Dressing Up Your Fitness

Here we are in October, the month of costumes and scare tactics. As you reflect upon the challenge you took last month – committing to three months of fitness routines – I wonder how you are doing? This is a great time to look at your own scare tactics and how you’ve dressed up your excuses.

One thing guaranteed about life is it’s going to change and the other thing … that’s it’s not always easy. Most of us have a great thing called our brain which is very good at talking us into and out of ideas, goals, and behaviors. So today look closely at how you are talking yourself out of exercise and other healthy behaviors you’ve committed to.

How do you dress up your excuses? Do you use them as masks to hide behind? Do you allow them to be the monologue of your life, “It will never work, I can’t, or if only _____”. Do you use these same excuses in other challenging situations? I wonder what purpose they are serving? We don’t do anything (even that which seems harmful) we don’t get something out of. So figure out what you are getting out of making that excuse and decide if it’s worth it. For me sometimes time with my family is worth my workout but it’s not something I use to forgo the whole plan.

What kinds of scare tactics to you use? Do you tell yourself, “I won’t be able to, I have to avoid, I don’t deserve ______”? These are what is called avoidance goals and they are not as effective long term as approach goals. Sure you’ll make some change in the beginning but over time telling yourself you can’t have that extra piece of cake or you won’t get to do your favorite activity gets old. You end up throwing the whole goal out because your want is greater in the moment and you feel like you can’t win anyway.

You are better off to create approach goals. Ones with positive outcomes. Not only does reward systems work better they last longer than punishment based systems. So create your optimum reward system so not only are you reaching your goals but enjoying getting there too. Life can be pretty sweet when you focus on the process not the perfection.

Routines and Fitness

For many of us fall is the time we get “back on the wagon” when it comes to our fitness routines. Months of longer days, warmer weather, and high energy activities have left us happy and overwhelmed. Add in extra food and beverage consumption and we may even have a few new pounds to cart around. Routines are important when commiting to a healthier lifestyle. Routines help us keep track of and make new behaviors habits. Just the act of tracking will increase or decrease a behavior. Many people balk at the idea of journaling and it’s still one of the best tools we have to truly change our behaviors. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Something as simple as hash marks can still have a big impact on our behaviors.

Another thing routines help us with is taking the overwhelming work of constantly changing and making it managable. We use the routine as a way to come into new behaviors without complicated thought processes, constant schedule shifts, and working so hard to think about what we are going to do. Instead putting a workout appointment on your calendar with an alert automatically reminds you to workout daily.

It’s the small changes you do daily that result in the large changes of creating a more healthy lifestyle. It matters what you do each day and adds up quickly. So today take some time to outline your goals for the next 3 months. Put them on paper, scheduling them into your life, and commit to making them happen. Track them along the way and watch yourself develop into the person you want to be.

10 Tips to Getting Started on Your New Year’s Exercise Routine

Getting started can be one of the biggest challenges when we want to become more healthy. Here are 10 tips to get you moving in the New Year.

1) Plan – write out your goals and when you’ll workout.

2) Schedule your workouts like you would any other appointment

3) Enlist a friend with similar goals.

4) Make sure you have the right equipment (in working order) – See my video blog on equipment for a home gym for ideas.

5) Set realistic goals – break them into daily or weekly increments so you’ll feel successful as you go along.

6) Change up your movement – cross train for injury prevention and so you won’t be bored.

7) Do a combination of Cardio, Strength, and Flexibility during your week

8) Focus on today – when, where, and how you’ll workout today

9) Eat a balanced healthy diet – you’ll feel better and it’ll be easier to keep your exercise goals

and finally,

10)  HAVE FUN! Decide to have a good time and it’ll be enjoyable rather than a chore – find workouts you like, notice your increased energy and better sleep patterns to help keep you motivated while your getting into the groove of your new habits.

Getting Started on Your Exercise Goals

I was talking with some friends the other day and one of them stated she “really wants to get started” on her exercise goals but she just didn’t feel ready. We talked about what being ready might look like for her. We all come to beginning a lifestyle change at different points in our lives. It can be helpful to think about a few things before you get started. 

