Surround Yourself With the Right People: Lessons Learned from New York – New Jersey too! (Part 3 of 3)

new-brunswick

Three days is so not enough time to explore New York City. We covered so much ground in so little time, I almost can’t even remember any of it! After running around uptown, downtown, midtown, and Chinatown, we hopped on a New Jersey Transit train and headed for the one, the only (well, not really – there’s one in Canada too) New Brunswick!

In my last two posts, you read about the lessons I learned from this awesome vacation. Remember, lessons are everywhere if you’re willing to see them. First, from Jersey City I learned that now is the time to invest in myself to prepare for the upcoming spring. Secondly, from New York City I learned that “Anything Can Happen If You Let It.” And in New Brunswick, I learned another important lesson. This time from my husband.

Who do you spend your time with?

One of the reasons we hopped on a 6-hour, turbulent airplane and endured 6 hours of leg-cramping, foot-swelling, jet-lagging in-flight service (or lack thereof), was so my husband could partake in a “Mastermind Group.”

Comprised of 10 people in his industry who are either where he wants to be in his career or are on the same path, this group gets together to learn from each other, network, and share ideas. Yes, one could think that they could be each other’s competition, but they understand that building your business is about creation, not competition. There’s more than enough to go around. Much more will be accomplished if they help build each other up rather than tear each other down.

At first one would think that my husband is crazy to spend airfare and hotel, not to mention the fees required to join this group and the opportunity cost of being absent from clients for 2 weeks. But my husband understands something that these people do as well: In order to grow you must surround yourself with people you want to become. That goes for your personal life as well as your business life.

Picture this: I want to be a world-class sprinter. As I train and prepare myself for the Olympics, I hang out with second-class sprinters, whose speeds are eons behind what I need to obtain. Yet I run with them everyday.

Are they going to push me as hard as if I were running with sprinters who are running as fast, if not faster than I need to go? Are they going to fuel me to run harder and push myself past my limits? Are they going to give me proven tips and advice that I can use to make myself better and faster?

Of course not! They’re going to slow me down! It doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate them as runners or that I discount what they are trying to do. But I know that for me to grow to the level I need to be at, I need to be around runners who are already there.

The same goes for any aspect of life. If I want to be a millionaire, I need to hang out with millionaires who will give me million-dollar ideas and introduce me to million-dollar clients.

If I want to exercise and eat right, I need to hang out with people who eat healthy foods and who live physically active lives. If I eat every meal with people who eat junk food and mock me for eating healthfully, I’ll likely fall off the wagon and scarf down a cheeseburger with them.

If I want to live life to the fullest and grasp every moment as an opportunity to live, love, give, and grow, I need to hang out with high-energy, passionate people who cherish life and all its blessings. If I hang out with “energy vampires”, they’ll drag me down into their dark world of pessimism and self-pity.

I’m not saying that it’s impossible to be strong and hold onto your vision despite being surrounded by people who are the opposite. But wouldn’t it be so much easier and more fun to surround yourself with people who support your vision? Who give energy to it, feed it, and encourage it?

Isn’t it much more likely you’ll learn from people who have already achieved what you want to achieve rather than people who aren’t even on the same path?

Who are you spending time with? Who are you really learning from? Are there people in your life who are dragging you down? Maybe it’s time to pull away.

I’m so proud of my husband for seeking out people he wants to become and learn from. He gets it. They get it. I get it.

Do you get it?

And so our trip drew to a close. I spent a couple days exploring New Brunswick. I found cheap, but good eats at Celebrity Cafe, got some reading done at the local Starbucks, and even walked up to Rutgers University and pretended I was a college student. And I got to hang out with some of the best in the online fitness industry – for those of you familiar with them, Craig Ballantyne, Arnel Ricafranca, Zach Even-Esh, and Paul Reddick to name a few.

The trip home was bittersweet. It was good to sleep in my own bed and to see my crazy pug again, but New York City – and New Jersey too! – are beckoning for my return.

To all those jay-walking, crazy-driving, subway-cramming, loud-speaking, go-getting, tourist-assisting, diversity-loving, energy-projecting, life-embracing New Yorkers – and New Jersey-ers too – in the famous words of the Terminator Governor himself, “I’ll be back!”

