Some of the best advice I have ever been given about working out: “you don’t have to enjoy the work out but you can enjoy what it does for you.” Believe me, I can see it on the faces of those people hamster wheeling those elliptical machines, they don’t want to be there and if they can just go 20 more minutes life will be good. However, there is a big difference between optimizing your workout and just going through the motions.
In a recent article by Michael J. Joyner in Outside magazine entitled Why You Need to Be Doing Burpees, Joyner highlights a study that shows an increase in mortality versus an individual’s ability to get off the floor. Think about it, if you have fallen and you can’t get up what does this say about your physical ability? Gravity is a bitch, it is constantly working to push you down and keep you there.
Working out isn’t just about going through the motions in the gym, it is about optimizing our ability to move against gravity. Now, you can go to the gym and exercise, get in a little cardio go over to the weights and do some bench, curl some dumbbells, get that pump on. However, think about how this would help you if you suddenly slipped on the ice and needed to catch yourself or had your arm trapped under a boulder, needed to cut your arm off, then crawl to safety. OK, maybe that is a little extreme but how do those traditional exercises serve to improve physicality?
Here is a list of traditional compared to there more athletic exercises
- Bench Press vs. Burpees or Clapping Pushups
- Cable Pulldown vs. Pullups
- Elliptical vs. Stair Climbers or Running
- Squat vs. Front Squat or Kettlebell Swings
- Missionary Position vs. Amazon Kneeling Reverse (look it up will make you chuckle.)
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There are 99 days left in 2013 and this gives us the perfect opportunity to set goals. I do enjoy goal setting and I am even part of a group of Facebook where we post up a 30 day challenge at the beginning of every month. Through these challenges I have learned that it not just about reaching a goal but what you discover about yourself along the way. For instance, I wanted to cut down on eating out so I threw out the challenge of limiting restaurant visits to celebrations only. Before you ask, yes, Sunday night football counts as a celebration.
I came to realize that I wasn’t just going out for convenience but I was feeding my need to be around other people. I am extremely extraverted and am energized by places crowded with other individuals even if I’m not interacting with them. Because I work out of my apartment I was going out and grabbing a bite not because I didn’t feel like taking all that time to defrost that Trader Joe’s chicken burrito but to have some company.
My recommendation for an end of the year challenge, go big, put something out there that you really want to accomplish and set monthly goals that align with what you are trying to accomplish. So, if you want to lose 15 lbs. set your 30 day goal at getting in 10,000 steps each day or making sure you get your daily serving of vegetables. Focus on the small stuff and set up a daily check-list of healthy living task. Also, it would help if you came up with some system to keep you accountable. Things like purchasing some classes, signing up with a coach, or getting your friends to withhold your favorite pillow until you accomplish your goal kick in that little extra motivation when you start to flag.
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Travel can be a significant barrier for those of us that are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But you say, “Matt, I’m on vacation, that means I check the diet and exercise at the door so I can make room for Pina Coladas and long days of pool-side lounging.” BS!! Ask yourself how you felt the last time you spent several days of drinking and eating like crap combined with inactivity.
When you look at vacation and travel through the lens of the healthy person you want to be it becomes difficult to imagine that high school spring break where you lived off of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch and Beer. Like everything we are going for a balanced lifestyle no matter where you are. Keep the basics in mind, find a reason to be active every day and watch the higher calorie foods and drinks.
I have developed the habit of looking for something fun and active to do when ever I go out of town that allows me to experience the place I am visiting. This has resulted in some pretty fun experiences like paddle boarding in South Caroline and a 5K scavenger hunt in New Orleans. There are just as many things to do as a family if you are committed to your self-care and plan ahead just a little bit.
Have a great Monday!!
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Don’t look now but I think your job is trying to kill you. Adults spend a lot of time at work and in a given week you interact much more with your colleagues in the office then you do with your family at home. Your work environment may actually be one of the more significant barriers to your weight loss efforts.
Think about the extra calories you get from grazing around the break-room or out of the jellybeans jar on your co-workers desk. How often are you hitting happy hour with friends after a long day of wrangling with issues in your department? Your work environment can be detrimental to the healthy life that you want to lead if you allow it to, but you have a choice.
While you can’t control the people around you, you can monitor your actions and decide what will or will not work against you. Don’t allow yourself to throw your hands up in defeat because it is yet another birthday this week with cake. You can choose to have a smaller piece or nothing at all. Don’t worry, gaining the reputation as someone committed to taking care of themselves isn’t nearly as damning as you think.
Have a thoughtful Thursday
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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.
I work with very intelligent people, I mean seriously, some of these people make me feel lazy and intellectually dull. Yet, they struggle with things like getting to the gym on a regular basis or staying within some basic limits for food and alcohol. The thing is, intelligence does little to inoculate you against a frame of mind that tends to hinder instead of help your self-care efforts.
In this second piece on sabotaging thoughts we will look at how you can identify those instances where your way of thinking gets in the way of performing. This isn’t just procrastination, this is the reason that procrastination even exist. Think about the last time you put off doing something that you new was somewhat important but there was a distraction, like YouTube videos of cats playing pianos, that got in the way. There was a thought process that started before you even left the office, grew as you passed the gym and peaked when you decided to hit the drive through instead of the weight-room. Consider, was your day stressful, was there an unfinished bit of work that was bouncing around in your head, did you lose an argument about the increasing talent of household cats?
Even if you are not aware of it thoughts precede actions. The first step in dealing with sabotaging thoughts is to get use to some of the triggers that cause that cascade of electrical impulses to short circuit your plans. Note how stress impacts your day and look at ways to get in the things that you want to do no matter once. A while back I had a client that would drop his bag off at the gym first thing in the morning with the house keys just so he had to go there to get them. What is setting off the sabotaging thoughts in your life?
Next entry will look at thinking errors.