inspire and inform those interested in experiencing optimal well being in body, mind and spirit. For archived newsletters and more information, please see my website at www.deborahlow.com.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * May 2004

In this issue of The Quest:
1. The Quest Quote
2. The Quest Question
3. A Call to mothers!

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1. Quote:

The thought manifests as the word
The word manifests as the deed
The deed develops into habit
And habit hardens into character
So watch the thought and its way with care, and let it spring from love.
Born out of concerns for all beings...
As the shadow follows the body, as we think—we will become.

An excerpt from Dhammapada (sayings of The Buddha) Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das

I have been exercising moderately for several months. Most days I walk our dog, with my son, but I do make it to the gym or a fitness class once a week. In the past, I have tried to workout more vigorously, in order to get increasingly fit, but usually end up feeling burnt out. I am really enjoying exercise for the first time in years and I don’t really want to do more than I already am doing. Is it vital that increase my intensity in order to make progress?

Answer: There are two aspects to your question: 1) maintaining your overall health and well-being, which includes your physical health and 2) your fitness goals relative to the type of exercise you are doing. Without a doubt, the most important thing you mentioned in your email is that not only are you active on a regular basis (great job!) but that you are enjoying yourself. Fantastic! This, in itself, requires no extra effort on your behalf. Keep doing what you are doing.

The problem most of us face is that we feel we are not doing enough. We get into trouble when we believe that in order to stay happy, we must constantly do more, be more, lose more, have more…all in the name of, what? Guilt does not improve our overall well-being. If you gave up walking with your son and dog so that you could run on your own, in order to ‘up’ your intensity, look what you are giving up: time to connect with your child. If you are already healthy, already enjoying your chosen mode of exercise, have a schedule that allows you to live the way you like, then why do you need to ‘be more fit’?

Of course there is an exception. You don’t mention whether you have fitness goals that are not being met from your training. From a purely physical perspective, I need to ask: Are you happy with your level of athletic fitness? Do you want to train for an event, like a half marathon, or prepare for a two-week hiking vacation this summer? If yes, then of course, you’d need to adapt your training to best prepare yourself for the challenge. And yet for those of you that want to lose weight and believe that intense exercise is the only path, new research shows that moderate exercise leads to long-term weight loss.

The study published in the September 10, 2003 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association involved 201 healthy, but overweight women aged 21-45. All were assigned one of four exercise regimens, which varied in intensity and duration. Results showed that all four groups lost a significant amount of weight, and maintained the loss for a year. The amount of weight loss did not differ among the four groups.

3. Mothers—How do you do it?
As a new mother to a 2-month-old daughter, I am humbled by the new daily joys and challenges that are now part of my life. Case in point: Not only is this newsletter 10 days later then I would have liked to send it out, it’s also is being completed as my baby cradles my chest in her baby carrier, in between diaper changes!

I think back to my childhood when I would complain to my mom that I didn’t want her to go to work, not realizing the stress and effort it took to be a single parent raising two young children. Today, more than ever, women are told that they can have it all, and they can, but the energy, organization and at times, compromise to do so, can be almost unfathomable.

How do you balance your life as a mother? How do you fit exercise into your day? How has your definition of personal well being changed since becoming a mother? Or has it? However brief, I’d love to hear from you.