I recently saw this list posted on social media and thought it would be worth sharing with you this month. The list was generated by a medical doctor who maintains a website about natural health information. I do not exactly know what is meant by the term “natural” within this context; nevertheless, I believe the list is pretty accurate! Of course, you may not live forever by following these 11 healthy lifestyle tenets, but hopefully you will live a long, healthy life.
Photo source. http://www.mercola.com
After reading the list, what do you need to improve upon?
Is there anything you would add?
Notice how the first six items all relate to nutrition? Hmm… I think we’re on to something!
Eat right AND move more!
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.
What do I mean by this?
Today’s blog was inspired by one of my personal training clients. Over the weekend I asked her to brainstorm some ways she can maintain both her fitness and nutrition regimen while out of town at a professional conference. When our Monday evening training session commenced, I asked her if she had given any thought to her anticipated travel schedule later this month.
Her responses blew me away!
Needless to say, her ideas fill almost all of the content of today’s blog post. Let’s call her ideas CFWTs…that’s short for Conference Fitness & Wellness Tips.
CFWT #1: Think about what you NEED to support your fitness and wellness goals.
Extra soft pillows?
An extra large refrigerator to store all of the fresh foods you purchase at a nearby market?
No coffee maker with cream and sugar packets in the room? (eliminate the temptation) No wet bar with alcoholic beverages? (once again, eliminate temptation)
Maybe a tea kettle and caffeine free tea packets instead of coffee?
A room far from or close to the elevator and/or ice machine?
A pool? Free weights? Resistance bands?
Maybe you need to buy a small, travel sized foam roller or resistance band to bring with you…
*Student Affairs administrator, Tara Rabinowitz, recently suggested bringing your favorite protein or superfood shake and shaker cup.
Think about your environment at home and what makes it affirming of your fitness and wellness goals and daily practices. How can you recreate some of those elements while traveling. Make a list and have it handy for CFWT #2…
CFWT #2: Call the conference hotel at least one week BEFORE your conference. Find out if they have a fitness center, a microwave and/or refrigerator in your guest room, what restaurants are onsite or nearby, and see if there are any local hiking, biking, walking, running trails and parks.
Ask for what you need. If you don’t ask for it, the hotel will not provide it. You may be surprised about the accommodations they can make for you IN ADVANCE.
CFWT #3: Proactively identify ways you can eat unprocessed, whole-grain, fresh, organic and non-GMO (if possible) and nutrient rich foods during your trip.
My client told me her partner will mail her a care package full of healthy foods. This way she does not have to shop for it when she arrives at her conference hotel. She’ll be all set from Day 1!
Can you pack a travel size cooler that you can bring filled up with your favorite healthy goodies to your conference sessions?
Do you know some of the places you may “have” to eat at for networking and social events? Can you access the menu PRIOR to your trip? Figure out what the healthy meals and possibilities can be before you arrive at the restaurant.
Have a back up plan!
Bring a refillable water bottle or buy a few big 2L bottles and store them in your room so you can drink at least 1 per day.
CFWT #4: Get your hands on the conference agenda IN ADVANCE.
First, identify everything you MUST attend.
Second, identify everything you WANT to attend (maybe mark this in a different color).
Third, identify time in the days you will dedicate to implementing your fitness workout, showering, AND eating. Be willing to compromise your WANTS for your fitness and wellness goals for the week.
If you do all of this in advance, you should be able to find someone who can grab extra handouts and any other resources shared at some of the “WANT” sessions you will not attend.
Lastly, tell somebody at the conference about your fitness and wellness plan for the weekend/week. Maybe invite that person to one of your workouts or alternative healthy meals. Ask someone from back home to check-in with you daily and ask about your daily fitness and nutrition.
Learn more tips about maintaining fitness while traveling! <— that’s a link to my August 2013 blogpost about this topic. Go ahead, click on it.
Safe travels everyone!
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.
This is Part 2 of 2 from the prior post, “Pushing Past Feeling Stuck in Old Habits Part 1 of 2.” First and foremost, I can’t believe it’s September already! I should have posted this last month! Anyways, I digress…
So, what happened with the person who was trying to push past feeling stuck in old habits? Unfortunately, this person is still feeling a bit stuck. German professor of Sports Science, Dr. Walter Brehm (2004), would describe this person as being in the Preparation phase of the Stages of Change model (see photo below). This means the person might exercise in some capacity occasionally (e.g., walk to work, take the steps instead of the elevator, maybe even do some push ups), but would like to begin a regular exercise routine within the next month. However, “next month” might not come anytime soon because the person may have unrealistic personal goals and expectations.
When a person is in this stage, it’s important to create and clarify realistic goals, draw upon positive past experiences with exercise, identify and utilize a support network, and be realistic about any and all limitations (schedule, injuries, health concerns). Thankfully, a certified personal trainer can help with all of this!
