Start with your goals – part1

When you think about your health, diet, weight, fitness and overall lifestyle, the most important question you must ask yourself is  what are my goals The most common answers I get to this question are “I want to lose weight” or “I want to be healthy” or some variation of “I’m sick and tired of feeling sick and tired”.

Most people want to be healthy, and for most Americans, losing weight would be a good thing; there are many secondary benefits to their health that would result from this.  Losing weight though – while a good thing – is not a destination.  The reason why diets don’t work is that while many people consider weight loss to be the goal or destination.  I think this is incorrect in the same way that if you are driving to New York to Florida, you need more of a goal than just getting to Florida – the vehicle, or the process of driving there or the highway that gets you there is not the end goal.   If you take this approach to weight loss as many people do with “diets” – you have the now what problem; what are you going to do once you get there?

This is true for weight loss as well.  It should be part of the process of reaching your goals for a healthier lifestyle – not THE end goal.    I think it is good to target certain milestones as a part of your overall plan – just don’t’ make the weight loss the end goal.  The unfortunate result of that for most people is that after they have lost the weight – they eventually go back to doing what they did before, eating they way they did before, and end up at their previous weight or even heavier.  Sound familiar – either in your own experience or in the life of someone you know?

One of the reasons this happens is that the motivation behind the goal is gone; you’ve lost the weight – you’ve “crossed the finish line” – you’ve reached your goal.  In my next post I’ll help you look at another important guideline that can help you combine weight loss goals to make lasting changes in your lifestyle.  Use the form below if you have any questions or comments – I’d love to hear from you!

Need some workout ideas?

How about these workout ideas?

If you’ve read the previous posts on why you don’t have time to skip your workout you’ve also read about some of the immediate benefits of a workout that you can experience. I hope you’ve also thought about the long-term benefits, such as better overall fitness, healthier blood pressure, a tendency toward lower body fat, and an overall sense of well being.

Many people feel challenged to find exercise that they want to do or are willing to commit to on a long-term basis. To those concerns I have two responses:

1. You don’t have to make a long-term commitment! If you try something and find that it doesn’t work for you – either modify the exercise or your approach to it – or try something else. Just because you start out jogging doesn’t meant that you are committing yourself to jogging every day for the rest of your life! As a matter of fact – I recommend that you don’t do the same thing every day – it leads to boredom and to increased potential for injury.
This is why I personally follow a fitness program called P90X – it contains a variety of different exercises and includes weight and resistance exercises as well as aerobic activity and routines to increase flexibility and range of motion. I think another great aspect of P90X is that I can do it at home on my schedule.  And best of all – it really works.
I also like to run – so I also run when possible. I am blessed to live in an area where I can run on horse trails through the mountains so the view is always changing and beautiful. But I also try to make sure I do something when traveling – even if that means running in and around the area, or even just using the treadmill in the hotel where I’m staying. The point is to do something. If what you’re doing doesn’t work for you – try something else.

2. You have more options that just joining a gym or running. Find something that you like to do and that you will put on your schedule every day and commit to doing. Joining a gym is not a bad thing since you may have access to trainers or people who can show you proper form and various ways of exercise. It may also give you access to classes on new forms of exercise that you’re not familiar with. Running is great because you can go as fast or slow as you need to tailor your fitness level, and you can do it just about anywhere with almost no equipment.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

But besides a gym or running – what else can you do?
Here are a few more fitness ideas – not in any particular order:

Walking, hiking, swimming, water aerobics, aerobics, fitness dvd at home, yoga, home rebounder (small trampoline), kettlebell workout, team or intramural sports, skiing, rollerblading, jump-rope, bicycle – either mountain, trail, or road, spinning (think stationary bicycle), stretching, dancing, tennis, racquetball, handball, weight training.

These are just a few – get creative – try some fitness videos, talk to others. It doesn’t matter what you do, just that you do something regularly.

What’s holding you back?

So you’ve decided that you have some fitness goals, or want a healthier lifestyle, or want to lose weight, or want to get into shape and have your body look a certain way, or be able to run a 5k or 5 miles …  what’s holding you back?   It might just be you.

