Planning and Goal Setting For Fitness Success

Goals take planning. Many people have begun the journey to better health and have taken the challenge to begin exercising.  It is important to put into perspective what you are trying to accomplish.

First, look at where you are. What is it about where you are that you want to change? Is this something you can do easily? 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. 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 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.

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? Again, write down the answers. As you review your list, are you being realistic about your 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?

Finally, you must decide how you are going to tackle your goals? Will you do them together? Do they fit? For example: I want to become more healthy and eat better. These two goals fit together and help me accomplish both. On the other hand, if I want to learn a new computer program and how to paint, I may be better off tackling one goal at a time due to the intensity of each. Ask again: “am I being realistic about my goals?” “my time commitments?” and “my desire to reach this goal and put effort behind accomplishing it.” Remember if it was easy you would have already done it.

Once your list is done it is time to prioritize your goals. It typically takes twenty-one days to create a new habit so it is a good idea to take on one goal per quarter, or for three months at a time. Not that you won’t continue once you have begun, but giving yourself three months to really focus will allow you to create healthy habits, break the old ones, and account for setbacks, which will happen. Once you have chosen four goals to accomplish this year (less if they are very intensive) it is time to plan.

You will want to examine time commitments throughout the year, such as vacations, conferences, graduations, births, things you know are coming up and have the potential to throw you off. Then examine your daily commitments and decide how you will fit your new lifestyle activities into your existing lifestyle. Finally, map out the next year based on your large goals, followed by the smaller goals you will use to measure your success by. In the end change is a difficult practice, but we call it practice for a reason: if you do not practice you will never get your new habits down!

Who are You Hiding From This Halloween

Its Halloween Time. The time when we put on costumes to pretend to be something or someone we are not. If you are of another tradition it may be the time you connect with those from your past who have gone before. This halloween think about how you are hiding from yourself pretending to be somebody you aren’t or how you are holding onto the past trying to get back to where you’ve been (ie thinner, faster, fitter). Reflect on the images and feelings those sentences bring up and use that information to redirect you toward your fitness goals. Here’s how.

First, you can’t go back and trying to is futile. One of the hardest things in this world is to look upon today and know you have to accept it – and yourself – just as it is, today, in this moment. You may wish you hadn’t gained weight or that you didn’t eat what you did for breakfast this morning – but matter of fact is you did. So instead of fighting yourself in the past bring your battle to the present moment. Look around – notice and describe what is right in front of you and know that in this moment you have the opportunity to choose what you want to do. From your deepest self – how do you want to live right now, what do you want to eat (or not) right now, and what active thing can you do right now. Do not get tricked into looking toward the future because as much as we cannot change the past we cannot predict what will happen in the future. All we have power over is now.

Second, why are you hiding? What are you hiding? Who are you hiding from? Some of these questions can bring up lots of “junk” we carry around with us. Things we believe about the world and ourselves. If you feel overwhelmed by your answers its time to seek professional help. Find a good therapist who can help you unload and re-pack your bags with skills you need now to get the life you want. If the answers are just difficult or uncomfortable it may be time to look closer at them. For some the answer(s) may be myself or my friends, my culture, my society, my community, my parents, my spouse, etc. It might be an event or past issue that still haunts you – re-read the first step again. Write your answers and revelations down.

Finally, decide what to do with the answers and thoughts that came up. Do you really want to move forward along your fitness journey? If you are not ready to quit hiding and start facing the choices you have in each moment it may be best to just let go for now. On the other hand if stopping is not an option how will you safely bring your true self forward? How will you make small changes each day to continue to move forward along your fitness path? How will you let go of past hurts and ideals that are no longer helping you succeed today?

All of these are big things to ponder. Remember change is a process and not about perfection. We cannot move forward before we are ready. But if you are – good luck, you can do this.

