The Trick to Successful Resolutions

New Year Resolutions

It’s the beginning of the new year and hundreds of thousands have decided to get serious about becoming fit and losing weight. For some, it’s the same thing every year — the first few weeks start out great but after a while, old habits creep back into the picture.

Why do so many resolutions regarding healthy eating and fitness lead to failure hardly one month in?

The cold truth? Healthy living and eating is hard if you’re not used to it. And so is exercise. Try pairing those together for the first time in a few months (or years) and you’re putting yourself in a situation that’s dangerously close to defeat.

Not to say changing your lifestyle and integrating exercise cannot be done — thousands do it all the time. So, why do some people succeed while others fail?

There is no single answer for this, obviously, but one thing that helps many people succeed is realistic goals.

Why? Because they are directly related to your perception and your attitude. Whether you realize it or not, your goals help shape how you measure success.

Here’s the thing, you can set a realistic goal and work your butt of to reach (or beat) that goal or you can set an unrealistic goal and bust your butt and not hit that goal.

Either way, you’ve busted your butt and made progress. However, only one of these scenarios gives your confidence a boost. The other scenario leaves you feeling defeated (even though you were successful).

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See how it works? Depending on how you look at it, your confidence gets either a boost or a beating.

For some, the challenge is difficult enough without setting unrealistic expectations.

So do yourself a favor and set some goals you can achieve. Your journey will last longer and you’ll be much happier in the long run.

The Smell of Success

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Over the years, it’s worked out that I have one main t-shirt I wear when exercising. This particular shirt is my favorite to wear because it’s loose and thin. It’s also old. And it stinks. It might smell good after a wash but there’s always an underlying odor that I smell almost every time I wear it. No matter what.

I’m not too worried about it. I only wear the shirt when I’m working out, so basically no one else sees it – or smells it. But I’ve come to realize the shirt and it’s body odor mean something to me. When I’m taking it off and it’s sweaty and stinky, I know I’ve done something good. That stink is my fat and I’d rather have it on my shirt than on my body. It is the smell of success. I’ve come to not really enjoy that smell but, rather, appreciate it.

Then, there’s the case of my shoes, which have seen better days. They probably stink, too, but I’m not going to get too close to find out!

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It’s all good because these things show that I’m working and improving and I hope you are, too.

If you have any items that demonstrate your efforts and you’d like to share what they are, I’d love to hear about them.

Till next time, be proud of your sweat!

 

All You Need to Know

Here’s the truth: tomorrow is going to come, whether or not you’re ready for it. So will next week, month and spring, summer, fall and Christmas.

You know it.

If you want things to be different next week, month, spring, etc., you’ve got to do something to make change happen. It’s that simple. I said simple but not necessarily easy. But you know what? It’s possible.

Want to change your life? Act like it and do something that brings you closer to that change. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy like running a marathon (why would anyone want to do that?). How about two more minutes of exercise today than you did yesterday? One more push up, three more jumping jacks, whatever. Just do something.

Spring is coming – it’s going to arrive sometime between March and May. This is all you need to know. Get ready now so you can feel proud of how far you’ve come.

 

What Are You Waiting For?

Each new day, opportunities arise. They will slip by if you let them. They do not knock loudly and they don’t seem to wait around for very long before something else takes their place. Generally, we call these distractions because that’s what they do. They take your eye off the prize. Don’t let this happen. Each day is precious. Don’t waste them.

Here we are in another year and while a part of me hates the pressure of New Year resolutions, another part relishes in the idea that I can begin again. As soon as NOW.

So, yes, here is another post about making healthy resolutions. Don’t view resolutions as negative things but rather things that will inspire you. They’re not awful and if they are, try looking around for some better ones! Resolve to be healthier and happier! Screw resolutions that suck and make you feel like crap because they are unrealistic. Instead of having a list of a bunch of don’ts, try a list of a bunch of dos. Because health and fitness are good things and you will love the results they bring.

Especially this spring when tank tops and shorts come around. Make this spring something to look forward to by working on your body and that homemade yummy tuck now. Here are some quick resolutions that will yield fantastic results:

Move more.
Exercise more.
Eat healthier.
Drink more water.

Don’t overload yourself with resolutions that sap your fun and energy. Try small things and add a bit every day.

Looking for some exercise that will help you see results? Try Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day-Shred. It’s a quick workout that will change your body. No joke.

I’m currently on Level Two and it’s a tough but rewarding workout.

Not for you? Tell me what is. I’d love to know!

Resistance

Thanksgiving is over. For those that want to maintain weight or lose weight, those words come as a relief. No doubt the holidays are fun but for someone counting calories, Thanksgiving can bring chaos. The holiday is over; it’s a new day and new days are great for new beginnings. But…

One could say we are only midway through the eating season. It’s not yet December, which welcomes Christmas, another holiday people like to eat and another holiday that adds stress to those attempting to avoid bad foods.

