Tag Archives: live well

You Made the Resolution….Now What??

24 Jan

goal setting

 

About 3 weeks ago, we all rang in the New Year with a renewed energy, promises of committing (or re-committing) to goals &  a gung-ho, “HELL YEAH!” attitude toward it all.  Well, “they” say it takes approximately 3 weeks to make a behavior (or lack of behavior) a habit.  So by now, everyone should be well on their way to achieving their New Years Resolutions, right?!?!?!  If it were only that simple.

I have talked to friends, family members and clients that have already fallen off their plan and away from their goals.  We aren’t even into the month of February and people are already saying “I just don’t have as much time as I thought I would”; “I’m going to start fresh next month, I’m just too busy this month”; “It got so COLD and by the time I get home from work I’m so tired and I don’t want to go back out”; “Nobody really keeps their New Years Resolutions anyway!”; and the most defeatist of all “There’s always next year!”.  What gives?  WHY are people just giving up and walking away?  Why don’t people believe that they can achieve their goals and then some!?  Here’s my guess…

TOP 5 REASONS PEOPLE DON’T ACHIEVE THEIR NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS:

1) They aren’t serious when they make the resolution in the first place.  It has become something that everyone does and talks about during the holidays.  I would guess that more than 70% of people who list resolutions actually do not have any serious intention on MAKING it happen.

2) They do not put measures in place to GET IT DONE.  Anyone can think up a resolution or goal.  Anyone can tell their family and friends their resolution(s)…New Years Resolutions are almost taken with a grain of salt by others.  But how many folks actually sit down to write them out and then plan the roadmap on HOW to get there.  Saying you want to lose 10 pounds or be able to run an 8 minute mile is one thing.  Figuring out how to CHANGE your current schedule to fit in time to make it happen is quite another.

3) Their goals are not S.M.A.R.T.  (This is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely).  Goals/resolutions can’t be vague, and without specific measurable components.  In order to be achieved they must have some sense of realness to them, or they will be an automatic setup for failure.

4) They follow the crowd when choosing a goal.  Many folks do not stop and take a little time to think about what THEY want to personally/professionally achieve in the upcoming year.  Instead of thinking back and reviewing what has happened in their own lives, they follow what the masses are after.  I want to lose 10 lbs; I want to eat better; I want to be more fit; I want to tone up…the list goes on and on.  Not only are these vague but they are without personal connection.  A Huuuuuge part of staying on track toward goal achievement is constantly reminding yourself WHY you want it.

5) They do not truly BELIEVE they can change their lives.  In order to achieve a goal- ANY goal- you must first have total, 100% belief in yourself.  You must be able to close your eyes and envision yourself achieving this goal.  You must SEE it in your mind’s eye, feel it in your bones, and want it with every fiber of your being.  You must mentally make it a non-negotiable; You don’t stop until its yours.  Having others around to support and motivate you can be an enormous help, but if you don’t believe in yourself their words will be meaningless.

If you relate with any (or all) of the above 5 points, fear not, there’s still time to turn it all around!  Here are some suggestions on how you can get back on track and move toward your goals/resolutions.

FIVE TIPS TO GET BACK ON TRACK TOWARD YOUR GOALS/RESOLUTIONS

1)  Make sure your goal is something you WANT.  Do not jump on board with your roommate, best friend, partner, or sibling just because.  Take some time to sit down and figure out what change(s) you’d like to see in your life.  Derive your goals from there.

2)  Make your goals S.M.A.R.T.  Remember the acronym from above: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.  Do not make a vague goal such as “I want to lose weight” or “I want to tone up”.  Instead have a goal of “I want to lose 1 lb a week for 10 weeks by exercising for X mins a day for X days per week,  eating more fruits, veggies, lean proteins & cutting out soda and fried food”….Or “I want to be able to do 10 push ups on the floor by May…I will do so by signing up with a personal trainer at my gym and getting a personalized strength training program made for me”

3)  Make room for changes.  Some of the best advice I’ve ever received is “Nothing changes if nothing changes”.  It couldn’t be more true.  If you do not make changes in your daily routine, food intake, exercise regimen, interactions with people, etc… then you can’t expect any changes to happen to the bottom line.  Your day-to-day will need to feel a bit different, because it will need to BE a bit different.

4)  Believe you can get it done.  Think about the goal you want so badly that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get there.  Close your eyes and picture getting it done.  Picture being there, at the “finish line”.  Think about how you feel both physically and mentally.  Channel those thoughts and that energy into your efforts in the journey.  You must truly believe in your ability to get to the finish.