Exercise and Cancer

Many studies are currently being released regarding the relationship between cancer and exercise, and many of us have been touched by cancer in some fashion.  New research shows links between prevention and survival of cancer with exercise, which is exciting*.  Cancer used to be a death sentence, but with today’s technology cancer doesn’t have to be, and adding exercise to your daily life now, can help you ward off the disease or be more successful in survival, not to mention providing a higher quality of life as one goes through treatment.

Exercising does not have to be overwhelming. A recent study touted the risk of dying from breast cancer cut by 25 percent with one to three hours of walking and 54 percent when time is increased to three to five hours. It seems a combination of exercise formats can be beneficial. According to Exercises for Cancer Supportive Care by Kathleen Dzubur, MS; Francine Manuel, RPT; Gary Abrams, MD; Lee Erman, NCTMB; Ernest H. Rosenbaum, MD

Scientific research has documented that walking or bicycling 30 – 45 minutes per session, 3 – 5 days per week produces the following benefits: decreased nausea, decreased fatigue , increased physical endurance and increased quality of life. The benefits are believed to come from effects on hormone levels, adiposity, gut transport time, and endorphines produced by exercise that are believed to affect mood. Various types of aerobic and resistive exercises also improve the functioning of the heart/lung/circulation (cardiovascular system) and strength of the muscles. Aerobic exercise programs have added benefit of increasing the red blood cell count positively affecting the fatigue suffered by cancer patients undergoing treatment. While receiving the various cancer therapies, minimizing deconditioning of the body is the main goal of an exercise program. The better condition you can maintain your body, the better you will tolerate the side affects of chemotherapy, radiation and other invasive treatments. It will also be easier to do the required activities of daily living

The American College of Sports Medicine outline guidelines for beginning an exercise program to support cancer treatment. “Exercise programs for cancer patients should be developed from the screening information, the exercise assessments, and the exercise prescription. Patients that are in treatment will not have “linear” progression from exercise session to exercise session. They should expect to experience “ups and downs” from the cancer treatment; therefore before each exercise session the cancer exercise specialist should re-evaluate the exercise prescription.”

It must be stressed that beginning an exercise program while you are also undergoing the stress of a disease or other aliment takes patience, perseverance, and kindness for yourself. It is important to communicate with your health care provider and find a personal trainer who is experienced with cancer recovery. It is vital to find support because some days will be very hard, others very tired, and others will be wonderful, find someone who can support those ups and downs while you are walking the path of cancer.

*Please Note: Exercise is not a cure all for cancer, but overwhelming amounts of research support it as a benefit. Also, talk with your health care provider before beginning any exercise program.

References

Exercises for Cancer Supportive Care; Kathleen Dzubur, MS; Francine Manuel, RPT; Gary Abrams, MD; Lee Erman, NCTMB; Ernest H. Rosenbaum, MDhttp://www.cancersupportivecare.com/exercises.html

ACSM Fit Society Page – Winter 2003

The Role of Exercise in Recovery from Cancer Treatment; Carole Schneider, PhD, FACSM and Susan D Carter, M.D., Rocky Mountain Cancer Rehabilitation Institute

ACSM – http://www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Search§ion=20033&template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentFileID=28

Study Shows Exercise Boosts Breast Cancer Survival Rates; Marilynn Marchoione

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Duluth News Tribune – www.duluthnewstribune.com

4 Steps for Finding Time For Fitness

Are you one of the many who feel you do not have time to exercise?  I hear it all the time.  “I have a job, kids, parents, housekeeping, ____fill in the blank____, I can’t exercise regularly.”    I am with ya.  I’ve got kids, a husband, extended family, work, housekeeping, a yard, but here is a secret, if I do not make time to exercise, I will have to make time to be ill. Pretty heavy words.  I don’t even like the way it sounds.  If not exercise, illness. So what can you do about your time issues?

