Tag Archives: lifestyle

12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 9 – Fitness is a Choice and Mindset

(This is part 9 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

I’ll be honest. I really struggle when I hear people say that they either hate to exercise or that they don’t have any time to exercise as well as the thousands of other excuses they give on the subject. But then I can come to a better approach and realize that they just don’t get it. Going to the gym isn’t a punishment for what you ate or how much you sit; fitness is a celebration of the fact that you are alive and can still move. Perhaps they just don’t feel alive. I don’t know.

It a Choice

Fitness isn’t something you only do at a gym; fitness for life means you either approach your body and mind with respect, or you disrespect the gift of your own life and health and then everything that defines a healthy human being, such as the ability to pick up a grandchild or to walk on the beach, is taken away from you. Getting in shape isn’t something you only do for a wedding or upcoming vacation. Fitness is a personal choice where you decide to live your life at the highest level you can possibly achieve, because if you are fit and healthy, then anything in life seems possible. What would you give for an extra 10 years of quality life? If you are 30, this doesn’t seem relevant, but if you are in your 40s, way overweight and don’t move, you made a decision, and that decision was to end your life earlier than someone who does realize what you do today in fitness determines how you will live 20 years from now. You, and only you, can determine the quality, and in many cases, the length of your life.

It’s a Mindset

The mindset for fitness isn’t about being perfect or trying to recapture who you were, “back in the day,” but rather becoming the best you can be today. There is no perfect you, but there is a you within that can overflow with happiness, vibrant health and crazy energy, because you now understand you don’t do fitness, you are fitness. Mindset is everything in the pursuit of personal health, but you have to enter the arena with the understanding that fitness isn’t another hobby you only do when you have time or to relax. Fitness is the very essence of how you live 24 hours a day, how you think and who you are. You choose to be healthy; then you chose life. You choose to ignore your fitness, and you made a choice… and you will pay for that choice someday, and then when you can’t get out of a chair without help, or play with a child, or hold the hand of the one you love on a walk through the woods, what would you pay then for just one hour of health and life? And the sad thing is you could have had it all along.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 10 of the 12 Days of Fitness!

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays
Day #410 Fitness Myths That Need to Die
Day #5 – 9 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full
Day #6 – The Cult Of Supplements And The Dangers Of Multi-Level Marketing
Day #7 – The First 5 Things Nutritionists Will Tell You To Cut From Your Diet
Day #8 – Dispelling 5 Common Training Lies

Do You Even Really Know What It Means to Exercise?

imagesMany years ago I made a decision as an undergrad that I wanted to be proactive with people.  I had originally set out intent on working in the rehab side of things, namely athletic training and physical therapy.  But through some wonderful intern-type experiences, it occurred to me even more that what people really needed help with was knowing what to do when it came to their health and fitness. And even if they thought they knew what they were doing, they needed guidance on how to do it better or at the very least safer. Fast forward to today and the gap between fitness knowledge and application is so far apart, it’s no surprise why so many struggle with getting exercise into their lives.

The Marketing Jumble

It’s amazing how much marketing affects truth in fitness and it’s everywhere.  Popular fitness magazines, reality TV shows, 20 minute infomercials, video series, celebrity endorsements, etc. Each decade has been marked by its trademark craze. The 70s was when machine training was all the rage because it was thought to be safer and more effective. The problem with this “truth” is that it was a misconception promoted by the manufactures of machines and often backed up by industry-funded research. In the 80s the Cooper Clinic told us that aerobic exercise was going to change our lives and the group exercise (aerobics) phenomenon, the aerobics shoe, and aerobics classes were introduced. In the 90s it was functional fitness and workouts with all kinds of “toys”. In the 2000s, high intensity video programs were all the rage and more marketing, more injuries. More money for the doctors and PT’s. Some of these ideas were well-intentioned attempts at wellness promotion, others flat out lies propagated to make money. In either case, we still don’t get it. The truth is that exercise needs to be smart and safe, but it also needs to be hard if possible. Very little in life was ever achieved without hard work. Fitness is clearly not the exception. Some professionals try to say gardening qualifies as exercise. Ask yourself this question. “How is kneeling in dirt exercise?” Others say walking is great exercise. The truth is that something is always better than nothing, but why aim so low?

