Why Your Workout Isn’t Working


I had to call uncle and join a gym.

I couldn’t seem to find the “just right” place to run here in Texas. My home-on-wheels is not steady enough to do high-intensity boot-camp type routines which involve jumping moves like jacks and burpees.

I can’t function properly without regular exercise, and walking everyday doesn’t quite fulfill the need for me.

What’s an old fitness junkie to do?

I did some research and found a terrific community center-based gym near our winter home in Portland. This is only the second gym I have ever paid to join in my 20+ years of  professional fitness/wellness training. It has proved a nice change of pace from my previous routine.
I have worked in a fair share of fitness facilities. Some were budget fitness centers, some were high-end. All of them had one thing in common. I was reminded of this today while people-watching  during my training session.

Here’s the common denominator:

A whole bunch of people who show up regularly, but can’t seem to get the results they are looking for.

If this describes you, check out my list of common fitness mistakes that may be standing in your way whether you are an at-home exerciser or a gym-rat type.

  1. You lack a plan– this person shows up religiously, does a quick warm up, or not, wanders into the weight room randomly picking up weights, does a set of bicep curls, a couple squats, a few chest presses, and out the door they go. Dude, you forgot most of your major muscle groups. No sense training those biceps if you are gonna ignore your triceps. They work as a team. Working only your biceps is going to set you up for a muscle imbalance. This is the case for most major muscle groups. Go armed with your action plan, so you don’t leave areas of your body out of the fun. Don’t forget to stretch!

    Always go in with a plan to avoid downtime

  2. Too much idle time– This is a big pet peeve of mine. You get to the gym, chat up the front desk person, wander to the locker room, get dressed, flip around the TV in the cardio room. By the time you start your warm-up you have already eaten into 15 minutes of time. You get off the machine of choice, mosey to the weight room hit a set of bicep curls, check your phone, perform another set of bicep curls, check your look in the mirror, crank out one more set and grab a leisurely drink of water. Too much downtime. You are here to work out. Get on it already! Get in, get dressed, and don’t forget your plan. Be efficient, in between bicep sets, get after some jumping jacks or alternate it with your leg or core work. I love doing upper body, lower body, core sets. No time is wasted while you rest the part you just worked. If you take a break, keep it a break, NOT a vacation.
  3. Machine leaning- pet peeve #2. If you have to lean on the treadmill or hang on to it for dear life, you are working beyond your current capabilities. SLOW DOWN. If balance is an issue, perhaps a walking around the track or a riding stationary bike may be a better idea for you until your balance and stamina improve.

    Too much incline damages your form. Walk tall and proud

    If you have to hang on you lose 20% of your results. Swing those arms!

  4. Your form sucks- exercises are designed to work a certain area, and to target the muscle group correctly you must have proper form. The mirror is there for reasons other than checking out your spiffy new gym outfit, check that form!  And quit lifting at warp speed. A steady 2 counts up 2 counts down or even slower will achieve the effect you are after. Save the speed for the cardio room. If you are unsure of proper form you can take a class from a certified group fitness instructor or schedule a few sessions with a personal trainer, who can also help you create a balanced plan, and get your form straightened out.
  5. Your trainer or group exercise instructor has no nationally recognized certification-Just being a long-term gym rat or attending a week long training program focused on mainly sales techniques does not a CERTIFIED trainer or instructor make. Certified trainers, such as myself, have studied very hard to become familiar with the human body and the effect fitness has on it. We are trained to do assessments and create balanced programs which get results. The exams are not easy, and we are required to take continuing education credits and CPR classes every two years to renew our certifications. Independent contractors, like me, carry professional liability insurance, something an uncertified trainer cannot obtain. Ask your trainer for proof of certification. You wouldn’t go to a doctor without any credentials, and the same rules should apply to your trainer. Most states do not require fitness instructors or personal trainers to be certified. Do not assume just because your gym has trainers, they are certified.

    Double certified I am, and proud of it!

