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12 Days of Fitness: Day 12 – 10 Resolutions Only the Most Successful People Make

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

New Year’s resolutions: Most of us make them; most of us fail to keep them. Why do we fail? Usually, we resolve to do something so big, so difficult, so time-consuming, we reach too high – the simple act of reaching gets tiresome. And so we quit. Fortunately, there’s a better way. Here are 10 simple things I came across in an article I read earlier this year to try sometime in 2020. They’re all one-time events, although you can certainly repeat them as many times as you like. And each is a lot easier to accomplish than some hopefully-life-changing-but-in-the-end-never-accomplished New Year’s resolution.

  1. Do one thing you’ve been afraid to do.The most paralyzing fear is fear of the unknown. Nothing ever turns out to be as hard or as scary as you think. Plus, it’s incredibly exciting to overcome a fear. You’ll get that “Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I just did that!” rush. That’s an amazing feeling you probably haven’t experienced for a long time. Enter a race this year or participate in some event you never thought possible for you.
  2. Apologize for one thing you need to apologize for. We all make mistakes. So we blame them for our problems.But we are almost always to blame too. Maybe we didn’t provide enough. Maybe we didn’t foresee a potential problem. Maybe we asked too much, too soon. We did or did not do something we could have. Take responsibility, and then focus on being smarter or better or faster or more creative next time.
  3. Start one thing you’ve always planned to start. You have plans. You have goals. You have ideas. Who cares? You have nothing until you actually do something. Every day, we let hesitation and uncertainty stop us from acting on our ideas. Fear of the unknown and fear of failure often stops us. Pick one plan, one goal, or one idea. And get started. Do something. Do anything. Just take one small step. The first step is by far the hardest. Every successive step will be a lot easier.
  4. Tell one person how much they mean to you. No one receives enough praise. No one. Pick someone who did something well and tell her or him. Surprise praise is a gift that costs the giver nothing but is priceless to the recipient.
  5. Ask for help. Asking someone for help instantly recognizes the person’s skills and values and conveys your respect and admiration.That’s reason enough to ask someone to help you. The fact you will get the help you need is icing on the achievement cake.
  6. Offer to help someone. Then flip it around. Many people see asking for help as a sign of weakness, so they hesitate. Yet we can all use help. But don’t just say, “Is there anything I can help you with?” Most people will automatically say, “No, I’m all right.” Be specific. Say, “I’ve got a few minutes; can I help you finish that?” Offer in a way that feels collaborative, not patronizing or gratuitous. And then actually help. You’ll make a real difference in someone’s life–and you’ll take a solid step toward creating a connection with that person.
  7. Do one thing no one else is willing to do. Pick one thing other people aren’t willing to do. Pick something simple. Pick something small. Whatever it is, do it. Instantly, you’re a little different from the rest of the pack. Then keep going. Every day, do one thing no one else is willing to do. After a week, you’ll be uncommon. After a month, you’ll be special. After a year, you’ll be incredible, and you won’t be like anyone else.
  8. Just once, refuse to care what other people think. Most of the time, you should worry about what other people think–but not if it stands in the way of living the life you really want to live. Pick one thing you haven’t tried simply because you’re worried about what other people think–and just go do it. It’s your life. Live it.
  9. Don’t be afraid to say yes. You’re busy. Your plate is full. There are plenty of reasons to sit tight, stay safe, keep things as they are. But that also means tomorrow will be just like today. Say yes to something different. Say yes to something scary. Say yes to the opportunity you’re most afraid of. When you say yes, you’re really saying, “I trust myself.”
  10. Don’t be afraid to say no. Still, you can’t do everything. You can’t help everyone. You may want to, but you can’t. Sometimes you just need to say no: to a favor, to a request, to a family member. Sometimes you really need to be able to focus on what is important to you. Say no at least once before the end of the month–the harder to say, the better. And don’t worry if you feel selfish: When your heart is in the right place, what you accomplish by spending more time on your goals will eventually benefit other people, too.

Wishing you and your families a wonderful holiday season and all the best for a healthy and prosperous New Year!

