Nurturing Yourself

Are you like many – you want to take care of yourself but everyone else comes first leaving you depleted and worn out? You won’t reach your goals by putting yourself at the end of the line. In fact, you may not be helping all those you’ve been giving to in the most effective way either. Many of us assume we must give of ourselves to other in order to help them succeed. This is especially true of those we love most. We go about our days thinking about what they need, like, want, and how we can help them get it. This is great on one hand and not so great on another.

First, when you give to others first you deplete yourself before you can tap the best in you. This cycle eventually leaves you burnt out, resentful, and probably unhealthy in more ways than one. But many of us have been socialized to think that if we put ourselves first we are being selfish. Not so. In fact putting myself first allows me to give more to those around me. Not only can I give them more because I am more full, I can give them better.

When I have put myself first I am better able to focus on them with all my attention and gifts. I am better able to see what I have to give they may be needing, such as attention, play, listening, or space. When I can more accurately match what I have to give honestly and authentically my efforts are more powerful.

Take some time this week and notice. Notice how often you are doing things for others out of habit. Notice if it is truly what they want or need. Notice how you feel about these interactions. Notice how they respond to these attempts at giving of yourself. Notice if you feel more satisfied or less satisfied after the interaction. Many of us operate on habit or perceived expectations.*

If you are up to the challenge – take some time for yourself and then repeat the above exercise in noticing. See you if you notice a difference in how your giving changes when you are taken care of first.

*Expectations and habits are not easy to break especially when others are involved. Too much for this blog post, but we’ll discuss that another time. 

The End of 2009 – Are you ready for 2010?

Here it is… The end of the year. How will you make the new year count?  For many Americans health and fitness fall in the top three on their resolution list.  Unfortunately for many it falls off their New Year’s resolution list pretty fast.  What will you do to continue to reach for your fitness goals this year?

I know we have spent time discussing planning, goal setting, and getting ready to reach our resolutions in 2010 a few weeks ago. Go back and re-read the archives. There are 3 series of questions to help you reach your fitness goals in 2010.  Are you ready?

Weight loss, better fitness, more strength, greater endurance, better finish times do not just happen. They take work, they take responsibility, and they take planning. Have you done your homework, and are you ready for the new year?

If you have taken on this goal in the past, what will you do differently this year to make sure you reach it? Are you ready to move beyond what has held you back in the past and forward into the future? I advocate writing down your goals and the steps you will take to get there. This will help make your goal “real” to you. Once we see things on paper it helps us become more committed to accomplishing it.

Remember to prioritize your resolutions. Many well meaning resolutions get derailed because people are overwhelmed when they look at the long list and know they will not be able to accomplish all the worthy goals upon it. Decide what tops your list and stick to it. You will feel much better when you have accomplished a goal and are able to cross it off knowing you gave it everything you had and finished.

Are your goals realistic? If you have trouble figuring this out contact a personal trainer. If you are attempting a goal that is not realistic you are setting yourself up for failure. Although, failure usually leads to success it also leads to low self-esteem, lack of motivation, and the chance that you will pitch the whole idea and give up. Being realistic about a goal will help keep you on track from the beginning.

Once your list is pared down, you can begin to break the bigger goals into smaller ones. It is important to find small things you can do daily to complete your goal successfully. Small chunks are much easier to manage and they can be quickly adapted if needed. Remember, you are responsible for your choices, and your daily choices determine if you will make it or not. You can accomplish anything, but you must be accountable to you.

Chose positive strategies for dealing with problems. There will be some, so expect them, and be ready to deal with them. Contingency plans are important. What will you do when your day does not have twenty-six hours in it? What about when you are home with a sick child, or you suddenly have a huge project dumped on your desk? How will you handle cold days that derail your efforts at an outdoor workout? Thinking through these issues is a must because they will crop in your life.

As we move into the new year, look at the old. What would you like to give up? Create a ritual to let that habit, pattern, or whatever change go. Write down what you’ll let go of this New Year’s Eve and then dispose of it. Many like to burn the slip of paper, others make a ritual by writing it down and then throwing it away. Still others write it down and stick it in a safe place (say a box or jar) so when they go back to the habit they are able to pull it out and dispose of it again. If you make a conscious effort to make the change it is important to honor that it is part of who you are today and who you will become in the next year. Give purpose to the release of old and the acceptance of new behaviors that will help move you towards your goals this year! You are worth the extra effort.