Anything Can Happen: Lessons Learned from New York – New Jersey Too! (Part 2 of 3)

Rockefellar CenterAh, New York City – the center of the universe. I had always dreamed of coming to this city, and December of last year I finally did. (Thank you, work, for sending me!) I loved it so much, I just couldn’t stay away!

So 3 months later I was back. This time my trip was personal and was centered around volunteering for a self-development seminar and my husband’s “Mastermind” group. As I mentioned in my last post, I had a few epiphanies while I was there. From my time in New Jersey, I learned that now is the time to invest in yourself to prepare for the upcoming spring.

What was my lesson from New York? Firstly, I learned that New York shopping is cheaper than Washington shopping (no sales tax on clothing! YES!!!). Secondly, I learned a very important lesson from the lovely, the magical, the “Practically Perfect in Every Way” Mary Poppins.

Anything Can Happen…If You Let It
The drive from Jersey City to New York City was perfect. Just as we emerged from the Holland Tunnel and entered the glorious bustling city, the satellite radio kicked in on cue and provided us with the perfect Broadway soundtrack to our drive up the Manhattan Island. I couldn’t have planned it better myself.

After brunch with our friends in the Village, we decided to catch an evening Broadway show. We checked into our hotel smack dab in the middle of Times Square and scooted on over to the TKTS booth. Because it was so late in the day by the time we got there, it was slim pickin’s, so we decided to go with the peppy Disney musical, Mary Poppins.

I don’t know about my husband, but I was excited to “Go Fly a Kite” and get “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” stuck in my head. It was a great, upbeat show, and stuck in the middle of all the sugary, splendid musical goodness was a song that packed a great message: “Anything Can Happen If You Let It.”

The basic premise of the song is that anything is possible if you are open to it, if you believe that it can happen, and if you’re willing to reach for your dreams. Of course this has some larger implications, but I immediately thought, this could really apply to health and fitness.

Many times I’ve seen people start new fitness programs, almost asking not to succeed. They fork over the big bucks for a program or a personal trainer, but they immediately start throwing up objections like, “That won’t work for me. I’ve tried interval training, and I know it won’t work.” Or they say, “I’ve tried diet after diet, and they never work.” So they go into the program with an attitude that, just like every other fitness and nutrition program they’ve tried, it won’t work.

To these people I ask, “When will you let it work for you?”

The first step in achieving your dreams is to believe that achieving them is possible. Rather, take that one step further and know that you’ll achieve them. If you don’t believe that something will work, it most likely won’t.

It’s almost as if these people want to prove to the universe that nothing can help them, so they can stop trying and say, “There’s nothing I can do about my situation!” So they no longer have to point the finger at themselves and instead place blame on external circumstances as to why they haven’t obtained the body and level of fitness they desire.

Anything can happen if you’re open to it, if you let it. Clear the path to allow your dreams to come to you. Assuming that “it probably won’t work” is only building up a dam that blocks them from flowing to you.

After 3 days of running around the city, exploring all of downtown, uptown, and every town in between by foot – my feet were killing me! – we headed back to New Jersey for the next adventure…

I leave you with the lyrics to Mary Poppin’s song. Remember, anything can happen if you let it.

Anything Can Happen

Anything can happen if you let it
Sometimes things are difficult but you can bet it
Doesn’t have to be so
Changes can be made
You can move a mountain if you use a larger spade

Anything can happen, it’s a marvel
You can be a butterfly or just stay larval
Stretch your mind beyond fantastic
Dreams are made of strong elastic
Take some sound advice and don’t forget it
Anything can happen if you let it

Anything can happen if you let it
You won’t know a challenge until you’ve met it
No one does it for you
No one but yourself
Vacillating violets get left up on the shelf

Anything can happen, just imagine
That should be epitaph
I wear the badge in
Honor of the world’s free thinkers
Those who see beyond their blinkers
Jelly isn’t jelly until you set it
Anything can happen if you let it

Anything can happen if you let it
What good is a whistle unless you whet it
Broaden your horizons, open different doors
You may find a you there that you never knew was yours.