1) What are your goals? Are they realistic? Do you need help deciding if they are realistic? Why do you want to reach these goals?

Many people begin attempting their fitness goals by throwing darts at an old board (and missing the target). They think about a weight, strength, or speed they had in the past and decide that is a good goal. It might be and it might not be. Much has changed since then (work, family, age). Wouldn’t be wise to consider what and how your life has changed before you try to change it back? It might be a goal worth going for with a few tweaks to support your new lifestyle.

2) What don’t you want? What do you not want to do to achieve this goal? What do you want to do to achieve it? What do you want to be different?

There are so many options there is no need to do something you don’t like – say those push ups you had to do in the military or high school gym class as punishment. Many of us have things we consider fun and exciting. Why not add those into your routine so it becomes playful and something you look forward to. If you don’t want a diet choice (say vegetables) you are an adult, you can choose, and you can find ways to get the health support you need and not eat what you don’t like. You also have choices about what you want to stay the same and what you want to be different about your life. It’s all about choices and tradeoffs.

3) What are your life obligations? Where are you going to find the time? What do you have to work around? Do you need to cycle your workouts to make sure you fit them in?

It is important to consider your life. Although, life doesn’t need to keep you from accomplishing your fitness goal it is easier to work with it rather than against it. So use it. If you have children or pets include them. Add activity into your day by parking further and walking more, taking the stairs, and planning active lunches or meetings when possible (walking around the block counts). Look at your schedule and slowly make realistic changes.

Bottom-line is we are all ready at different times and often our sense of what we are currently doing and the thought of trying to fit something else in is overwhelming. It is important to take a close look at what we are currently doing, what we want to do different, and start slowly.

You are a work in progress and just the fact that you are thinking about making a change is a step in the right direction. Keep it up!

5 Ways to Beat Fear of New Challenges

I was thinking today about a new challenge coming up in my life. I am beginning a PhD program and for all my excitement I began to feel a bit scared. First it started with small, subtle, and simple doubts. Then it grew into a bigger voice telling me I would never be able to finish this program & I was crazy for thinking I could. I did what I usually do when doubts creep in – I kicked them out. I realized not everyone (including me) can do this all the time and sometimes we need reminders that we are stronger than our doubts. Here are 5 things you can do to let go of fear and move forward in your life today.

1) Make a list of all the ways you can accomplish this goal and the strengths you bring to the table already. Then find ways to learn the ones you still need.

2) Find quality support people – look outside your family and close friends if needed or to a professional if necessary.

3) Tackle it one step at a time. We often make challenges “larger than life” and therefore never tackle them at all. Break it down into bite sized pieces.

4) Understand life gives us what we can handle and no more. Even when it seems so overwhelming remind yourself if you follow number 3 – YOU CAN DO IT.

and

5) Have faith, understanding, and compassion for yourself and in yourself as you attempt challenges in your life.

Believe you can and you will – Believe you won’t and guess what … you won’t. Tackle any life challenge with confidence by following the above simple guidelines, maybe add some of your own, and don’t shy away from your big goals anymore! One foot in front of the other finishes the race 

Be Free This 4th of July

The fourth of July is here once again. Last year I asked you to let go of all that was no longer serving you and celebrate your freedom. Did you do it? What was successful? What was difficult? What will you let go of this year?

We’ve been talking each week for more than two years now. How have our online conversations changed you? How have you evolved? I would love to know. When I am out and about I hear many stories about your lives and would love to hear your story. Change is hard. When we support each other and believe we can make our goals happen. You could be the support another community member is looking for. Amazing things happen when we work together.

Today I want you to think about what you are free from. What have you left behind? Negative thoughts? Excess weight? Belief that you weren’t strong enough? Your slow race time? People who didn’t support you? As you look back on on the past two years what did you start with that you are now free from? Celebrate your emancipation! Celebrate your ability to accomplish a goal. Congratulations! You did it. Celebrate You.

The person you want to be is achievable. It happens moment by moment in the choices you make. As you think about what you left behind and where you are going next ask yourself if you are living now as the person you want to be. We are the only ones who control our behaviors. We may like to think others do, but it really is about you and your choices. Free yourself from blaming and begin in this moment, right now, living like the person you want to be. Start making choices which free you from being stuck and wishing to be different. Be different know.

Free your thoughts to direct your behaviors toward the person you want to be. Stop wasting space acting in patterns which no longer serve you and free up your thoughts to act in ways which do. Once your thoughts are in place to move in a new direction your actions have no choice but to follow. Free yourself to make the change.

Free up your mind and let go of all those thoughts that keep repeating in your head. Let go of worry and anxiety; just be. The 4th of July is all about just being. Relax and let go of all shoulds and coulds and free up your schedule. Feel your skin relax and rest as you free your body and allow space for all parts of you to relax. Don’t worry about places you would like to change or see differently in the mirror, toss the ideal and free your expectations and just begin doing. Accept who you are today for all your greatness. Tomorrow you will be great, too.

Sounds good, I know. Sounds easy, not really. This process isn’t easy. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. Its not easy, but you can do it. Free yourself from the voice that says you can’t. Practice selective hearing and hear only; you can. To begin practically take the Healthy Lifestyle Challenge This week. Free yourself from constraint and begin your new healthy life today. Free You – Be You.

Healthy Lifestyle Challenge:

Begin by letting go. For the day practice being present to the moment. In each moment throughout the day you have a choice to do this or that. Decide which one leads you closer to the person you want to be and choose that choice. Each time you realize you are not paying attention just decide to pay attention again and repeat as often as necessary throughout your day. Goals are just the end result of many little choices made all day long over weeks, months, and years. Easy, no…doable, yes.

 

Tips for Losing Weight Before Vacation

Ok, how many of you have decided you are headed on vacation and figure you’ll lose a bit before you go … and that doesn’t happen. I am getting ready to head on vacation and decided I was going to lose 10lbs before I left. Here’s some tips on how to get into shape before you go.

First, it is important to determine realistic goals. Many of us decide we are going to get swimsuit ready based on an old photo of us or better (worse) yet Sports Illustrated version of swimsuit ready. If you’ve put on 50lbs over years its not coming off in weeks. Sticking to the goal of 1-2lbs per week is important. This goal allows you to actually change your lifestyle and keep the weight off over the long haul.

Second, Remember that the focus should be on healthy eating and exercise. Portion size is important and make sure you are getting enough intensity in your exercise to burn sufficient calories to meet a 1-2lb loss each week. A great site I like to use is livestrong.com (I am not affiliated in any way and make no money off my suggestion. It’s just a site I have had success tracking my food and exercise with because I can take it on my phone or from my computer)

Third, Don’t crash diet. This leads to over eating later and can actually help you gain more than you lost. Here’s the deal: If I weigh 150lbs and I want to lose 20lbs, I crash diet, I get to 130 and then I decide I can eat whatever I want. See #1. If I haven’t worked on healthy lifestyle habits such as mindful eating and conscious choice in my foods I am going to fall back to the same ole same ole and we typically don’t notice how much we’ve gained until our clothes don’t fit again. MEANING – I’ve gained more weight than I was packing before because my clothes in my closet fit a 150lb person.

Fourth, it is important to keep perspective. Vacations are supposed to be fun and relaxing. If you don’t make your goal it is OK. Just by trying you’ve gained insight into what didn’t work for you. This is important for next time. Insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results – and its the same in weight loss. If you don’t succeed this time, try again, using a different path.

Finally, ENJOY, ENJOY, ENJOY! You will get more out of your vacation and come back more refreshed if you just let go and have a good 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.

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 – 3

New Year’s may be a few weeks away, but if you are really ready to change your lifestyle this year, proper planning will put you ahead of the game come midnight.  You will be ready and on your way by the time the ball drops in Times Square.

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, 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 time necessities of each. Ask: “am I being realistic about my goals?” “my time commitments?” and “my desire to reach this goal and put effort behind accomplishing it.” AND remember if it was easy you would have already done it.

Once your list is done it is time to prioritize your goals. Typically I like to create a dream list of everything I really want to do. From there I have a good idea about what is important to me, and am able to begin narrowing down what I really want to accomplish this year. 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 time 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.