Temptation is real and if it were easy to resist, things would be different. For some, temptation is dreadful. Food tastes good, you only live once, just for the holidays…. the excuses to eat are in abundance this time of year. Excuses are so thick, you can simply pluck them from the air.

But you don’t have to. You can resist. What, you say? Resist? It might be the hardest thing in the world for some of us to do… resist something that tastes good. Where’s the reward in resisting? If there were a reward that felt as good as eating delicious food, it might be easy to resist, right? Right.

So how do you do it? I don’t have any magic answers. I only know I feel more in control of my body and my actions when I’m exercising and trying to eat right. The two hold hands in my world. Let me explain… When I exercise (especially in the morning), I’m starting my day great. It helps me set my mind and my attitude to one of success because I’ve done the most physically difficult thing I’m going to do. From there, I feel as though I’m armed for the day. I’ve worked out and I don’t want to blow it. If I eat that piece of pie that might be 350 calories, I’ve completely negated my workout. Looking at things from this perspective helps me stay on track.

What I’m telling you is that, for me, exercise is oil that keeps the gears of my weight loss routine running smoothly. I can say no to a slice of cake if I know it costs 27 minutes with Jillian. That stuff is hard and it’s just not worth it. Exercise is much more difficult than eating. Period. Think about it that way for a while and you might actually restructure your thought processes toward food. And it might be worth it.

Or, I could be totally off. Let me know what your thoughts.

The Value of Small Victories

It’s nice to have a long-term goal and it’s even better to have short-term goals to make the journey that much more enjoyable. In between those short-term goals are small victories that are worth recognizing because they represent the changes taking place.

For instance, at some point in your exercise regimen, you will realize certain moves are easier. You will find that instead of just trying to make it to the end of your workout, you actually try to do one more push up than you did yesterday. You’ll realize that you can go deeper into a lunge and you actually want to squeeze out one more squat in perfect form.

If you stick with a routine long enough, this does happen and it is the very reason you should stick with a routine. Why? Because it’s magic. This feeling of accomplishment, even if it is improving your form, is proving that the process does work and it’s giving you a reason to workout tomorrow.

Your journey will be filled with non-scale-victories and you should celebrate them just as you celebrate any other success. Use them as motivation.

Do you have a small victory you’ve experienced recently?

Share it with pride! 🙂

The Number One Reason Why You Should Work Out

If you’re working on losing fat, staying fit or giving yourself a tummy tuck the old fashioned way, you might struggle with motivation. Motivation can be hard to muster before work when you’re still groggy or after work when you’re tired and this might make you put off exercising for one more day.

Here’s why you should never do that:

Because the difficult thing to do is also the most rewarding.

Most days, working out is the most challenging thing I do. I get up early, I push myself through it and I tell myself it will be worth it. And you know what? It is. There is never a workout I regret – the only workout I regret is the one I didn’t do.

Don’t give yourself time to talk yourself out of doing it.

Reshape your thinking and know the reward is in the effort.

Progress

One of the most amazing things about the human body is its ability to adapt. The first few days of any new kind of exercise will leave yo feeling sore and defeated but, if you persist, you’ll find with every day, some progress.

The 30-day Shred is difficult for many reasons. It’s a lot of getting up and down and, if you’re not used to that, it can be really hard. If you have a belly, it might get in the way of getting on the floor and back up again. However, if you continue to pursue, you’ll find that after about the first week, things begin to change.

The first few days of any new regimen is simply surviving. You may feel like you’re getting your butt kicked and the best you can do is go through the motions. It is tough, no doubt. The following days might be filled with dread but you will notice small changes that bring encouragement.

For example, you may notice that you can lift your feet higher on butt-kicks or that you can do 30 seconds of jumping jacks without stopping to breathe. You might also notice that you can get down on the floor a little bit quicker and you can get up without as much effort. You might also notice you aren’t breathing as heavy as you were a week ago.

It’s all part of the process and, if you follow through, change will come – maybe even quicker than you think… the trick do staying committed during the early stages of any exercise routine is noticing how your body adapts in the smallest of ways. Give yourself kudos when you can do one more push up or a few more lunges – these small changes are significant because it’s your body telling you, “I can do this!”

Believe it.

Third Day In

I just completed day three of Jillian’s 30-Day Shred. I’m on Level One and I’m just glad I made it through. Here’s what I’m experiencing: soreness in my quads, glutes, calves and chest.