Anything can happen
Things you thought impossible
Will soon seem certain
Though at first it may sound clownish
See the world more upside-downish
Turn it on its head and pirouette it
Anything can happen if you let it

If you reach for the stars
All you get are the stars
But we’ve found a whole new spin
If you reach for the heavens
You get the stars thrown in

Anything can happen if you let it
Life is out there waiting so go and get it
Grab it by the collar, seize it by the scruff
Once you’ve started living life you just can’t get enough

Anything can happen, it’s official
You can choose the super or the superficial
Sally forth the way we’re steering
Obstacles start disappearing
Go and chase your dreams you won’t regret it

Anything can happen
(Anything can happen)
Anything can happen
If you let it.

The Recession Slim-Down to Bulk-Up Plan

dollar_sami-keinanenRecession this, recession that. Everything is about this darned recession lately! Frankly, I try not to dwell on it, but I have to admit that sometimes – just sometimes – I catch myself thinking twice before purchasing something because I should be saving money during “these hard times.”

Today, for instance, I was standing in line at the Starbucks stand in my building, eyeing the pumpkin loaf. Mmmm, pumpkin loaf… As I unzipped my wallet and reached for the dollar bills, my hand stopped, and the thought flashed through my head, I really should save my money.

Like the $1.45 was that significant, since I can honestly say I never purchase the pastries out of the Starbucks case (when I’m at work, at least. *wink*) But then it occurred to me: Hm, this recession thing just might work to my advantage in some ways.

As Leo Babauta would say in his ever-popular uber-blog, Zenhabits.net, “Less is more.” Here are ten ways you can save money during these “tough economic times” while improving and simplifying your life for the better, and maybe even while getting healthier and happier.

1. Cancel your cable. If you’re anything like I was, you’re wasting too much precious time watching celebrity reality shows on VH1 or reruns of Sex and the City. Save yourself 50 to 100 bucks a month, and save your brain from turning to mush. Aren’t there better things you could be doing with your time?

2. Eat more veggies. Eat less meat (the average person usually needs no more than 4-6oz. per meal) and replace it with tons and tons of vegetables! I got a bunch of organic kale for less than $1 the other day, and splurged on exotic veggies like baby bok choy and chayote squash for mere pennies too! Experiment with different kinds, and you won’t get bored. Head down to your local farmers’ market or Asian market and be adventurous!

3. Walk, take the bus, or bike. Save cash on gas, save the earth from your car’s emissions, and save yourself the stress. Instead, get some exercise or read a good book on the bus.

4. Cancel your newspaper subscription. What are you absorbing into your brain on a daily basis? The news is full of cynical, pointless, and depressing stories that only make you believe the world is a horrible place, and we’re all going to hell in a handbasket, so why even try. Try going on a media fast, and you’ll find that you just might be more energized. If you’re the type who absolutely has to know everything that’s going on, try a modified version: Allow yourself to skim the homepage of a news website, but allow yourself to only click on links to positive stories.

5. Learn to cook. The other day I made a healthy, fulfilling meal for about $5 per person: grilled organic free-range chicken in a homemade Asian-inspired sauce, steamed chayote squash, and brown rice. Cooking is so much cheaper than eating out, and you’ll save yourself the artificial ingredients, saturated fat, and sodium you’d get at a restaurant.

6. Just be. What is the cheapest possible form of entertainment? Doing nothing. What do you mean, Julie? How can I do nothing? Sit in a quiet place – somewhere in nature or even your favorite arm chair will do nicely – close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Pay attention to your breathing, quiet your mind, and just be. That’s right – for literally $0 you can reduce stress in your life, get some good oxygen circulating through your body, and get to know yourself!

7. Cut the venti caramel macchiato. Drink tea. Venti caramel macchiato: $4.00, 300 calories, 39 grams of sugar, caffeine jitters. Tall unsweetened green tea: $0.45, 0 calories, antioxidants, minimal caffeine. ‘Nuff said.

8. Play. Instead of paying an arm and a leg at the movie theater to sit in a dark room and not talk to your family or significant other, why not spend some quality time with them by playing in the park, playing a board game, or going for a walk?

9. Get a library card. It’s an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord for your mind – and it’s all FREE FREE FREE! Take advantage of your local library and all the free knowledge, adventures, romance, and laughs that live in its books.

10. Volunteer. Head down to your local homeless shelter, elementary school, or check out United Way for a volunteer opportunity that excites you. In “this economy”, rather than focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have, give thanks for it, and give it freely – whether it’s your time or your money. It’ll come back to you tenfold in ways that you don’t expect.

