What if It’s not Physical?

liftWhat if the reason you can’t lose weight or reach your fitness goal isn’t a physical issue. What if the perfect and consistent diet and exercise routine just isn’t cutting it? Then what? Do you keep doing the same thing because it’s the “right” thing to do? Even so, doing more of what isn’t working doesn’t make it work any better.

The problem is, the standard approach to reaching our fitness goals is too linear. It seems just about any wellness aspiration is achieved through diet and exercise. I disagree. If we want to make real, sustainable change, we need to look beyond our waistline and at the bigger picture of our lifestyle.

The top 5 reasons I’m seeing why people can’t lose weight and how I would help them achieve their goals:

1. Disbelief: there is a fundamental lack of belief in themselves, generally driven by upbringing / previous experiences
Traditional Solution: Diet and Exercise
Whole-Person Approach: Believe in them more than they believe in themselves until they learn how to

2. Financial stress: when you’re in survival mode because you can’t pay your bills, it’s difficult justifying making it to boot camp
Traditional Solution: Diet and Exercise
Whole-Person Approach: Enroll them in a financial management course

3. Worry / anxiety: constantly thinking about the worst case scenario that expends a tremendous amount of energy and is distracting to what’s important
Traditional Solution: Diet and Exercise
Whole-Person Approach: Teach them how to replace worry with constructive habits

4. Lack of priorities: when you’re overcommitted, you will naturally under deliver in every aspect of your life
Traditional Solution: Diet and Exercise
Whole-Person Approach: Identify the most important activities and teach them how to starting say no to everything else

5. Guilt: societal pressures can make us feel that spending “too much” time on ourselves is a bad thing
Traditional Solution: Diet and Exercise
Whole-Person Approach: Shape a perspective that taking care of oneself is selfless as it positions us to care for others even better

There’s a serious benefit to nourishing and moving our bodies but if your fundamental needs as a human being are not met, weight loss and your fitness goals are simply not a priority. We need to start treating people as people, not as objects with a fitness goal.

The space in between…

11-wharariki-beach-the-space-between-bOne of the most difficult changes to make are behavior changes. But that’s only because you may not be aware of the space in between.

A sustainable behavior change is near impossible if you lack presence in your life and awareness of your thoughts and actions.

Let’s say you realize you’re _____(insert self medicating behavior)_____ to deal with stress and you’re  aware it’s not a constructive method of coping with life and you want to stop.

So you try to just stop but find it difficult to change your negative behavior because while unhealthy, it offers instant gratification. Plus, it’s easier to fall back into the path of least resistance than it is to overcome it. If you want a new result, you’ll have to try a new approach.

Before nearly every action you perform on day to day basis, there is a thought which precedes it. For most of us, there is little to no space between our thoughts and actions.

THOUGHT  (I can’t believe he said that) > ACTION (eat a bag of potato chips) > THOUGHT (Why did I do that) > ACTION (Take a spin class)

In this first scenario, you may not have been aware of the thought that lead to the action. Unfortunately, this form of managing stress only leads to more stress without resolve.

THOUGHT  (I can’t believe he said that) > ACTION (take 5 deep breaths and process) > THOUGHT (Maybe he had a bad day) > ACTION (Talk to him about it tomorrow)

In this second scenario, a more constructive approach was taken and the resolution didn’t involve self-sabotage, a true win on all fronts.

Place yourself in the drivers seat of behavior change by focusing on the space in between your thoughts and your actions, it’s where your personal transformation lives.

The power of will

FullSizeRenderI was chatting with my neighbor the other day and I noticed a weed had pushed through the foundation of his house and through joint sealer to make its way above ground. I couldn’t help but think: man, that’s some serious will power. Could you imagine having a conversation with that weed?

Me: So, what are you up to today?

Weed: Oh, just doing my thing, I’m gonna make my way through this concrete to reach the sun on the other side of it.

 

Me: WOW, it sounds like you’ve really got your work cut out for you.

Weed: I guess if that’s how you want to look at it, I just know my objective.

 

Me: Well, I mean, that sounds really difficult, you could fail and feel let down.

Weed: That’s funny but I guess you haven’t realized I’ve become so strong by overcoming hard work and setbacks.

 

Me: You mean enduring hardships and overcoming adversity has made you stronger?

Weed: Yep, they were opportunities disguised as obstacles that helped me grow.

 

Me: Geez, I wish I were as confident as you are.

Weed: I wish you’d stop cutting me when I make it above ground.

 

I realized later that day, our lack of will comes from our lack of belief in ourselves. No one ever told the weed it couldn’t do it and that’s why it did.

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or otherwise, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” Bruce Lee

Actions don’t speak louder than words…

tiger-dirk-freder-ispOne statement that’s overused and misunderstood is “actions speak louder than words”. I’m not going to play dumb and deny that taking constructive actions towards a desired change isn’t important but the statement implies you’re not making progress if you’re not taking action and that’s untrue. In fact, that’s exactly what you should be doing: speaking before acting. Words inevitably always precede actions.