To often people sabotage their own success before they even start something.
Today – now – you have to eliminate negativity from your mind and from your psyche.   It’s very easy to look around and blame your friends, your spouse, your co-workers, your frame, your body type, genetics, the snack food in the vending machine, the fast food restaurants, your busy schedule or any of those things around you – the list could go on and on – seemingly endless.
You could also sabotage yourself mentally and emotionally thinking about past times when you’ve been discouraged or not reached a goal –  or about diets that you’ve been on in the past (remember – diets don’t work – change in lifestyle does).

You don’t have the luxury of thinking this way.

Where you are today is the result of all of the thoughts and actions you’ve taken in the past.  Remember, that is the past and what you want to focus on is NOW.

As long as you are living and breathing, it is not too late to make a change.

Yesterday is gone, and you don’t have tomorrow yet – but you do have today – you have this moment right now.   This is the time to decide who you want to be, what kind of shape you want to be in, what kind of lifestyle you want to have, what state you want your health to be in.


  1. Decide on your goal.  You may want to work with a coach or mentor if you’re not sure what your goal should be – but once you decide on it – right it down and keep it in front of you – literally.  You need to constantly remind yourself of where you are headed and what you want for yourself.  This is best done once you decide and commit it to paper.   Even better is to have a coach or mentor that helps keep you on track.  As a part of this, you have to decide what is most important to you.  Once you understand your goal, you can start to measure the things you eat and how you spend your time against that goals.  Some things will stack up, other things you will have to give up.   It won’t seem like much of a loss as long as you keep your goal in mind and before you.
  2. Don’t be discouraged that it will take some time and effort to reach your goals.  You didn’t get to where you are today overnight, and you won’t reach your goals overnight either.  You’re in this for the long term and you have to keep your long-term goals in mind.   The one exception to the overnight thing is that it’s not a bad idea to have some mini-goals that you can check off as successes along the way.  Decide to skip candy for a day, or dessert for a week, or to exercise every day for a month.  Checking off these short-term successes can be a great encouragement toward reaching a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Place reminders of your goal around you.  This might be a post-it note on your refrigerator, or on your bathroom mirror – or maybe on the background/desktop of your computer.  These reminders help keep you on track and help keep you from getting of track.  Just like you wouldn’t head East if you wanted to go West, you need reminders of where you’re headed.  Snacks, cookies, cakes, and lying on the couch snacking and watching TV every night are probably not going to help you attain a goal of a healthy lifestyle.  That doesn’t mean you can never eat a cookie or watch a TV show – but it should help you weigh out what’s important and whether your actions are moving you in the right direction.
  4. Change what you need to change to help you reach your goal. If you want to lose weight, don’t go into the donut shop.  If you want to get more physically fit, stop lying on the couch all night every night.  If you want to quit eating junk food, stop buying it and having it in the house.  If you have healthy foods around you – you will eat healthier things.  If you regularly spend some time exercising, you will get more physically fit.  If you get good regular sleep, you will be more rested and an overall healthier person.  Incorporate the good things you want into your lifestyle and remove those negative things that got you to a place where you don’t want to be.  Remember that if you want a different outcome, some things will need to change.
  5. Forget the past.  Its gone and over and you can’t go back and change anything about it.  You have today and the decisions you make right now will move you toward or away from your goal.  Want to lose weight – you will need to change some of the things you’ve done in the past – probably both diet and exercise (see the posts on which is more important).  Want to be able to perform better athletically – you are going to have to find some ways to exercise to help you reach your goal.  Any goal worth having is worth the work to get there.   If you don’t change anything then you won’t change either – that’s what got you to where you are today.

Finally, try to surround yourself with people to can encourage you toward your goal and with things and reminders that will help you get there.  The notes and reminders in your daily planner, and on your screen, mirror and refrigerator are all helpful.  People around you that encourage you toward your goal are even more helpful.   You should create an environment around yourself that helps drive you toward your goal.  It’s your life, and you can have a healthy lifestyle if you



You don’t have time to skip your workout Part 2

Most people know that you get long term benefits from working out – things like:

-increased cardiovascular fitness and ability

-overall increase in muscle tone

-better body tone and composition

-an improved sense of well-being

-healthier overall blood pressure


These results are great as part of a long term-lifestyle motivation.

