You might have a pattern in your life that feels like a shadow – everytime you look, it’s there and it follows you wherever you go and no matter what you do or try.
You know you shouldn’t buy that stuff from the snack machine.
You know you shouldn’t just sit on the couch all night.
You know you shouldn’t be eating ….
The shouldn’ts can feel pretty overwhelming and make you want to just give up on trying to be healthy or change your lifestyle to help you become more healthy.
Today – instead of focusing on all of the things you aren’t doing or the things you are doing wrong, decide to start some new patterns; healthy patterns that will help you move toward a healthier lifestyle on little step at a time, with today being the first step.
Do plan to have a healthier diet by starting a pattern of choosing healthy snacks.
Do start a new pattern today of beginning to eliminate soda from your diet.
Do go to bed 30 minutes earlier so that you don’t hate the alarm in the morning (because you didn’t get enough sleep)
Make today the day you start some new healthy patterns, and note them on your calendar.
It’s OK if you don’t change everything all at once; you didn’t get to where you are today overnight, and lasting positive changes are more important than changing everything – only to give it all up in a week or two.
Tomorrow you can repeat the successes of today, and take another little step toward a healthier lifestyle.
Questions or comments? Use the form below – I’d love to hear from you!
Some people are on the constant hunt that one secret thing that will finally make everything right with their health.
There is one thing that will do that, but first I want to dispel a few myths.
There is no magical supplement, no secret diet, no hidden tropical food, no special dried berry, no forgotten African fruit, no secret workout routine, no fitness shortcut, no magic fatburner, no special supplement, no secret oil or any type of secret, hidden, forgotten, or new discovered secret that will unlock the path to great health.
Many people waste a lot of time and money trying one thing after another, hoping with each one that they will find the holy grail of health. The secret (if there is one) is that there is no one thing that you need to eat, take or do that will unlock great health.
There are many things you should avoid, some you should limit, and there are some foods and activities you should try to eat or do regularly. The one key to unlocking your health is a healthy lifestyle.
There are several different good approaches you can use for good as a part of your healthy lifestyle and many key components of a healthy lifestyle; nutrition and fitness are important parts of that, but not the only parts. In the next several posts we’ll take a look at some of the dietary plans you’ve asked about, and how they can work for you as a part of a healthy lifestyle. Some of you have asked about specific diets (high carb, low carb, low fat, etc.) – we will look at some of those specifically too. We’ll also look at how you can identify your goals to help find the dietary approach that works best for you.
Questions or comments? Use the form below – I would love to hear from you.
I’ve met many people who have given up. They tell me about how they have tried “being healthy” or tried to eat better or tried quitting junk food and messed up, so they gave up. You probably know people who have planned big changes after a birthday, or as a New Years’ Resolution. You might even be one of those people who started a new workout or fitness program that you gave up on a few weeks into the year. It can be very discouraging when you want to be healthy but find yourself doing unhealthy things.
Chances are, either you’ve had this experience yourself or you know someone who has. And if you have, it’s easy to feel doomed to an unhealthy. My simple message to you: Don’t give up! Just because you got off track doesn’t mean your plans for a healthy lifestyle are totally derailed.
If you miss a day or two in your workout schedule or your new diet – don’t give up! Don’t let a missed workout or two or a cheat meal or dessert keep you from continuing on toward your goal. Taking one little step at a time toward a healthier lifestyle is much more important than taking no steps at all.
I like the phrase “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” as reminder that it’s more important to make some progress rather than none at all. Stay focused on the good things you are doing rather than the mistakes you make along the way.
Questions or comments about this post? Use the section below – I’d love to hear from you.
This may be the most important part of what you need to do in order to begin to move toward a healthier lifestyle. You have to decide what is really important to you – once you do this, you can begin to move toward it and eliminate the things that stand in your way.
You have to decide what is most important because that is will define what is not as important. I know some people that can hardly ever pass a donut shop without stopping. If donuts are your “thing” or you feel like you can never pass up chocolate cake, certain physical or fitness goals are probably out or reach. If a certain level of physical health or athletic performance is your goal, it won’t seem like such a great sacrifice to give up some of the sugary treats and other things that you might otherwise eat. To put it another way, think about whether the daily things you do from a dietary and fitness standpoint move you toward or away from a healthier lifestyle. Did the dietary and exercise choices you made yesterday move you toward being healthier and feeling better, or was it just more of the same way you’ve done things for the last month, year or many years.
If your top priority is to wake up and feel healthy, strong and vital every day, to reduce illness and/or injury and to avoid the bad effects of the typical western diet, you begin the measure your meals and snacks and the things you do (or don’t do) against that goal. I personally stay focused on how good I feel every day, and I don’t want anything to derail that or keep me from that. In order to do this, I think it helps to keep this at the front of your mind with a simple phrase or reminder.
If you’ve never felt that, or if you wake up not feeling good every day, I’d challenge you to consider changing your goals. Don’t expect everything about your body and health to change overnight – because it won’t. But you can begin today to make little changes that will move you toward a healthier lifestyle one little step at a time. Remember that you didn’t get to where you are today overnight either. Set your sights on a lifetime goal of healthy living and feeling good.