There you have it – my “Recession Slim-Down to Bulk-Up Plan.” The recession is a great excuse to slim down on things that waste your time or aren’t good for you or the environment, and bulk up on things that feed your mind, body, and spirit.

How are you slimming down to bulk up?

Photo credit: Sami Keinanen

The Case of the Missing Blogger: How One Fitness Wife Got Inspired

The Case of the Missing Blogger. No, it’s not a Nancy Drew book or Scooby Doo cartoon. Although Scrappy Doo was pretty kick-ass. It’s me. I’ve been MIA for, like, a week. I make no excuses, but I do apologize for leaving you, my faithful readers, hanging for so long.

So where have I been? I’ve been going through my days, going to work, coming home, cooking dinner for my husband, cleaning the kitchen, going to bed, and doing it all over again. And somewhere in between all that, I’ve been thinking about blogging. But every time I think about it, it’s immediately followed by another thought: “I”m not inspired to blog right now. I don’t know what to write about.”

The Case of the Missing Blogger was actually The Case of the Uninspired Blogger.

meditation_hape-geraInspiration. For anyone who dares to do what they love, or are on a quest to discover if what they do is what they truly love, regardless of how much they love it, they still occasionally find themselves coming up short in the inspiration category. You know how it is – you have that project that you know you should start. But sometimes the idea of starting – especially when you’re starting something from scratch – is just too daunting. For no good reason whatsoever.

So you search for inspiration. High and low, near and far. How have I been trying to get inspired? Let’s take a look:

Meditation

Some people are down with the “om”. Personally, I make an honest effort to pray and meditate regularly. Meditation has been shown to increase awareness and connectedness with a higher purpose. Not to mention it has some great health benefits as far as being aware of your body and your breathing.

But sometimes just the act of sitting and quieting your mind will somehow clear the way for thoughts and ideas you’ve had tucked away, but have never bubbled to the surface before. If prayer is a way for you to talk to God, meditation is God’s way to talk to you.

It’s an interesting practice to sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and quiet your mind, and just observe the thoughts as they enter your mind. As with anything, the more you practice the better you’ll get at it, but it does take some patience. Start slowly, even 5 minutes to begin with. Observe what enters your mind, and you might get some good ideas for whatever your next project is.

Free Writing

I discovered this when I was at a Women’s Conference for work. The CEO of the Oxygen Network, Geraldin Laybourne, also one of the executives during the glory days of Nickelodeon in the 90’s, said she got some of her greatest ideas – like the show Clarissa Explains It All – from free writing.

Here’s a how free writing works. Right when you wake up in the morning, even before brushing your teeth, get out a journal and start writing about whatever enters your mind as it enters your mind. It should be a stream of consciousness. Let your pen do all the work. Don’t stop writing for 10 full minutes. If your mind draws a blank, just scribble. Just write. It doesn’t even have to make sense.

If anything, even if you don’t get that great idea for your next novel or for the next shammy invention you want to sell “as seen on TV”, you’ll get some great insight into your thought patterns and what kind of thoughts you really keep inside.

Immerse Yourself

Some people immerse themselves in the subject matter or surround themselves with like-minded individuals. I wanted inspiration to write, so I went to an Elizabeth Gilbert lecture, hoping to meet other writers. I met one, but unfortunately for the most part the lecture was mostly just filled with Eat Pray Love fans. (Elizabeth Gilbert is a riot, btw.)

Want inspiration to start working out? Try joining a class, or even subscribing to a fitness blog. Buy a nutrition book, or try hanging up a poster of someone whose level of fitness you admire.

Do anything and everything you can to surround yourself with what you’re trying to do. Just getting your mind to start thinking about the subject matter can spark ideas that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Or it can push that button that you needed pushed to get started.

Just Do It (No copyright infringement intended, I swear.)

Nike was on to something. Just start it. Start anything. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do the thing and you will get the energy to do the thing.”

I propose that you do the thing and you will get the ideas and inspiration to do the thing. Just get started. And if it doesn’t come, step away for a little bit, and start again.

So how did I get the inspiration I needed? I sat down and started typing. And somehow the words eventually came. Of course, I’m always surrounding myself with fitness and nutrition – hello, I’m married to a trainer, remember? – so that always helps. But when it comes down to it, the inspiration really comes when I just do it.

