How Do I Stay Motivated to Eat Healthy and Exercise?

Since becoming a personal trainer, I hear this from many of my clients: “I know what I changeblvdshould do.  I know what I should eat.  I know that I should exercise regularly but I just don’t do it.  I don’t know how to stay motivated.”  When it comes right down to it YOU are the only one who can make the choices for a healthier lifestyle.  The trick is to take the “willing mind” and turn those thoughts into actions.

First and foremost, if you are eating poorly and living a sedentary lifestyle you will not be able to change overnight.  If you think about it, you probably got to that point gradually (perhaps over a number of years) and you won’t go the other way in a heartbeat.

  1. Pick your one most unhealthy habit.  Maybe you drink soda at every meal. Work on changing that habit gradually.  Should you pick a “give up soda” day and quit cold turkey?  NO!  You will probably feel deprived, give up in a few days, beat yourself up for failing and not try it again for months.  Instead, pick the meal that you could most easily swap out a soda for a glass of water, and then do it.  Don’t change anything else about your diet until you start noticing results from that action.  Now, swap another soda for water and repeat. Write down what results you are seeing (more energy, a small loss on the scale, better sleep). Refer to this list if you start to waver.
  2. Add some exercise.  If you are a total couch potato, are you going to go to boot camp?  Again, NO.  Add some light exercise.  Fifteen minutes each day is fine. Walking is fine.  The important thing is to set that time aside and DO IT. When it starts feeling easier and when you start seeing benefits, add a little bit more.
  3. If you mess up, that’s all it is.  The next day you get a clean slate and you get back to business.  It is not time to give up and go back to the “old you”.
  4. Get someone else to hold you accountable.  Tell them what your goal is and ask them to check in with you at regular intervals. It’s a lot harder to blow off your workout and eat six donuts if you know you will have to tell your accountability buddy it happened.
  5. Try something new.  It’s always fun to try something different and it can keep you motivated.  Find a cookbook full of healthy recipes.  Cooking Light’s Complete Meals in Minutes is a great place to start.  Ever tried Yoga, kickboxing, Zumba, kayaking or circuit training?  The list could go on and on.  Sign up for a class or find a good DVD.  Just remember to build up to this kind of exercise (see #2)
  6. Make it social. Share your experiences (both successes and setbacks) with others.  Find a workout partner, post about your journey on Facebook or on your blog, start or join a support group, take some healthy meal prep lessons.  There’s nothing better than getting healthier except making new friends while you get there.
  7. Challenge yourself.  You may not think you will be able to ever do a push-up from your toes or run a whole mile, but if you take it one step at a time you CAN! When I did 90 days of P90X the thing that motivated me the most was seeing my ever increasing number of repetitions on my chart as the days went on.  Check out challengeloop.com to find a challenge that will keep you going!

Research shows that if you do something for 30 days, it becomes a habit. If you trade that ONE soda for a glass of water and continue for 30 days, you will soon wonder why you ever wanted a soda. Before you know it, you won’t want any other beverage but water and all that soda and extra calories will be a distant memory.

Now I will challenge you! Post the one unhealthy habit you would like to change here. What is your plan is to change it?  Tell me.  Putting your goal and your plan in writing makes it real and that’s motivating too!

Is a Personal Trainer Right for You?

So you are committed to getting into shape, losing some weight and doing a better job with your nutrition.  So what’s your next step?  Have you considered hiring a personal trainer? If you are serious, a personal trainer is a good idea, at least for a period of time.  Here’s why:

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  1. Accountability– An appointment with a trainer makes it a lot harder to bag your workout.  If you want to cancel, now you have to take action instead of just driving by the gym and hitting the sofa.
  2. Proper Form– A trainer will spend time making sure you do exercises correctly.  This will help avoid injury and get the most out of your workout.
  3. A One on One Consultation– Your trainer will sit down with you before you begin to find out what your goals are.  Do you want to lose weight?  Are you training for an upcoming 5K?  Trying to improve your upper body strength? Want to stay healthy as you age? The goals you have will determine what kind of a program the trainer will develop for you.
  4. A Movement Screening– Trainers can screen you to find muscles that are tight or unusually lengthened and plan workouts to improve this.  If you are someone who works at a desk all day, this screening can be crucial. Trainers can plan workouts to open up tight hip flexers and shoulders that hunch over computer screens for hours on end.
  5. A Customized Workout– Your trainer will plan a workout that meets your needs according to the goals you have and the results of your movement screening.  He/she will help your fitness level progress at the right pace.
  6. Feedback and Encouragement– It’s great to have someone at your side that knows your goals and your stumbling blocks. Your trainer will encourage you when you are struggling and will be the first to celebrate with you when you accomplish your goals.

