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.

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.

How Will You Give Thanks This Season?

The season of giving thanks for the abundance we have is upon us.  How will you be celebrating what you are thankful for this year?  

You could:

Take a walk in the woods. Listen to the silence and notice the peace which surrounds you. We are lucky to live in an area that allows us to get into nature easily. The Superior Municipal Forest off 28th street, Wisconsin Point, Pattison Park, Amnicon Falls, and more are available within minutes.  Beware of hunters!

Collect fallen leaves and write what you are thankful for on them. This is a wonderful  activity I do with my children. After collecting leaves I write what each is thankful for, then paste them to a “tree trunk” made of construction paper.  Their Thankful Trees become our decorations for the season. It is a wonderful way to help children understand the abundance which surrounds them and to talk with them about what is meaningful in life.

Make a list. Write down all the things you are thankful for and say thank you. If you can tell the people responsible for the items on your list. If not say thank you out loud – no one has to hear but say it and feel it.

Get out and do a Turkey Trot, a Christmas Fun Run, or another active event for charity.  This is a great chance to feel your own strength, give thanks for it, and help others in the process. Not to mention the friendship and camaraderie you gain and can give thanks for as you build relationships in your life.

When cooking meals for those who will share your spaces this holiday season, create healthy meals and do so with love and enjoyment. As Kahlil Gibran states in The Prophet, “For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.”  Give thanks for your friends and family by cooking healthy foods for them.

Watch the snow fall.  I know snow means winter has arrived, but without winter we would not have spring.  As the days turn colder we move within ourselves.  Think about the amazing task it must be to create snow, and so much.  Think about how beautiful the land looks when covered by a blanket of white.  Think about how quiet it is after snowing – to me it is always more quiet.  Enjoy the quiet and give thanks that you are able to watch this moment.

I know I’ve been a bit more philosophical this time, but I do believe we are surrounded by abundance if we chose to look.  Even in these times of economic crisis, crazy politics, and uncertainties we are surrounded by beauty and in beauty we find abundance for the spirit. It takes us to realize the abundance in our lives and through activity and rest we are better able to see what surrounds us, feel what moves us, and give thanks for what we do have in our lives.  Happy Thanksgiving!

 

The Art of Being

The art of being. The ability to just let the flow and rhythm of your world take over. Times when we are able to let everything but we are working on in this moment go when the world has aligned for us. Times when we just be.

To focus on one thing at a time. To just be and in being it is enough; doing exactly what you should be doing in this moment. Keep in mind your body has its own best interests at heart. Gobbling down extra chocolate cupcakes? I won’t say wrong, but I would examine motives: am I being present to this moment or hiding from another?

The mind likes to be active and can spin out of control finding all sorts of forgotten things, like where that thing I lost two years ago must be hiding. When we slow our minds we are better able to connect with our higher selves, to listen to our bodies, and have more clarity about what we are doing and why.  Life becomes vivid.

To get started try to remember a time when you were totally caught up in the moment.  Were you dancing, walking, gardening, doing dishes, playing with children, what were you doing the last time you completely lost track of time?  Remember how that felt.  Do you remember the bliss of just being?  If a moment eludes you don’t worry.  For many we are so driven, focused, or have been taught idleness is wrong we try hard to avoid it and instead stay busy.

The easiest way I know to slow my mind is movement. I find a simple activity I can do while staying conscious of my breathing, like walking. With each step I step mindfully. In other words, I am focused on where and how I place my foot, how the movement feels in my body.  Step one I inhale, step two exhale, and repeat the pattern. If I get lost in thought, I just come back to the pattern of stepping and breathing. Try this for 2 min, 5, or 50.

Once you have the basic feeling of staying mindful transfer this technique to other activities, such as housekeeping, playing, or sitting. This is a time to keep your mind clear so TV, radio, and other distractions are not the point. The point is to go inside yourself so you can listen to your thoughts, feelings, and needs better. Those things take us out of ourselves and distract us.

There you have it, at the beginning of the holiday season, the art of doing nothing and permission, should you need it, to just be.

Off Season Training With Mind Body Work

If you are shifting into a maintenance or off season phase of workouts. Its a great time to add in mind- body exercises. The body and brain may naturally be heading this direction as winter approaches so why fight it.

You can find very intense workouts or very light. Adding an element of mind-body will help you next season by preparing your mind activity now for more focus later. Also, as you continue to practice mind-body work the biofeedback loop becomes stronger. This is great for family picnics – where you may tend to usually overeat. Now the body sends the signal and you have been practicing listening. Not that you automatically won’t overeat this time, but the chance that it will be a conscious choice is greater and this is the key to long term weight loss.

Life is full of choices. Its how we make them that will determine our success or failure of weight loss. If you have the option to consciously choose your actions you have the power to decide if you’ll reach your goal! The idea of biofeedback is also great when training for events.

We have a tendency to do too much in our society. If you listen to the body it will tell you when to back off before injury lays you up for weeks. Many have trouble heeding the bodies advice, but the more you practice listening the more likely you’ll be to hear and honor what your body is telling you.

Which will keep you progressing in training, not laid up on the couch frustrated, mad, and guilty that you didn’t listen when “you knew better”.

Letting Go of Perfect

Many of us begin our fitness path with an ideal. We have a vision of what we want to look like, achieve, and accomplish. Sometimes these goals which were so inspiring to begin with begin to weigh us down. Soon they become the albatross that doesn’t let us go and we no longer enjoy.

I was hiking last weekend with my family in the mountains of Colorado. We were taking a somewhat difficult climb for our three small children but figured they could make it to the high lake with plenty of breaks. At first all went as planned, but soon the “how much longer” and “I’m too tired to move” became a constant creating stress for all within hearing distance. Was it my 4-year-olds fault he was bored of this multi-hour walk (we have completed others just fie) or my 6-year-olds fault she preferred the flowers in front of her to the lake we couldn’t see yet? No!

Looking back the only problem was that we didn’t honor the beauty right in front of us because we were too focused on the goal. Along the trail there was much to be discovered and had we been less focused on the end result and more focused on the process we could’ve have seen it.

The lesson in it all was this: having a destination (goal) is good however you should also find the beauty along the road (the process of reaching your goal). As it was we never made it to the lake but were able to learn this lesson halfway in. On the return trip we spend much more time checking out flowers, waterfalls, rocks, mud-puddles, and views!