  6. You are inconsistent-You can’t just show up every 6 days one week and one the next week. You must be consistent. Exercise must be regular to be effective. You can store fat, but not fitness. Make a plan of action and stick to it.
  7. You are too consistent– if you only do cardio or only do weight-training, you are doing your body a disservice. A balanced program needs 4 components; cardio, strength, flexibility, and balance. Yoga is a great workout for flexibility, strength, and balance, but lacks cardio. Weight training can cover strength, balance, and even cardio if you stay on it, but lacks flexibility. Walking and running are great, but only for cardio benefits. A good group exercise class will generally cover all these aspects. Slogging through same workout day after day is boring and stalls result. Nothing will kill a plan quicker than boredom.
  8. Your diet sucks- there is not a trainer around who doesn’t deal with this issue on a daily basis. You lie to us about what you eat and drink. You lie to yourself about what you eat and drink. And yet you wonder why you are not achieving results. Keep a food (and drink) log if you expect to see change. Most of us underestimate the amount of food we consume, as well as overestimate how many calories we burn while exercising. Do not believe your device. Or exercise infomercials which claim to burn 1000 calories. If it sounds too good to be true, it certainly is. Some of us like to reward our hard workout with a special treat. Or we get so wrapped up in protein shakes and supplements we forget to enjoy a whole food, clean diet. Or we eat decently during the week, then totally blow it up on the weekend with food and booze. (Hey, me too!) Losing weight and maintaining weight are 70% food-related and 30% exercise-related. And don’t forget to hydrate with plain old water. Most of us are not working out long or hard enough to require a sports drink.

    Lots of produce and lots of water=a healthy you

  9. No scheduled rest days– even professional athletes need to give their bodies a break. You are no different. I prefer active rest days, I crave movement most days, so my rest days are usually spent taking a walk and doing light stretching. But certainly feel free to take a full rest day and delight in how your body is responding to those previous workouts. And then you can really get it on when your next workout day arrives, feeling fresh and rested.
  10. You don’t like working out– I know, I am a oddball, I adore working out. Almost nothing I’d rather do. It’s probably why I am quite successful in this business. I will try any class. And if I really like it, I will train to teach it. I know many of you do not feel this way. You simply must find a form of exercise you enjoy. Exercise should not feel like torture, it should be fun! There are numerous forms of fitness from yoga, dance fitness like Zumba and barre classes, boot camps utilizing all the fun gym equipment like bosus and brightly colored fitness bands. Old school stuff like aerobics and calisthenics are making a comeback. The options are endless, and there is a workout that is perfect for you. Many of my regular class participants, claim they hate exercise (hey Denise and Judy!) but they love the relationships they have developed and it helps to keep them motivated when I enthusiastically announce yet another set of glute-lifters, and they collectively groan and roll their eyes. You don’t have to love the movements, but find something that keeps you coming back. And when you try a class new to you, let the instructor know. She or he can fill you in on what’s about to happen and offer modifications where needed.

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    Power Hour Participants. Almost 20 years strong. Make it fun and they will return!

So there’s a bit of free advice straight from the trainer’s mind. Do you find yourself making any of these common mistakes? By making some simple changes you will begin achieving the results you deserve.

Work it baby, and work it right!

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Functional Movement Pattern #1

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Coach Sheryle here. I am bringing you the first in an continuing series on functional movement patterns, designed to keep your body strong and healthy for whatever your life holds. Whether it be mowing the lawn, a sweet weekend hike, or chasing the kids or grandkids around, a functional body will make it more enjoyable.

If you have read my previous blog post, you are well versed in the evils of sitting for multiple hours during the day. If not, get back there and read it. Then apply these movements to your daily sitting routine to break up the sitting addiction we all seem to have acquired.

The whole thing takes about 3 minutes. I designed it with straight leg movements, so those of you with knee issues can participate as well. Ideally, you will practice this every 1/2 hour you are seated. If that doesn’t work try every hour.

Some is better than none when it comes to movement-Sheryle Sage

As always, with any movement, if this causes pain in your joint, stop immediately. If you feel some heat in the muscle, that’s good. It means there is a greater blood flow to the area. That is what we are trying to create.

This pattern is similar to one I use at the very beginning of my run warm ups. It is very gentle, based on controlled leg swings and, if I do say so myself, enjoyable.

Here’s the pattern, and below I will have pics of the movements:

  1. knee lift x 10 each leg
  2. leg swing front and back (using muscle control both forward and back) x 5
  3. rear leg 3 pulse x 5
  4. leg swing x 5
  5. rear leg 3 pulse (with toes turned slightly away from the body) x 5
  6. leg swing x 5
  7. lunge stance hip flexor stretch
  8. Switch sides and repeat the whole sequence

Basically we have an alternating knee life to start some blood flow to the area, swings to loosen the leg, pulses to provide more blood flow to the low back and glute area, via the squeezing action of the muscles, then finishing a lunge stretch to open up the hip flexor muscle which usually becomes overly tight from being held in a seated position.

