Love (yourself before others)

Love

Road Trip! The destination for this week is “Love.” Love for self and others is really the true destination of our lives!

What is your definition of love? How does it show up in your life every day?

How can you more consistently show love for yourself?

This week, be more open to loving others; especially those you may have found less than “lovable” in the past.

Let us know in the comments where you’ve gone and what you’ve discovered about yourself.

Pleasure (it’s not frivolous)

pleasure

Road Trip! The destination for this week is “Pleasure.” Not selfish or frivolous; instead, pleasure fuels your life.

What things that you enjoy have you been putting off because of everything you else have to do?

How has your attitude towards having a pleasant life changed over the years?

This week, create joyful experiences for yourself.

Let us know in the comments where you’ve gone and what you’ve discovered about yourself.

If you’re going to go, may as well go STRONG!

8-strength-1_l

Every once in a while, I come across an individual that exemplifies taking control and moving their life forward. Brian S. is such an individual.

Following a popular weight loss program, Brian has shed 59 pounds in about a year. When asked what he thought was the most important part of the program, he said it was “food moderation.” That is, watching your portions and being aware of what you’re eating. He also mentioned it was important to plan for special occasions and parties. He uses ActiveLink to monitor his activity level both at the gym and for everyday tasks like walking the dog. Tracking both food intake and calorie expenditure is the best way to focus on weight reduction when you have more than a few pounds to lose.

Brian

I asked Brian if he had ever considered “giving up.” “This time around, NO.” he said. But “four years ago, I think I gave up after I lost ten pounds; which was a few months. This time, I’m going STRONG after a year.” He attributed his new found success to weekly or monthly updates on social media like Facebook. The “likes” and words of encouragement were gratifying and provided the additional support and accountability that Brian needed to reach his goals. (Brian also gives credit to his leaders, Andrea and Maria.)

Brian’s progress is incredible and is something worthy of pride and admiration. Too often, we get stuck in “I can’t” or “it’s too hard” but there’s always a way to move forward towards your goals. One thing I often recommend is for individuals to think about why they want to get healthy in the first place. Imagine what it would be like to be at your ideal weight or to be rid of the cigarettes or off some of your medications because you’ve adopted a healthier diet. Accountability is also a powerful tool. Like Brian, find an individual or community that will hold you accountable. Sometimes we find it easier doing something for others than we do for just ourselves. If you think this might work for you, connect with a friend or someone you trust and tell them your goals. Ask them to give you a nudge if you get stuck or are off track. You’ll get to your goal and you will have a cheering section waiting for you at the finish line!

What goals do you have right now for which you’d like to be held accountable? Who can you ask to keep you in line?

Strength: Photo credit: dancingtarot / Foter / CC BY
Brian S. photo used with permission

How to Turn Your Commitment to Change into Action

it-not-about-how-bad-you-want-it-its-about-how-hard-you-are-willing-to-work-for-it-via-freaks_of_fitness-quote-life-fitness-goals-motivation_l

Last week I wrote about how you decide to make a change. Once you’ve acknowledged the need to change a behavior and have made a commitment, you need to move from planning to some action.

Your life will be no better than the plans you make and the action you take. You are the architect and builder of your own life, fortune, destiny. —Alfred A. Montapert

When taking steps to bring about some desired change, you need to look at what has or has not worked for you in the past. You also need to be open to new ideas and be willing to change your course of action as you try new approaches. There is no right or wrong way to succeed in your goal; you need to discover through trial and error what works best for you.

One of the classic examples is losing weight. There are hundreds of diet and exercise plans and by combining these into a plan of action, there are likely millions of ways for someone to decrease their body weight to get to a comfortable number on the scale. Keep in mind that once you reach your goal, you also need to maintain the behavior. Maintaining your desired weight will likely require that you continue some or all of these activities for an extended period of time so you need to find options that are sustainable for you. For example, you might use a strict meal-plan system where all of the food is provided for you to drop some pounds. However, how likely is it that you’ll want to remain on that diet for the rest of your life? It probably wouldn’t be very enjoyable and would be expensive too.

For lasting change, consider the long-term maintenance of your desired behavior when creating a plan of action. Try to change your mindset to get to the root of the issue instead of using a quick fix that won’t last. There are two practices recommended by Prochaska that I pass along to coaching clients that can help bring about this mental shift; countering and environmental controls. Countering is replacing the undesired behavior with a healthy, more desirable one and environmental control means manipulating your setting or avoiding a location to prevent the behavior. Including either or both of these in your action plan will be helpful.

For example, let’s say you’re prone to snacking through the day. You can consciously replace that activity with another. For me, I started doing push-ups whenever I wanted a snack. This countering helped in two ways. I burned some extra calories and the activity usually made me forget the urge to snack. Over time, I began to crave physical activity when I was bored or restless and that has served me well. I also worked at a company that had a cafeteria that served cheap but gourmet quality meals. It was easy to overeat. I could have avoided the cafeteria but I would have also missed out on the social interactions that took place there. Instead, I simply started bringing my lunch. As everyone was in line getting their food, I’d eat my lunch. By the time they got to the table with the gourmet meal, I’d already be half done and fairly full. Once the conversation started, I was no longer tempted to get more food.