Lets apply that statement to making a purchase decision. Think about a TV advertisement where you just learned of a new product. You don’t buy it (take action) the first time you see it. You may see it 7-10 times before you even consider making a decision; your mind is essentially “talking” about it first. As you contemplate whether this new item could provide a potential value, you’re not being ridiculed for thinking about it.  Somehow someone feels we should be acting fundamentally different when it comes to making important decisions regarding our health and well-being.

The long and short is before you ever take any action towards improving your health, you first contemplate taking the action. At this point, there is usually a lot of internal dialogue, helping you determine if this is a good decision to make. As you continue to ponder the thought and there is more positive than negative perception of benefit, you’ll move into a phase of preparation. During this phase, your internal voice tends to become more external and you’re bouncing the idea off people to see if they feel it’s a good decision, in turn, justifying your intentions.

We must appreciate that these two phases of change (contemplation and preparation) occur long before we ever take action. Back to the statement, it really depends on how you’re measuring success. If only by action, then you’re kinda right but if you’re appreciating change as a process, you’re kinda wrong.

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

What you did is not as important as why you did it!

Unknown-4You’re on the quest to take your health to the next level and you’re dedicated to working out, eating right and getting plenty of rest. Then, life happened, you were thrown a curve ball, which affected your plan for the day. So to deal with the frustration, you cheated, you went off track, you made a decision inconsistent with where and who you wanted to be. That’s OK but what you did is not near as important as why you did it.

Lets put emotions aside for just a sec and try to look at this situation rationally. Something unexpectedly happened and you missed your favorite workout class so you went home and took it out on your pantry. Soooo, unexpected events = making poor health decisions, hmmm?!

What you did was clear (no guilt) but why you did it is worth investigating. You used food to as a tool to control your emotions. If the objective is to find comfort, food can be your best friend. However, if the objective is to constructively deal with a difficult situation without sabotaging your health initiative, then food is not the answer.

This is only a bad situation if you haven’t learned anything from it. You realize emotionally eating doesn’t change what happened nor does it minimize future setbacks. Therefore, when life happens again, and it will, what’s another way of dealing with it that doesn’t sideline your objectives?

Telling you what do actually doesn’t help you because it takes you out of the equation to forming a solution. What do you think is a more constructive way of dealing with it…breathing deeply to process, going for a walk to think through it or calling a friend for support?

One tactic I’ve found helpful to gain some perspective is to think about a friend who has similar goals to me and had the same thing happen to them. What advice would I offer them? Would I suggest emotional eating as the solution? A little dose of perspective goes a long ways.

Next time life rains on your parade, can you make a supportive decision just once? Then, connect the dots that there are alternative ways to managing stress that don’t involved disrupting your agenda. You alone are your own solution to your own situation. Think of your health and well being as a management process, in which you are the CEO.

Acting As If

CatLionSo you have a health and fitness goal to lose some weight or become more flexible. That’s great! How are you going to achieve your goal? Here’s a thought: begin with the end in mind.

Take five minutes to consider what your Life will be like once you have behaved yourself into becoming who you want to be. Then, start acting as if. Act as if you’re already there. Act as if you’re already maintaining it. Act as if you got past the setbacks. Act with such certainty that you know your goal will come to pass, it’s simply a matter of time.

On a day-to-day basis, move as if you were meant to lead this lifestyle. Eat as if you care what foods enter your body. Sleep as if you’re still going through puberty. Love as if you only had 30 days to live.

Keep acting as if and the evidence of your goals will soon catch up to your actions.

For who and for what?

For who and for whatAs a movement professional, I’m often asked: Is this a good exercise? My answer is always the same: For who and for what? Who’s the person and what’s their goal? Minus knowing that, how can I give good advice? I don’t subscribe to protocols where everyone gets the same treatment. Here are a few examples of questions I receive often and the endless amount of responses based on the individual asking the question:

 

Is running better than walking?

– If you’re preparing to run your first 5K—yes!

– If you’ve never run before and it’s to burn more calories—no!

– If you’ve been walking regularly and you’d like to increase the challenge—yes!

– If you’ve had a knee replacement that’s been improperly rehabbed—no!

– If you’re in pain after a run but not a walk—no!

 

Is it better to lift light or heavy weights?

– If you’re lifting for golf, keep it light.

– If you’re training for your first bodybuilding competition, go heavy.

– If you’re in a competitive setting and you’re trying to win, respect your threshold.

– If you’re worried about bulking up from lifting heavy weights, educate yourself but do what makes you feel good.

– If your trying to lean out, focus on your eating habits.

 

Should I go fast or should I go slow?