My practice model, photographer, editor-in-chief, and partner in crime, and hubby, Bruce said it felt a bit intense doing one leg at a time. If this is the case, alternate legs back and forth through the movements. Shorten the reps to 3 and work into 5. It doesn’t matter the sequence, it matters that you move that behind!

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stance

Begin with a good stance. Military style posture. Hip over ankle/shoulder over hip/ear in line with the shoulder. Tummy sucked in a bit to provide muscle support for your low back area. Shoulders back and down. Chin slightly lifted. Don’t hold your breath. Don’t let your ego take over. Swing and pulse only within your natural range of motion. Take good care not to arch your back in the rear movements. The movement originates from the hip joint, not the back. Slow and controlled movements please. If balance is an issue, by all means hang on to a stable chair, post, or wall. We are not concerned with balance in this 3 minutes. It’s all about the blood flow.

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knee lift

1) Alternating knee lift. Kind of like a slow high march. Keep your back straight and core engaged. (10 x’s each leg)

 

 

 

 

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leg swings

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2) Leg swing forward and back. Same stance. With control lift the leg to the front, and with the same control, without arching your back, lift leg to the rear. Then do it 4 more times.

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3 pulse

3) Hold the leg in the rear position, pulse it 3 times, squeezing the glutes, engaging the core, and release. Repeat 4 more times

4) Swing the leg again. 5 times

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toe turned out

5) Repeat the pulses, but this time with your toe turned slightly away from your body (this engages the glute a bit deeper, if it feels like too much, use the original pulse)

 

 

 

6 & 7 ) Swing again 5 times, but the last one let your toe fall to the ground behind you, heel remains up, tuck your pelvis a bit, bend both knees, lowering just until you feel a light stretch in the front of your thigh (rear leg) where it meets your hip bone. Hold the stretch for around 10-15 seconds

That’s it folks. It may take you a couple minutes longer than 3 the first few times. Then it will begin to imprint not only in your brain, but your muscles too. Every muscle cell has a memory component contained in it. Soon it will become second nature to both your brain and body to perform these simple, yet effective movements.

In addition to the wonderful blood flow benefits (blood flow is very healing), you may also notice a toning and strengthening of the glutes and low back. Now that’s a great side effect!

I would like to thank my photographer, Bruce Sage, and the Hillsborough State Park (The Real Florida) in Thonotosassa  FL for hosting our shoot. Check it out if you are ever in the area. The park is simply amazing.

And, thank you readers 🙂

Stay well

Coach Sheryle

Simply Nutritious Living-Salad Mix

Shortly after I finished up my series on goal setting/motivation last month, a friend rolled into town from the cold and gray north ready to vacation Florida Gulf Coast-style. I took the opportunity to repost an older post, Strong Backs/Flexible Spines, last Monday while I attended to other important duties as a Tampa Bay area tour guide. It’s a good gig.

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sunset Florida style

After a week of fun with my pal, with all the extra food, drink, and general relaxation that vacation demands, I am certainly feeling the need to get some serious clean eating habits back into my lifestyle.

Serious clean eating begins with a base of plant foods. Bright, colorful plants foods that add all the magnificent vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other things our bodies naturally crave to maintain good health.

We live in a 240 sq. ft. RV and consume a lot of produce. In order to get it all to fit in my tiny fridge in my tiny home, it must be prepped on grocery day.

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my tiny fridge

Prepping on grocery day is a great habit to incorporate into a healthy lifestyle, and one I will carry with me when (?) we become stationary at some point in the future. It’s just nice to have the prep work done and ready on those days it feels hard to eat healthy due to time constraints or even plain laziness. And it really helps save on waste.

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time to prep

Although pre-prepped bagged greens are certainly an option, they are pricey, and not so fresh sometimes.

I prefer to buy mine fresh, and then chop and bag them at home. No special type of greens are needed, they are all healthful. Even the lowly iceburg head lettuce can be dressed up and made more nutritious by all the colorful add ins. I buy whatever looks good and is on sale. This week’s selection was romaine lettuce hearts. Get yourself a salad spinner to keep those greens dry after washing.

