Monthly Archives: April 2016
Monthly Archives: April 2016
We all have goals. In fact, goal setting is an important process. If you have a strong commitment, then your goal is the map to your success. When we have goals, and are then able to meet those goals, we experience a great sense of accomplishment. This often pushes us forward to wanting to meet an even greater goal. But how do we set goals to maximize our opportunity for success?
First, you need to look at your life in a more strategic way. Think about what you really want out of life. If your goals are not congruent with what you want, then achieving that goal won’t have much meaning for you. And what would be the point of that? If your goal doesn’t fit your life, you’re not going to be passionate about it and are less likely to follow through.
A strong goal is a SMART one. Goals should be:
Specific – The goal should have a direct link to something you want to accomplish. It’s clear cut and finite.
Measurable – The goals should have a metric or milestone so that it’s clear when you have reached the goal.
Achievable or Attainable – The goal needs to be something that is within your capacity, though it should certainly be something that stretches you.
Relevant – The goal has to matter or make a difference to you. This will cause you to be motivated to stick with it.
Time-bound – The goal should include a specific amount of time within which you’re aiming to achieve it.
Do your goals have all five SMART elements? If not, what’s missing? If you need help fine tuning your goals, visit www.older.fitness/goal to sign in and receive a free worksheet to assist you in your goal setting.
We know we need to eat good food, but how do we shop for good food? First, we must examine what exactly is good food, as there are many different definitions. Perhaps the most important criteria is the food’s nutrient density. This refers to how much minerals and vitamins are in that food. Find foods that have good nutrient density, or a good ratio of micronutrients relative to the amount of calories.
You should also consume a good mix of food. This includes different types of food having a varied mix of nutrients. This will include foods of different colors, shapes, and tastes. Be knowledgeable about the source of your food. Often times, the further the food has to travel to get to you, the more artificial protection it may need. It also may not be grown to maturity. The soil in which the food is grown is also important. A healthy soil with little to no fertilizer content will positively impact the nutrient density of its food. Similarly, animals that are cared for in a positive manner will yield a high quality of meat, milk, and eggs.
The appearance, smell, texture, and taste of the food are all important markers. You want to be sure the food is free of chemicals or any toxins. Read the labels and look at the ingredients. This will help you make an informed decision about which products to consume.
Now that we know what good food is, how do we shop for good food? Remember that very little food in a box is actual food. Recognize real food as something that was picked. Look for organic food, or having no hormones, fertilizers, or insecticides. Look for local sourcing. Farmer’s markets and farms are wonderful places to find locally grown food. Have a conversation with the farmer and find out how they’re managing their crops. You can even try growing your own food. By having the knowledge of what foods to consume, you can take appropriate action in finding those foods, thereby setting yourself up for success with healthy eating.
Should you do 30-day challenges? If you have an interest, there are quite a few to choose from. Just hop on the internet briefly to see the wide range of options. Challenges for crunches, sit-ups, pushups, and lunges—the list goes on and on.
These challenges may sound intriguing. There’s no doubt that they have the potential to be beneficial. After all, anything that gets you moving, working, and focused on getting something done can do wonders for your health and mindset. There’s also an interesting accountability aspect to these challenges. You’ve committed to 30 days and theoretically, you’d like to complete this manageable goal. It’s especially beneficial if you can participate with a friend. This gives you a partner to hold you accountable. Your motivation to complete the challenge, coupled with consistent, daily activity, has the potential to build a positive habit.
However, you must be clear on your health and fitness goals to determine whether one of these challenges really makes sense. If you’re interested in improving your kayaking, participating in a push-up challenge may not correlate directly with your goals and may not be worth your time and effort. You must also consider your plans for the conclusion of the 30-day challenge. Are you looking to make it an ongoing habit? If not, then it may not be worth pursuing. What happens if you miss a day? Some people may just quit the challenge entirely. If you tend to give up easily after a slip, again, the challenge may not be worth your while.
So, should you do 30-day challenges? If you’re committed to health and fitness and have a challenge in mind that is aligned with your goals, then a 30-day challenge might be a good fit. It may help you build positive fitness habits and can put you in a better health position over time. However, if the challenge is not aligned with your goals, you may want to pass.
Today we talk with Deborah K. Heisz, author of Live Happy, Ten Practices for Choosing Joy. She, along with founder Jeff Olson, leads the company that produces Live Happy, an award-winning bi-monthly print and digital magazine, Livehappy.com and Live Happy products.