First, be honest about them. Write down your daily schedule for a few days. Once you have a list of daily activities look for time sappers. Is there things you do regularly that suck your time up? One of mine is reading. I’ll grab a magazine for a break and do not put it down when it is time. Reading in itself is not the problem, its my ability to block out the other things that need to get done to finish an article I may not care much about. Many see this problem with TV. They sit down for a brief break and end up watching an entire episode of a show they do not care about or rather than leave a co-workers office when other things should be getting done you linger to gossip about items you could give a hoot about. No matter what your time sapper, the end result is the same: you still have the same chores to get done leaving you no time to do the things you want. What if you stuck to the brief break and turned the TV off after 10 minutes? Or if I put down the magazine when it was time to go back to work? I think over the course of a day you would probably find an extra thirty minutes.

Second, GO TO BED! Make sure you are getting adequate sleep. Our bodies rely on it to rebuild and when you cheat it you cheat yourself. You create a deficit which results in less productive days. These less productive days add items you were too tired to complete back on your to do list again resulting in the feeling of no time left. When you wake up with enough sleep you are focused and ready for the day’s challenges leaving you extra time because you’ll be able to get your list done early!

Third, are you good at time management. Even if you wake up refreshed you must be a good time manager if you are going to really get enough done in a day. Many interchange the word stress with busy. If you find yourself always busy you’ve got a problem. I don’t mean this mean, but if you are always running behind, find yourself in the never ending to do list, feel that as soon as you finish one project you must begin the next you may be inefficient or you need an assistant. Nobody can do it all. I see many people like this. They run around like just been butchered chickens, where do just been butchered chickens go? In circles. Then they talk to me about how stressed out they are, how everybody else needs them first, and how they could never take the time to lose the extra weight because they have absolutely no time to workout. Hmmmm….If you do not take time for yourself no one else will and on top of that most say nobody appreciates the extra work they do. I would say, no one appreciates the work they do because no one knows what they really do, how they do it, or why they are doing it. I know I have put on my yelling voice, but what I am really saying is; your time is yours, manage it well and it will serve you well. Your time is your most precious commodity and you are worth a lot so make sure what you spend it on is worth it. If you are always too busy examine why and then delegate jobs that are no longer worth your time and focus your attention on the tasks which are. I speak from experience, as I have 3 small children, own a business, write weekly, run a household, and am still able to take a bath most nights of the week, meet up with my friends, and spend quality time with my husband and kids. Delegation is key.

Finally, your time is yours. If you do not find time to move often you will have to find time for illness. Personally, my very valuable time is better spent walking in the park, working out, playing with my kids, hiking with my husband, and enjoying this glorious thing we call life.

Find Support to Reach Your Fitness Dreams

Have you ever had this experience:  You are on top of the world, flying high on your excitement and new found dreams, only to have someone close to you squash it? It may be a look or comment.  Maybe its a person whose opinion is held so dear to your heart that it devastated you to get that look or comment, and squashed your spirit.

Well, get it back.  When trying to form a new lifestyle it is important to go after your dreams.  Some dreams may be weird, or hard, or nearly impossible, and those that know you best, know it will be a rough, if not, wild ride before you are done, but do it anyway, and for god’s sake quit listening to them! I am not suggesting you quit your day job, move to a faraway land, and forgo all responsibility in lue of leading a life full of your true calling, but if you’ve done your homework, making a change is going to be hard and those you may expect to support you the most may be the ones to avoid.

For many watching a loved one approach a goal we have seen them attempt and fail at multiple times – translation: we are picking up the pieces of their ruined self-confidence – can be rough and exhausting. Even when we try to be supportive it may not be genuine because we feel we know what the end result will be. For some it is painful to watch a loved one reach toward a goal we ourselves hold close and continually fail at, especially if our loved one is making it where we fell flat. Are these fair assessments? Maybe, maybe not, but is it our choice to make? NO.