But did you know that you get at least three distinct benefits the same day that you do your exercise?
You don’t have to wait weeks or months to see these benefits – these are yours to enjoy on the same day as your workout.


Reduced Stress

Taking an exercise break from the rest of the activities of the day is a great way to reduce stress.  You can release much of the stress and anxiety of the day with exercise.  A short intense workout can help you refocus on tasks at hand and move past frustrations or mental blocks. A moderately intense workout can also release endorphins to your system.  These “feel good” chemicals released by your brain help to reduce feelings of stress and pain, and promote a sense of well being.


Increased Energy Level

If you’re not in the habit of regularly working out, this may seem counter-intuitive; but working out will actually give you increased energy levels.  I’m not talking about working out far beyond your ability or running a marathon, but a moderate to intense 30-60 minute workout increases blood flow to both muscles and brain.  The release of endorphins as noted above – responsible for the so-called “runners high” can help give you the energy to complete tasks, even on a very full day.


Better sleep

A moderate to intense workout burns fat, stimulates the brain and muscular systems, and promotes a sense of well being during the day.  In addition to this, it can also help you sleep better at night.  I recommend that you don’t exercise right before going to bed; for some people this may interfere with sleep or being able to fall asleep quickly.  However, a good workout during the day will generally help you sleep better at night and promote better quality sleep.  For other tips on sleep, see my posts healthy sleep and healthy sleep part2.


There are many other short-term benefits in addition to these.  Start adding your workout to your daily schedule and experience for yourself what regular exercise can do for you!


Want more info or have a question?   Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you.

You don’t have time to skip your workout

The most frequent reason I hear people give for why they don’t exercise is that they “don’t have time.” While there are the rare days when you might truly be pressed for time because of travel or flight schedules, I’ll tell you why even on your busiest days – you don’t have time to not exercise.

The reality is that it is a matter of priorities and planning whether or not we have time built in or allotted for working out. The number one thing you can do to make sure you have time to exercise is to build it in your schedule. There is no absolute best time of day to work out; the best time is what works for you. If you’re no currentlyt in the habit of regularly exercising (and you should be), the first thing you need to do is make it a regular part of your lifestyle.

Plan some time in your schedule every day for exercise. It really doesn’t matter whether it is first thing in the morning or later in the day. You may have to experiment with a few different times of day before you find what works best for you. I prefer to exercise right after I come home from work. By that time, I’m ready for a round of P90X or a good run to wring out the tensions of the day, give my muscles a chance to move, stretch and be pushed, – and sweat out some toxins. The most important thing is to make it part of your daily schedule – a part of your lifestyle.
You do this by doing it regularly – every day.

Putting it on your schedule you makes it a priority – makes it important enough that you have set time aside for it.   Don’t let other things crowd it out – it’s as important (maybe even more important) than the other things you do.  By placing it on your schedule, you won’t be faced with having to make a decision about whether or not you “have time” to work out.

Don’t’ stress too much if you have to miss a day once in a while because of illness or the occasional travel day. But you will find that if you make it a part of your regular schedule, you won’t want to miss it, your day will just go better when you get your exercise in, and your day will feel “off” if miss it.

This isn’t a bad thing; exercise should be something that you look forward to. If you hate what you do for your workout – try something else! There are so many options for staying fit and giving your body the activity it needs to stay healthy – more on that in another post.

Once you make your workout a part of your lifestyle – not only will you find that you do have time for it (even on your busy days) but you’ll also experience a few distinct benefits that come along with daily exercise – including an increased energy level.
More on that in my next post – You don’t have time to skip your workout Part 2; find out about the three distinct benefits you get on the same day that you do your exercise.

Questions, comments, or want to find out more?
Leave me a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!

Diet or Exercise – which is more important? Part II

Diet or Exercise – which is more important?

