Mindfulness

The small habits you should focus on to reach your health and fitness goals

focus on the steps that will lead you to the goal, not the goal itselfLast week I wrote about why we need to get obsessed with consistency and the actions that feed the goal instead of focusing so much on the final product when it comes health and fitness. So what are those little habits and actions we should be getting obsessed with in order to reach our goals?

Obviously this is going to vary from person to person based on your past histories and current habits. But here’s my attempt at coming up with a general list of habits to work on changing and how you can start to take the steps to do that, based on some of the barriers I’ve seen with clients and some I’ve encountered myself.

I’ve grouped them into three categories: exercise, nutrition and mental health, or what I like to call the Self-Care Trifecta. Getting a handle on these three things is a lifelong process, and sometimes I find we focus too much on one for too long while ignoring the others. Though balancing all three is a mighty challenge (and one I don’t think we’ll ever be able to do at the same time), having the Trifecta tip in three directions throughout your day, week or month is better than having it just topple over to one side completely.

Since trying to form too many new habits at once is overwhelming and generally doesn’t work, I would pick ONE habit out of all three of the categories to work on for a month. Then for the next month, continue your chosen habit (or take it up a level) and add in another habit from a different category. I’m going to be facilitating something similar to this using a habit changing worksheet with my Koru Personal Training January Facebook Challenge Group next year (sign up at the link if you’re interested!), but here’s a sample of just some of the things you can choose to focus on for 30 days: (more…)

Self-knowledge, the problem with self-help books and how to truly change your habits

practicemakespurposeYou know when you hit 30 (or 25, perhaps), and you start reading self-help books to address an identified problem or figure out what your life’s purpose is?

Unhappy in love? Relationship on the rocks? Feeling unfulfilled at work? Kids driving you crazy? Stress and anxiety ruining your life? Depression dragging you down? Unable to pay the bills? Feel empty inside? There’s a self-help book for that, I’m sure. And most of it is probably fairly good advice, especially if it’s penned by a PhD, medical doctor, scientist, therapist or psychologist with decades of experience behind their words of wisdom.

But does reading, intellectually understanding and even applying some of what you’ve learned ACTUALLY help you? Not the ego you, but the REAL you? The you that all those self-help books promise to help reveal?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately as I’m currently eyeballs-deep into several self-help books. It’s all fascinating stuff, and while some of the wisdom and advice has definitely helped me to understand myself and others better and to see certain situations with more clarity, I’m curious as to how it’s actually affecting my true self. Although intellectually I understand the advice and have been working on applying some of what I learn into my everyday life… is it really me? It’s like when I give a new client a strength training program or nutrition plan: Intellectually they know what to do and can even take steps to incorporate it into their lives… but is it their default state? Is it something that truly resonates with who they are, their desires, their values, their beliefs? Is that why changing habits — especially ones related to fitness and health — so hard to do? (more…)

Do motivational quotes actually motivate you?

un-motivational quote

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” – Anonymous

“If you are not willing to risk the usual you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.” – Chris Grosser

“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.” – Michael John Bobak

There. Now that you’ve read those, are you ready to get up, put down your phone/close your laptop and create a risky opportunity that makes you feel uncomfortable in order to achieve greatness? Are you going to put on your workout gear and head to the gym right this very moment, even though you’re currently cozy in your bed/sitting at your desk at the office? No?

I’ve often wondered if reading motivational quotes layered over images of mountains, oceans and trees actually inspire people to get up and DO the things the quote is trying to motivate you to do. Although many of us seek out and resonate with words of wisdom, especially when we’re going through tough times or are working on something that requires mental strength and willpower, do they actually cause a person to take action? (more…)

Buddha was right: New study proves you’re not who you think you are

buddha-thoughtsAre you unhappy with your body? Do you wish you were faster, stronger, bigger or leaner? Do you long to be one of those neon-clad runners who pound the pavement at the crack of dawn and actually enjoy themselves while doing it? Do you wish you didn’t love ice cream, cheese, chocolate and salt-and-vinegar chips so much?

I’ve got good news for you.