If you are dealing with a friend or family member who is working hard toward a goal and failing, or if you are the friend who continually tries, but are having trouble getting it off the ground over and over, take note. Failing is reaching for success. You cannot succeed without failing somewhere along the line. If you are not failing once and a while you are stuck in a rut. I grew-up water skiing, as I got older I did not want to fall; I felt it was how I would be measured as a person. Well, luckily I figured it out – if I didn’t fall I wasn’t pushing the envelope, and if I wasn’t pushing my skills I wouldn’t get better. Basically, I got bored. I learned the harder and more crazy I wiped out the better my skills got, the more bumps I could take, and the less the small stuff mattered. Life is like that. The more you live, the more the small things won’t derail you from the goal.

Let’s put this into a fitness perspective. For example: I am looking to lose a few pounds. I have been for ten years. I continually have joined gyms, tried walking on my own, and new diets, but I never could keep them up. Finally, exhausted I gave up for a term and am now ready to begin again, sound familiar? If you look back through your history of trying, do you find that you got further each time. Progress is not always measured in pounds, weeks or calories, but look at whether the same issues derailed your efforts. Maybe in the beginning if I didn’t strictly follow my diet I was done for the week or day, which over the long haul derailed my entire goal. Or if I skipped a workout, I was so guilty I would overeat at lunch and dinner before snacking from the vending machine and a pint of ice cream. Next time I attempted my weight loss I didn’t let a missed workout or off meal ruin my confidence, but I let my schedule take me down. The third time, I figured out my schedule, but I let my fear of gyms dictate which direction I would go and I got bored and then it snowed. See how this works? Each time I got better at dealing with issues, but a new one popped up; until I finally put my fitness first no matter what, because I finally understand how important it was to me…no matter what.

By repeating an activity even if it seems we are not reaching our goals, we are creating pathways in the brain that reinforce our goal. These pathways become stronger the more they are used and soon it does not seem hard to use them at all. It seems normal. Each time we attempt to break an old habit and make it longer than we did before; we build a stronger connection to the new habit and break down the pathway to the old, which leads to leaving the old habit behind.

Today look back and take stock of the failures you’ve had. Can you see a pattern? Can you see progress (remember to look at the big picture)? Can you see where you may need work? If these questions seem daunting, hire a professional to help you sort through your ideas. Once you’ve got your track record you can limit your obstacles based on past experience, draw new confidence based on what you have been able to overcome, and begin again armed and ready when your best buddy rolls their eyes and exclaims, “Not again!”

Exercises To Do When You Have Kids

mother, father and daughter on a blue racetrack

Any of them! No seriously I know having kids and dogs and parents and a job and … the list could go on can get overwhelming and make it really really really hard to fit everything into your schedule. However – If you don’t make time to fit fitness in – Nothing else will fit!
It is important that you take time for you. The better health and wellness you have the more able you are to take care of those around you. Here are some ideas to help you find time for fitness in your schedule.

First, take a hard look at what you are doing, when, and why. Cross of anything you feel is a drain on you. This doesn’t mean you have eliminate it totally. Its just a starting point.

Next look for crossed out items from above and see which ones really can be eliminated. Many times we are doing things just because we always have. Now is the time to examine if these are still things that need to be done. For example, I am still washing, drying, folding, and putting away Johnny’s socks and underware – and Johnny is 16 yrs old. Johnny could be doing that on his own, not to mention the favor you’d be doing his future partner by teaching Johnny to care for his own clothing.

Finally, look at the crossed items that you can’t eliminate but that you could share. Like cooking dinner, changing sheets, typing certain reports, childcare, parent care, puppy care, taxi-ing your family and friends, or hours spent gossiping around the break room at work. Gossip while walking or over lunch instead. Many have trouble asking for help and believe the busier and more stressed we are the more important we are. Is that really true? NOPE – we are just more busy and more stressed and did I mention more busy. Doesn’t mean we are getting any more done.

For some the above ideas will seem like an impossible task. But I challenge you to live your life for you. Place the word want to into your time commitments and if it doesn’t seem to fit and causes possible vomit – its time to revamp your time!

Getting Back on The Fitness Wagon … Again

I fell off. I started getting zoned into doing everything but exercise. And what happened? I started to feel crappy. I had headaches, backaches, felt bloated, and tired. Here’s what I did.