5)  WRITE IT DOWN.  This point definitely gets wrapped up in a few other points above, but deserves its own.  I can not emphasize enough the power of the written word.  It doesn’t take much to think about or even talk about doing something.  But it takes a higher level of dedication to sit and write it out on paper.  It makes it more real, it puts it right there in front of your face.  Write down your goal (In INK or MARKER) and hang it somewhere you can see it.  Also write down WHY you want to achieve the goal.  Seeing these statements day in and day out will keep it fresh in your brain.  It will help to keep your fire burning!

 

So what now?  Go. Get. It. Done.  If you’ve fallen off the Resolution wagon, review these points and get back on!!!! If you’re chugging along full force but know someone who could use a hand, send them this blog post and offer to help them out.  There’s no reason an entire year of hopeful change should be sacrificed before the first month is over.  Dream it then DO it!

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One of “those days”

16 Dec

Yesterday I had one of “those days”.  The kind of day where you just feel “off”; you’re not yourself and you can’t shake the negative energy.  Despite sticking to my Monday Makeover of getting 7.5-8hrs of sleep per night for the past week and a half, I felt tired.  Not so much physically tired, but mentally and emotionally tired.  Nothing tragic or horrible  happened, I simply did not feel like myself.

I just couldn’t ignore the feelings of crankiness and exhaustion; I couldn’t shake the funk.  It was effortful to smile, to put on a happy face & all I wanted to do is sleep.  I made plans with a friend to attend my first Bikram Yoga class, and I had been looking forward to it for a long time.  I am not one to break plans and hate going back on my word, but I had to bow out [sorry H$, thanks for being understanding…i love you].

Sounds horrible, right??  I realized that it’s not so bad.  After discussing my mood with a few close friends I realized a possible cause of this funk.   I needed some “me” time.  I spend so much time doing other things and rarely take down time for myself.  I don’t particularly like watching TV and get antsy when I have to sit still for long periods of time.  I like moving, playing, exercising & being active.  I consider all of these things to be cathartic for me, and they work 95% of the time.  But in that other 5%, I now realize that I need to do something else. I need to do nothing!  I need to learn how to relax and not feel guilty for being “lazy”. I am only human and can’t be expected to be “on” all the time.  Last night I enjoyed an evening of being “off”.  I stayed off the computer, off my phone, off of work; I simply disconnected.  I watched 2 DVD’s worth of Will & Grace episodes, enjoyed a glass of half Pinot Noir & half Seltzer water, laughed & relaxed.  I got to bed early and woke up this morning feeling much better.

It’s amazing that a little R&R can take the funk away!  No more cranky mood, no more exhaustion.  I am now ready for a lovely weekend ahead!!

How about you?  Do you ever get into a funk?  Ever have one of “those days”??  How do you shake it?

Half Marathon Training: week 2 recap

15 Aug

As I stated in my previous posts,  I am running the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon on October 2nd, and am blogging about my training progress.  I am doing this both for my own benefit (its my first half marathon and I’m excited to hear ideas/tips/suggestions/advice from veteran half marathon runners) and also to share my experience with others!

Week two brought its own little lesson for me: footwear is IMPORTANT!!!  I ran my first week (of 9 total training weeks) with my existing running shoes – Nike Free Run 2–  which I love.  I had run up to a 10k in them previously, but wanted new shoes for my Half training which will log many long miles.  I went to Marathon Sports in Wellesley and was there for about an hour and a half.  A very knowledgeable sales associate tested my gait, took the time to hear my concerns/injury history and chose several pairs of shoes she thought would be a good fit for me.  I tried on a pair of Newtons, a pair of Saucony Kinvara 2, and a pair of New Balance.  The sales associate told me to take a run outside in each pair, to get a feel for them.  I did about 5-7 trial runs in total.  Some of them I did with 2 different shoes on.  In the end, I decided on the Newtons because they gave me extra support where I needed it (n my injured left ankle) while staying on the “minimal” side.  They were pretty expensive, and as I made my way to the register I started second guessing my decision.  The sales associate said that I could take them home for my next run (4 miles) and if I wanted to swap them out for another pair, I could come back the next day and do so.  This was pretty impressive to me.  It was that fact, combined with the 20% personal trainer discount, that sealed the deal.