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

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 #59 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full
Day #6The 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
Day #9 – Fitness is a Choice and Mindset
Day #10 –The 11 Most Common Weight-Loss Blunders
Day #11 – 8 Things to Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

 

 

A Journey Awaits You in 2015

10306311_10204958569341128_1806808326582525775_nHard to believe but here we are with the first month of 2015 almost in the books. Seems like just yesterday we were sweating and stressing over the holidays and if you’re like me, counting the days until spring officially arrives.  As is typical with this time of year, the diet plans, new exercise programs, newest and latest exercise equipment, and panacea in a bottle ads flood the landscape as millions resolve to make a new start in the New Year. Unfortunately, the majority will be at it again this same time next year as they were the year before that and the year before that. Fitness for many seems like an endless cycle – one that begins but never really ends only to start all over again. I have good news for you. Fitness isn’t an endless cycle and doesn’t fail you. It comes down to a decision to go on a journey where the reward is far greater than the alternative. The question is, do you have the resolve to pursue the journey and weather it through all the thick and thin. I want to share with you today a small journey I entered into myself last year – my second, and final marathon. I’m not suggesting you need to run a marathon; I just want to present to you the parallels that a marathon and any fitness journey have.

My Journey to 26.2 – Part 2

Back in October 2014, I ran in the 39th Marine Corps Marathon, in Washington D.C. It wasn’t that I was a glutton for punishment and just loved my first marathon so much that I couldn’t wait to do another. Back when I had it in my head that someday I would run a marathon, this was the one I had in mind. The timing and scheduling just didn’t work for 2013 so I ran in the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach of March that year to celebrate in a way of turning 40. But there was something about participating in one of the largest marathons in the country, in our nation’s capital, and hosted by the Marines that just never left my belly. As fate would have it, 2014 marked the first year that entrance to the Marine Corps Marathon was by way of lottery and tah dah, I had won a spot. But unlike my first marathon where I only focused on the run – not really taking the whole event in – I had made a promise to myself that I was going to take in as much of this experience as I could. I was not disappointed.

In the true pageantry that only the Marine Corps could provide, my 2nd marathon was more an emotional and spiritual journey than it was physical. Sure, I prepared for the run as I had in the past, even better this time, but there was no goal except to simply absorb and digest the whole experience. It all began with observing the ritual and process of soldiers raising the flag just as the sun is rising. You stop everything you are doing and pause in silence as the stars and stripes are raised to salute another day. As I lined up with the other 30,000 runners, the ceremonial flag for the start of the race was brought in by a paratrooper group – right over our heads. Most races start with a simple horn or siren but this race was kicked off by the firing of a howitzer. It was then that I realized this race was going to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. And it was.

With the exception of very few spots in which it would have been difficult for spectators to navigate, the entire 26.2 mile course was lined with people – on both sides of the course. Men; women; children; soldiers; veterans; tourists, and spectators – it was surreal. Their energy and enthusiasm fueled me and every chance I had gave them high fives. The Marines by far were the most encouraging. They manned water and fueling stations, cheered us all on, and encouraged us through every mile. There were troops in full gear, carrying flags and chanting cadence while running. Then there was the splendor of our nation’s capital  – the crowds at the Lincoln Memorial; the throngs of tourists along the Mall; running around the Washington Monument, past the Smithsonian museums, and of course running directly in front of the Capitol Building.

At some point near mile 13, I forgot about where I was and what I was doing because I ran through a flag lined tunnel held by a group that remembers and honors the fallen in combat. It was then that I really began to see how insignificant the pain or suffering I was experiencing was. As the race drew closer to an end, the crowds got even bigger and the excitement of crossing the finish line grew even greater. As I ran past the Pentagon where we had started over four hours earlier, I started to dwell on what I had all witnessed and experienced and I hadn’t even crossed the finish line yet. Upon approaching the finish line area, the crowd energy was at its highest at any portion of the course. Marines lined both sides of the 40 or so yard hill that climbed to the final 40 or so yard finish straight away to the finish line. Through the tunnel of Marines and crowd grandstands I somehow found the strength to finish running despite wanting to just walk in. There in the shadow of the Iwo Jima statue in Arlington Cemetery, I had crossed the finish line of the most amazing journey of my life. After receiving my medal I had a picture taken with the Marine who gave me my hardware. He was easily 20 years or so younger than me but at that moment in time, he was the elder. My run, pain and subsequent stiffening were nothing compared to the journey this young man had come or could travel.