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get your tools ready

Green is pretty, but not enough color for me. We eat with our eyes first. I like to shred some red cabbage and carrots to add brightness. This will create your basic salad mix. And can all be bagged together. A full large bag makes about 6 large salads.

Next chop up your extra veggies; cukes, tomatoes and, radishes are rounding our salad veggies this week. Store the chopped veggies in separate containers.

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veggies prepped for the week

(Excuse the hideous decorative wallpaper. Apparently it is a requirement in a RV of any sort. No one knows why…kinda looks like lettuce)

 

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Lunch is just about ready

From here you could enjoy the salad as is for a side dish, or as I like to do, simply make a meal out of it by adding some protein. Leftover chicken, fish, pork, beef, eggs, cottage cheese are all good protein options.

Do beware once you get beyond the veggies and protein the calories can add up quickly. Use very small amounts of any extra toppings. I also like to add some blue cheese (it has a very strong flavor so you don’t need much), a few seeds or nuts, raisins or craisins, and croutons for added crunch.

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salad as a meal

I have nothing against pre-bottled dressings. Whatever will get people to eat their veggies is fine by me. I use and enjoy them when time-crunched (or feeling lazy). But if I have time I whip up a quick vinaigrette. Really, it only takes a couple minutes, and tastes so fresh. The one I used today is a lemon vinaigrette which is great bright taste for salads and doubles as a dandy marinade for fish or chicken. The recipe will be listed below.

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a little Florida citrus flavor

Of course, every good meal deserves a good drink to go along with it. I am feeling cocktailed out at the moment after my week of tour-guiding, so I opted to make mocktails instead. I call this one a Pom Spritzer. Recipe also below.

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a tasty mocktail with lots of potassium

With a few advance preparations it becomes somewhat easier to eat healthfully and reach the recommended 7-10 servings of produce per day.

Cheers!

Recipes:

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Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 c white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Combine in a container with a lid and shake. Makes about a cup of dressing and keeps for a week.

Pom Spritzer

  • Fill glass 1/2 way with ice
  • 4 oz pomegranate juice
  • Top with sparkling water
  • Garnish with a lime

Salad Mix

  • a big head of romaine, or a 3 pack of romaine hearts chopped, rinsed, and spun
  • 1/3 red cabbage shredded
  • 2-3 carrots shredded

mix into a large size baggie

Veggie mix

  • whatever you have lying around, left over, or are craving. Anything goes.

No calorie counts gang. I gave that up a few years back. Too time consuming and militant for me. A definite DE-motivator.

All of the recipes (minus the croutons) happen to be gluten-free, although I am not. I tried it for a year or so, but found it cumbersome, the results were minimal for me, but many others have found it works for them.

This girl’s motto:

eat healthy most of the time, and then thoroughly enjoy your pizza.

 

Strong Backs/Flexible Spines

 

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Let’s talk some fitness, shall we? According to current research 80% of Americans will experience back problems during their lifetime. This comes as no surprise as many of us have led inactive, sedentary lifestyles coupled with spending our days hunched over computers, phones, or other various devices. But, as granny said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Spending a few minutes daily focusing on stretching and strengthening our core muscles and creating spinal mobility are great methods to save money on chiropractor bills, and unnecessary pain medications.

All you will need in the way of equipment is a stable, armless chair. You can also do these standing. Do not force the movements, gently ease into the point where you feel a light stretch on your muscles.  If you feel pain, stop and consult your physician before proceeding.

The spine moves in six directions; side-to-side, forward and back bending, twisting right and left. I have an exercise for each of these movements, followed with 2 core strengthening moves.

Lateral Flexion (side to side bends)-sit tall in chair with core engaged  (pull your belly button toward your spine as if someone is taking a picture from the side view) and feet flat on the floor. Inhale as you reach one arm to the sky, exhale and slightly bend to the side. Hold for a couple breaths  and repeat to the other side. Complete around 6-8 repetitions.

Lateral Flexion

Lateral Flexion

Cat/Cow (front and back bends)-stand facing the chair/feet close to chair. Engage core. Fold from your hips and place palms flat on the chair. Inhale fully and as you exhale round your spine, tucking your chin and tailbone slightly, just as a cat would. Hold for a couple breaths. Then simply reverse the position of your spine, so the spine is somewhat arched downward-tailbone and chin lifted slightly. This is your cow. Hold for a few breaths. Then working with the breathing, exhale to cat/inhale to cow. Repeat the sequence 6-8 times.