This “frequently asked question” has an interesting answer; because of the way they work together, it’s really difficult to separate diet and exercise.  Both are an important and synergistic part of a healthy lifestyle.

The bottom line answer to this question: your diet is more important (but not going on a diet)!  Surprisingly though, if you are just starting down the path to a healthier lifestyle, I recommend that you begin by focusing on exercise.  Let’s explore a few reasons why exercise is the best way to start.

  1. Most people want to see some changes early on; your body will probably respond to exercise more quickly.   Remember, you spent your whole life getting to where you are now, so don’t expect changes overnight.   However, you will probably be surprised at how quickly your body responds to regular physical activity.   Be smart and take small steps toward you goal; start by walking for half an hour instead of jumping in to running 3 miles a day.
    By starting with a sustainable amount of activity, you can make this a part of your lifestyle and increase your activity as you make physical and fitness gains.   Most importantly – don’t skip, don’t make excuses, make sure you do something every day.
  2. Adding regular physical activity will start to “wake up” and revitalize a sluggish metabolism.   If you haven’t been exercising regularly, you will be amazed at what regular activity will do for you.   These bodies were made to be active, and adding in regular physical activity will benefit you in so many ways.  You’ll probably notice that sleep and digestion start to improve, along with other things too,   Start with something sustainable so that you won’t get discouraged.
    Don’t  start on something you can’t keep up with (either too strenuous or too time consuming).You might be tempted to want to go out and run a few miles (or maybe not), but don’t start with that – I suggest that you start with walking 30 minutes a day, do it regularly and try to not miss a day.  If you maintain your level of activity for a couple of weeks, you’ll find that it’s gone from something on your schedule to a habit to where it’s a part of your lifestyle.  Your goal should be to make nutritional and exercise related changes that become a part of your lifestyle – not just something you do for a little while to “get into shape”.
    Remember – diets don’t work because diets are something most people do for a while to try to reach a goal, and then they go back to the way they were – or worse!.  It’s the same with most people with crash fitness programs.   Check any gym on January 2nd, and then go back a check a month later; setting the bar too high from the start does you more harm than good.   You have to be determined and remember that you’re in this for the long haul – for the rest of your life.  So set a sustainable goal that you can stick with (or increase) for life.
  3. An initial focus on exercise and seeing the resulting changes will encourage you to address nutrition and your diet.

For most people it’s easier to build on success, and the success of feeling your body begin to respond to regular exercise is motivational.   It doesn’t take too long after you make regular exercise a part of your lifestyle that you will probably start to look for ways to make additional improvements.  Typically, two things happen; you improve their fitness level and perhaps increase or change your exercise routine.    You’ll begin to feel the effects in many ways, including sleep and an increasing overall feeling of well being.  At the same time, you start to realize just how much effort you are putting into exercise, the results you are getting, and how it’s beginning to make you “feel better”.

This is typically the point where you should feel motivated to make changes in your diet.  Typically, something “clicks” inside, and you realize that you don’t want to sabotage your increasing health by taking bad stuff in.   Just like you wouldn’t rebuild a car and then fill it with junky gas – you realize that the same principle applies to your body.  Use this motivational boost to leverage your efforts and address the foods you eat and drink.


Next up – why your diet is the most important thing for you to address – even more important than exercise (but don’t stop exercising)!


Questions, comments or any other feedback?  I’d love to hear from you.  Use the section below to contact me.


Obesity trends are bad news for everybody

Bad news about obesity

The CDC released a study showing that more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese and that currently not even one state has met the nation’s Healthy People 2010 goal to lower obesity prevalence to 15% (no state is even below 20%).  (Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health,; the standard measure is when Body mass index (BMI) is greater than 30 kg/m).

As a New York Times article pointed out: “The billions that we are spending to treat diabetes is money that we don’t have for education reform or retirement benefits …, it’s estimated that the total cost of America’s obesity epidemic could reach almost $1 trillion by 2030 ….”

It’s certain that even if you’re fit and of a healthy weight you either know or have family members that are a part of this trend.