Evan Thompson, a philosophy of mind professor at the University of British Columbia who recently published a neuroscience paper on the concept of what we perceive to be our ‘self’, has discovered that “the brain and body is constantly in flux. There’s nothing that corresponds to the sense that there’s an unchanging self.” Now, this doesn’t mean that one day you’ll spontaneously grow bigger bicep muscles and develop cravings for kale and wheatgrass smoothies – but it does verify what Buddhists have believed for ages; that our self is ever-changing and that we are not our thoughts.

“Buddhists argue that nothing is constant, everything changes through time, you have a constantly changing stream of consciousness,” Thompson explains in this article. He found evidence that “self-processing in the brain is not instantiated in a particular region or network, but rather extends to a broad range of fluctuating neural processes that do not appear to be self-specific.”

So what does this have to do with health and fitness?  (more…)

{Friday Favourites} The best health and fitness reads of the week

best-reads-teaserHappy Friday y’all! How was your week?

Mine started off fairly disappointing when I learned that it’s going to be even harder to get into Boston this year, thanks to 3,000 faster people registering before the five-minute-and-under qualifiers could 🙁 I knew I’d be cutting it close, since last year the time cut off was 1:02 (and I finished within 1:03 this year). Although I haven’t completely given up hope yet, I have a feeling this won’t be my year. I’m sad I will miss out on running it in 2016, but I’m still proud of myself for qualifying. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be, and I’ll need to run even faster next year to get in for 2017. I’m thinking I’ll need to run AT LEAST a 3:29 to guarantee myself a Boston bib. Sigh.

On the upside, all that money I was saving for a Boston trip can now go towards some other trip, perhaps a tropical vacation?? I got a few items in the mail this week from my cousin in New Zealand to entice me to come and explore NZ’s amazing trails. Maybe?? (more…)

Why mindset is the key to achieving your health and fitness goals

Mindset: The key to achieving your health and fitness goalsI listened to a fantastic episode of Nia Shanks’ Lift Like A Girl podcast the other day where she interviewed Carrie Campbell, a counselor and personal trainer with the Mindset Performance Institute (MPI) about how importance mindset is when it comes to changing habits.

The thing I’ve struggled most with as a newbie personal trainer is how to get clients to follow their programs. Even though you can create the best exercise program designed to fit into a busy schedule and can provide simple nutrition guidelines that include foods the client enjoys eating and meals that are easy to prepare, it can still be hard to achieve compliance. And it’s not the fault of the client, by any means.

Think about it: How many of us already KNOW what we need to do to lose weight or get fit? I’d say most people know they need to eat more vegetables, drink more water, eat less sugary processed food, get more sleep, and exercise regularly. I’d also say most of us even know HOW to do it – stock your fridge with veggies, cook more meals at home, carry a water bottle around with you and set a timer on your phone to remind you to drink, turn off your electronics an hour before bed, and go to the gym three times a week on your way home from work.

So why do we struggle to follow through?

According to Campbell, it’s because we’re not doing the pre-work we need to do to get to that point of adapting to a new habit. We need to change our mindset first before we can change our habits. And to change our mindset, we need to understand why we do the things we do. (more…)

{thinking out loud Thursday} The one question you need to answer to help stop the cycle of shame

you will not get what you truly deserveHave you ever been in a situation where you shared something that was important or meaningful to you with another person or group of people, only to have it ignored? Or to not illicit the reaction you were hoping for? Or maybe even you’ve set some kind of expectation for yourself and let your own self down by not following through. If you have — like I have regularly — that sinking feeling you feel is most likely shame, according to bestselling author Brene Brown in this INC.com article I came across yesterday. And there’s only one question you need to ask yourself to combat that emotion of shame you’re feeling in that moment: “What story am I telling myself right now?”

UGH. That’s so me. The spinner of stories. You could be thinking/feeling something completely different than what I perceive, and one wrong gesture or voice inflection and I’ve made up an entire scenario in my head about why you don’t like me/don’t agree with me/are mad at me/think I’m stupid. Ridiculous, I know — but as a highly sensitive person, I’m hyper aware of verbal and non-verbal cues and the general energy of other people, and can pick up quite easily on when things aren’t all rainbows and puppies. The problem is, I always assume it’s because of something I said or did, not because the person might be feeling upset/low/irritated/stressed due to something else going on in their life. (more…)

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