5 Ways To Love Yourself First

In this season of holiday many of the world’s religions are celebrating. A common theme that runs through many religions and spiritual practices is love – love of self, love of others, love of what’s around us. So as the world celebrates in many ways it is time to celebrate yourself.
How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways. First, I feed myself well.  Second, I exercise regularly.  Third, I get enough sleep. Fourth, I take time to relax and be quiet. How many of these can you say you do?

First, we must eat healthy. There are so many confusing choices out there that you must become an educated consumer if you are going to succeed in this department. Just this week a study reported that a low fat diet was not a factor. Let’s open that argument up. Low fat in general is not a factor in many diseases because our bodies need a certain amount of fat. Many vitamins are fat soluble, meaning you need fat for them to work. We now know that fat comes in many different types and a low fat diet today will look very different from the fads that hit mainstream more than a decade ago. Fat is not the problem, but what type is. First, think of fats in health vs not healthy. Then educate your self as to where each type is found. For example fats occurring in most fruits, vegetables, and nuts are considered healthy fats, although they still must be consumed in moderation.   Saturated and trans fats are considered poor choices because they tend to expedite disease. When you are making food choices choice a diet with healthy fats and avoid the unhealthy ones. Make sure you are getting enough fruits and vegetables. Lack of fruits and vegetables is the number one problem I see with client diets, and is a huge factor in many diseases. If you have questions about your diet log onto: http://www.mypyramid.gov/ This food guide will let you customize your diet.

Second, you must move. As a regular reader you are aware of the benefits of movement, make sure you are getting enough. You should be getting cardiovascular and strength training in each week according to your goals. The heart, lungs, and vascular systems are the primary aims of cardiovascular training. We can test the body’s response to this type of work in different ways, but the easiest is to monitor your heart rate. There are simple formulas for figuring your heart rate or use a rate of perceived exertion scale. The best way to monitor your heart rate continuously is to purchase a heart rate monitor. This tool goes a long way toward reaching your goals. Strength training creates stronger muscles, more lean mass, denser bones, and increases metabolism. It is an important component of health and must not be ignored. Remember, strength training should be challenging. We create strength by overloading our muscles. We overload by placing them under stress and making them work. Way back when, overload was available in our daily routines. Most of us must create overload regularly to create more strength these days.

Third, are you getting enough sleep? This is so important, and many Americans are chronically tired. Sleep is important to the overall function of our bodies. It allows our body to restore and repair. Without sleep you will not function as well during waking hours, and lack of sleep can contribute to a variety of illnesses including depression. How do you know if you are getting enough sleep? Difficulty waking in the morning, an inability to concentrate during the day, feelings of moodiness, irritability, depression, or anxiety, or falling asleep during work or class are all indicators that you need more sleep. Your body will go into sleep debt and will expect to make up the needed sleep. If you do not make up the needed sleep you will then become chronically sleep deprived, opening yourself up to a whole host of problems. Sleep time should not be compromised. It is vital to your well-being.

Fourth, taking time to relax is very important. In our culture of doing more, consuming more, and constant “on” behavior we set ourselves up for disease. Just as our bodies need sleep, our minds need down time. For many this is difficult because many associate busy with success, however you will be more productive if you take time to rest. Studies show people who take a 10-minute break every 60-90 minutes are more productive than those who push through working. Get up, move around, stretch, take a mental vacation, sit quietly, turn out the lights in your office, breathe – the list can go on. Life must contain balance. When things are out of balance we find disease, depression, and pain. Look around your world and notice that all things crave balance. Your space, if it is too cluttered it can contribute to stress, if it is too sparse it can feel empty and uninviting which leads to your moving out of it. Look around your relationships, if they are too close they can feel suffocating, if there is not enough interaction you can be left to feel alone. You determine your levels of balance, and you have the power to change your world and create the balance you need to function optimally.

Finally, In this season of giving – give to yourself. If you are looking for change in your life, remember you are in charge. Show yourself that you are important each day by making choices that reflect your importance. Take care of yourself, and take accountability for your actions. Remember, your choices determine your outcomes, which determine your quality of life, and how will you count the ways in which you love thee?

Ready to plan for your health and wellness? Check out this article on Fitting Fitness Into Your Life.

