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Blog: How to Not Fail Your Resolutions Part One

Blog: How to Not Fail Your Resolutions Part One

It’s that time of year again: make 10 resolutions, start 3 of them seriously and then fail at meeting any of them by the end of February (March if you are lucky). According to statistics, only 8% of Americans are actually successful in achieving their intentions…womp womp. Why the annual ritual? If it were simply a matter of willpower and determination, more people would be able to make significant changes each January. As it turns out, you actually need a plan, one that works!

We can help you plan to stick to those fitness and health resolutions- like for real.

1) Know yourself

Know your limits (time, physical, emotional, etc), your likes, your dislikes and your preferences. Don’t pick workouts that you won’t enjoy, or are too difficult or too easy for you. Don’t try to commit to an hour of gym time a day if you know your job and your commute doesn’t allow for that. If you like challenges, pick something challenging. If you don’t, that’s ok too. It doesn’t matter what your preferences are. Just be honest with yourself, and you raise the likelihood of sticking with something.

Practice honesty in evaluating your starting point. If you haven’t worked out since last February, maybe signing up for advanced level boot camp isn’t the best idea. If you are shy working out in front of others, maybe you should steer clear of commercial gyms and try something smaller. If you know that you suck at basketball, and you’d rather not feel embarrassed than actually learn how to play, then don’t agree to play with your friends who have similar resolutions. Find what you are good at and do that. If you do like learning new things, try something you have never done before. If you are not the type to motivate yourself, workout with a buddy or sign up for a class. If you work better at your own pace, hire a personal trainer. Whatever plan you make, just make sure it starts where you do.

Finally, be aware of your patterns in the past. What made you give up last time? How can you make sure that you don’t run into the same issue? Don’t sign up for sessions 3 times a week if you know historically you can only handle one or two. Do you tend to go into things full throttle and then lose your steam quickly? Pace yourself. Do you tend to take it too easy on yourself? Ask someone else to kick your butt!

2) Make small goals and move one step at a time

Is one of your resolutions to lose weight? Great! Now what…Plan! OK, so you want to lose weight. What are you going to do about that this month? What are you going to do about it this week? What are you going to do about it today? WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW?! Ah, now you see…Don’t reach for one ambiguous goal; split it up into manageable and specific steps! Not sure how to do that? Do some research or hire someone who does know. It IS worth the investment, because if you are unable to plan, failure is imminent! Construct a realistic timeline. Have an overall goal in mind, then break down that goal into monthly or weekly increments. Create an action plan for each day. This way you won’t bite off more than you can chew.

3) Be realistic

Make sure your goals are actually attainable and sustainable. Don’t sacrifice more than you are comfortable with. Don’t give up anything that you know you might regret (perhaps that absolutely-no-carbs diet is a bit extreme considering how much you love bread?), or make plans that involve things you hate (not a morning person? Yea those 6am workouts aren’t going to last). Health and fitness require constant commitment. You need to be able to sustain your efforts. Remember, if the goal is health related, make sure your workout plan isn’t making you more unhealthy by stressing you out ( i.e. making you lose sleep, making you adopt poor eating habits or sacrificing too much time from your family).

If you are working 80+ hours a week, perhaps training for a marathon is not the greatest idea; you might not get the sleep you need. If you want to bench over 300lbs by the end of the month and have a hard time getting up 85lbs today, you might be in for some disappointment. If having a six pack means that you have to eat food that you hate, then that six pack is probably not going to last for long. You either need to change your goal, or change your plan. Again, the outside perspective of a professional could be very valuable to help you understand this distinction.

4) Celebrate baby steps

So you did some investigation and created a realistic plan with micro goals that works for your personality. Now it’s important that you recognize the achievement of your smaller goals. If your goal is something that will take a lot of time and effort, and you do not acknowledge the smaller steps you have taken to get where you are, it can be hard to see progress and you may be discouraged. Plus, once you see the results, and you know the effort it took to get there, it can help you get back on track if you happen to slip. It’s ok to mess up every once in a while, in fact, unavoidable. A plan will orient you back to the right path.

In the next 2 blogs, part 2 and 3, we will talk more specifically about fitness resolutions and what contributes to success and failure. Good luck!