For everyone’s good – What can you do about this?

  1. Encourage people to make healthy eating choices.  Many people don’t think about the effect of what they eat on their body and their health.   A former coworker lamented to me about his inability to lose weight, but always had a mid-morning snack of a can of Coke and a pack of frosted pop-tarts.   We worked through healthy alternatives that could be just as filling, last longer and not have all the bad effects of Coke and pop-tarts.
  2. Educate your family members about why you make the food choices you do.  Don’t be annoying or a know it all, but I believe that as people learn about healthy delicious alternatives and taste how good they are, they are more likely to make a healthy choice rather than dismiss healthy food as  “leaves and twigs”.
  3. Share your healthy foods and habits with others.  Whether it’s break time at work or a get-together with friends, provide good foods for friends to share with you.   Once people try ripe cherries, juicy mango, fresh ripe peaches, fresh cruchy apple slices, and other healthy choices some of the unhealthy choices don’t that much better than the healthy ones.

Questions about anything in this post?  Leave me a comment – I’d love to hear from you.

motivating people to live a healthy lifestyle

The secret that will motivate you to live a healthy lifestyle.

Before we get right to it – a few things that are not the secret:

Understanding the research on what makes or keeps us healthy
We live in an enlightened time; a lot is know about physiology, biology, food science.
IF education and understanding were the key – we would all have healthy, fit bodies.
There is some confusing info out there and I hope to help cut through that confusion and clear up some of the misinformation so that you can move toward a healthier lifestyle, but clearly education alone is not the key.

Seeing someone make the changes and choices that lead to a healthy lifestyle
Most of us have seen or know that person in our life that made changes and now “looks great” and can run, bike, hike, etc. for seemingly endless periods.   We’ve seen the transformation before our eyes and seem someone get fit, change their diet, gain energy, etc.  Seeing it happen to someone you know is not the magic motivation that works for most people.

Having someone point out all the wrong things you are doing or eating
A lot of people have that well-meaning person that raises their eyebrows or gives you a hard time for what you eat, or “eating the whole thing” or not exercising.  Negative motivation is not the key for most people.  A person generally knows when they are doing something that’s not healthy, or when they choose to avoid a healthy diet or lifestyle.

Here’s the key:

It is only when you reach the point where you decide healthy living is what you want more than any thing else that you will make the changes needed to get there.   You have to reach the point where you look in the mirror or look at the report from your annual physical or think about being around for the people you love and for one of those reasons decide to make it a priority; no one else can do that for you or make you want that – you have to want it for yourself.
That is when you will begin seeking out info about a healthier diet – things to avoid, things to include.  That is what will motivate you to begin to do things like review your diet, take the stairs, not worry about getting the closest parking space, find ways to incorporate more physical activity into your daily life, and build time into your schedule to include some regular fitness or exercise activity, etc.

The goal of is to help you do this:  to provide a place where you can discover changes that you can integrate into your life to take small steps toward a healthier lifestyle.  I want to help you make small changes that become a part of your lifestyle – a part of who you are and the way you do life.


Questions or something to say about this post?   Leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you.



diets don’t work

I often find myself in conversations with people who are telling me about their “new diet” or new plan to lose weight and get in shape.   The pattern is usually the same – they tell me about what changes they’re making and how much weight they plan to lose or what they hope to accomplish.   The one question I always ask them after they explain their diet is “then what?”   Those two simple words sum up why most diets don’t work for most people over the long term.   Lifestyle changes work.

Most people can find or figure out a way to change their diet or quit eating some food or food group that will result in short term weight loss.  Most of the time though, these don’t usually result in a change of lifestyle.   After the weight loss or goal is met, almost all people go back to what they were doing before  – and end up right back where they started – or worse.

The path to healthier living is not a diet … it’s a change in lifestyle.    That’s why the focus here is on changes that can be made to lead you to a healthier lifestyle.  My goal is to help you make little changes in the foods you eat and the things you dochanges that you can sustain and keep on doing so that they become a part of the way you live.

Want to know more about diets or anything else in this post?  Let me know with a comment!