 

Cat

Cat

Cow

Cow

Seated Twist (twisting right and left)- sit tall, engage core, arms at sides. Inhale both arms over head in the classic yoga breath, as you exhale twist from the base of your spine, spiraling up through the spine as the hand come to rest near the right hip. Yep, you guessed it, hold for a few breaths, take it to the other side and hold again. Then flow side to side inhaling up/exhaling down 6-8 times.

seated twist

seated twist

2 exercises to improve your core strength:

Plank -Make sure your chair is stable against a wall or on a mat. Place your forearms on the chair. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your elbows. Step one foot back, then the other on to your tippy toes. Just hold with core engaged. Back should be flat like a plank of wood propped up. Depending on your core strength hold anywhere from 10-30 seconds. Repeat 3 times. If this option seems too tough try it with your forearms against a wall. If it is too easy, try it on the floor.

Plank

Plank

Back Extensions (strengthens all the muscles that line the spine, your glutes and shoulders too) Find the same positioning as cat/cow move. This time extend your right leg straight back and you left arm straight forward, hold for one breath and switch sides. Repeat 6-8 times both sides.

Back Extension

Back Extension

Core strength and mobility are the keys to a strong back. Granny also says you are only as young as your spine is strong. Or maybe I said that! Core strength and mobility are the keys at to strong and flexible back. Happy training and if you have any questions, leave a reply and I will get back with you.

Photos taken at the fabulous Sam’s Resort and Spa, Desert Hot Springs CA

Be Grateful!

Be Grateful!

Strategies to Stay Motivated and on Track with Your Goal-part 10

Sometimes when striving for a goal, no matter how good the intention may be, we might find ourselves unable to set a goal and begin the work, the plan stalls in some manner, or the whole project gets abandoned completely.

While I am all for self-motivation, there are times we need to call in the professionals. Someone who can help develop and oversee our plan, find some insights we may be missing, or direct us when we become overwhelmed and feel like giving up.

This step should be taken slowly and with intent. There are an abundance of personal trainers, health coaches, and life coaches to choose from. The field is growing rapidly. A word of warning here:

Buyer beware.

The fitness and wellness business, as well as the life-coaching business, is largely unregulated in the U.S. Any person can claim to be one or all of those professionals with no credentials. This is very disappointing to those of us who have worked hard to become educated and certified. It reflects badly upon the whole industry of wellness and motivation.

We are working hard to establish minimum standards within our industry, but until that day comes I have a few suggestions to help you find a qualified fitness/wellness professional.

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First, get it in your mind, you are making an investment in yourself. Your health is everything.  You would not invest your retirement money with an uncertified financial manager, and neither should you invest in your health with an uncertified trainer or coach.

#1)  Check your trainer’s credentials *

Do not assume just because your trainer or instructor is employed by a facility they hold certifications. Some facilities do not require their trainers/instructors to be certified. Or at minimum may give them a quick 2 week training course, and most of that concerns marketing and selling over actual fitness knowledge. Several popular fitness brands require no group fitness or trainer certs to take their training. After a few hours on the weekend,  you are, according to their standards, qualified to teach their classes. This might be okay if you could ensure everyone taking your class was a generally healthy person. I have yet to teach a class in 20 years in which every single participant was generally healthy. There is always someone with a tweaked knee, a sore hip, pregnant, bad shoulder. It is helpful to have addition knowledge on common conditions, and the modifications that taken to ensure the participant has a safe and successful experience.

I will happily show my certs to anyone who asks. My certs ensure I have, at the absolute minimum:

  • a general knowledge of the human body and how it functions related to exercise in a healthy person.
  •  I keep my knowledge current through continuing education and re-certification every two years.
  • I am qualified to purchase liability insurance (if your trainer or coach works independently, as I do, make sure they have liability insurance)
  • I keep my CPR training current.

#2) Shop around-the price of training varies greatly. Rates are generally based on the facility, the trainer’s education, and the trainer’s experience. In my area it ranges from $25-$100/hr. Just like grandma always said, “You get what you pay for.” Another grandma said, “Don’t buy the cheapest item, don’t buy the most expensive item, if you find one that is mid-priced, you will likely find your best value.”  Keep this in mind when determining what you are willing to invest in yourself.

