Change Is Hard

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it happen. You can and why not start today.

Change is hard. It is very hard. The truth is, changing is harder than staying the same, regardless of how I might beat myself up for failing to change. It is easier to continue smoking, eating poorly, or being sedentary even when I know these things are bad for me. Our food choices are based on their ability to fuel our bodies, release “feel good” hormones, and satisfy us, and we seek out activities that provide us pleasure. Pleasure is a personal choice which may not have anything to do with what is best for us.
If you are going to make a change in your life you have to be ready for discomfort – at least for a short while. In the beginning it will seem easier to go with your old routine rather than try a different activity. It will also feel better (comfortable) to stick to the old. Starting something new usually requires a little risk, a little uncertainty, and a little discomfort. The key is to be ready for this discomfort and accept it. Deal with it and use it to your advantage.

Be Accountable

Who is responsible for our health? Ultimately we are. Why then are so many people looking to blame other’s for their weight issues?

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.

America was founded on hard work. Our streets of gold were for the taking if one wanted to work hard enough. Now, I know if we look at our history from a social perspective there are many items to consider, but if we look just at the concept it is very simple. If I work hard I can do anything.

In our culture I believe we have lost direction when it comes to working hard on our fitness. The International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association posted a survey on American exercisers. It was very interesting to see that a whole demographic is still looking for a quick fix pill.

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 soda 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 approximately $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.

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.

The Motivation Game

Motivation comes and goes. So how can you stay motivated to reach your fitness goals? It has more to do with looking inside yourself than outside yourself for rewards and recognition.

When people hear what I do for a living they tend to grab a part of their body – one they are not particularly fond of – and say, “what do I do about this?” which is then followed by, “ I know I should, but…”, which can then be followed by_________ (you fill in the blank) – excuses.
We know what to do, our bodies tell us they like to move. We watch it, read it, hear it, but we choose not to, why? We know we will feel better, we know we will look better, and we know we will build confidence, which will lead to many positives about ourselves, so why don’t we move?
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Motivation is a tricky component to reaching a goal. It can be so strong one day and absent the next. This means you must constantly find ways to motive yourself. You must be creative here… no pressure right? It can be very simple. Decide that today I am going to walk for 20 minutes, and then look for ways to fit it into your day. Can you wake up a bit earlier, walk over lunch, after work, with your children or partner, is time critical today – do you need to break it down into increments? Look at the number of possibilities you have to reach the goal of walking 20 minutes. Enlist a friend or a supportive person to help make sure you reach your daily goal. (We will be discussing goal setting next week).

If you can step outside your comfort zone, make sure you are driving the change, and determine why you really want to change. Once you have done these two activities you have created a solid start to reaching your goal. Add passion and attention to your daily habits mixed with a lot of positive feedback and you’ll be on your way. Motivation will come and go, but you’ll be ready – you are now motivated to stay motivated!

Choosing Your Ideal Body

Have an image in your head of the ideal body? Think you need to look different than your current structure allows? How did you come up with that idea, anyway? What is your real body type?

Each person is different, therefore carry weight differently. There are three different body types, and each category is going to have different properties and will carry and build muscle differently.
A Mesomorph has an athletic build – usually builds muscle quickly, an Ectomorph is someone who is thin, may have trouble putting on weight, and tends to have a small bone structure, and an Endomorph is someone who easily puts on weight, and may have trouble losing it – no you are not all endomorphs.

It is not fair to judge yourself now if you are far from your “normal” body type. Most of us can remember where our bodies felt best, and it may not be on any ole’ chart. We can remember feeling strong, having energy, how good it felt to move. This is our ideal.

Unfortunately, we are constantly looking at images of other people which may not reflect what is best for us. Many people use the media’s portrayal of the human body as ideal however one must remember that media is an art form. Images are created, modified, and altered. What we see may not be real. Things get taped up, moved over, pulled tight, air brushed, and we often do not see the entire “stage” of an image – who is behind the model, how garments are held on, how are they standing, sitting, being held up, etc.

You are not a piece of art on display. You are a real human being with daily activities, responsibilities, and patterns, many not always glamorous. You want a body that supports your life demands and has the endurance to see you through the finish line. Set your ideal body accordingly.

Charting Your Fitness Without Using Body Weight

Many people come to me and say, “ I want to weigh…”, I always ask why. This usually frustrates the client and their response is something like, because that’s what I should weigh or what I did weigh. What I would like all of you to know is…stop using weight as the ultimate measure of your success. Get off the scale!
How then, you say, am I supposed to know how I am doing? The best way is to ask yourself:

Do your clothes fit better
Have I lost inches
Do I feel better
Is my stress level down
Am I sleeping better
Do I have more energy
All of these will be great indicators of your commitment and your success. However, if you’d like more feedback on your fitness and your progress, its more effective to measure body fat.

See the blog posts on What is Body Fat and When to Weigh In for more information on this fitness component.