What do you keep putting off? Isn’t it time you get inspired and get to it?

Photo courtesy of HaPe Gera.

Lessons in Failure from William Hung

Ah, American Idol.  One of America’s favorite guilty pleasures.  Despite the fact that it’s practically the same thing year after year – cue cute wholesome 17-year old girl from the south with soulful Etta James/Aretha Franklin voice, funky tatooed pink/blue-haired girl with mediocre voice, and rebel-without-a-cause rocker dude equipped with money chain and guitar – it’s a good lesson in balls-out, put-it-all-on-the-line failure.

Take William Hung for example.  Putting aside the horrible music videos and unfounded fame he somehow managed to take hold of, you might recall his audition.  I don’t know about you, but I liked him.  Here’s this unassuming civil engineering student, bucktooth and all, pursuing his passion on national television in front of megastars that could make or break every dream he’s ever had.  He sings, he dances, and best of all, he demonstrates humility, gratitude, and a genuine love of what he’s doing.

Wow, if only we all could have kahones like that.  So, he didn’t make it through to the next round.  But gosh, look at what he did.  He stepped up there in front of those judges and put his heart and soul on the line.  He went after his dream and did his best, so he has no regrets.

The Fear of Failure

Failure.  It’s a scary word, isn’t it?  Maybe I shouldn’t start a new workout program; I might give up.  Maybe I shouldn’t accept that project; I might not be able to deliver.  Maybe I shouldn’t start that blog; I might be horrible at it.

Three statements I recently said to myself.  Three statements I recently threw out the window. 

I wonder if William Hung said “Maybe I shouldn’t audition; I might make a fool of myself.”  Odds are he did, but he auditioned anyway.  Did he make a fool of himself?  Maybe.  Did people laugh at him?  Of course.  Did he walk away from that audition a better, stronger person?  Absolutely.

I know it’s been preached over and over again, but one thing I recently realized is that fear of failure is never a good excuse. 

For the longest time, I was afraid to start a blog.  The thought of putting myself out there, open to being ridiculed, laughed at, or just told I suck, scared me to death.  But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.  Writing makes me alive.  It pumps the blood through my veins.  And I was about to let fear stand in my way of that?

I did, for years.  Then one day I realized, so what if I fail?  At least I’ll know I tried, and I’ll have no regrets.  I still don’t know if this blog will fail.  But I at least know that I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it despite the fear.  And I can’t tell you how great that feels.

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing.” — George Bernard Shaw

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

See, I’ve realized that everyone feels fear.  Notice the difference between the winners’ and the losers’ strategy:

LOSERS:

  1. Feel fear
  2. Do nothing

or

  1. Feel fear
  2. Do it anyway
  3. Fail
  4. Beat up on self

WINNERS:

  1. Feel fear
  2. Do it anyway
  3. Fail
  4. Take note of what didn’t work and what benefits were gained
  5. Apply lessons to next challenge

The key is, feel the fear and do it anyway.  Feel the fear and do it anyway.  (Not only a great mantra, but a great perspective-altering book by Susan Jeffers.)   The second key is, accept that failure is a possibility, but learn whatever lessons you can from it.

For instance, I’ve already gained so many things from this blog – I’ve learned about my writing style and what I like to write about, I’ve made a few blogging friends, and I’ve even helped a few people through my posts.  And if this blog fails, I’ll take the lessons I’ve learned from this experience, and I’ll keep writing.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison

If you’re going to do it, DO it

Another horrible mistake you can make is to fail while giving only half-assed effort.  If you’re going to fail, do it with all you got.  If you do fail, one of the worst feelings would be if you look back on your experience and think, “If only I tried harder.”

If you want to succeed big, you must be willing to fail big. 

So here I am.  I started that workout program.  I took that project.  I started this blog.  If I succeed, great!  If I don’t, I know I’ve already gained so much anyway.  Do I still feel that fear sometimes?  Of course.  But I’m doing it anyway!

I leave you with one of the greatest commercials ever made from one of the greatest athletes of all time, Michael Jordan…Hm, William Hung and Michael Jordan. They’ve got more in common than you’d think.

8 Goal Setting Guidelines to Help You Win in the New Year

new-picture-3

I know it’s kind of late to be talking about goal-setting since New Years Resolution time has passed, and about 80% of the general population has already given up on them.  I’m running a little late.