First, I took a hard look at my schedule. What was I really doing during my waking hours? Was I spending my time doing things I wanted to do, or was I spending my time doing things I thought I had to do? Now the argument I have too much to do and I have to do it all doesn’t work so well for me. I usually find that I may think I have a ton to do but when I break it down into actual needs I can usually find things I can let go of.

It takes me time to change. I have to give myself space. Space to think about what my life will be like if I put this exercise activity on my to do list. It usually takes me about three weeks to implement a new behavior – longer if I beat myself up over it. So I have learned to start thinking like a fitness everyday person even if I am not. This allows me to prepare both myself and those around me for the changes I will need to make. I don’t exist in a vacuum so it is important for me to think through my schedule changes so I can better prepare my family and friends.

Finally, I have to follow through. So for all my analyzing and all my space honoring my timeline for change when it comes down to it – I have to do it. I am the one who puts on my workout shoes and gets the exercise done. And usually, I am much better for it!

It’s All You When It Comes to Being Healthy

People have all sorts of reasons why they can’t exercise more…or should I say excuses?  Working out doesn’t have to break the bank, take tons of time, or cause you to stress more.  Working out is about priorities and putting yourself behind your efforts.

Working out does not have to cost a dime. Many spend quite a bit on poor food choices, and then complain they have no money to spend on health. How much is your cable bill? What’s it doing for your body? What about your trips to the mall, eating out, the bar – how much are your habits costing you? Are they still worth the extra weight, poor sleep, added stress? See below for ideas.

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 don’t 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. Not to mention the cool fat tires you’ll get to use.)

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.

Try Something New

I’m still riding high after finishing my first triathlon! I am totally hooked and it got me thinking.

As I was setting up the day of the race I took extra time to look at those around me. They were all shapes and sizes, men, women, and the youngest participant was 12. This got me thinking why aren’t more people trying new things everyday? My best guess … Fear.

I know fear can be an enormous thing to overcome. But what if you started today? What if you just did something different than normal today? What if you just made a small adjustment in your routine today?

What if you decided to try the salad instead of the same old sandwich? What if you left a little bit on your plate instead of eating way past full?

What if you parked further and walked in? What if you ran? What if you signed up for that race? Or told your best friend you were going to become more healthy … and mean it?

The destinations are endless and you are the driver. Try something new today.

Tips for Weekend Warriors

Are you a weekend warrior? You know, the people who go all out each weekend as if they were as nimble as they once were. Yet, they are the ones on the couch nursing (or should I say whining about) their aching back, hip, arm, shoulder, elbow, head, whatever for the next two days!

Are you a weekend warrior? You know, the people who go all out each weekend as if they were as nimble as they once were. Yet, they are the ones on the couch nursing (or should I say whining about) their aching back, hip, arm, shoulder, elbow, head, whatever for the next two days! My former professor wrote a book on retiring from athletics gracefully, a tough but necessary rite of passage. We try to hang onto former levels of activity, however, we are no longer practicing at the same level, which means we are no longer at the same level. A hard realization, I know.
According to Jim Rauzi, physical therapist with the Center for Muscle and Joint Therapy in Superior, WI, the first part of understanding the pains associated with weekend warrior type activity is to accept that you are experiencing a little (in some cases a lot) more activity than you are used to. No matter what you used to do, you no longer work at that level and accepting that you cannot jump into activity the same way is crucial. Ideally, you should be training for your events. Train for golf outings, sports leagues, 5-Ks, and other activities you know are taxing. Many people feel this is overkill, however, those who train feel much better after the race and are much less likely to suffer a debilitating injury.

For those of you with time before the big event consider training to help you perform your best. The biggest mistake I see is overestimating what the body can do based on old memories of what it did. Yea, you used to be able to run, skate, tumble, row, ride that fast or further. Unfortunately, you haven’t been training and at one time you practiced those activities.

More on training for an event next time.