#3) Check your options-most trainers offer session packages, the more you buy the less it costs. Consider small group training which is personal training with generally 2-4 people and can cut costs considerably. Online or in-home training with the right trainer is a nice alternative when time is tight. If you are a self-motivator you might only need a program design and  run-through.

Maybe you just need a well-organized group fitness class. Most group fitness programs are less expensive than personal training, and some classes, like the ones I run, are designed and taught by a personal trainer, the downfall being less attention to the individual goals. Most experienced instructors will offer modifications to either make the movements easier for those who need a lighter workout, and progressions to pump it up for those wanting a bit more. The upside to this type of training is a lot of social interaction which also keeps us healthy. Win-win

#4) Make sure you and your trainer “click.” Many trainers offer a free initial consultation. This is the perfect time to evaluate if this person will be a good fit for you. If you are not feeling the love, move on. They should be discussing you and your goals. If most of the consultation is focused on selling you their skills, run. Find the right trainer with the right attitude to help you achieve your goals.

#5) Do you need specialty work due to your age or an injury? Some trainers now specialize in various formats. My clientele is getting older and so am I. I now carry additional specialty certs in Senior Fitness, Mind and Body Fitness, and Orthopedic Fitness to accommodate my clients and participants. And most of my continuing education is on these topics so I can stay informed on the subjects. Older adult fitness is a rapidly expanding field.

#6) Ask for references.

With a little bit of work on your part, you should be able to find a trainer or instructor who is well-suited to help you achieve your goals. And you will soon be on your way to success.

* Nationally recognized fitness certifications:

Personal Training: the top four- American Council on Exercise (ACE)/ American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)/ National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)/ National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA)

Group Exercise: the top three-American Council on Exercise (ACE)/ Aerobics and Fitness Association (AFAA)/ National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA)

Health and Life Coaching: these are relatively new additions to the wellness world, and I cannot find enough research on the effectiveness of current programs to recommend any. I do carry my Health Coach cert through ACE. It used to be called a Lifestyle and Weight Management cert, which I previously held. I liked the idea of wellness/ health coaching so I went for it. I do not know much about life coaching, but do know of several people who swear by it. It is a new and emerging field, my best advice is to do your homework, and check references.

* Please make note there are many online certifications which are not worth the paper they are printed on. They require no knowledge, just a credit card. If a trainer has not invested in their education, do not invest in them to take care of your well-being.

Strategies to Stay Motivated and on Track with Your Goal-part 9

I have another confession. I used to be a couch potato. Yeah, big time. I even wrote an essay on it in my freshman college writing class. Got an A- too. My extremely athletic writing instructor said it made her laugh out loud. I still have that paper. It makes me laugh now as well.

Until around my early 30’s I was able to make my couch potato ways work for me. I had an active job, and two young boys to chase around. I never gained any weight. I felt fine. Why even bother to exercise?

Until one day I was at the local grocery which had 2 floors. I hiked the stairs to the second floor and found myself completely winded. Breathing like I just sprinted a mile in record time. Okay, I am exaggerating a bit, but I was far too winded for a healthy woman in her early 30’s. I got my first inkling that I needed to do something about my couch potato ways before they got any worse.

Numerous goals involve lifestyle change.

Perhaps we picked up some bad habits along the path of life, which are currently, or will be in the future, impacting our health in a negative manner.

Or maybe it’s the other direction. Like me and my couch potato ways, and we need to create some new habits to ward off the physical and mental diseases of a sedentary lifestyle.

Which ever the case may be, it could be both, it’s going to involve the loss of a former way of life. And loss is hard.

Our habits are in a death and rebirth process. In order for the non-smoker to be born, the smoker must die. In order for the healthy-eater to be born, the junk-food junkie must die.  In order for the athlete to be born, the couch potato must die.

Although death seems so final, many of us hold a believe that when we pass from this life we are reborn into another, better plane of existence. And we can use a similar theory toward our goal-achieving; the old habit and way of life dies, a new and improved one is born.

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As with any great loss, we will grieve. Even though we know deep within our hearts, it is for the best, and we welcome the person we are striving to be, we will, from time to time, mourn the person and way of life we are losing.