Why tell you my story? For one, I am very proud to share it with you. But most importantly, I want to share and instill with all of those willing to listen that fitness is a journey, not a road trip or long weekend. It will have its ups and downs and if you stay with it, the ups will most certainly outnumber the downs. It will challenge you and test your perseverance but in the end the journey is worth it – daily, weekly, monthy, yearly. Your fitness journey should be unique to you and only you and not compared to or measured against what others do or say. I ran with 30,000 other runners; all with their own journey, goals, and visions in mind. In the end, we all accomplished the goal of finishing the race, all deserving of wearing the medal. That is where the only comparison should be drawn. Plan your journey for 2015 so that it doesn’t end like in years past. Be one of the few and the proud.

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

12 Days of Fitness 2012 – Day 12: 7 Essentials To Lasting Change

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

They say the only constant is change.  You are either moving forwards or backwards; there is no holding steady.  Sir Issac Newton might have something to say about that though.  According to his 1st Law of Motion, an object at rest remains at rest and an object in motion remains in motion. Goal setting is about moving forward but has become such a generic, almost laughable term.  People set goals all the time but never achieve them. As we embark on another new year and perhaps have your sights set on some new goals or resolutions, it’s time to keep things in motion. Here are 7 things that research had found that are ESSENTIAL if you want to create lasting change:

1. Have Passion – This is wear it all starts.  Set your goals from your heart. Forget about what the statistics say and any of your past failures.  How is your life going to change once you achieve it?  Think of how much happiness will come into your life once you achieve it.

2. Growth – Achieving your goal does not have to happen over night.  Small changes add up very quickly.  A great strategy is to simply be better today then you were yesterday and better tomorrow than you are today.  After 6 months you will be blown away with the improvements that you’ve made.

3. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone – In order to experience this daily growth there are times when you will have to step outside of your comfort zone. Accept discomfort and expect it.  It’s an opportunity for you to become better than you are today.

4. Gratitude – It’s easy to be grateful when things are going well, but the practice of being grateful for who you are today and for the so called failures and challenges of your past is much more powerful.  Each challenge or failure provides you with the opportunity to grow and improve yourself.

5. Become – This could very well be the most powerful word in your vocabulary when you use it properly.  For example; “I have become UNSTOPPABLE!” When you ‘become’ something or someone it is no longer a hope or dream.  It’s a part of who you are.  You now hold these beliefs and attitudes that nothing will get in your way.

6. Have Fun – Research shows that the people who choose activities that they enjoy are more likely to stick to their programs for the long term.  You may read a book that lays out the best fat burning workout routine and nutrition program, but if you don’t enjoy it chances are you will not stick with it.

7. Find a Role Model – You need new references, which demonstrate that achieving your goals WILL happen.  Don’t waste time listening to the naysayers or those that say they have tried that route dozens of times to no avail.  They have created motion in the wrong direction and will continue until a different force acts on them.

Stay tuned as I will release a GOAL Program for 2013 in a few days for those interested, very unlike the Push Up Challenge of 2012!

Wishing you and your families all the best this holiday season and best wishes of health and happiness in the New Year!

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

My 2012 Fitness Challenge personal update – 35, 500 push ups done as of publishing time

 

 

 

21 Days ………and Counting

calendar-counting-the-omer-BLOGDon’t worry. That’s not an “end of time” countdown but it is an important day. January 21st – three weeks into the month or more specifically, three weeks into the new year. If you’re like the millions who started the new year with a plan or resolution to kick off the year, January 21st represents a milestone. It is the day the new habits should have begun and the old ones are a thing of the past.  So how are you doing?