So what’s next? Realistically, this person could stay in this stage for quite some time, but what will help is EDUCATION. It’s important to simply immerse ourselves into what we would like to do. For example. If I want to start walking, I might want to conduct a Google search about “benefits of walking.” Or perhaps I look for a local MeetUp group that walks in my neighborhood. Maybe I ask around my circles of friends, family, and colleagues—who else walks? Can I walk with you? And so on…you get the gist of it.
My last tip for this person and ALL OF US (myself included), is to DEFINE and remember our WHY. Why do we want to exercise in the first place? Why does it truly matter? So what if I lose weight? Why does it matter? After we define our why we must hold it dearly to our hearts because THE ANSWER TO OUR WHY keeps us MOTIVATED. It really does. I usually probe my clients heavily when answering and uncovering their why. I don’t settle for “to lose weight” or “to fit into my pants” or “to look better.” I really want (you) to know why all of that matters to YOU. Sometimes tears surface when we get to the heart of our why.
For me, it’s two fold. First, food and nutrition are important to me. I love to eat, I don’t like being hungry, and I hate for others to be hungry and unable to afford the cost of a basic, healthy meal. As I continue to grow and reach my first financial goal as a professional business, I will begin to collaborate and financially partner with local non-profits that provide healthy meal options and education to families and individuals in need. Second, I simply do NOT want to become a statistic! Black women are at the top of almost every chart that lists demographic groups hit the hardest by various chronic diseases. I want to proactively do my best to stay off of these lists! Check out some statistics…
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listing of 10 Leading Causes of Death for African Americans
Check out the CDC’s lists for other ethnic and special populations
Another comprehensive listing of various chronic diseases prevalent in specific ethnic groups
So, in a nutshell, it is my goal to stick around and hang out for a while on this planet called Earth for a long time. I would like to see my little 11 month old nephew grow up into a man and ACTIVELY participate in all of the fun things to enter his life in the years to come! Plus, I want to continue to have as many options as possible that require mobility of my body. I actually enjoy moving and doing things. Go figure! (smile)
In conclusion, I leave you with a simple, yet complex question. What’s the answer to your WHY?
Brehm, B. (2004). Successful fitness motivation strategies. Human Kinetics, 21-40. Champaign, IL.
Today, let’s start with the end in mind.
You have to make it a habit to get rid of a bad habit to make space for better habits.
Anyone who knows me is fully aware of my love for desserts–especially dark chocolate, sweet potato pie, apple pie, ice cream, soft chocolate chip cookies, birthday cake, well, you get the point. Once upon a time about five years ago I decided to give up desserts for the entire month leading up to my birthday. I was curious to see if I could actually do it. And what better way to celebrate than to have a big ol’ piece of birthday cake and ice cream 31 days later!?!? So yes, 31 days of no desserts for a person who regularly partakes in the deliciousness of sweet delectables.
The first few days weren’t so bad and admittedly it was very eye opening to experience the “alleged” cravings for sweets. Mind you, it didn’t help that certain people who shall remain nameless tried to tempt me with all types of sweets. My will power prevailed. I also noticed how much desserts are around me as a convenience to eat. Work. Dining halls. Restaurants. Grocery stores. Work meetings. Doctor’s offices. My purse. In the hands of friends and colleagues. Hair salon. Movie theater. And the list goes on and on. Let’s fast forward 31 days and chat about a few things that surfaced during my 31-day dessert fast.
discipline: Unsurprisingly, I have will power and discipline to push through any type of luxurious sacrifice. It was only dessert (my precious). It’s not like I was giving up water and food all month. Mind you, I remain thankful for the choice to even give up desserts, let alone the possibility of giving up water or food.
craving: At first, I could have sworn I was craving desserts. I didn’t have the shakes or some other noticeable physiological response, but I really did think I seriously craved desserts. And then it happened….
habit: I figured out that I don’t really love desserts, nor do I crave them. I have simply conditioned myself to eating desserts at a certain time of day and for certain occasions for the majority of my life. After dinner–dessert. Birthday–dessert (I still haven’t been able to shake this one). After lunch–dessert. After snack snack–dessert. After pulling desserts (high glycemic index and super sugary foods) out of my diet, my sensitivity to sweets increased and my desire to eat sweets decreased.
Moral of the story: You have to make it a habit to get rid of a bad habit to make space for better habits.
Here’s a cool video infographic I found on YouTube about the Science of Habit. It’s pretty basic and progresses into how habits become addictions, so you could stop watching at the 2:40 mark…or not. 😉
Video credit: Kenny Winn via YouTube
There’s also a book I’ve been meaning to read, The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg.
QUESTION: What not-so-healthy foods do you crave? Are they truly food CRAVINGS or have these foods become part of your food intake routine (a.k.a., habit)? Perhaps it’s a little bit of both…
In order for change to occur, change needs to happen.