I already set some good high-level goals, but I know they’re not done yet because I need to get more specific.  So I’m in the process of doing so.  That got me thinking – what makes good goal-setting? 

Remember in high school – or was it college?  its’s all a blur to me anyhow – you were taught to make goals SMART (S=specific, M=measureable, A=attainable, R=realistic, T=timely)?  That’s all fine and dandy, but there’s got to be more to it than that.

Before I get into it though, I have a slight problem with the good ol’ SMART acronym that I need to get off my chest.  S, yes.  M, yes.  A, yes with a caveat.  R, yes with a caveat.  T, yes.  Explanation:

A.  “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” – Walt Disney.  Did anyone ever tell Walt Disney that his vision for a huge, magical theme park with mice in tuxedos and singing and dancing bears was unattainable?  You betcha.  So, this gets us into a discussion around visions vs. goals, which can be a meaty subject on its own.  Here’s how I see it: a vision is your long-term picture of what you want in your life.  Goals are how you get there. 

So, should your goals be “attainable”?  Yes, these are the stepping stones to attaining your big, scary vision.  BUT, they should be on “the teetering edge.”  As James Ray would say, they should be set so you don’t know whether they excite you or scare the shit out of you.

R.  See “A” above.  I always thought the two were the same thing, but for the sake of having a clever acronym were split into two.  (“SMAT” doesn’t sound as cool as “SMART.”)

Now that that’s off my chest, onto my goal setting guidelines:

  1. My goals are SMART, as we discussed above.
  2. My goals always span 5 categories: physical, mental, relational, spiritual, and financial.  Well-being encompasses all aspects of life, so I strongly believe that you need to give attention to all areas.  Some may get more attention than others at any one time, but there should never be one that is completely neglected.  I typically have one or two goals per category.
  3. My goals inspire me.   You are never going to achieve them if they don’t spark some kind of fire in you.  If it’s just words on paper, that’s all they’ll ever be.
  4. My goals are on the teetering edge.  Again, see discussion above.  They’re one step beyond what my initial gut reaction says I’m capable of. 
  5. My goals are written down.  Writing them down brings them one step closer to becoming reality.  If they’re just floating in your head, they’re likely to be forgotten.  Also, writing them down sends a strong signal to your unconscious (a.k.a. subconscious) mind that you’re committed. 
  6. My goals are written in the first person, are in present tense, and include a statement of gratitudenew-picture-4.  Setting your goals as “I am measuring at X% bodyfat, and am so grateful for it” or “I am so grateful now that I donate $Y to Charity Z once a month” is so much more powerful than “I want to weigh X lbs” or “To write Y blog posts every month.”  It sends a strong signal to your unconscious it’s already here and this is who you are.  In a great post about New Years Resolutions vs. Goals, Tim Brownson, UK qualified Life Coach, says it “forc[es] [yourself] to view [yourself] differently.”
  7. My goals are broken down into 1-year goals and then further broken down into 1-month goals.  Obviously I set my 1-month goals on a monthly basis.
  8. I reserve the right to revisit and reshape my goals.  Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a cop out.  I’m not saying that you should change your goal just because you’ve gotten lazy.  Sometimes you may discover down the road a goal doesn’t align with your vision.  Or maybe you underestimated the commitment required for another goal, and this one has to give way a little.  Whatever the case, sometimes goals have to change.  As long as it’s truly for a good reason, that’s okay.

I highly encourage you dedicate some good, quality time to goal setting.  It provides great clarity for what you want in your life, and is a great way to get motivated, inspired, and focused for the upcoming year.  I know it’s done that for me, and I’m ready to take on 2009!

Feel free to post some of your goal-setting guidelines as well!

To your health, prosperity, and happiness,
Julie (The Fitness Wife)

Time to Change It Up and Get My 15 Minutes of Fitness

15-minutes

Whew!  Just got done working out.  That was one of the toughest 15 minutes I’ve ever lived through.

I’m starting a new program by who else – my husband.  (Why would I train with anyone else?)  It’s merely 15 minutes.  But let me tell you, it’s a tough 15 minutes.  He’s big on getting fit without spending hours in the gym.  He’s always told me that you should never have to spend more than an hour there.  My average workout time is around half an hour – 45 minutes if I throw in some cardio intervals.  One hour max when I do his Saturday morning fitcamps.

