Every day I receive a “Today’s Word” email from Joel and Victoria Osteen. Admittedly, I don’t read them every day. I do manage to read most of them. This morning’s email is entitled, “Pursue Your Strengths.”
Below is an excerpt from the email.
“God has equipped each one of us with specific gifts and talents. It’s up to each of us to identify those gifts and be disciplined enough to develop them. You have to learn to stay in your strength zone. What are you naturally good at? What do you enjoy doing? Take the time to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and as the Scripture says, give yourself to your gifts. In other words, don’t spend all your time trying to improve your weaknesses. Don’t waste valuable days pursuing things that are outside your main gifting. Focus on your strengths. Be bold and step out in the area of your gifting.”
I couldn’t help but to think about how today’s word overlaps with fitness and wellness.
BE DISCIPLINED ENOUGH TO DEVELOP.
Consistency. Perseverance. Will. Planned. Purposeful. These are essential ingredients to staying disciplined. Repetition of healthy habits translates into personal and physical development and growth.
STAY IN YOUR STRENGTH ZONE.
Listen to your body and find your “sweet spot.” This is that special place where you know you are pushing yourself enough to grow, feel challenged, and a little bit uncomfortable. Our bodies love to go through a process called General Adaptation Syndrome*. As a result, we must keep it guessing with purposeful and diverse exercises.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING?
This is something I always ask my clients during their consultation. It’s super important for exercise to be fun and challenging. In the words of famous ice creamster, Jerry Greenfield, “if it’s not fun, why do it?” If you don’t know what you enjoy doing, start trying new things. Have fun experimenting with new healthy activities to find your niche!
Disclaimer: I sincerely apologize if I now have you thinking about ice cream and you’re trying to keep this yummy delicious treat to a minimum in your diet. (I scream. You scream. We all scream for what? ICE CREAM!)
IMPROVE YOUR WEAKNESSES.
Although the article suggests to not focus on your weaknesses, part of the fitness and wellness journey is to hold a mirror up to your daily healthy or not-so-healthy habits and identify areas you seek improvement. The magic happens when you can lean upon your strengths to help you improve your weaknesses. For example, if you have a solid knowledge base about healthy eating and reading food labels, use that to help you improve pre-planning meals and prepping your meals each week. Here’s another example. if you’re a super organized person, why not apply your organizational skills to mapping out your weekly fitness and wellness program (days, times, exercises, meal prep days, grocery shopping, etc.)?
It’s amazing what happens as a byproduct of pursuing your strengths. For example, instead of telling yourself, “I need to stop drinking alcohol,” instead try telling yourself, “I drink least 64 ounces of water daily.” As a result, alcohol (or sugary beverage) intake ends up decreasing.
It’s not about what you cannot do, it’s about what you CAN do. There are so many things that we can individually and collectively do. Start there.
“Do not neglect your gift…”
(1 Timothy 4:14, NIV)
*General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) is a process in which the human body’s kinetic chain adapts to stress placed upon it. GAS is divided into a three phase process. The first phase, alarm reaction, involves the body’s initial reaction to a stressor. It commonly results in delayed onset muscle soreness. An example is performing 12 reps of push ups and being sore in your chest and arms the next day. In the second phase, resistance development, the body “increases its functional capacity to adapt to the stressor” (NASM, 2014, p. 305). In other words, your body gets smarter and starts to get used to muscle movement patterns and resistance load. For example, if you keep doing standard push ups over 2-3 weeks, your body will adapt to this exercise. If you slightly alter the push up (e.g., push-ups with one arm on floor and one arm on an unstable surface), your body will be a little confused and go back to Phase 1. The last stage, exhaustion, is a phase we don’t want to visit. Here, you would experience too much physical stress on your body and result in injury, emotional fatigue, and joint pain.
Today is January 1, 2015. The first day of the first month in the year of 2015.
How is today different than yesterday or last year? More importantly, how do you want today to be different than yesterday and last year? Furthermore, how will you make today better than yesterday and last year?
Together, let’s reflect on these words as we begin a new year.
- This year, why not be more mindful of our thoughts? Really challenge ourselves to reframe anything negative and turn it into a positive. Easier said than done, I know, but positive thoughts become a breeding ground for a healthy body. Mr. Gandhi is also famous for his words, “Be the change you want to see.” We can take this one step further and revise his words to say, “Think about the POSITIVE changes you want to see.” And take this another step further–proclaim your thoughts in writing and out loud. The law of attraction is real folks! (Recommended readings: Joyce Meyer’s “Battlefield of the Mind” and Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret”)
- This leads me to thinking about behavior or putting our thoughts into action. Almost every single thing we do every day is a choice. Yes, a choice. We choose to eat. We choose to sleep. We choose to communicate with others. We choose to walk the dog. We choose to buy a new smartphone. We choose to exercise. We choose to our attitude. Even during the most difficult and trying times, yes, we choose our attitude. Do we allow our environment and circumstance to define our attitude or do we choose to maintain a positive, hope-filled attitude grounded by a loving spirit? Author, activist, and amazing person, bell hooks, said, “We cannot effectively resist domination if our efforts to create meaningful, lasting personal and social change are not grounded in a love ethic,” (2011, p. xxiv). Folks, we need to love ourselves enough to be able to choose the right attitude and “create meaningful, lasting personal and social change.” This applies to fitness, wellness, and LIFE!