What The Research Says

The number “21” has significance in many unrelated realms.  It has biblical significance; indicates the possible “end of days”; marks the change of seasons every three months; the 21 gun salute; the winning hand in blackjack, and so forth.  But its significance here has nothing to do with any of those.  According to the myth, 21 days is the number of days it takes to change a habit. While there has been little research to prove that 21 days is all it takes (could actually take anywhere from 18 to 254 days), it serves as a sort of preseason benchmark. Let’s face reality.  If after 21 days into the new year you’re already back to justifying why you’re off course, you’re already heading down the wrong path to success that has eluded you all these years. On the other hand, if you’re doing the daily things that make a big difference, then congratulations.  Let’s keep moving!

The Little Things DO Matter

How many times have you said to yourself, “I’ll start Monday”, or “I’ll just make up for it tomorrow”? While both are not helping your situation, it’s the latter that gets you into trouble. When you rely on trying to “catch up” or “log in extra”, whether it be exercise (nice if it worked that way), or starving yourself after a binge (sets you up for even bigger disaster), the fact is you’re admitting a mistake that didn’t need to happen.  Identifying those mistakes (aka excuses) and planning to avoid them all together is where your success will be built, and that is a daily commitment. Dr. Andrew Weil says it best. “Anything you do with repetition and emotion will become your reality. If you’re not satisfied where you are currently are, examine your daily habits.”

The Significance of The 2012 Workout Challenge

At the beginning of the year I posed a challenge of 100 push-ups a day.  I have to say I’ve been overwhelmed and pleased to hear the number of people who have taken the challenge and are running away with it.  I’m extremely proud of you and you know who you are.  But even if you chose not to partake in the challenge or perhaps modified it your own way (i.e. 40 or 50 push–ups), the point was to get you committed to something daily, with a definable goal and achievable plan. It’s about committing to something that you normally would not set out on your own and I can guarantee you, you’re not alone. It’s about not making excuses and taking charge. It’s about taking part in an activity that will have positive results for you. It’s about increasing your awareness that YES YOU CAN DO IT, whatever it is you’re setting out to achieve. You just have to be willing to commit to the little things – daily.

 

My 2012 Fitness Challenge personal update – 2,100 push ups done as of publishing time.

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

 

 

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Is Your Fitness Routine Like Groundhog Day?

05_Flatbed_1 - JANUARYWith the weather we’ve been experiencing in recent weeks, I think the mere mention that today is Groundhog Day may have provided a ray of hope for many.  That and less than two weeks til pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Nevertheless, despite the fact that PunxsutawneyPhil DID NOT see his shadow today indicating an early spring, spring still does not officially arrive until March 21, or six more weeks from today. Now, I’m not trying to ruin anyone’s day by sounding pessimistic.  I’m just reporting the facts.

How’s That Resolution Coming Along?

February 2 – a little more than 4 weeks since the start of 2011.  Like many who started the year with good intentions, more than 45% have already dropped back to old habits.  I’m just reporting the facts.  So has your fitness regimen become a lot like Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors in Groundhog Day? Repeats and repeats and repeats with no result or end in sight? Isn’t it time you cleared away the ice that blocks your path and blurs your vision and put an end to the seamless spinning in circles that has become your quest for optimal health?

One Step at a Time

eThe perfect workout plan; the perfect diet – none of it works if you can’t adopt the following five steps. It takes work, and Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi said it best when he said, “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”  But it all begins with that first step.

Step 1 – Create the Right Mindset. Believe in yourself. What you say to yourself matters.  One of my favorite sayings, “If you think you can or you can’t, you’re probably right.” I believe in you, I know you can do it, but I need you to believe it too.

Step 2 – Get Social Support. Surround yourself with the right people. Negative, pessimistic people will kill your progress. Find and seek out positive people. Positive people will support you and help you get results.

Step 3 – Plan and Prepare. When it comes to fitness and nutrition, you simply can’t wing it. That’s why you’re spinning in circles every year.

Step 4 – Stick to Your Guns.  Social pressures and those who do not share your mindset will always try to pull you back to where they are comfortable. Be proud of who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish.

Step 5 – Never Stop. You are either moving forward or you are moving backwards. Always keep moving ahead.