There are 5 stages of grief involving loss. If left unattended they may derail our progress, and forward motion, or send us right back to the starting point. It is best to be aware of and on the lookout for the stages of grief while working the steps to change. And similar to the Stages of Change model  Goal Setting: Part 1, the Stages of Grief model is fluid and you may find yourself wavering a bit back and forth between the stages.

  1. Denial-similar to the precontemplation stage of change, this is a state where we are unwilling to admit our bad habit, or lack of good habit, is a problem, and think any of the bad consequences that happen to others could happen to us.
  2. Anger-anger at the habit itself or the steps we have to take to rid ourselves of the behavior. Or at our old selves for getting us into a situation that requires change.
  3. Bargaining-you are just trying to postpone the inevitable here. Just one cigarette, just one more drink, blow off class,  just one french fry,  I’ll do twice as much tomorrow…. This is pure BS at work. You cannot bargain your way out of a bad or into a good habit.
  4. Sadness-your bad habit has probably either chemically altered, re-wired your brain, or both. Until you go through the physical and mental withdrawals, get your brain wired correctly, sadness and it’s wicked stepsister depression will likely appear. Plan in advance on how you will deal with this.
  5. Acceptance- this is similar to the maintenance stage of change, I like to refer to this stage, in relationship to goals, as freedom. You have accepted your new reality and are comfortable in your new role.

The time period for lifestyle change and the feelings that accompany it is different for each individual person, and varies for every particular goal.

Leaving the couch potato behind and finding my inner athlete was a relatively easy process for me. The immediate gratification, the good feelings, both physically and mentally that exercise brought to the table were hugely motivating. I have not stopped moving since.

Leaving the cigarettes behind was a much, much harder process. No immediate gratification there. The physical part of nicotine withdrawal is about 72 hours for us cold turkey types. The mental, re-wiring process took an entire year of going through numerous life situations (good and bad), every single holiday and event, without my pack of smokes and trusty lighter to keep me calm and happy. I literally had to relearn life as a non-smoker. I mourned that habit for a long time…

…But not anymore. Truthfully, I don’t even think about it except to feel grateful for my improved health and fattened wallet.

And the couch potato? She found a new career teaching people the joys of health through movement. She runs 10ks. She writes motivating blog posts.

And, man, does she fly up those stairs. Freedom rocks.

 

Strategies to Stay on Motivated and on Track with Your Goal-part 7

 

There will be days you don’t feel like accomplishing simple tasks, much less lofty goals. Show up anyway. I am practicing this strategy right now. My mind is not overly focused, my motivation is low, but I know if I do not get my work done today, I will feel badly about it tomorrow. I am prone to procrastination, I don’t want it to get out of hand, so I am going to take some advice from one of my clients, and just show up.

My dilemma started last night when our RV awning got destroyed in a storm. It filled with water, even though we had it angled, like a giant water balloon. Then it burst. Argh. I know full-well this is a part of RV life, but dang it, at 4am? Of course, this blew my plans to begin working early in the day on my blog writing. Which I had already postponed from Monday because of a late Superbowl evening on Sunday. Can you see how the procrastinating starts? And snowballs?

I am sitting here for one reason. A client/friend recently gave me some advice in 3 simple words that have stuck with me:

Just show up

The person who gave me such sage advice is Patti H. Patti has addressed a long-term health concern with one of the most positive attitudes I have ever encountered. She takes charge of her condition and manages it, instead if it managing her. This requires regular attention to healthy habits. And she does it well.

There is indeed bliss in simplicity. See if you are as inspired by Patti’s words as I was:

In my older and wiser age, I realize I can’t squander my body and health as it is a Gift. COPD can cause depression, so to keep a healthy mind, body, and soul, exercise is the best medicine. Slow and steady, and baby steps!

I am learning to be kinder to myself and give myself grace. If I miss a class, I go to the next, don’t let it spin negatively. I finally stopped looking at the weight, and started focusing on being strong and healthy. It sounds simple, but just show up. I am grateful for what I can do, and I don’t dwell on what I can’t do anymore. Don’t say any, “if I would of, could of, should of.” Do it!

The Great Ladies (our fitness group) help me to stay accountable, and I push myself more in a group setting. I honestly believe if I didn’t exercise, stroll, and keep moving my health would be much worse.

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My friend Patti

Patti, without your words of inspiration, I may have never shown up today. What comes around goes around, and I thank you for your wisdom and your words.

Let’s all show up today and inspire those around us.

Hugs to you Patti!