But this time, I’m getting it done in 15 minutes, and at home nonetheless.  Although I do need to go to the gym once in a while to sport my cute new workout clothes.  My husband got me a really cute jacket from Lululemon and some reversible workout pants for Christmas.  Yes! 2 in 1!(Yes, I’m one of THOSE people…you know, the ones who wear color-coordinated outfits to the gym.  But I DON”T put on makeup to go to the gym, unlike some people I know.  That’s just ridiculous if you ask me.) 

Anyway, today we used resistance bands connected to the door and a sandbag.  That’s it – nothing fancy.  Who said you need fancy equipment to get fit?  He has a couple “quick fix” workouts posted on his website, http://www.element5fitness.com.  Scroll about halfway down, and they’re posted on the right-hand side.

I’m also putting more focus on my nutrition again.  (Yes, during the holidays I did let myself indulge a little bit.)  One of my goals for this year is to educate myself more on nutrition for healthy living.  I want to combine one of my passions – yummy food – with eating in a way that supports a healthy, fit lifestyle without sacrificing the God-given gift of taste and occasional, planned indulgence (i.e. indulgence that doesn’t take advantage of an undisciplined mind).  Who says you can’t have it all? 🙂

I’d love to hear from you if you’re changing things up with the New Year as well!  There’s nothing like change to get you motivated and moving again!

Need a Pick-Me-Up? Try Energizing Your Environment

Wow, I haven’t worked out in a week. And it hasn’t been on purpose either, i.e. I didn’t have a scheduled break in my routine. I’ve just found myself being uninspired and quite blatantly lazy.

Do you ever find yourself stuck in that mode? The weather outside is depressing, it’s pitch black when you wake up in the morning, and you’re so busy that when your day is over all you want to do is crash on the couch and veg out in front of your favorite TV show?

That’s me right now, and I hate that I’ve gotten that way. Something happened, and all of a sudden, my motivation switch just turned off.

So I was on the couch watching an episode of Sex and the City – although an entertaining show, quite useless to tell you the truth – I took a step outside myself and looked at what I was doing. Yuck. I didn’t like what I was looking at. Because I knew I’m much, much more than that.

So I asked myself, why and how did I get this way? Then I took a look around my home. It was a mess. My laptop and papers were strewn about on the dining room table, mixed with random junk like CDs, a camera, and a mess of wires from random electronic chargers. Dishes were piled up in the sink. Shoes were littering the entry way, and a pile of wrinkled laundry taunted me from atop my unmade bed.

Double-yuck. I hope none of your abodes looked like mine did.

I realized my surroundings were draining me. My husband noticed it too. We’ve both been so busy, we’d let our home drift down our priority list. We’d eat dinner, pile the dishes in the sink and say, “I’ll get to that later,” only to find that “later” was two days later.

My mother would be so proud.

Think about this: You get up in the morning, and it’s dark outside. Your room is pitch black and freezing cold. You get out of bed and step into your living, and one of the first things you see is a disarray of mail you said you’d sort through yesterday. You go into the bathroom to brush your teeth, and your toiletries are scattered all over your counter. Or you get home from work, tired after a long day, and you walk into a house that is in shambles.

Doesn’t sound very energizing, does it?

What’s my point? Sometimes you have to look not only at yourself, but your surroundings to figure out why you’re feeling a certain way. Your environment has quite a significant impact on your levels of energy. Do you have an uninspiring picture hanging in your bedroom? Believe it or not, opening your eyes and looking at an inspiring picture or an uninspiring picture first thing in the morning can effect how you approach the beginning of your day.

When I see something that doesn’t move me or inspire me to get moving, I’m much less likely to move.

Make your environment an enabler for you to live the life you want to live – and that applies to the physical, mental, relational, spiritual, and financial areas of life. Your level of energy directly affects how much attention and effort you are able to apply to those areas and what you want to do with your life – working out included.

So, whether that means cleaning up the mess in your house, hanging an inspiring painting in your bedroom, buying a plant to bring life to your office, getting one of those natural light lamps to wake up to in the morning, or waking up to upbeat music rather than an annoying buzzer, do what you need to do to energize your environment.

All of the above are in my plan. Take a look around you. Do you need a plan too?