If you haven’t done any kind of workout for awhile, the most difficult thing is going down to the floor to do one exercise and getting back up to do another. Then going back down and getting back up. From push ups to squats to crunches to jumping jaacks…. the entire routine is like this. These kinds of exercises are fantastic for building a strong core and terrific abs. So, if youre used to being on a bike or doing aerobics without any kind of floor work, this will be a shock. But, as always, a good one.

We’ve got about six weeks until Thanksgiving. Do you want to join me in making some radical transformations by then?

Second-Day Scare

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Yes, the second day is the most difficult to get up and get moving because the soreness has begun to kick in. The best thing for this soreness, however, is to move the muscles a bit and that’s exactly what happens when you do this workout. 🙂

It’s tough and that’s what makes the short 27 minutes tolerable. It goes by fairly quickly and if you just focus on getting through every move with proper form and pride, you can do it.

It’s been years since I’ve done this routine and it’s still one of the best out there. I think the planets were aligned when she threw this thing together; just like they were when Tony Horton created p90x.

The good news is you will love yourself when you get through each and every day and when you complete the workout, you’ll have so much to be proud for. A new appreciation for yourself and a new body.

Don’t fear the trainer.

The Power of the Plank

Many people think crunches and sit ups are the only way to tone your abs. This is isn’t true.

Plank exercises are far more beneficial than you might think because they work an incredible amount of muscles. Planks are isometric movements, which means they maintain stability in core muscles. Simply holding a plank for 30 seconds will demonstrate just how powerful these exercises are. Believe me, if you hold a plank this long, you will feel it. Everywhere.

Planks engage your back and transverse ab muscles, along with your shoulder muscles to hold up your body weight. These exercises are no joke and while it’s not funny to do them, it is awesome to feel the strength you get from them.

But that’s not all. Planks also help improve balance, especially if you advance enough to do arm rows and leg lifts while doing planks. Planks also are less likely to cause back pain, unlike traditional crunches and sit ups. Planks strengthen your core and while this terminology is bandied about often, it is good to have a strong core. Why? Because you get stronger. Stronger is better.  When you keep at it, planks will give you a solid core and that will make you love your abs.

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When doing a plank, remember to keep your pelvis neutral; don’t raise your butt too high or let it fall too low. Don’t let your chest fall; your shoulders should feel tight when in a plank position. As with any exercise, improper form can lead to pain and that’s not never good.

Challenge yourself. If you’re ready to work on that diy tummy tuck (which we all know, you are), try plank variations. Plank jacks are jumping jacks in the plank position and mountain climbers are the result of bringing one knee in at a time and alternationg a s quickly as possible. Side planks are exactly what they sound like – a plank on your side. They’re tough but they’re worth every second because they target obliques, which will give you a solid core.

Don’t wuss out; do the planks. Go do one now and tell me how it felt.

 

 

Photos: courtesy of Jaykayfit https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Plank.jpg

Inspiration, Motivation and Willpower

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Inspiration, motivation and willpower are funny things. You need all of them to succeed. Many people may focus on just one of these when they are working toward a particular goal, but I think they work better as a team. This is especially true with weight loss and fitness because these goals take time to reach and sometimes you need something to hang on to while we’re waiting for success. Let’s break it down and I’ll show you what I mean.

Inspiration is that spark of arousal; that hint of hope that initiates change or, at least, thinking of change. It can be something as simple as a picture of Jillian Michaels, Tony Horton or even an old photograph of you. Inspiration can also be also be how you feel when you do something positive. For example, I love that soreness after a workout. That soreness can last a day or two so even when I’m not exercising, I am constantly reminded of my progress and potential success. I can’t express just how empowering that feeling is; it’s wonderful. You might be inspired by the numbers of calories burned after an exercise or the feeling you get from turning down a doughnut at the office. Inspiration comes in many forms and it’s okay to accept any and all of them if they help you achieve your healthiest best.

Motivation is that thing that gives you a reason to move. It’s actually very similar to inspiration in that both make you want to do something. However, in terms of diet and achieving a flat tummy, or whatever you want, motivation is closely related to incentive. For example, if I exercise, I will burn fat or if I strength train, I will build muscle. A motive is something that causes you to act; it is a goal that causes motion. In short, it leads to action. You can sit and look at a picture all day long but what makes you want to move? This is where the goal comes in… You need that goal, that motivation, to get up and make the move.

Willpower is the another link in the chain. Some will tell you it’s the most important aspect of any goal because it requires control. For that reason, it is probably the most complete aspect because control can be hard at times. However, it’s not impossible. It’s hard to pass up cheese dip at family functions. It’s hard to turn down pizza in social situations when everyone else tells you to eat up and enjoy. Chocolate goodies at the office are the devil but everyone wants you to eat one. Yeah, it’s hard and that’s why willpower is so important. You cannot live without it and inspiration and motivation make it easier. When you are aware of how strong your mind actually is, willpower might even become a powerful weapon.