- Next up, habits–or repeated behaviors over time. Most of us have heard the saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” This assumes we start with the end in mind and often, we don’t define where we want to go and end up doing several things over and over again with no clearly defined direction. Insane? Maybe to some folks, but I prefer to call it lack of a vision, clearly defined goals, and a plan to achieve said goals.Think about it. What do we need to do over and over again to expect the results (plural) we want? Get seven hours of sleep? Read the Quran? Share time with a mentor? Go for morning walks? Practice the art of saying no? Remember what Greek philosopher, Aristotle, once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Marinate on that for a minute.
- Our habits demonstrate to others what we value. If a stranger was able to view a snap shot of your daily life via a secret camera, what would she think you value? Take some time to reflect on your habits. Challenge yourself to include habits of behaviors that are present and absent from your life. Oftentimes, inactive habits are just as powerful or more powerful than the ones that are active. Write them down. What values do they reveal?
- Last but not least, our values shape our destiny. Now, if you back track up through this list and remember that we originally started with our thoughts, this all makes sense. Instead of saying our values shape our destiny, we can say our thoughts shape our destiny. Check out what Carter G. Woodson said over a century ago about the power of thinking. ““If you can control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do.” Deep, huh? The good news is that you have the power to control your thinking and actions! The next time you think about having a negative thought, try to immediately kick it to the curb or immediately reframe it as an affirming thought.
It’s all connected ya’ll. Thoughts. Words. Behaviors. Habits. Values. Destiny.
Think about these concepts as they apply to your fitness and wellness. Journal about it. Share your thoughts with a confidant. Begin mapping a success plan for your destiny! Get started TODAY!
Happy New Year!
hooks, b. (2001). Salvation: black people and love. New York: Perennial.
Most people want to lose weight and neglect the benefit of focusing on losing body fat. Let’s talk about a few good reasons to focus on our body fat percentage as opposed to body weight, or the number we see on the weight scale.
1. Most of us embarking upon a weight loss adventure incorporate aerobic activity and resistance training into their exercise regimen. But when we do this we must remember an important fact about muscle and fat. One pound of muscle and one pound of fat weigh the same, but the volume (or size) of each is significantly different.
Without a change in diet, studies have shown that changes in physical activity involving aerobic (i.e., cardio) exercise results on average in more fat loss than resistance exercise alone. However, when aerobic exercise is combined with resistance training, there is fat loss being accompanied by a concurrent increase in fat-free mass (i.e., lean muscle). An increase in lean muscle will yield slower weight loss results, but a potentially significant reduction of body fat and physical inches.
2. By definition, body fat percentage is the ratio of fat to lean mass within the body. It is typically calculated using weight, height, and waist circumference measurements. In addition to these measurements, there are a few body fat equations that also incorporate the circumference of the wrist, forearm, and hips. A 2012 National Institute of Health (NIH) study concluded, body fat percentage “plays a more important role in distinguishing between healthy and obese individuals, as it has a greater ability to differentiate between lean mass and fat mass compared to body mass index.”
The American Council on Exercise recommends the following as acceptable body fat percentages for men and women.
|General Body-fat Percentage Categories|
|Classification||Women (% fat)||Men (% fat)|
|Obese||32% and higher||25% and higher|
Most experts agree that a 1% loss of body fat per month is a generally safe and practical expectation.
3. Body mass index is another way to determine the healthiness of a person’s weight. BMI is calculated using an individual’s height and weight. The National Institute of Health has an easy online tool to calculate BMI. Several studies have linked BMI to various risk factors for diseases associated with overweight or obese patients. In general, higher BMIs correlate to unhealthy risk factors such as cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, certain cancers, and other illnesses.
Here is a detailed NIH chart that uses an individual’s height (inches) and weight (pounds) to determine BMI. Acceptable BMI limits are underweight (<18.5), healthy (18.6 to 24.9), overweight (> or =25), and obesity (> or =30).
In summary, I encourage you to calculate your body fat percentage and BMI numbers. As you know, both of these numbers are calculated using your body weight and other body measurements. Use these numbers to set new fitness goals!