We discuss with Deborah how we normally approach happiness as a destination or an end point. Conventional thinking is that if we are successful, we will be happy. It is the search for that destination, and when we finally arrive there, we believe that end point will make us happy. However, we should flip our thinking and approach life with the attitude that we should be happy now, as it is happy people that then find success.
Deborah’s book outlines ten practices to live happy along with stories that parallel those practices. One of her favorites is to reflect at the end of the day by writing down three positive things from your day. By making this practice a habit it positively changes our attitude.
The great thing about happiness is that it also correlates to our health. If we don’t make our health a priority really cheats ourselves and everyone around us, but it is usually what busy working parents do. By not doing that, it affects both our mental and physical health. Small, incremental changes to the way we think and approach both happiness and fitness leads to positive attitudes and adoption of positive habits.
Learn more about Debra Heisz through her website, books, blog and podcast. Debra is featured on Live Happy Now, a weekly podcast featuring uplifting and unique interviews with researchers in the field of positive psychology, practitioners and experts on their own personal happiness journeys. Join her in the movement to make the world a happier place, and let’s live happy!
It’s inspiring to see people having success in their weight loss and fitness journeys. However, it can be deflating upon realizing that what works for them doesn’t always work for you. Why is this? Truthfully, you may never get the same exact results as someone else, even if you follow the same plan. However, that’s no reason to quit or stop before you’ve even started. You simply need to readjust.
Genetics can play a role in this scenario. However, it’s the way that the genes are expressed that causes the differences in results among different individuals. The way you react will be different from the way someone else reacts. Most of the diets out there don’t work for the majority. Have you ever seen the fine print that says, “Results are not typical”? This is their disclaimer.
Your gut biome also plays a role, and again, everyone has a different one. Realize that you are essentially a chemical reactor made up of hormones and chemicals. The food you eat is the fuel that ignites these reactions, and the quality of that food will make a difference. It most certainly can impact how you feel, as well as your overall health. One good idea is to get a blood test before starting a diet plan. This will give you a good baseline understanding as to how your body is currently functioning.
Trying an elimination diet is another good technique. This will allow you to eliminate all foods that are causing you problems. Start by removing sugar, then gluten, and so on, until you are only consuming the bare essentials—meat, fish, and vegetables. See how your body is feeling and then slowly begin to reintroduce the other foods into your diet, one food at a time.
While it’s true that what works for them may not work for you, you can find what does work for you. Try different options, focus on what you can control, and stop comparing yourself to others.
How do you know when to use free weights or weight machines? Well, it depends. Both have their pros and cons, and it may just depend on your specific goals or situation. For beginners, free weights may seem intimidating or difficult. Conversely, machines have instructions and are easy to understand. However, both tools can give you a great workout.
There are three dimensions to consider when determining whether to use free weights or machines. The first is knowing what you’re trying to accomplish. Free weights are very functional and act more like real life than most machines. They can mimic the normal things you do in a day such as picking up a child or lifting a box. However, machines do give a general aspect of safety. When using a machine, you won’t usually be able to drop the weights on yourself, unlike free weights. If you don’t have a training partner, machines might be a good choice.
The second dimension to consider is your reason for lifting. Are you lifting for strength, muscle mass, or endurance? You may even try to accomplish more than one of these. If the emphasis is strength, move toward free weights. They require the use of a lot of supporting muscles because you don’t have the support of the machine. Free weights will also help you maintain stability in your core. Lifting for muscle mass could see benefits from free weights and weight machines. This will give you an overall, well-rounded strength. Use machines to focus on the large muscle groups in which you are trying to build mass. If you want to work on endurance, both machines and free weights are good options. You can use free weights to move quickly and build endurance. Similarly, with circuit training, you may also be able to move quickly and cleanly between certain machines.
The third dimension is availability. If all the machines are taken, use free weights and vice versa. Remember, you can get a great workout from both free weights and weight machines.
Is soy good for you? It depends on who you ask. In fact, there are two schools of thought. Plant-based diet proponents are pro-soy because it’s the only plant based protein that is a complete protein. Those who follow the paleo diet are of the opposite opinion.
There are also some possible issues with soy. The phytic acid in soy binds with minerals when consumed. This prevents your body from absorbing them. This could be an issue if you already have problems with anemia. Another reason one might stay away from soy is due to lectin. Lectin is intended to keep seeds intact when an animal eats it. This could cause gut walls to become inflamed or other immune issues. Isoflavones are another possible issue with soy, as these are plant estrogens. Plant estrogen is similar to human estrogen. There are also questions about whether this could cause cancer. Soy was also made a more viable product when it became Round Up-friendly. In fact, 90% of the soy produced in the U.S. in genetically modified. People with thyroid issues should also be cautious, as there are some indicators that show that soy can mess with the absorption of thyroid medication.