When to Weigh In

Many people like to use body weight as a motivating factor to stay focused on their fitness goals. Beware of getting caught in the number trap.

Weight is important, but please don’t let it be your success or failure mark. Many things change throughout the month, and as your body cycles (both men and women) your body weight will change. This is true during the day as well, you will weigh different in the morning than the evening. Your body weight may fluctuate around 5lbs in a day – so how can that be a great indicator? Plain and simple it isn’t.
If you must weigh yourself, do so on the same day of the month and at the same time each weigh-in. It is easiest to do this when you wake up, you’ll be able to wear the same thing and generally have eaten the same thing prior to weighing – nothing for approximately 8 hours. You can weigh yourself in between your monthly weigh-in but I caution you to not be too tied to that number instead use it to keep you focused on working out.

Finally, remember a weight measurement in fitness is a time measurement. To get the most accurate idea of how you are doing you must track this measurement over a period of time.

What is Body Fat?

big guy weighing himself in the morning and shocked by what he sees

What is a better indicator of health and fitness success – how much you weigh or what your body fat percentage is? Many people don’t like thinking about their fat but its an important factor to be considered when working on your fitness.

Body fat is a measurement used to indicate health. There are a number of ways to measure body fat, all differentiate between your body fat vs your lean mass. Lean mass is everything but the fat, your blood, tissues, fluids, bones, muscles, everything else. When you jump on the scale you are measuring everything, which is not a great indicator of health. Think about a bodybuilder, they may have lots of lean mass and not much fat mass, but they will weigh more, likewise, a person who is thin with low body weight may have higher fat mass and may not be as healthy. Fitness professionals use it to determine goals for clients and how to approach training.
When looking for a professional to read your body fat, keep some limitations in mind. There are many types of body fat tests, and some tests are more accurate. Tester experience is a must. Tests can be less accurate due to your hydration levels, when you worked out last, who is performing the test, and the amount of sites taken (depends on test). The best way to get an accurate picture of your body fat is to begin with one tester, one method, and stick to it. Measure at the same time of the month and same time each time you test.

Following these guidelines will allow you to track your progress in a more controlled environment. Remember, bottom line is, if you are moving, you are on your way to health!

Failing To Success

Have you ever experienced sighs, rolling of eyes, or underhanded “not again” comments when you announce to those closest to you that you are embarking on a new fitness goal? Well, take note.

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 responsibilities.
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.

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 becomes second nature.

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 in whatever area you are working to change who can 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!”

What Makes You Happy?

Being happy has far reaching consequences. What makes you happy? Have you ever thought about that? I mean really thought about it. Right now today what makes you happy? What brings a smile to your face and warms your heart?

Many times we are looking outside ourselves for the experience of happiness. We may feel like if only I could be more like or do such and such better I would be happy. Many claim if only I had ____ (that car, the bigger house, more money) I would be happy. Many times what we think makes us happy is really good marketing.

In this time of economic crisis it is a great time to ask yourself what makes you happy, truly happy to the core of your being. As the world checks it’s desires its a great time to look deep inside yourself and find what truly makes you happy each day and set about participating in and enjoy being happy each day.

I realized I hadn’t thought too much about what truly makes me happy and I certainly wasn’t doing something each day to create happiness in my life. Now my experience has been that it is very simple things that make me happy, a cup of tea in the sunshine, flowers, bird song, slow sunsets with a friends, watching my kids play, simple stuff.

Some may say happiness is a byproduct of life, and that may very well be true, but I don’t see anything wrong with going out and bringing it into your life everyday.

Be Happy, Lose Weight

How often do you think about being happy with your life and yourself and as a result you lose weight?

How often do you think about being happy with your life and yourself and as a result you lose weight? A recent article in the Journal of Consumer Research makes the point that being happy can help us see the big picture. Participants were better able to think abstractly therefore enhancing their ability to reach their goals and stay motivated.

Laymen terms – if you are happy you will see beyond crisis right in front of you. You’ll be better able to hold the vision of your desired weight, running time, speed and the efforts it will take to get you to your desired point.

If you are happy you will be able to focus more effectively on what to do in the short term to reach the larger goal. A direct result of being able to hold the big picture of what you ultimately want in your mind when taking smaller steps toward completion of the goal.

You’ll train harder and maybe longer and definitely more consistently if you are focused. When you examine the contents of the fridge you are more likely to choose healthy options if you are happy than if you are looking for emotional comfort in your foods.

So start today and take steps to make yourself happy. Surround yourself with activities, things and people that make you happy to reach your fitness goals.

References:

Labroo, A. A., & Patrick, V. M.(2009). Psychological distancing: Why happiness helps you see the big picture [Abstract]. Journal of
Consumer Reserach, 35(5), 800-809.

Pawlik-Kienlen, L. (2009, March/April). Happy pictures on the fridge will help you lose weight. Spirituality & Health, 30.