Building Self-Esteem to Accomplish Your Fitness Goals

We’ve discussed wanting lifestyle change.  We’ve talked about ways to do it, why you should, how, when, and the science behind the reasons.  Today we are going to explore why you don’t do it.

I can hear the collective exhale, “thank god”, you sigh, finally an answer to my issues. Nope, sorry, just some more ideas on exploring where you really are in the process. I repeatedly get clients who want instant gratification.  Remember this is a slow process and it can be a very spiritual experience as you peel off layers of identity, excuses, habits, routines, and other activities that are not working anymore.

Let’s talk about self-esteem. I find this to be a huge stumbling block for many people. Even if self-esteem is there in other areas of life, say work or parenting, when it comes to health it can be dented. Many who are in the process of change doubt what they are doing, are in an uncomfortable place of change, and are facing other issues that may work against their goal further adding to the doubt and insecurity. In an article a few years back (but worth repeating) Brian Tracy , “People with high self-esteem are more positive, more likable, and more effective in every part of their lives. Your job, therefore, it is to keep your self-esteem high and positive on a continuing basis.”

He goes on to outline six critical elements of self-esteem building: Goals, Standards, Success Experiences, Comparison with Others, Recognition, and Rewards. Striving toward each element helps build, grow, and maintain your self-esteem. High self-esteem is directly related to accomplishing your goals, and the more you accomplish the goals you set the more confidence you have, and the more you strive to live by your standards and values. When your values and standards are congruent with the lifestyle you lead the more self-esteem you have and the more peace you feel in daily life. See the process? The elements build upon each other to help you be the best you can be.

We are typically taught not to compare ourselves with others, but here he refers to positive comparisons where you feel you have room to grow and accomplish your goals while using another’s success as a benchmark for your own. This is a tricky place to be. Similar to setting realistic goals you must choose comparisons that will allow you to be successful and continue to build your success experiences. He does note that we come to a place where we are no longer competing with others, but rather our own past successes.

Another factor in cultivating self-esteem is self talk. Many of us have an inner critic. For some this can be a voice that spurs us to strive harder and make the finish line, and for others this critic derails us and we pretend not to hear it as we sit on the couch with the whole bag of potato chips, only to hear it loud and clear when the bag is gone and the opportunity for exercise missed. Victor M Parachin, Mdiv writes (again and oldie but goodie), “Avoid becoming your own worst enemy by talking back to nasty voices in your head.” Next time you hear yourself saying I am fat, I am lazy, I will never make it, I can’t, talk back and tell the voice to be quiet. Treat yourself as you would treat a friend.

Look for areas in your life where you can implement these elements and begin to build yourself up. Draw on your strengths and downplay your weaknesses. Find successes in your past to use as comparisons for new goals, and find people you admire to model your direction after. Tracy states, “…you need to build your own structure and take full responsibility for building yourself up on a regular basis.” If you won’t take the time on you, who else will?

“Cultivating Your Self Esteem”, Brian Tracy, Club Solutions, June 2005 pg 36 www.clubsolutions.biz

“Cultivating Confidence”, Victor M. Parachin, Mdiv, American Fitness, July/August 2005 pg.36-38   www.americanfitness.com

Don’t Let Fear Stand in Your Way To Health

Many people say they want more health in their life. They can dream big but something stops them from taking action and creating the life they want. This something is … Fear. What fears do you harbor about changing your life? Many of us realize that to change means we’ll have to give something up. Is fear of the unknown keeping you from reaching your fitness goals?According to Brian Tracy in, The Courage to Take Action, there are three factors which predispose us to being afraid. They are childhood conditioning, ignorance, and illness or fatigue.

Look at your own list, do you find examples of these factors? Are you afraid to succeed or fail, because fear of rejection was a strong influence as you grew up? Are you hurt or not well? What can you do to be pro-active about your situation?   I know a wonderful woman in our who survived cancer more than once, is vibrant despite heart trouble and joint complications. She is a great inspiration because she has taken the situation handed to her, faced it squarely, and over came the obstacles in her path.

How can you take fear, look at directly, even if uncomfortable, and how can you climb over, under, or around it to continue walking your path?

Brian Tracy poses these questions:

  • How does this fear hold me back in life?
  • How does this fear help me, or how has it helped me in the past?
  • What would be my pay-off for eliminating this fear?

Ponder these questions, and then allow your imagination to soar, with your pen and paper handy of course, writing down all the wonderful possibilities you have for accomplishing your healthy lifestyle. Do not hold back, write down all your dreams and prioritize!