Start with your goals part2, or why you need to ask yourself – what is “being healthy?”
The two most frequent questions I get when people talk to me about health and fitness are variations on:
How can I lose weight?
How can I get healthier?
It’s interesting to note that I don’t usually get questions about how to keep weight off or about what kind of healthy lifestyle will help you maintain a healthy weight.
(This is the root of yo-yo dieting; where people lose weight and then end up gaining back all the weight they lost – or sometimes even end up weighing more than they did at first.) For this reason it’s very important to think about living at a healthy body weight rather than thinking about just losing a certain amount of weight or fat.
Body composition (muscle/fat) is also very important – it’s not just about losing weight. This will be addressed in an upcoming post.
Also, I don’t usually get questions about maintaining a healthier lifestyle – the questions are usually about losing extra weight or losing fat and about getting “healthier” – not about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This is the point of today’s post: you have to come up with a clear picture in your mind of what it means to have a healthier lifestyle. This means you need to define what it means to be “healthier” thinking about it in terms of a lifestyle – something that you maintain. This extends to all parts of your life: diet, activity, fitness, stress, sleep, emotions, etc.
Once you can clearly picture what a healthy lifestyle looks like, you can begin reviewing your habits, diet, and different areas of your life and put a plan in place for a healthier lifestyle. Make sure you read the upcoming posts for ways to clearly identify and define a healthy lifestyle and how to get there.
Questions or comments? Use the form below – I’d love to hear from you.
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 nowwhat 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!
I have been traveling recently, and I’m always fascinated to watch the breakfast habits of fellow travelers. Other meals are interesting too – but I find breakfast even more interesting since it’s easy identify the travelers; especially so if you are eating in the hotel in the morning before hitting the road or heading out to meetings.
Most people who read this blog have an understanding of the importance of healthy meals – including breakfast.
A breakfast of waffles or muffins or pastries with a big glass of orange juice doesn’t cut it – not if your goal is eat a healthy or at least balanced meal. Waffles, muffins, pastry, toast (even if you didn’t put the jam or jelly on it) is basically sugar, sugar, sugar, sugar – and if you had that big glass of orange juice – then you washed it down with sugar.
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t consist of a diet with breakfasts like this, and breakfast when traveling shouldn’t be like this either.
If you want to be healthy, you need to move toward a healthy lifestyle, and that is built on good meals, healthy nutrition, and staying active. Just like a short term fix like a diet doesn’t fix an unhealthy lifestyle, treating yourself to a breakfast sugary breakfast doesn’t set the stage for a healthy lifestyle. Aside from negative effects you’ll have on that day, many people find that treating themselves to a “special breakfast” like this to be a slippery slope to returning to unhealthy eating habits.
Try to look for good sources of protein such as eggs or meats, some cheese, a little fresh fruit and perhaps some yogurt or a little salad (if it’s available at breakfast time). Dont’ forget coffee – it has it’s own health benefits, and it’s delicious.
I try to avoid pastries, cereals (these are usually loaded with sugar) and other processed items like “breakfast bars”. Most foods that claim to be a healthy meals that come in a bar, bag or pouch may be meal replacements, but I’d doubt they’ll help you reach a goal of a healthier lifestyle.
If we begin to think of a healthy lifestyle as the sum of consistently making good choices for your health, choices about what to have for a specific meal get easier; they become part of a pattern or plan for a healthy lifestyle rather than just what you happened to eat for that meal.
Questions or comments about this post? Use the form below to contact me – I’d love to hear from you.
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.
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.
Could it really be this simple? Could negativity be what’s holding you back?
We know that activities and habits form feedback loops in our lives.
For example, start eating junk food and lying on the couch watching TV every night, and pretty soon you’ll start to feel “blah” and will probably lose the desire to exercise, which will leave you feeling even more tired and wanting to lay on the couch and watch TV, and so the cycle goes.
Conversely, if you eat a healthy diet and exercise every day, you feel more driven to make sure you continue to eat healthy, keep junk out of your body, not miss even one day of exercise, and you start to search for ways to optimize your health even more.
What about negativity? What part does your attitude and mindset play in all of this and with respect to your healthy (or unhealthy) lifestyle? What does negativity do to your metabolism? To your immune system? To how you feel about most everything?
What if a negative mindset is what is robbing you of energy and a positive outlook in life? What if you could forget the negative pictures and words in your mind regarding yourself and your body, and instead, you replaced them with the image of who you want to be and the healthy lifestyle you want to have?
What if those negative words and thoughts that repeat over and over in your head excusing away why you can’t lose weight or can’t get healthy or can’t eat right are the anchors that hold you to your current lifestyle?
What if having a positive outlook and attitude had a positive effect on yourself, on others around you and it propelled you to do positive things? What if you decide to replece the raincloud that seems to always park itself over you and follow you with negative thoughts, words, and mental pictures?
What if the you started to visualize a new healthy who ate good and nourishing foods and followed through on exercise and fitness plans – seeing the new you even as you started taking small steps toward a healthier lifestyle?
Trade in any negativity you might have for a positive outlook today – and see where it leads you!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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