When you put the three together, it becomes easier. For example, if you’re in the office and someone wants you to eat a doughnut and your arms are sore from yesterday’s workout, you might be more inclined to pass. If your butt is burning and hurts you every time you get up, those cookies look like the devil because they represent all the reasons why you have to workout in the first place. If you can change the way you look at cookies, pizza and beer, you can see them as motivation and even inspiration. How many minutes will you have to workout to burn off that pizza? Or how about thinking of sacrificing your last workout for a candy bar. Really?

If it takes a lot for you to get up and exercise, you should look at your temptations as an opportunity to say no. Why? Because you know it isn’t worth it. If you’re feeling the burn in your triceps from yesterday’s workout, you’ll easily pass on the cookies because cause you don’t need them. Does the taste of food trump your hard work? No.

It’s all connected and the thing you can never lose sight of is your goal. Inspiration, motivation and willpower are some pretty important tools to help you get there. Don’t ignore the tiny voices in your head urging you to greatness – those burning muscles and tight abs did not happen for nothing and the question you need to ask yourself is if the pizza is worth negating all that work.

The answer is no. Use your inspiration and motivation, whatever they are, as your source of willpower and allow them to motivate you to say no – an act that moves you closer to the finish line.

Photo: Australian Paralympic Committee/Australian Sports Commission

On Motivation

Here’s a fun fact: You’re not always going to feel like exercising. Motivation is hard to muster sometimes. Case in point: this morning I didn’t want to do my cardio at all. Let me clarify there was nothing wrong with me. I had no injuries, felt no pain and was not sick. I simply didn’t feel like exercising. Let me also clarify that I never wake up and immediately jump into exercising. Never. I need to wake up first. And even when I feel awake, I don’t usually jump into exercise.

Most days, I have to make myself exercise. Some days I feel more energetic than others but today wasn’t one of those days and I felt tired 25 minutes into my routine. That’s not good when you’re doing something like plyometrics. It seemed like I’d never find the energy to make it to the end but I pushed myself through it. It wasn’t the best workout but I showed up and that’s the key. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Feeling sluggish is not a reason to skip out on exercise. It might be the reason why you don’t jump as high as you normally would but the point is you’re still jumping. Realize you’re not as energetic as usual and ask yourself, “So what?” but don’t throw in the towel.

Exercise is like a positive addiction. It brings strength, pleasure and confidence to people. It’s a good addiction because it has value. I know this is true because I always feel better after exercising. Always. I also feel better about myself when I know I pushed myself to do something I didn’t especially want to do. I can almost guarantee that you will never regret working out (unless you injure yourself so, please, don’t injure yourself!).

Try thinking about this when you don’t feel like working out: your do-it-yourself tummy tuck! You’re on a journey that will take some time and if you miss this opportunity to exercise, you’re skipping out on an opportunity that will bring you one step closer to your goal. You’re also passing on an opportunity to feel great about something positive you’ve done for your body.

Remember, you’re in control. Make the effort, show up and you’ll be glad you did.

Got any tips on staying motivated? I’d love to hear them!

My Plan of Action

I’ve been asked before what I did to get the results I did and, in a nutshell, it was mainly a combination of exercising and eating right. That’s right, nothing new here, folks.

I remember reaching a plateau and wanting to try something different. My routine for months had been riding a stationary bicycle for about an hour a day. My exercise was always some form of cardio and I always felt satisfied when I did between 55 and 60 minutes. I used a heart rate monitor and always tried to keep my heart rate around 80 to 85 percent.

To break the plateau, I decided to give Jillian’s 30-Day-Shred a try. I remember not having a lot of confidence in that video simply because the workout was only 27 minutes long. However, after the first day, I knew it was going to be tough. The big change with that workout was the floor work. I was accustomed to exercising on my feet or on my butt. The getting up and down for push ups, crunches and planks was something I wasn’t used to so it was tough.

I also did the workout for more than 30 days. I did not move to level two until I felt like I was good at level one and didn’t move on to level three until I felt like I sort of conquered level two. Overall, I did the workout for about four months.

I kept my daily caloric intake around 1200. This was also over quite a few months and I did allow myself days where I would eat more. Maybe once a month I would eat pizza or drink wine.

It was tough in the beginning but after I began to see results, it became easier. I suddenly wanted to see more and that desire for success was the fuel to keep going.

I think the hardest part of anything kind of journey like this is the waiting for results. It’s tough when you feel like you’re working so hard and aren’t seeing any change. But I can tell you with confidence that if you stick with it, you will see results.

I remember Jillian saying you’ve got to trust the process and it’s true. You do. And when you do, you will see results and that leads to success.

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