You Are What You Think About

thinkingAnother year is well underway.  The holiday season is in the rearview mirror; the days while colder, are getting longer; the steps to achieve the goals and aspirations we established January 1st are in place. The new year represents a fresh start and a new hope that the days and months ahead will be different and real progress, in whatever form it may be, will be made.  Or will it? Even with our best intentions, most New Year’s resolutions don’t stick.  Why is that so, or more precisely, why does it become such a joke year after year?

In 1956, famed radio personality and motivational speaker Earl Nightingale wrote, “The Strangest Secret is that we become what we think about “.  The genius behind that statement is that back in 1956, he did not have the knowledge we have now about the inner workings of the brain and yet his observation is in fact pretty accurate. Thanks to modern technologies in brain imaging, neuroscientists and psychologists today can give us the answers to those questions and prove that indeed we can become what we think about.  With the assistance of PET scans, SPECT scans and functional MRI’s, our thoughts can actually be seen as electrochemical impulses as well as the formation of new neural connections in real time. What also can be seen is where geographically in our brain, a particular type of thought is occurring.  Furthermore, it can also be observed how long it takes to form strong neural patterns and what types of stimuli cause these patterns to form more quickly. So what exactly does all of this mean?

Here’s what’s been discovered. Setting a goal one time is a conscious activity. Willpower is also a conscious activity. The research has shown that at least 83% of our brain power is in the non-conscious mind and that the information and instructions that reach the non-conscious mind are responsible for automatic behavior.  Some psychologists believe that 95% of our behaviors are unconscious and automatic, more commonly referred to as habits. Consequently, long term behavior changes don’t take place when goals are set one time as with most New Year’s resolutions. It has been long believed that it takes at least 21-30 days to form a habit. This has now been proven to be fairly accurate from a neurological basis.  New neural patterns begin to form only after they’ve been repeated enough times. They continue to strengthen with further repetition. Therefore, if you make resolutions on January 1st and you don’t continue to repeat and reinforce your desire for those “goals,” no new neural connection is formed, no new habits are formed, and no new behaviors are formed. Your resolutions wither away and die and any results obtained through willpower (trying to force the new behaviors through conscious effort), are quickly lost when you slip back to your old ways.  What you repeat over and over again is programmed into the subconscious mind and begins to take root. The best way to avoid this: re-write your goals everyday and repeatedly until the new habit is forme

Is there any way around this tedious process of “mental programming” through repetition? Not really. The fields of NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and hypnosis have given us some tools for creating more rapid changes, but ultimately you have to begin to “run your own brain” and change your habitual way of thinking. No one else can do it for you and there’s no way around it. With this knowledge, there is yet another reason why New Year’s resolutions fail. They are casually stated and set with no emotion or no strong emotional “reason why” that gives you the leverage to you need to make a change permanent. On January 1st, you may think you’re setting “real” goals, but if you’re like most people, you’re not only doing it a mere once a year and then losing focus, you’re also likely to be making flimsy, wishy-washy, emotion-less “resolutions.” American author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “A goal casually set and lightly taken will be freely abandoned at the first obstacle.”

This quote truly explains why New Year’s resolutions almost never work. Goal setting should not be casual or lightly taken. Goal setting is an important and serious matter. This is not a game – this is your life, and you only have one life to live.  Goal setting is also not a one time event.  It is an ongoing process of literally “re-wiring your brain.” And Earl Nightingale was also right. You cause change by creating new habitual patterns of thinking and visualizing. Trying to force new behaviors with willpower while continuing with your old ways of thinking will always fail because your automatic behavior is mostly under non-conscious control. It’s not the resolution you set once. It’s the goals (mental thoughts and images) you focus on all day long that create the long term (and automatic) behavioral change. When you change your behaviors, you change your body and your life.

Make the time to set REAL goals, today! Take it seriously, do it scientifically, re-write your goals every day, think about them constantly, and then take action. Do it and this will be the most successful goal-achieving year of your life.  And the calendar does not have to say January 1 to get started!

Featured in February 2008 Issue of 422 Business Advisor