Do You Know Why You Move: 3 Motivations to Keep Your Fitness Goals Clear

Do You Know Why You Move: 3 Motivations to Keep Your Fitness Goals Clear

A popularized form of quasi-yoga is yoga done for the purpose of getting physically stronger, to lose weight and look a certain way. None of these motivators are wrong, so much as they are somewhat inappropriate reasons for going to a yoga class.  When a teacher is diligently constructing classes to help their students reach deeper levels of personal awareness and understanding there is one question that is most annoying/almost offensive:

How many calories does this posture/class burn?

Cringe, Cringe, Cringe, Cringe:  No!

You might be asking why we would feel agitated by such a seemingly innocuous question.  Here’s why:  Yoga may have many physical benefits that can attribute to you reaching a certain aesthetic or performance ideal.  That being said, those benefits are secondary to the main objective (note: using language that is goal-oriented while speaking about a yoga practice is already inherently controversial), which is spiritually-oriented self exploration.  To be clear, “spiritual” is not used to imply “religious.”  Be critical thinkers; the two words are not necessarily synonymous. We are not giving this information to dissuade you from using yoga as a physical practice, but rather to make sure that you are clear about your intentions.

Here are 3 reasons people usually take up a physical practice. Which one resonates most with you?

1.)  We move to meet an aesthetic ideal – this motivation usually leads us to workouts that we hope will help us burn calories (oh wait… except that not all calories are created equal and calorie deficit formulas are not as simple as it would seem since that is not how our bodies work…anyway…), reduce body fat, rev up metabolism or insert-words-here that the fitness industry sells to us in order to sell products that support reaching a particular physical shape.

2.) We move to reach a certain level of performance – perhaps you are looking to increase your strength.  Well, this is different from “looking” stronger.  In other words, six-pack abs don’t always mean reliable performance (unless you are a stripper and then that totally helps). This motivation will often lead to training that follows a specific regimen to increase your performance success, whether the goal is to lift more weight, have a better golf swing (Kim knows all about this, btw, she does work at Golf and Body), create a more sweeping arabesque, run faster, etc.  How we look and how well we do something physical is often surprisingly not predictable.

3.)  We move to feel better – you feel uncomfortable in your body, you feel achy or “tight,” you feel stressed, not-grounded, not good. One can definitely feel “better” after an intense workout, but soon enough we find one particular form of movement that makes us feel good.  For some it is running, yoga or weight lifting.  If someone’s primary driving need for movement is simply to feel better, however uniquely we each define that feeling, then we will stick to that one primary practice.  Just be aware, this may not help you to meet performance or aesthetic goals.

If you are like most human beings, you probably have a mix of the 3 reasons to move with varying priority.  Even that order of priority may change at different stages of your life.  You may start out moving, because you want to lose weight, but then realize you really want to be able to do a pull-up, so that may change how you engage in any kind of workout.  This is normal.  If you can understand why exactly you are choosing to participate in something then that can help you to reach whatever goal you set for yourself in terms of physical well-being.  Which brings us full circle to our main argument. If you want to lose weight or burn a bunch of calories go to an intense boot camp class or do some interval training, but don’t go to a yoga class and expect the same results. Sure, there are yoga classes that are heated and involve a lot of movement, but if burning calories is your primary goal, you may be barking up the wrong tree. To be completely clear, taking a yoga class will burn more calories than doing NOTHING, however there are faster ways to attain this goal. Sedentary people often feel like yoga is a safe alternative to those other “injury inducing” activities, but as we have learned recently, yoga is no safer than any other physical activity.

The 3 reasons to move are not always mutually exclusive.  But there is NOT one particular method that will meet your expectations in these three different ways equally.  Be wary of anyone who tells otherwise.  There is no magical-movement pill that will make you look the way you want, do everything you want to do physically and help you to be more spiritually/emotionally/self-actualized.  But those lies are out there!  You could just do a million sun salutations really really fast to get your body to feel like you had a tough workout, but you’ve now crossed the boundary from Yoga to yoga-inspired fitness and you are prone to all the same repetitive stress on your body as those other activities (nothing wrong with that).

Know what your intentions are and you won’t be duped by false information or fitness trends that will waste your time.

Mind Over Matter? – How a Positive Attitude Can Protect You from Depression and Illness

Having a positive attitude, or being as optimistic as possible, is something that many self-help gurus like Tony Robbins and Stephen R. Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) have been talking about for decades. People have varying opinions on the efficacy of a “positive attitude”. Some people even go so far as to say that it’s all a bunch of new-agey hocus-pocus! But it would seem that Covey and Robbins, among many others are right. And you don’t have to look in a mirror every morning and repeat “I am GREAT!”—well, unless you want too! Read More