– If you’re just stating out, go slow and progress accordingly.

– If you’re training for your first fencing competition, go fast.

– Go slow in deeper ranges of motion and fast in shorter ranges of motion.

– If you’re trying to set a new PR but your lower back hurts, slow down.

– If your house is burning down and your dog is in it, go really fast.

 

As you can see, the answer isn’t always the same. It depends…who’s the person and what’s their goal? Make decisions that make you feel good. If you feel uncertain, be conservative and cautious. If you tolerate it well, progress, if you do too much, regress. In the end, if you’re connected to what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, the answers often become clear.

 

Creating Efficiency in Your Life

choicesEver wish you had an extra hour in your day to do more? Want to know how to find it? Do less. I’d like to share how you can create a lifestyle of efficiency; how to put forth the least amount of effort and get the maximum return on your investment of time spent.

In order to create an efficient lifestyle, you have to consider how you’re currently leading your life. Where are the energy leaks? Where are you doing more than you have to? Here are a few gems I share with my clients to help them get more out of life:

1. How are you responding to situations, including people?
Are you reactive or responsive? Do you get worked up or stay calm, cool and collected? Are you thinking about what you want to say before the other person is done or really listening and calculating an intelligent response? Do you get upset over things you have no control over or just let it go? Do you hold grudges or offer forgiveness? Do you tell the same problematic stories to multiple people or think it through and act accordingly? One choice is an energy drain and the other is not.

2. How are you fueling your body?
Are you consuming fast foods or whole foods? Are you living to eat or eating to live? Are your choices creating inflammation or nourishment? Are you in the diet frame of mind or making choices consistent with the lifestyle you desire? Are you instantly gratifying or delaying for long term satisfaction? Are you downing coffee or energy drinks to make up for a lack of rest or calling lights out because you matter? One choice is an energy drain and the other is not.

3. How are you moving your body?
Do you exercise intensely or not at all? Are you sore and beat up after a workout or feel refreshed and energetic? Do you integrate recovery work into your routine or reserve it for when you’re injured? Is a good workout measured by how much you’re sweating and how many calories you’re burning or by the fact you’ve shown up and given it your best? Are you training for the beach or conditioning for life? One choice is an energy drain and the other is not.

The choices we make either add to us or take from us. One choice leads to effectiveness and the other leads to efficiency. One choice makes us feel great about ourselves and the other can lead to feelings of guilt or regret. Which choices are you making?

Who You Are vs What You Do

Question-MarkAre you working out to reach a goal or lead a lifestyle?

Is it on your mind 3 days a week or a daily effort?

Are you on-again, off-again or have you found a balance?

Does life get in the way or do you anticipate obstacles?

Are you going through the motions or fully engaged?

Do you dread the thought of it or couldn’t imagine missing out?

Are you wondering how to make it happen or acting “as if”?

Do you have cheat days or is your mindset tuned to 80/20?

Are you in survival mode or leading life in a thriving state?

When what you do is driven by who you are, improving your health and well-being is seen as a privilege, not a chore. If you’re dieting and exercising, you’ve missed the point. When you’re dedicated to a quality of life marked by healthy movement, nourishing food, quality rest and loving support, you’re on point.

Why the F-word isn’t Associated with Working Out

liveI’ve been serving people in the health and fitness industry for 15 years now and I don’t recall anyone ever associating the word FUN with working out. After all, it’s movement, an expression of life, not a chore or a punishment. Seems like it’s not the workout that’s the problem, it our mindset.

Believe it or not, the time I invest in myself “working out”, or as I like to put it, moving my body, I really enjoy it. Now I’m not a gym rat needing a fix; or a genetics freak who’s driven by how I need to look this summer. I’m an everyday guy who enjoys life experiences and realizes movement is life and without it, I couldn’t take advantage of all life has to offer.

It’s important to mention that I didn’t always feel this way. I was initially attracted to lifting weights because I really appreciated bodybuilding as a sport. I adopted the no pain, no gain mentality and I thought you had to put up or shut up. Needless to say, I now realize this was a very one-dimensional and linear approach to achieving optimal well-being.

Let me share how I think about “working out” so that perhaps you may learn to love moving your body as I do. As previously mentioned, it’s an expression of life; if I’m not moving, I’m dead and I don’t want to die, I want to live life and enjoy it. Moving is an opportunity to explore my abilities. I didn’t realize how much I was capable of achieving until I started asking of myself. I like how moving makes my mind feel; I feel worthwhile and confident and I appreciate being me when I’m done.

As I was writing this post, it occurred to me that working out is really a matter of working in — on the inside — how I think, how I feel, what I believe, what I value, how I love and how I live.

I hope this message sparks something in you to want to move your body. Don’t do it to lose weight; do it because you can, because it’s a gift and because it’s fun.

“It’s a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the strength and beauty of which his body is capable.” Socrates