The new sneakers have taken a LOT of getting used to.  They are a “minimal” shoe but they are unlike any other pair I’ve worn in the past.  The first 1-1.5 miles of each run in them has been difficult; my body is not yet comfortable in them and I feel totally off.  I ran 4 miles and the next day ran 6 miles in them.  At the end of each run, I felt fine and my ankle tendonitis has not given me any extra noticeable problems.  There was one point at which I thought I would have to turn around on my 6 mile run and go home to change back into my old sneakers.  As I continued on in my loop (to head back home), I was able to adjust my stride and foot fall so that I felt comfortable.  The shoe definitely helps to absorb the heelstrike that happens as a result of my tendonitis in my left ankle.  I have decided to hang onto the shoes, despite their $140 price tag.  If there’s anything worth putting a little extra money into, its the shoes that will be on my feet for miles and miles (and miles) to come. 

Plus, they’re bright orange…my favorite color! 😉

Exercise burnout: what is it, and how can it be avoided?

15 Aug

Exercise burnout is a term I hear all the time amongst colleagues and clients.  I hear stories of folks who have been going to the gym; doing their routine day in and day out, over and over, and are getting quite sick and tired of it.  The workout that once brought them relief from the stress of a long day now is a looming monster.  It serves as another obstacle and another stress bomb to face before unwinding for the evening.  The pleasure and satisfaction once gleaned from pumping iron, hitting the cardio machines, and getting a good sweat has long been replaced with boredom, annoyance, resentment, and anger.  For some, the burnout goes beyond the mental exhaustion and carries over to physical exhaustion as well.  People overuse, overwork, and over train their bodies to the point of intense exhaustion, bodily fatigue, and injury.  Without time off the body has no time to rest and repair itself, leaving it always playing catch-up and never operating at 100%.  [and if you want to BE your best, you gotta BRING your best!]

Why does this happen to so many people and so often?  What causes people to reach the point of such profound burnout?  I believe it stems from the lack of understanding the importance of two concepts: diversity and rest.  The first of the two, diversity in exercise,  is crucial to practice in order to avoid burnout, boredom, and injury.  Most people get into a routine at the gym: they come in, use certain machines [because they know and feel comfortable with them] and then leave.  They do this day in and day out.  While ANY exercise/activity will initially produce change and results, eventually the body gets used to the same repetitive motion/action [our bodies are so much smarter than we give them credit for!!] and the benefits begin to diminish.  What once produced significant calorie burn and muscle hypertrophy will, over time, no longer be challenging.  Exercise is meant to be progressive, that is changing and becoming more challenging as a person’s fitness level increases.  Without progression a person’s fitness level becomes “stuck”.  The elliptical machine might still say you’re burning X number of calories every time you get on it, but the calorie counters on cardio machines are rarely accurate and do not take into account enough information to make a precise assessment of what’s going on during the workout. 

In order to maximize the benefits of exercise, you MUST change it up!!! Don’t get comfortable using that one specific machine [3rd elliptical from the left, right by the TV that always plays BRAVO], instead discover something new! Give your body and your mind a new challenge.  Hop on a machine that you’ve never used before.  Its okay, it won’t bite!  And if you don’t know how to use it, just start pedaling and something will happen!  All else fails, ask a staff member at your gym to show you how to properly use it!   If that doesn’t sound appealing, find an activity outdoors that piques your interest: rollerblading, biking, swimming, hiking, walking, running.  If you’ve never done it before, try it!! The key is to always change it up.  Instead of spinning 5 days a week, try using the stair master, treadmill or ARC trainer.   If you’re a hard-core runner, try spin on one of your cardio days!  Something else to consider is group fitness classes; many gyms offer a wide variety of classes that are different from what goes on out on the cardio/weight room floor.   This also applies to strength training; if you are simply lifting barbells and dumbbells, try a body weight circuit or a Bootcamp class.  Increase sets, reps, and try doing unilateral exercises instead of bilateral.  Throwing a change into the mix will confuse your body and produce greater results.  And not only will this keep you from getting bored, but it will prevent you from getting injured.  Because exercise diversity forces you to work different muscles in different ways, it strengthens the body from different angles and gives all body parts a chance to work.   No single muscle (or muscle group) will be overused or over trained, and no muscle will be left under trained or ignored.