When Life Hits You Hard, Keep Moving Forward

I’m stealing this from one of the blogs I follow, MOVEment fitness+performance (Hope you don’t mind, Emily!), but I just have to share this clip as well. 

Yes, good advice can actually come from Hollywood.  Here Rocky Balboa expresses the idea of personal accountability and perseverance quite passionately.

Hits are life’s way of teaching us a valuable lesson.  It’s about how you can take those hits, learn from them, and keep moving forward.  Cowards point fingers and place blame on other people for their current results (or lack thereof).  That ain’t you.  Always remember you’re better than that.

Breaking Free

In my last post, I revealed that before I started working out regularly, I went through seven years of trying and failing. A vicious cycle that got me zero results and got me pretty down on myself. I was finally able to break free from that cycle, or the “thermostat”, about ten months ago. So how did I break free?

Before I get into that, I have to throw in a little disclaimer: I am not a therapist. I am not a personal trainer. I’m merely a person who’s also struggled with having the discipline and motivation to work towards her fitness goals. I can only share with you what I know – what worked for me. Everyone is wired differently. Everyone has a different background, different lifestyle, different situation in life, etc. Take what you need from what I say, make it work for you, or just leave all of it.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, here goes.

The turning point came for me one night over dinner. My husband was telling me about his FitCamp program. It’s a 12-week program that includes group personal training classes, a nutrition program, before and after photos, progress tracking, etc. To qualify for the program, you have to go through an interview so they can get a feel for what your goals are and why you want to transform your life.

That got me thinking. What are my motivators? Why have I been trying to go to the gym for the past seven years? On a superficial level, it was always just to “look good.” I never really took the time to dig deep and figure out the real “whys.”

So after some soul-searching, I realized that it wasn’t about “looking good.” It was about more than that. Firstly, I didn’t just want to “look good.” I actually wanted to be the type of person who is healthy and fit. In other words, I wanted that feeling of achievement knowing that I reached the goal I’d been striving towards for seven years. I wanted to know that I grew as a person and was therefore able to get there and uphold a way of life I’ve always wanted to. Secondly, I’ve always wanted to help my husband grow his business. How could I represent his company in any way without “walking the walk”? And lastly, I wanted to be an example to my future children. How could I teach them to live healthy lifestyles if I’m not living one myself?

These were the true “whys”. Only after I identified them did I finally have a deep, emotional drive to achieve my health and fitness goals.

I met with my husband, and I told him that I wanted to join his FitCamp. Before that, I had never taken any kind of group fitness class. So this was stepping way out of my comfort zone. But I realized that I needed to hold myself accountable. For me, what better way to do that than to make it visible to other people when I’m not pushing myself hard enough or when I get lazy and skip class.

I interviewed with my husband told him all the reasons why this time I was serious about making a lifestyle change. I also set a timeline for myself – my cousin’s wedding in Vegas in four months.

Then the work began. It wasn’t easy, but I got there. I didn’t reach my goal by my cousin’s Vegas wedding, but that’s okay. I didn’t give up, and about a month later, I did get there. I knew I would.

The FitCamp was the jumpstart I needed. When the 12-week program ended, I continued to focus on the progress I had made, and I never wanted to risk losing it. I’ve found that once you get over the initial hump, it gets much easier. I stopped craving all the bad food (the bad food didn’t taste as good anymore either), and working out became less of a choice and more of a way of life.

Some days I’m still tempted to skip the workout, and yes sometimes I do. But I forgive myself, move on, and know that I’ll do better the next day.

So in summary, here’s how I broke free from my thermostat:

1) I took the time to do some soul searching and uncovered the real, deeply emotionally compelling reasons I wanted to reach my fitness goals.

2) I said these reasons out loud to someone else to hold myself accountable.

3) I set myself up in a situation to hold me accountable – the FitCamp. The key for me was that I made my quest visible to other people, surrounded myself with people who were also working towards similar goals, and made it fun.

4) I set a timeline.

5) I knew I would get there.

6) I was patient with myself.

So there you go. Like I said, take what you need from this and make it work for you. Hopefully I gave you some ideas about how you can break free from your thermostat. I think the most important things are to find the deep, emotionally compelling reasons behind your goals, be patient with yourself, and know you’ll get there. I mean really KNOW it. And you will.

Best wishes on your journey!

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