It’s Supposed to Be Hard

The reality is that we should be exercising as hard as we are physically able. In fact, the medical professionals themselves said that in 2002 but the information got little coverage. The New England Journal of Medicine (March 14, 2002) published a study and an editorial titled “Survival of the Fittest” that said “…the peak estimated exercise capacity achieved during the test (graded exercise treadmill) was the strongest predictor of the risk of death among patients with cardiovascular disease and among patients without cardiovascular disease.” The study went on to say, “Greater fitness results in longer survival.” The study said nothing about duration or frequency, it only mentioned performance. The people that lived the longest were not the ones that exercised the most frequently. They were the ones who lasted the longest on the treadmill test. The key variable that related to life expectancy was fitness, not total time or number of days per week. Those that were able to exercise the hardest lived the longest. Think about that next time you take a walk or work in the garden. If that is all you can do, fine. However, healthy people need hard work.

What Fitness is Really About

Weight loss, the number one reason why most begin an exercise program, is just a small aspect of fitness, and in actuality, is just a side-effect of living a healthy lifestyle. The true meaning of fitness and what it should mean to you? It means taking back control of your body. It’s about owning yourself. It’s about practicing self-control and feeling powerful. It’s a time for self- reflection. They call it a journey for a reason. Instead of focusing on just losing weight, focus on wanting to be fit and healthy, both physically and mentally; the weight loss will come if that’s your goal. The more consistently you work on your fitness, the more you solidify yourself in your new healthy lifestyle. You discover the cause and effect of your unhealthy behaviors, and you’re able to rewire your brain so that it no longer happens. Instead of just knowing you shouldn’t do something because it’s bad for you, you learn why it’s bad for you and why you make those unhealthy decisions in the first place. With that complete understanding of how you function in that situation, you’re able to take the right steps to change your behavior for good. You just taught yourself self-control, and you feel empowered as a result.

It’s a Mentality

Being fit and healthy is a mentality, not a look. The look is a side effect of the way you think. Change your thoughts and you will change your body. Don’t beat yourself up over your failures. You will fail sometimes.  Use them as a means to learn about yourself and build yourself up stronger for the next challenge. Each time you break through those barriers, you become more confident in yourself. You’ve made another step in the right direction. You’ve made progress. You won. This new mentality doesn’t just function in the health and fitness aspects of your life either. Those same concepts that you learned are applied to other areas of your life. You didn’t just adopt a new lifestyle. You learned how to change. You learned how to control your behavior. You took back your power from your mind and now you’re ready to take on the world.

You’ll Always Come Out on Top

So what’s the true meaning of fitness? It’s not just about losing weight or running faster or being stronger. It’s about smiling and knowing that you took a stand against your self-sabotaging behavior, and won. You accomplished what millions of other people are struggling with every day – the desire to truly own yourself, both mentally and physically. It’s a journey traveled by many but only achieved by a few. Do what moves you and keeps you looking for more. There are no ribbons, trophies, or medals but when the smoke clears, you’ll always be on top. And if you can, go hard!

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.


Fitness Is A Marathon, Not a Sprint

marathon_runAt the time I began to write this article, it was hard to believe that all of the snow would ever go away; that spring would never come, and according to the groundhog, we were in store for another few more weeks of winter.  But it then became more noticeable that the daylight hours had been getting longer and the birds had resumed their chirping in the morning.  Even with all of the snow on the ground, a lot of melting occurred during the daylight hours. Spring is indeed coming and before long outdoor activity will resume.  Question is, will you be ready or has your fitness been put in hibernation over the winter?

There are several definitions for fitness.  Fitness can embody physical, mental, emotional, and even fiscal, but simply stated fitness is about being adapted, suited, and prepared. Whether or not you enjoy running for exercise or participate in races, running provides a great analogy when it comes to understanding the value of keeping fitness as a part of your everyday life.  Just like most things in life, a run is a journey between two points – a beginning and an end.  The beginning can be anything from that first step out the door, to the start of the trail, to the line on the track, etc.  The end, finish line, or goal, is different for everyone.  If the goal is to run a 5K, the finish line is 3.1 miles away; a marathon, 26.2 miles away.  But no matter the goal, there has to be a plan in place to get there and that is where most fall short in their journey.

As previously stated, fitness is about preparedness – the preparedness to ward of most self-induced costly illnesses, improve quality of life; the list is limitless. As is clearly evident in today’s society, we are a nation of unfit, unprepared people who would much rather do something quick and right now than correctly and more beneficial to our health. Fast food, convenience food, crash diets, diet gimmicks, fitness gimmicks, etc., they are all a quick fix (sprint) to a much more efficient and time honored solution – consistent, dedicated time (marathon) to doing what’s right. Imagine for a moment the runner and the pain he would have to endure running a marathon after having done little to no training.  Had he spent a little bit more time preparing for the race by training and eating smarter, finishing the marathon would at least be realistic.