Once you have your steps in mind, I recommend the following:

  1. Write your plan down.
  2. Share your plan and goals with someone that will hold you accountable.
  3. Review your plan DAILY and note how you’ve done.
  4. Review your progress WEEKLY to see if your actions are working. If not, try something new.
  5. Finally, don’t give up. You’ll reach your goal over time.

There’s no single “magic bullet” that anyone can provide you to create the change you desire. All change has to come from within and you are the only person that can make it happen. Be strong, ask for help and stick with it. You’ll get there!

Photo credit: waynesutton12 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Are You Setting a Healthy Example?

father-and-son-surf-lesson-in-morro-bay-ca-image-by-michael-mike-l-baird-1

We often see celebrities say that they shouldn’t be looked up to as role models when they’re caught doing something wrong. They claim it’s not their responsibility to “raise your kids” or that it is unfair that they are held to a higher standard because they are in the spotlight. Their actions, however, do have the potential to impact more people because of that exposure. Do you realize that you have that same power of influence within your own circle? Is the example you set for others important?

Yesterday, I was at a hospital visiting someone. I had to wait a bit so I sat in the hospital’s cafe. A group of nurses came in (I could see their RN badges) and they each ordered a “serious (large) double-caramel chocolate macchiato with extra whip cream.” Each of these nurses was overweight to obese. To make matters worse, this particular building housed the cardiac care unit. These were the same nurses that would be going back to talk to their overweight patients about the need to lose weight to prevent another coronary event.

How much impact do you think those conversations will have? We lead by example whether we like it or not. “Do as I say, not as I do” didn’t work when we were kids and it definitely doesn’t fly as an adult. If you’re in a healthcare position and you’re trying to persuade others to take better care of themselves, shouldn’t you do the same for yourself? If you’re overweight and talking about nutrition or smell of cigarette smoke and talking to a cancer patient, there is a disconnect that simply won’t allow you to be effective in delivering your message.

The parent-child relationship holds even more importance. If you have kids, are you setting them up to succeed and to be as healthy as possible? Are you keeping healthy food in the house or buying processed garbage because it’s just easier? Are you encouraging activity by playing with your kids and staying active yourself or do you plop in front of the TV for four hours every night? Children aren’t in a position to make well-thought decisions so they rely on your wisdom. They also watch everything you do. Yes, they may “want” the sugary cereal with the prize in the box but who is actually bringing that into the house? More kids are gaining weight and developing health problems at a young age. How can you turn this around? By setting a good example and taking responsibility for your own health.

I work with both men and women on this exact topic. I know it’s not easy. Some have tried to get their eating under control for years and they want to be more active but can’t seem to stick with a program. One of the most powerful motivators I’ve found is when they discover the impact they’re having on the health of others. It seems obvious, but for some it’s not real until someone holds a picture up in front of them. In one instance, I mean this quite literally. One father couldn’t stay committed to getting back in shape. He said he wanted to do it for his young son but just couldn’t make the connection between his actions and desires. We came up with the idea to put a picture of his son on the refrigerator and all of the cabinets. He even put a small one on his lunch bag and in his wallet. This made a huge difference. It forced him to reconsider his food choices and realign them with his goal to set a better example for his son. He’s doing quite well now.

Setting a positive example isn’t just related to health. Look at the way you treat yourself in all regards and compare that to what you tell others; particularly children. Does your message match your deeds or are you being somewhat hypocritical? What can you do right now to be a better example to those that you guide? Maybe you can even be an inspiration?

Photo credit: mikebaird / Foter.com / CC BY

Self Acceptance

man-in-the-mirror-1

I recently had a talk with a woman about an emotional experience she had at a gym. It was her first visit. She’s overweight and she felt really self-conscious being at the gym. She felt everyone was watching her, thinking why was she there and that she wasn’t good enough to be there. She worked herself into such a negative mental state that she stopped her workout after only a few minutes and left the gym in tears.

A similar incident was mentioned in my post about fear. The same false evidence was coming into play for this woman but the issue went deeper. As we talked, she uncovered that she felt unaccepted. She also couldn’t accept herself.

Acceptance is the basis of compassion. To truly empathize with another, you have to accept them for who they are instead of trying to change them to what you want; that’s simply manipulation. When people think about self-acceptance, however, the thoughts are less charitable. For some reason, we equate acceptance with “settling” and they are completely different.

Look at the incident at the gym. She obviously wasn’t settling for her current physical state. She was in the gym doing something about it to better herself. At the same time, this desire for change also interfered with her accepting who she is right now. She saw herself as less than others. A little coaching got her to realizing she is equal and simply a person in a state of transition. It was a very subtle change in perception, but the discovery allowed her to return to the gym and start working towards her new level of fitness.

Accepting yourself for who you are in the moment does not mean you’re giving up any vision of a better you for your future. It means you’re acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses and allowing yourself to grow and progress without any false, negative self-judgement. You’re showing yourself the same compassion you would have towards anyone else.

How might accepting yourself for who you are allow you to make progress towards what you’d like to become?

Photo credit: Jon Newman / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND