Friday, March 26, 2010
Regardless of what you consider fitness to be, the question is, “Are you making progress in your personal efforts toward reaching your fitness goals?” We must be proactive, for unfortunately, no one can become fit for us. One of the most motivating elements I can offer to you is the promise of improved over-all well-being. I am here to tell you that nothing is more rewarding than feeling your body becoming stronger, experiencing clearer thinking, and enjoying increased vitality. It is imperative though, that you stop comparing yourself with anyone else and remember that no one can really know what improved fitness levels are FOR YOU. That is your judgment call. Therefore, creating some benchmarks for you to compare back to is tremendously helpful.
Pick up a notepad that you can label, “ My fitness progress report 2010.” Open it up and on the first page write down 4-10 health and fitness improvements (the more the better) that you wish to make. Everything counts here, from improving your sleep, having greater stamina, having plenty of energy to invite the grandkids for a sleepover after working all day, or whatever YOU deem as relevant and important to improving your quality of life. On the next page, write down your current weight, pant and/or dress size, how many times each night you wake up, including potty trips, as well as those times when you toss and turn for a hour or more before you return to sleep. Record how you feel, energy-wise, at mid-afternoon and between 5p and 6p. Then record at what time you feel sleepy enough to retire for the evening. Record your present approximate water intake for each day, whether or not you eat breakfast and lunch every day, and what time of night that you usually have your evening meal. Next, write down how often you exercise each week and exactly what you do, whether it is walking or resistance training or riding a stationary bike. If you are not presently exercising, write that down too. Skip a couple pages leaving plenty of room to add to that section as your fitness habits begin to change. When you add or delete anything regarding what you have recorded here, make a note of the date you made the change and record the change.
Accountability is huge and often it makes all the difference when it comes to your commitment and adherence to your new program. Also, it is extremely motivating to see in black and white positive gains as they take place. The brain is a strange organ, and due to its distaste for change, it often chooses to conveniently forget the improvements while it is happy to remind you of your failures. Interesting huh? In any case, whatever your decisions are for improving your health, whatever new habits you decide to implement, begin with baby steps and proceed slowly. Your success is nothing less then crucial and I want you to experience the exhilaration of succeeding over and over again. That is always incredibly motivating. Know that you will have minor backslides but, as with any new habit, do not lose heart. And whatever you do, don’t allow those small mistakes to discourage you into giving up. Start each day as the new opportunity that it is, begin anew, and always plan to put your best effort forward. After all, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose except for a less-than-satisfactory quality of life. Happy mind, body and spirit fitness to all.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Research has proven for decades now that those people with positive dispositions are not only healthier, they live longer AND they are happy regardless of what is thrown at them. Of course, it is challenging and it will take diligent practice to ingrain new patterns of thinking and of viewing your world BUT... the rewards are incredible. Don’t you want to be a viable, independent senior who has plenty of energy to play with your grandchildren and great- grandchildren? Don’t you want to see your children grow up to marry or to become the wonderful assets to our community that they will be? And don’t you want to live your life in the healthiest and most productive way possible? Certainly everyone must answer “yes” to each of these questions. So then I must ask you, “What is preventing you?” You may say, “How can I be positive when there is such high unemployment, when I barely make enough to pay my bills, when life has become so very uncertain...tell me how?” My response is this, ”When has worry, fear and doubt EVER helped to make things better? When has focusing on what is going wrong ever made things go right? When are we going to realize that we can never find solutions while focusing on the problem...negative begets negative.”
It always comes down to choice and the choice is always ours to make, individually. No matter how dark it gets, we will always find our way IF we persistently choose to think positively, and we deliberately focus on what is wanted versus the unwanted. It is imperative that we decide to consciously use our free will to put all our attention on all that we are presently blessed to have. How very fortunate we are to live in a country where we are free citizens. We all have numerous challenges, yes, but they need not consume us unless we allow them to. Spend at least 60-90% of your day determinedly focused on your blessings and on what is working in your life, and I can promise that you will have better health, a better outlook, and circumstances and events will return more positive outcomes. Please don’t let negativity rob you of your well-being. Remember, you always have a choice as to how will respond to anything. Stress is inevitable, however, your response to it is up to you. YOU are in control of your thoughts and attitudes and no one can ever take that from you. Start your day with thanksgiving for another opportunity to experience, grow, and provide your gifts. Before you even leave your bed, spend five minutes creating a gratitude list, and bask in how good that feels. Move through your day with the resolve that you are simply not going to let anyone or anything steal your joy. You may just find that your positive attitude will rub off on those around you, too. Happy mind, body and spiritual fitness to all.
Monday, March 01, 2010
When you snack is important as well. Most people benefit from either a mid-morning snack and/or a mid-afternoon snack. However, most of us have the habit of snacking at night after dinner and this is the one time that is truly detrimental to our health. Often, we deprive ourselves all day long and then feel justified in indulging in late night treats. Sorry, but ingesting hundreds of calories after eating your main meal for the day is simply a self-sabotaging behavior that really needs to go. The problem is that you are consuming just before you are about to sleep, which lowers your metabolism causing all those unnecessary calories to be stored as fat. That is only going to result in packing on the pounds. Instead, allow me to suggest that you keep your hunger at bay and choose healthy, delicious snacks that you consume earlier in the day while your metabolism is revved. That will help tremendously.
Dr. Louis J. Aronne, MD, is a clinical professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and he has some excellent advice. He says, “Snacking BEFORE you feel hungry can help suppress appetite and most people feel less hungry when they eat one or two snacks a day and, have smaller meals.” He continues by adding, “ Everyone should have a mid-afternoon snack and perhaps a mid-morning snack. Snacks high in sugar, high in fat and /or high in starch, such as candy bars, cookies, chips and soft drinks, are the ones to be avoided.” Preferably choose snacks high in protein and fiber. Some especially tasty and satisfying choices, 100 calories or less (which is optimal), would be 6-12 raw or roasted almonds or cashews, 4-8 walnut halves (divvy them up and put the rest away!), ½ cup of 1% cottage cheese, a cup of beef vegetable soup or a small low fat yogurt. A small apple and a small piece of cheese, I have found, a half hour before lunch or dinner, really takes the edge off and helps me to eat my meal with much more control.
The bottom line is, as always, use your common sense, be smart and think ahead of your hunger and decide to be proactive about the choices you make. When it comes to health and fitness, unfortunately no one can do it for us. Begin tonight to PLAN your day’s intake of food and pack some healthy snacks to ward off temptation at work. This is doable and easy, and with just a little effort on your part, you will start to see those unwanted pounds falling away. Take charge and be proactive and remember that a small treat of your choice is possible, a couple times a week. Even a single piece of dark chocolate every night is alright, but only when the rest of your day has been well managed. Complete deprivation will only lead to a binge that will undo all your hard work. Don’t take life so seriously, laugh often and treasure each day for the gift it is. Happy mind, body and spiritual fitness to all.