Brian Tracy’s Article the Courage to Take Action – Club Solutions Nov 2005

Getting Ready For New Year’s Resolutions 2010 – 2

Here’s your next task to keep you moving forward and accomplishing your fitness goals in 2010. Weight loss typically tops the list but by Feb 14th most resolutioners have already quit their exercise program.
Don’t get caught giving up this year! Use these posts as your worksheets toward a solid plan and great fitness in 2010.

Next, decide on a time line.   How long will it take you to complete?   What amount of time are you willing to commit to this experience?   What is the priority level of this goal?   Do you feel you are ready to take this goal on?   Do you have adequate support?   Do you need help from someone else: ie, family member, friend, professional?   Who are your support people?
Again, write down the answers.

As you review your list, are you being realistic about your goal?

Getting Ready For New Year’s Resolutions 2010

This week we are going to start getting ready for New Year’s Resolutions. It is important to put into perspective what you are going to try to accomplish next year. I don’t particularly like resolutions, but I do like setting and accomplishing goals. Here’s your next task to keep you moving forward and accomplishing your fitness goals in 2010.

Weight loss typically tops the list but by Feb 14th most resolutioners have already quit their exercise program. Don’t get caught giving up this year! Use these posts as your worksheets toward a solid plan and great fitness in 2010.

First, look at where you are.   What is it about where you are that you want to change?   Is this something you can easily do? Why or why not? What might hold you back?   How will you deal with those obstacles? Are you ready to change?   Remember the saying: The pain of staying the same must be greater than the pain of change. It will be uncomfortable, hard, and time consuming, but if it matters to you it will be worth it. I’ve said this before, but it is worth noting again, who are you changing for?   Write down the answers to the above questions. This will help cement the process you are about to begin. If you feel you are up to a wild challenge ask a friend to ask them and provide your answers, truthful answers, back to your buddy. An outside observer may offer fresh perspective on where you are and where you want to go. Please, make sure the person you pick to hear your inner thoughts genuinely supports your efforts.

Check Back for The Next Installment of: Getting Ready For New Year’s Resolutions 2010.

Putting Possibility Into Your Workout

Monday we discussed accountability. You are responsible for you. You and only you have the power to change your life, and you must take responsibility for your actions. The other half of taking accountability is to know your options. Now we are going to discuss possibilities. Again, you and only you have the power to decide your possibilities, but this is much more fun.

Many times I see people who do not understand they have lots of options. Yea, they may know about them, but they are not tangible in their lives so they rule them out. For example; if you feel you want to become more active, but do not have equipment, you may feel strength training is not an option for you. Many of us get stuck, we find a rut and we stay there. Why I ask you, why?

Once you have determined your goal, have made it a priority, and are ready to be accountable to yourself for following through, it is time to dream up all the possibilities. What do you want to do? How many different ways can you get there? Where will you go first? What will you do first? Who will be working with you? When will you start? The list goes on. Try this exercise: Begin by re-reading your goal. Remember, if you put something down on paper it becomes more real – write your goal down.

Then develop a list of prioritized actions that will help you reach your goal. For example: First priority – today I will eat well. I will make healthy meal and snack choices so I have the energy to make it through my day feeling good. You should become more specific and write down the items you are planning to eat for optimum adherence. Second priority – I will walk for at least twenty minutes today – best if you write down the place and time in your daily calender or where ever you plan your day or are journaling your goal. Third priority – I will make sure I get enough sleep tonight so I am ready to begin a great day tomorrow.

See how easy it can be. I know you are thinking, “Yea easy to say and write down; easy to do? I don’t think so”. That is where you call upon your discipline, your list of priorities, and your accountability measures to help support your efforts. Remember, no one is going to do this for you. It is all you!

Accountability and Weight Loss

Accountability. A big, very important word, accountability. In our society of give me’s, I deserve’s, and I want’s we have lost some accountability for our actions.

I meet many people who wonder why they cannot lose weight. “I try so hard”, they complain. Then we look at their actions.

