Rule #2: Words to Live By

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It’s Story Time!

Everybody has a story in them, a string of events that together forms a narrative and influences their choices and behavior.  Think about it, when you tell people that you are a good cook what does this mean?  You may reference several meals that you have prepared over the years and the praise you received from friends and family for your creations.  At a deeper level you might even remember the time you spent in the kitchen with your parents learning the nuances of putting together a meal.

You can wear a culinary badge of competence based on a history of success and you enjoy the confidence that goes along with it.  The thing is, story telling works in both directions and if you are still mastering the art of boiling water you have a pretty different story.  The stories we tell ourselves can both carry us forward or hinder our progress; you get to choose which one you want to listen to.

Creating a lifestyle where you achieve a healthy weight and confidence means learning a story that aligns with what you are trying to accomplish.  The thing is, if you have had a difficult time with weight loss in the past your story may need revisions.  In fact, you may need to do a bit more research and find co-author if you really need to make some significant changes.

Before you know where to go you need to write out where you have been.  Take the rest of the week and think about your healthy living story.  Who are the main characters, who are the villains, what plot twist caught you off guard and what successes did you experience.  Once you have this down you can start to write the rest of the story.

Note, you don’t have to write this story alone so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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Like a Boss!!

I’m a personal trainer and a counselor, I workout because it is fun and I really enjoy pushing myself.  When it’s not -25 here in Chicago I like getting in a morning run but in the winter I opt for some early morning Yoga to get things going.  Later in the day I block off a couple of hours for a gym workout.

Often, when I talk to my friends about my lifestyle they point out that they would workout like this if it was their job too.  Well, it is your job.  In fact you are the CEO of your healthy lifestyle.

I spend 30 minutes in the AM and a couple of hours in the afternoon that includes my commute to the gym and a stop a Whole Foods after.  If you break down my actual gym time I work out for just a little over an hour.  The thing is, I make the time, I get up early, I schedule my clients around this break in the day.  I prioritize my health.

It is Monday, you have the whole week ahead of you, schedule the time you are going to dedicate to yourself today.  You are the boss of this life.

Alive but Still Learning to Live.

I have so been neglecting this blog but I do have a good reason.  I lost my job right before Thanksgiving, not exactly and ideal situation to be in right before the holidays and my motivation was totally in the dumps.  I did the whole feeling bad for myself bit for several weeks, drank a little more then I should, cut off friends and family.  After going through the motions for most of November and a lot of December I realized I expected better of myself.

This wasn’t living, this wasn’t the way that I do things and when one ride ends you just get in line for another.

So, I started a business, I got my first client last week and have a meeting with a second this week.  The thing is, being self-employeed has always been the dream and working for others doesn’t honor my vision.  If there is anything that life has taught me it is that it will correct itself, often in very painful ways, if you aren’t living the way you were intended to.

As we start this year I encourage you to take inventory and consider if you are being true to the life you want to live and the person you want to be.  What needs to happen in order for you to stop going around in circles and start moving things forward?  While it is great to be alive it is better when you start living.

Check out this post from The Art of Manliness: How to Live on 24 Hours a Day

Here is the website for my new business I have another blog on the site and we recorded our first podcast this weekend.  We also have a 30 Day Challenge going on Facebook: True 2 Life

I wish you the best in 2014 and please contact me if you are interested in fitness and lifestyle coaching.

Why Do You Do?

Here’s a scenario, you have the goal in mind to lose several pounds before the holidays because you have a trip planned to Brazil.  You get a gym membership, sign up for  a couple of group fitness classes and buy a juicer.  Your morning routine, choke down homemade beet/celery/quinoa concoction, pack bag with gym clothes, and grab a protein bar.  The first two weeks start off pretty well, you are hitting the gym three-times a week and you can set a timer to your bowl movements (thanks quinoa).

However, you will have to change some things around next week, project due by Friday and there are two after work functions planned.  No problem, you will get back on track next week. When next week roles around you only end up getting to the gym once because of some family commitments and more work functions.  Four-weeks out you are totally off track, tired of cleaning the juicer blades, and annoyed by the extra weight you have to haul around each day just so you can get to the gy

Quinoa is not a grass, but its seeds have been...