Not everyone needs to run a marathon to appreciate the fact that as in life, slow and steady wins the race every time; slow to progress with the training and steady by keeping actions consistent with the goal in mind. We’re too easily swept up in the “I don’t have time”, “I’m too busy”, “I don’t need to exercise” excuses and then want the sympathy in the end when the pack has finished ahead healthy and strong and we are left in the dust of wonderment.  We’re too easily influenced by fitness gimmicks and food product marketing that leave most with such a warped sense of what it means to be healthy that they have themselves so convinced that they know what’s best. Imagine the runner again missing a turn in a marathon thinking that he knew a shortcut, only to find out that the 26.2 miles has now doubled.

A marathon is not won or raced efficiently for most by running at full speed from the start.  Unlike a sprint, which is over in seconds, a marathon is not only a test of endurance and stamina, but the mental toughness and willingness to press on when everyone else would most likely quit. As in life, it’s easy to quit, walk away when things get challenging. Most of us however are capable of even the shortest of sprints; sprinting to the car when it starts to down pour; hitting the vending machine because you didn’t eat breakfast; stopping at the fast food joint on the way home for dinner. With the sprint, it’s over in a flash and the desired result is immediate.  With a marathon, it takes time and patience.

Fitness is a lifestyle –  a life long process of eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting plenty of rest, managing the mental and emotional stresses in our lives to name a few.  Contrary to what our perceptions may be due to marketing and advertising, fitness is not a guarantee.  Rather it is achieved through proper planning and implementation of sound principles and not marketing hype. And in today’s world, nothing can be more gratifying than knowing there is something you really do have control of, and that is your health.

Featured in April 2010 Issue of the 422 Business Advisor

The 12 Days of Fitness – Day 2 – True Gains Are Made Outside the Gym

1341958555_1503_woman runningBuyers beware! The holidays are generally synonymous with an influx of infomercials pushing the latest fitness craze and equipment you must try or own.  They promise quick results – guaranteed; and some claim to do so with minimal effort from you.  What they won’t tell you is how similar their and their competitors’ products really are – they don’t matter!

No Secret

When it comes to getting exercise, whatever you choose should be something you enjoy.  Period.  However, understand that exercise is merely the catalyst to cause change.  Where the real changes occur is how well you do after the workout – what you eat, how much rest you get, etc.  Nothing can negate the benefit of a killer workout session than dousing yourself in junk food, empty calories, and a night of no sleep.

A Lifestyle

This is generally where the “exercise hasn’t worked for me” notion begins. “I exercise, train hard, leave it all behind, but I’m not seeing any results! Why?” It’s simple. If you haven’t adopted a healthy lifestyle, one that obviuosly includes exercise, a healthy diet, adequate rest – consistently – then no exercise product or program is going to help you in the long run.. And they’re counting on that.  They need your dollars again next year!

See you tomorrow for Day 3 of my 12 Days of Fitness.

The 12 Days of Fitness – Day 1- You Can’t “Out-Exercise” Poor Eating Habits

eat-slowly-2Hard to believe but we’re in the midst of yet another holiday season. For some, it’s a time of celebration, happiness, and joy.  For others, it can be a source of great pain.  But no matter how you celebrate these next few weeks, it’s important to remember the most important gift you’ll ever have – your life.  So for the next 12 days, I will provide you with the 12 Days of Fitness, helpful tips and tidbits to keep things in healthy perspective. I’ve seen it for years after every major holiday.  Numbers flock to the health club and try to work-off their holiday indulgences.  “Two pieces of pie? I gotta run for 2 hours today!” “One too many helpings? I better take two classes!”   It’s logical thinking, but it’s not correct thinking.  One meal, one day of “poor” eating choices isn’t going to set you back.  Sporadic healthy eating and inconsistent exercise with one meal, one day of poor eating just might.

It’s All About Consistency

As with exercise, it’s all about consistency. Keep a consistent exercise program and you will see great results.  Eat consistently well, and it’s permissible to REALLY enjoy a holiday.  But if your erratic and then eat so so, you can forget about any benefit that a workout can bring.  Simply thinking that by working harder the next day will erase the error is incorrect, much the same way that thinking because you worked out is a license to eat more.

The Key

The key to a healthy lifestyle is to be clear about your goals, stay consistent (we all fall sometimes) with your eating and exercise plan, and enjoy life without having to feel you need to give up all the things you enjoy.

See you tomorrow for Day 2 of the 12 Days of Fitness. Now go ahead and enjoy some eggnog!