They eat large portions, have long Friday night happy hours with friends, lots of pop and fast food choices, and no planning for meals or workouts. They spend their money on other items, rather than a gym membership or home workout gear. Sometimes I wonder where the rational is. For example: If I drink a 20 oz bottle of pop each day. At approximently $1.50/pop, I could afford a gym membership, more than 6 workout videos, a small set of dumbbells, 2 yoga kits, personal training, a pair of shoes, or some workout clothing. This is where many say, that’s why I buy the liter of pop for $1. Hmmm…is it any wonder more than 60% of our population is overweight? Until we begin to take responsibility for our actions weight will continue to climb.

Its too hard, you grumble. The media sends to many messages at me to drink pop, eat out, and buy things. Work takes all my time and I can not find time to work out. Well, you are responsible for you. It is no one’s fault if you fail to plan meals and end up eating un-healthy meals. Notice I did not say eating out. We have many choices when we eat out, but are you making smart choices? It is no one’s fault if you choose to work long hours and never take a break. A work out does not have to be long. Study after study show employee productivity goes up when employees are healthy, absenteeism goes down, and morale gets better. If your boss is not interested in any of those things, you may want to re-think your place of employment, it may not survive. It is no one’s fault if you choose to spend money on clothes, cigarettes, poor food choices, and other sedentary activities. Invest your money into things that will help you reach your goals.

Working out does not have to cost a dime. Have you ever been in a convienence store in the morning before work? Notice what others are buying. Many times you will see armloads of pop and other sugary drinks, chips, gallons of coffee (think caffeine); interesting isn’t it. I recently learned 60% of our county qualifies for some form of government assistance, yet when I look around a convince store, many can spend quite a bit on poor food choices, and then complain they have no money to spend on health.

Working out does not have to take much time. Ever sat through an episode of a TV show only to think it was dumb? Why did you waste your time? How about when you sit through one and because it ended you watch the one right after it? Half of many TV programs are commercials, so even if you like the show, you could do some activities during commercials, or better yet, you could do activity through the whole show! There is a half hour of activity and you did not spend any money or have to find any extra time.

Working out does not have to be a huge change. If you start it will snowball. What about working activity into your life? Quit driving around the parking lot looking for the closest spot – there is your extra half hour of time. Park as far away as you can and walk in. Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible. Walk instead of drive, sometimes it’ll take you less time to walk, than to get in your car, start it up, move it, sit at the stop lights, move through traffic, and find another spot to park. Get wild buy a bike. If you need a parking pass for your car – there is your extra money. (Worried about winter biking, there are many who bike all year long, and I am sure they could help you get started.)

It is no one’s responsibility to get you moving. It is no one’s responsibility to make sure you are choosing actions that correspond with your goals, and it is no one’s responsibility to make sure you follow through with your goals – its all you. Make the choice today to be accountable for your actions and in control of your choices and ultimately your health.

Thanksgiving Day Plan – to stay on track for your health goals, that is.

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time of family gatherings and lots of good (even if not so healthy) foods, many of which are long time comforts for you.  Thanksgiving is also a time of gratitude, a day to be thankful for all that you have in life, not a day to beat yourself up over an extra helping of grandma’s best pie; she made just for you. With those thoughts in mind let’s set some guidelines.

First, do practice moderation. Thanksgiving naps happen for a reason. Aim to keep your portion sizes reasonable and go back for seconds only after you have given yourself time to determine whether you really want seconds or not. Watch the beverages, remember they are calories, too. That also goes for the snacks you consume as you are making all the goodies for dinner. Many of us unconsciously consume calories as we taste, snack, visit, and gather. Try to pay attention to what you put in your mouth. Be pro-active bring a healthy food item to snack on or contribute to the family meal. At least you’ll have one great healthy choice. Eat something small before you meet up with the group. This way you will not be famished, which can lead to overeating.

Second, suggest something active after the meal. Start a new thanksgiving tradition and go for a walk after the big meal. Engage the children in your gathering in a game of hide-n-seek or tag. Do not forget the importance of dish washing. All that cooking and cleaning do burn calories, just do not consume the same amount in snacking while you are completing these tasks, defeats the purpose of your sparkling dish rack. Get others to help clean and you will create bonding time, as well. Play games. Games like charades, twister, gestures, and others allow you to use your brain and your body, plus they are hilarious to watch and play. All that laughing does wonders for your health!

Third, relax and enjoy your day. For many of us Thanksgiving is a time to rest and rejuvenate. Keep in mind the spirit of the day and enjoy it. Stay present in the moment of the day and you will find that watching portions, snacking, and fun are all taken care of. You just have remember to stay focused.