The second factor I believe contributes to exercise burnout is lack of rest.  When people get serious about working out and get into a groove, they rarely give themselves time to rest and repair.   They are so caught up with and focused on their goal [losing weight, gaining muscle, training for an event, transforming their bodies and minds, etc] that they may start to believe a day of rest will put them behind schedule and a day further away from reaching their goal.  Let me say: REST IS A MUST!!!  Exercise puts the body through the wringer: muscle fibers rip and tear apart during strength training, and we take a beating moving around during cardio exercise.  The work does not happen when we are in the gym, on the court, track or street.  The work- the lean muscle repair and growth, and fat loss- happen when we are asleep and otherwise at rest.  One day of FULL rest from exercise per week is recommended for people working out at a moderate intensity on a regular basis.  I personally believe that of the 7 days in a week, one day should be full rest and another should be an “Active Recovery” day.  Active Recovery can be anything that is LOW impact, does not raise the heart rate to its maximal levels, and is considered fun!  For my active rest, I enjoy going for a walk, taking a yoga class, or doing the elliptical for 15-20 minutes on a low setting.  Other folks enjoy doing Zumba or other dance classes for active recovery.  The remaining 5 days can be devoted to training well and training hard. 

Exercise burnout can cause people to abandon their workout routine all together.   This can lead to further deviation from a healthy lifestyle- becoming inactive, abandoning healthy eating habits, and allowing the mental muscle to weaken considerably.  In extreme cases, focus and determination become lost to apathy and self-loathing.  Don’t let yourself get to that point!!  If you feel yourself getting there, stop and check the nature of your routine.  Are you bored? Do you need to diversify your workout? Go ahead, try something new TODAY!  Are you letting yourself rest? Or have you been exercising hard every day for the past 2+ weeks?? Take a day of rest; it will do you a world of good! 

Have you ever experienced exercise burnout? What caused it? And how did you combat it?

just cuz it hurts doesn’t mean it works!

9 Aug

On an average day of work at Beacon Hill Athletic Clubs I see a handful of people doing exercises with improper form.  Sometimes they just need a small tweak or two in the way they execute the exercise and sometime their form is so grossly off that I wonder what they are trying to accomplish.  I absolutely understand that not everyone knows the proper mechanics and it is this very fact that often deters people [especially women] from doing any strength/resistance training.  It is only normal to start out as a novice and then, with the tutelage of a certified professional, become more knowledgeable.  Eventually you can make your way around the weight room with an understanding of which exercises work which muscles, and the proper form for lifting.  I commend and respect those folks who take the time and make the effort to learn to train properly.  It makes a world of difference: results come quicker and last longer, injury is avoided, and with it all comes the satisfaction of knowing things are being done properly! 

But what drives me nuts more than anything else is when people exercise with improper form and then say “wow I’m so sore today, that was a GREAT workout yesterday!” At the risk of sounding crass and a little harsh, here’s a little newsflash: just because it hurts doesn’t mean it works!!!! Yes it is absolutely true that the day(or two) following resistance/strength training, the muscles worked will feel sore [and should have at least a day of rest before they are used in this capacity again].  This is due to muscle hypertrophy, or the growth and increase in size of the muscle cells.  This is a good, healthy thing and is indicative of gains in strength.  However, there are PLENTY of other reasons why muscles may be sore the day after a workout.  Lifting weights in a way that makes your muscles hurt/ache/feel sore during the exercise itself or after does NOT necessarily mean you’re doing things the right way.  Bones, ligaments, tendons,  nerves, and other important parts of the body can be severely injured doing exercises improperly. 

Don’t put yourself at risk for injury, don’t be an inefficient exerciser, and don’t be your body’s own greatest risk.  Take the time and make the effort to work with a trainer and learn how to do things properly.  Your body will thank you!

Ready to do it to it?!?! Email me and lets WORK IT OUTTT!!!!!  lucky13fitness@gmail.com

Run like the wind!!!!

26 Jul

I have been talking with people recently about running; more specifically about running races.  It seems that everywhere I go I find someone who is training for a race of some sort, from 5k all the way up to a full marathon.   This week I joined those in training and signed myself up for the  Smuttynose Half Marathonon October 2nd.  (This will be my last race in my 20’s, yikes!!!)  People have been asking me the same questions and I thought I’d respond via blog for everyone to view… I also would love other people’s input, and hear other training strategies/regimens.

The #1 question I have heard is “How can I make my pace faster and my mile time better?”  My answer to this is INTERVALS.  I have found interval training to be beneficial in many ways and has helped me shave time off my mile, improve my endurance, and made me a better runner in general.  Often times when training for races, people fail to incorporate speed and/or hill workouts.  This is, to use a buzzword, an epic fail.  Sure, standard training programs that gradually increase mileage are effective, but they do not best prepare you for race day.  Incorporating speed and hill intervals into your training will boost your overall performance and ability to perform at your BEST on race day.