Though cancer is a concern with the plant estrogen in soy, some studies have shown that soy may actually reduce the risk of prostate and colon cancer. When making a decision about whether or not to use soy, it’s important to know your current risk profile. Everyone is different, so the decision to consume soy is not a “one size fits all” answer.
Not all soy is equal. Stick with nutritionally dense fermented soy and avoid any type of processed soy. Include tofu or soy milk in your diet. Be sure you’re reading all food labels so you can make an informed decision. As long as you are looking for the most nutritionally dense foods you can find, you’ll be eating less, and losing body fat. So is soy good for you? That is truly for you to decide.
Is margarine good for you? Often times, one’s first response would be no. But is that a programmed response from years of being fed certain messages?
Margarine actually has an interesting history. In the late 1860s, Napoleon III put out a contest for someone to develop an artificial butter, as shortages of actual butter were common. The idea was introduced to use beef fat instead of milk fat, along with colorings to make the substance yellow. Thus, margarine was created. Today, margarine is a little different, as it has switched over to using vegetable oil to reduce the use of saturated fat. Over time, many variations of margarine have developed, including several spreads.
How do you know if margarine is right for you? Ultimately, you have to make your own choice. You need to be critical of what you see and read the ingredients on the labels. Just because something is labeled as not having trans fats, it may just be that they don’t have enough to have to report it as an ingredient. Some margarine also notes that is non-GMO, yet an ingredient listed on the label includes soy. We know that 90% of the soy in the United States is a GMO product, so this is another question area. Other ingredients such as artificial and natural flavors may prompt you to wonder about their health impacts.
So is margarine good for you? The choice is yours. If you want to cut saturated fats, look into margarines. Be sure to read the labels and make an informed decision. Remember that hard margarines may have some sort of saturated fat, so it may be better to stick with softer margarines. Use the minimum amount possible or try to go without margarine completely. Be aware of what you’re putting in your body. Only then will you be able to make the best decision for you.
Sticking to an eating plan can be challenging. It’s often easy to get started, but it may become difficult over time when other distractions present themselves.
One possible obstacle is decision fatigue. In one day’s time, there are only so many decisions that can be made before the quality of those decisions becomes poor. One strategy is to remove certain decisions from your day. For example, eliminate any questions about what foods you are going to eat. Pack a healthy lunch or cook meals in advance. Remove bad food choices from your house if you can. Planning ahead is key.
Another issue could be triggers. A trigger is something that causes you to fall off the wagon, so to speak. One trigger could be stress. Experiencing such stress could cause you to want sugar or comfort food. To avoid derailing your progress as a result of a trigger, It’s important to know what your triggers are. Document your strategies in a journal. Write in that journal about what you experienced and how you reacted. This will help you in dealing with these triggers in the future. Accountability is another great strategy for dealing with triggers. When you see the trigger approaching, reach out to someone who can help keep you on track.
Finally, a slip is another potential obstacle. Recognize that you’re going to slip from time to time. Realize that there’s no value to beating yourself up about it. The important thing to remember is that a slip doesn’t have to be a fall. It’s only failure if you quit.
Sticking to an eating plan starts and ends with commitment. Commit to yourself. Find your “why” as to the real reasons you want to make a change. This will give most people that initial push to move in right direction. When plateaus occur, remind yourself of your vows to stay committed to sticking to your plan, and use that commitment to keep pushing you forward.
Part of finding a good personal trainer is knowing when you need to fire a bad personal trainer. Though you may find a passionate trainer, he or she may not be the one for you. There are several reasons why you may want to fire your personal trainer.
The first reason to fire your trainer is if he or she is not listening to you. The trainer should be asking you specific questions so they are able to design a plan that will work for your unique situation. Did the trainer ask about your goals or concerns? These are conversations that need to take place early in the process so that the responses can be part of the solution. If they don’t know the real you, then they’re not the right fit for you.
The second reason to fire your trainer is if they are not talking to you. The trainer should be teaching you technique, not just counting reps, and then giving you verbal cues to help you progress faster. The trainer should also encourage you so that you should feel supported. Often times, the trainer may not be listening or talking to you. If so, it’s time to move on.
Sometimes trainers will ask for referrals before you’re seeing results. This is another area of concern. Though trainers need to continue to grow their client base, they should be focused on the results of their current clients first and asking for referrals later.