Thank you Quinoa!!

m.  Thinking back to those first couple of weeks you ask, “how did I make that happen?”

One of the more significant factors that separate those that are successful at weight-loss and those that aren’t is the ability to prioritize defined healthy behaviors.  Think about it, there are several non-negotiable throughout your day that support your personal, professional, and social lives.  For example, how long could you keep your job and friends if you didn’t attend to your personal hygiene?  Regular showers are a non-negotiable for most people that want to keep their jobs and interact with other individuals.

When you prioritize self-care you make it a non-negotiable to a certain extent.  This will require a better understanding of your world so you can make an AM workout happen if you have extra work to do in the evening.  This also requires not allowing yourself to make excuses and understanding this is a part of who you are.  When you really own healthy living as a part of your persona it permeates all areas of your life and losing weight becomes less about doing it will just begin to happen.

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Micro Effort

I had an exhausting conversation with one of my clients yesterday, one of those individuals that insist he is incapable of change and I am wasting my time with him.  No matter what I said he kept coming back to the idea that food and inactivity are his drugs of choice.  The interesting thing is this person is a successful entrepreneur, has a wonderful family and just a all around high functioning individual.

Clients like this require a bit of special attention because no matter how many meal plans or workout routines you toss at them the negative mindset will persist.  A technique that I have found particularly helpful is to get them to commit to micro-changes.  This technique is draw from the foot in the door technique that says once you get the individual to commit to something small getting larger commitment later isn’t as difficult.  I ask my clients to just commit to 5-10 minutes on the treadmill or just 5 push-ups each day and build from that point.  Often times I find that the person will take it upon themselves to do more once they start with the minimal-effort item.

Ask for a little hope for more.

Break Them Down or Build Them Up: Do You Reward Consistent Behavior

As much as I hate reality television I know that it is a guilty pleasure for millions of people, otherwise they wouldn’t keep producing things like “Ice Trucker House Wives of Winnipeg.”  I have actually had clients that have asked me to yell at them like Jillian from the “Biggest Loser” which always makes me cringe and suggest a different trainer.  Speaking of Jillian, have you ever wondered if yelling and punishing your clients is actually motivating them to work harder?

Keeping people motivated through systems of rewards and punishment is a pretty tricky game that has a lot of nuances to consider.  It doesn’t matter if you are trying to get your kid to keep their room clean or if you are trying to get your client to stick to a fitness routine how you motivate matters.  The good news is we are all pretty much hardwired from birth to respond in specific ways to certain stimuli and in this post we are going to discuss impactful reinforcement.

According to AllPsych Online reinforcement means “to strengthen and is used in psychology to  refer to anything which strengthens or weakens the probability of a response.”  There are 4 different types of reinforcers that are used to illicit responses and while they all impact the individual they don’t all contribute to lasting results.  The following is a list of the four types of reinforcement:

  • Positive Reinforcement: This is where you are given something as a result of a objective achieved.  This of this as getting a new medicine ball of losing your first ten-pounds.
  • Negative Reinforcement: For this one something negative is taken away and is exemplified by that client that stops eating (or reporting) that doughnut every morning to avoid hearing you nag them.
  • Punishment: When you add something to the situation that the subject doesn’t enjoy like five-minutes of Burpees for consuming multiple doughnuts.  No surprise, this is the least impactful of the four often times leading to feelings of resentment toward the punisher and extinction of the desired action.  Yet, people still hit their kids, you have to wonder.
  • Extinction: Take something away because in order to get the desired behavior.  You have your shinny new medicine ball taken away because you gain ten-pounds back… Sadness 😦

Positive Reinforcement tends to work the best out of all of these and AllPsych notes “… it not only works better but it allows both parties to focus on the positive aspects of the situation.”  You can take it a step further by putting your client on a Variable Interval schedule where their progress is checked periodically and rewarded based on the results at that time.  Just think of that job that you may have had where your work is evaluated at random instead of just a yearly review.  You have to stay on your toes at all times in those situations instead of just stepping it up toward the end to get a good review and a raise.