Friday, March 27, 2009

Attitude Shift

Attitude is a huge factor in determining weight loss and fitness success. We might think that it's just the food we eat and the exercises we do or don't do that determines the eventual outcome but that's not all. Yes, they are important, but in addition, it is our attitude and how we choose to embrace the process that forms the framework for continued success or failure.

If we are looking at the changes in our food and the need for exercise as negative then it will be difficult for us to want to embrace and maintain the lifestyle over the long term. We need to look at the changes as things we want to do, that we know are beneficial. Not as punitive assignments that we must undertake, or else. Sometimes we must do them but our focus should be mostly on the fact that we know the outcomes from the process will ultimately get us to our goal.

Here are a few tips that we can use to help shift our attitude.

1. Keep a gratitude journal. Write down all the things about the process that you are or will be grateful for. They can be anything from being able to keep up with your kids or grandkids, to walking up a flight of stairs without becoming winded.
2. Use positive thinking. So many things exist on the internet today that we can subscribe to that will help us start the day on a positive note.
3. Limit your exposure to negative people or effects. We sometimes get bombarded with sights, sounds and people that tear us down.
4. Surround yourself with like minded people who help you become better at eliminating your bad habits.
5. Instead of saying "I can't"; ask yourself, "How can I?"

Choose one two of these this week as it relates to your weight loss and fitness journey and see if by shifting your attitude about your new lifestyle, you achieve more success and happiness in the process.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Starting Now

I've recently challenged my group of Weight Watchers members to a Spring Arm Challenge. If you are reading this blog, you are welcome to join in as well.

The idea of this challenge got me thinking about the many times we wish to accomplish something but put off making the effort due to one or more of a variety of reasons. The one that I hear about the most, is one that even I have been guilty of using. It is the one that says; "I'm not good enough". What?! How can any one of us know whether we good enough at something if we've never even taken the first step?

If we're honest with ourselves, we will often conclude that what we consider to be reasons for not taking the plunge, are actually excuses in disguise. You don't have to be good to start something, but you have to start if you hope to ever become good at whatever that activity is.

Its not enough to simply decide to do it, we must start the process. We must do something tangible and measurable. We have to put action behind our decisions.

My challenge to you this week is to start on that project, goal or aspiration that you have been putting off for weeks, months or even years.. It doesn't have to be a huge step but a step that puts you that much closer to reaching your dream.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Get brilliant on the basics

"Get brilliant on the basics" is what Vince Lombardi said when he took over the losing Green Bay Packers and a reporter asked him how he would turn around the team.

As many of you know, a football enthusiast I am not, nor do I really understand the game. However, I'm learning to follow it somewhat and I will say that I've come across some rather interesting individuals as I learn more about the current coaches and athletes as well as those from years gone by.

What struck me about this quote is that so many of us look at our weight loss and fitness journey as a mysterious and complicated undertaking. Sometimes we have to try a few different approaches before we finally find what works for us, but all in all it is a simple process and what he wrote about "getting brilliant on the basics" is so true.

If you hone your skills on the following three basic areas, you will reach your weight loss and fitness goals and accomplish more than you ever thought possible.

1. The 90/10 rule

Make healthy food choices 90% of the time. If you can't kill it or grow it then it probably isn't all that great for you from a nutrition standpoint. It may sound harsh but our bodies weren't made to process substances with names we can't pronounce. Our bodies do know what to do with fruits, veggies, lean meats and the like.

The other 10% of the time, enjoy life. Have some of the indulgences that you want and then move on. Earn them through eating healthy 90% of the time and then enjoy them.

I joke with my Weight Watchers members and tell them that our bodies only know to put "Ho-Ho" cream on our thighs for later processing.

2. Move More

Move More. Get off the couch and away from the TV and start moving. Our bodies have over 200 bones and 600 muscles that need daily use and activity if they are to serve us well. We need to incorporate cardiovascular activity and resistance training to take care of our bodies well into our golden years.

Find something that you like to do and get to it. So many different activities can be done and never feel like exercise.

3. Postive Focus

Get Rid of the "Stinkin' Thinkin". What we feed into our minds and thoughts are what we should expect to get out. Find a group or a close friend that supply you with motivational support and a place to vent. Start focusing on all the good things about yourself daily instead of the negative things. The areas that you want to improve in, work on them but don't fret over it.

It's the basics that get us hung up most of the time. Get brilliant on the basics and tell me where you end up.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Struggle a little, so you can fly!

The transition from your old self and habits to a new and improved YOU can be likened to that of a single egg morphing into a beautiful butterfly.

We've talked about this in the Meeting Room but I thought it was worth repeating just because change is inevitable in all our lives whether it has to do with health and fitness or something else. How we move through that transformation can be insightful.

A butterfly starts its life as a tiny egg, just drifting on a leaf, seemingly oblivious of what is happening to and around it. This is somewhat like us when we are in the denial stage. We don't see a problem with our weight, health or lack of activity. We have managed somehow to get this far with no issues. However, at some point we have an "aha" moment when we finally see the need for change. Maybe we couldn't buckle a seatbelt on an plane, fit into a seat in the movie theater or heaven forbid, experienced a health scare involving ourselves or a loved one.

At this point we have entered the caterpillar stage. We start thinking about what needs to be done, and how we will get there. Some caterpillars are known to eat until they get too big for their skin. Yikes! Maybe that is why some of us overeat in stressful situations, it could be our caterpillar survival instinct at work.

The action phase is similar to the cocoon phase. There is so much taking place inside that we don't see. In fact we may even find the chrysalis to be ugly. Often we have changes that are happening inside us during this phase. Our habits are getting better and we notice what works and what doesn't. However, we don't see this on the outside as the changes are covert. This is when it is important to look inside to acknowledge and take credit for the things you are doing right.

The maintenance stage is comparable to the butterfly emerging from his cocoon. He has to struggle to get through the opening. You take the final steps to find the wherewithal to continue with this lifestyle and spread your wings.

Here is the story I told in the meeting room: (Author unknown)

A man found a butterfly cocoon and brought it home with him. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as possible and could go no further.

Then the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

Struggle a little, so you can fly!