Eventually, all trainees should outgrow their trainers, as they have mastered their technique and the coaching is no longer necessary. At this point, the trainer can be fired, but only because the trainer has successfully done their job.
No matter the circumstances, when you know it’s time to fire your personal trainer, don’t be afraid to speak up. Request a new trainer or ask for a refund if you haven’t received an appropriate level of service. Remember, you are the client. It’s your body, your money, and your life. You deserve only the best personal trainer available, so don’t settle for anything less.
I've created a guide to help you evaluate a potential personal trainer.
It can be difficult to stay fit while traveling, as there are many distractions and obstacles to overcome. However, if you keep a few pointers in mind, it is actually quite easy to stay on track with your fitness routine while on the go.
The main struggle that many people face when traveling is related to food. Airport or gas stations have largely bad choices—cookies, chips, and candy bars. The key is to plan ahead. Bring food with you. If you’re travelling by car, this is easy to do with the help of a cooler. It’s also important to research food options of where you’re traveling. You may even have the ability to cook your own meals in your hotel room, depending on your accommodations.
Another obstacle is working out while on the road. To make sure you stick with your fitness plan, it is crucial that you pack your workout clothes to hold yourself accountable. Do a little research on the hotel gym or local gyms to see what might work best for you. You can always opt to do body weight workouts instead. If you’re a runner, try to find some local trails and enjoy an added opportunity to see the city.
It’s also important to ensure that you’re monitoring your hydration, both for over hydration and dehydration. You need to make sure your body is getting sufficient electrolytes and sodium so that the moisture is absorbed by the body’s cells. If you’re on a long international flight, it’s important to get up every 30 minutes to move and stretch your legs. This will help prevent possible blood clots.
Travelling can be a stressful experience. You can mitigate this stress by recognizing your triggers and finding practices to manage them, such as meditation, getting a massage, or enjoying the outdoors. Make sure you get enough sleep and try your best to mimic your normal sleep ritual at home. By taking these simple steps, you can help to ensure you will stay fit while traveling.
In today’s episode, we explore smart phone apps and their usefulness to support your health and fitness journey. As background, I found it useful to solicit feedback from a user group in order to get a broader overview into the apps that many people are using concerning health and fitness.
Smart phones are great tools and we can use them to enhance our health and fitness. Many of the apps do continually change and often the functionality in one app is similar to the functionality in another app.
In this episode, we discuss the variety of food and nutrition apps which allow you to track your food intake, calculate and track calories and nutrients. We also discuss the wide variety of fitness apps, such as those that are specific (running apps), those that provide exercise videos and training guidance. There are also apps that act as timers for HIIT (high intensity interval training) and Tabata workouts. And let us not forget out mental health, and there are apps designed to guide you through the meditation process or those that provide white noise. While not necessarily apps, we also explore activity trackers that can sync to an app so you can have real time monitoring of your activity levels.
I encourage you to do the research and explore the wide variety of health and fitness apps that are available for your smart phone.
Two years ago, Lorraine had turned 59 years old and was severely overweight. Her weight had gradually increased since her early 30s. Now, she had arthritis and fibromyalgia. She was finding it hard to move and couldn’t walk more than a quarter-mile without pain and stopping to rest. Lorraine felt horrible physically and this was affecting her mentally. She wanted to make a commitment to health and fitness, but didn’t feel that she had the ability to change on her own.
When a trainer opened studio near her home, she considered making a change. With her husband’s support, Lorraine went in for her first workout in June 2014. Her trainer suggested using My Fitness Pal to log her food intake, which she did. She began working with her trainer twice a week and was quickly seeing results. She previously believed it was impossible for her body to lose weight. Yet in her first week, she lost weight. This encouraged her to keep going.
Lorraine’s trainer soon had her doing step ups, resistance bands, light dumbbells, and body weight exercises. Lorraine also walked twice a week when she wasn’t working with her trainer. She began walking one mile, but progressed over time. In the two years since starting her fitness journey, Lorraine went from 301 pounds to 170 pounds. She has lost over 17 inches on her hips and 14 inches on her waist. She is soon walking in her second 10K event and recently began a Couch to 5K running program. Lorraine can now walk two to three miles at a time without stopping.
Lorraine needed focus and accountability. She knew what she needed to do, but she had not been able to do it on her own. She advises others to take small steps and handle one thing at a time. Whatever you are capable of doing, do it and keep building on it every day. Establish a plan and then execute. Don’t sit around and wait for motivation. Lorraine knows this is a true commitment to health and fitness.