Speed intervals can be done on a track or a treadmill.  There are several different ways to approach speed intervals, but start off basic.  Start out by doing a 5 minute warmup… Then jog at a steady state pace (5 out of 10) for a minute, and then crank it out to a full out sprint for 30 seconds.  After 30 seconds, bring it back down to the steady state pace for another minute, and then- yep you guessed it- sprint again for 30 seconds.   Do this 2:1 ratio for a total of 20 minutes. 

Once you’ve mastered the basic interval, you can change it up by doing 1:1 intervals, or speed workouts of varying lengths.  I found a GREAT article that gives several examples of speed workouts for runners of all levels.

Hill intervals can be done on a treadmill or on your neighborhood hill of choice (pick a tough one!)  Start out by doing a 5 minute warmup, and then attack the hill.  My favorite hill workout is the following “pyramid” which has 8 sprints of varying length.  Remember- always sprint 100% up the hill, and slowly jog back down for recovery:

1) sprint up 1/4 hill (3.0 incline on treadmill)

2) sprint up 1/2 hill (6.0 incline on treadmill)

3) sprint up 3/4 hill (9.0 incline on treadmill)

4) sprint to the top of the hill (12.o incline on treadmill)

5) sprint to the top of the hill (12.0 incline on treadmill)

6) sprint 3/4 hill (9.0 incline on treadmill)

7) sprint 1/2 hill (6.0 incline on treadmill)

8) sprint 1/4 hill (3.0 incline on treadmill)

Do a 5 min jog cooldown and call it a day!

Other questions I’ve been asked have to do with shoe type and pre/post run eating.  To answer the first question, I suggest that the first step in race training should be a trip to Marathon Sports, City Sports, or a similar store.  Find a sales associate who KNOWS footwear and who can help you analyze your foot pronation type (if you don’t know it already) and fit you with the appropriate shoe.  It is also helpful to inform the sales associate that you are training for a race so that they may take into account how many miles you’ll be logging/week. 

In regards to pre/post run eating, check out my blog that outlines just that!!

Training for an event of any type is a GREAT way to keep on track with exercising regularly, and sticking to a program in order to achieve a goal.  Get a friend to commit with you and sign up for a race/event and then use each other as motivation to train regularly.  Races of all types and distances can be found at Runners World

Lace up those sneakers and hit the pavement!!!

components of fitness: do you treat them equally?

14 Jul

There are several key components to fitness- cardiovascular exercise, strength/resistance training, flexibility- and everyone naturally gravitates to their favorite.  Some people love to do cardio; they want to run, bike, or swim for every workout and have little or no desire to do much else.  Others would gladly spend every day in the weight room, and consider a workout filled with lifting heavy to be a success.  Still others can be found in the group fitness rooms and private studios practicing Yoga and taking Pilates (and other similar) classes.  Personally, my poison is running.  For me, nothing compares to logging mile after mile and ending it soaked with sweat, enveloped by a Runner’s High.

 No matter which component we like best, most of the time we pay so much attention to one area that we end up neglecting other components of fitness.   You know what I’m talking about.  You could do your exercise of choice all day long, but it might take a friend and a large sum of money for you to consider doing the other things you don’t find to be “fun”.  We are all guilty of it. And we dont always realize how detrimental this is to our overall fitness level, and ability to perform at our best.

One of my favorite quotes that I write/say/think about often is “That which we resist persists.”  I apply it to so many situations in life, and this one is no exception.  The components of fitness which we ignore, put off, and neglect are those which will persistently find their way back into our lives.  Don’t like resistance training?  You won’t get that nice firm, toned look you’re going for….toning muscle means you need to HAVE some in the first place.   And that means lifting weights.  Loathe cardio workouts?  No matter how heavy you lift, nothing can replace the myriad benefits of raising your heart rate.  Don’t be surprised when you can’t make it up a few flights of stairs without huffing and puffing.   Can’t be bothered with stretching/flexibility?  Your range of motion, ability to move, and lift properly is going to be severely compromised.   When we ignore ANY component of fitness we are allowing ourselves to work in an inefficient manner, and ultimately are putting ourselves at risk for injury.   As if that’s not reason enough to start diversifying, giving attention to the less “fun” parts of fitness will make you better at what you love to do.   When I started incorporating more flexibility work into my routine, I was amazed to find that my running stride improved and I was even able to take some time off my mile. 

Bottom line: the core components of fitness are each important in their own right.  Each serve a unique purpose and all complement one another.  We may prefer one over the others but we owe it to our body to be creative and find a way to incorporate them ALL.  Sign up for a class, get a gym buddy, buy a pass to a Yoga studio, etc.    Give yourself a new challenge!

What component of fitness is your least favorite?  How do/will you incorporate it into your routine?