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.
English: Back cover of Barbie booklet about how to lose weight. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Weight loss isn’t just a pill, a diet, or a workout plan and while all off these might help you drop some pounds they typically do not work long-term. Much of the research out there shows that fewer then 20% of individuals that start a program to lose weight are able to keep it off. Nope, as a society we suck at living healthy lifestyles and it’s not just eating, we have a whole slew of bad habits. Just think about how well you sleep at night or how you deal with a stressful day of work.
Sustained weight loss is about creating a lifestyle that aligns with a way of being and combines the things you want with the things you do. If you are over weight you make daily, consistent choices to sustain this weight and level of health. While you may have small burst of weeks that are filled with healthy living and exercise throughout your year, these times are fewer then the times you aren’t paying attention. Your habit balance favors a way of being where you are overweight and out of shape.
Habits are our day to day rituals, pieces of script that we keep as short-cuts so our minds don’t have to constantly waste time thinking about the small stuff. You have a habit in place for waking up in the morning, one for driving, and one for winding down your day. While some of these habits support healthy living others sabotage our efforts and may lead to feelings of guilt. Just think about how you feel after entertaining the habit you picked up in college of eating to much ice cream in response to stress.
This week most post will focus on establishing the habits needed to create a healthy lifestyle. We will look at how habits are created and strategies for breaking barrier habits in order to establish healthy keystone ones. Before reading further take a moment to think about what habits you have in place to support your efforts and which work against you.
There is no action without thought, if you don’t believe me try it. Even mindless task like brushing your teeth, commuting to work or listening to your client complain about cellulite has cognition behind it. Most of us are able to go through our day without even paying attention to the noisy mental processes behind mundane task. This doesn’t always work to our benefit, just think about a time when you were out with friends at a Mexican restaurant and the bowl of chips in front of you magically vanishes? It’s as if our brain goes on feeding autopilot while you talk sports/fashion and take in new information from the individual sitting in front of you.
When you are coaching weight loss with you clients one of the first things that will get the process started is to help them become aware of these thoughts. I usually have my clients keep a two week journal of their thoughts, feelings and impulses behind each meal. When we were younger eating was pretty much dictated to us, you were given a bottle either at certain times of the day or when you wouldn’t stop crying. Your parents would take you to McDonald’s when you did well in school or wouldn’t stop saying, “I’m loving it” every time they drove by the golden arches. While it didn’t seem like much at the time these occurrences were hardwiring habits that many of us have taken into adulthood. Think about the last time you thought, “I deserve a drink for getting through such a hard week,” or “cookie dough ice-cream won’t get mad at me for not turning in the brief on time.”
Cookie dough is my friend
We all have these thoughts bouncing around in our heads and as a professional part of your programming should include helping your clients to listens the productive thoughts. After they develop their awareness around the foods they eat the next step is to get them to actively dispute the voices that have them ordering Frappuchio’s after work each day. Disputing dysfunctional thoughts is a method championed by Albert Ellis the father of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). He would have his clients really pay attention to irrational thoughts like “eating will make me happy” and turn them around to “I eat when I’m hungry and while meals are a pleasurable experience I don’t need them to be happy.”
Helping them find their voice in the matter is a very powerful tool. It will encompass everything from what they order at a restaurant to their ability to turn down double-fudge brownies at school functions. So, encourage them to listen to those voices in their head just make sure the things they are saying don’e involve chain saws and hockey mask.