If you are the type of person who finds it hard to stay motivated, a personal trainer may be just what you are looking for to help you turn the corner in your fitness journey.

 

Unusual Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

If your are someone who needs to keep your blood pressure in check, here are two unusual ways to help lower your numbers.

1.  Volunteer! You can decrease your risk of hypertension by up to 40% by volunteering for a cause about which you feel strongly. Studies showed that older adults who volunteered in ANY type of activity for at least 200 hours per year decreased the risk of hypertension.

Why? Older adults have fewer chances for social interaction because of their life circumstances. Volunteering within the community provides them with social connections they may not otherwise have.  The more connected we are to each other the healthier we stay.  Who would have thought that doing good for others would be so good for your health?

2. Practice Yoga  Studies showed that practicing yoga at least three times per week lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of three points.

Why? No specifics were given in the study, but breath work and a focusing of the mind were some possible reasons why yoga affected blood pressure in this way.

 

Fitbit Flex Review

I do love my technology when I can use it in my workouts.  I got my Fitbit in the beginning of September.  I wanted a way to keep track of how many steps I walk at work each day.  I was pretty sure I was walking A LOT.  I thought about buying a plain old pedometer, but then I thought, why not just step it up a little and get a Fitbit Flex?

I was never really interested in Fitbit when it was a clip for your clothing.  I knew I would wash it or lose it.  When they came out with the bracelet I knew I could keep track of that a little better.

I am not going to do the glowing review here.  I will try to give you the pros and cons on price, ease of operation, comfort etc.

Price:  At $99.00 Fitbit Flex is a little pricey.  You do get a lot of features for your money, though.  Previously, I was using Lose It, which is a free app to keep track of calories burned and calories consumed.  The deciding factor for me after doing my research was I could import my Lose It stats into Fitbit Flex.  After purchase, I realized the import feature was a premium feature (I would have to pay a fee to be able to import Lose It data to Fitbit Flex).   I also found out that if I had bought my Fitbit Flex from Verizon, I could have gotten a 25% teacher discount through PSEA.  Bummer.

Features: Fitbit Flex keeps track of your steps, miles you walk, number of “active” minutes, calories burned, amount of sleep you get each night, calories eaten, and amount of water you drink.  Steps, miles, calories burned and sleep are recorded automatically through the Fitbit  You wear it inside a bracelet on your wrist. You must input your calories eaten and water intake on your computer or your mobile device. The data base of food is not as nice as the one I was using on Lose It.  And there is no bar code scan (which is a great feature on Lose It) The data base does have lots of foods in it and you can find almost anything you need to input.  If you take part in other physical activities that won’t be recorded correctly by wrist movement, you can  input those as well. When you set up your features, you choose one as your goal.  I chose calories burned and decided my goal would be 1500 each day.  When you reach your goal, your FBF vibrates and you can celebrate!

My Fav Features:

The sleep tracker.  It subtracts minutes you were awake or restless through the night.  I know that I have been more aware of my sleep habits and have made an effort to get to bed earlier on weeknights because of my results.  The bad thing is you have to remember to put your Fitbit Flex in sleep mode.  Sometimes I forget, and sometimes I forget to take it out of sleep mode in the morning.

The Silent Alarm:  Vibrates to wake you up in the morning. Doesn’t bug anyone else.

See your calories expended in real time:  That way you can gauge how many calories you should take in throughout the day.  This was a BIG help when I broke my foot recently and was a lot less active during the day.

Ease of Operation:  This is a big plus.  My husband (an I.T. guy) and I always joke about the fact that there is no such thing as “plug and play”.  My Fitbit Flex came pretty close.  I was able to set it up and get it working all by myself.  That NEVER happens. I always need help from Computer Bob with my technology toys, but not this time. Just remember to set it up on your computer first, then on your mobile device.  I did this backwards and it took a little longer, but I was still able to do it on my own.

Comfort:  Wearing a plastic/rubber bracelet all day and night took some getting use to for me.  I do not shower with it on, although the directions say you can.  The research I did said the display fogs up from the water at times.  I figured I wouldn’t be missing too much calorie burn in the shower. When I am not going to be too active, I will take it off, because I just get sick of it after awhile.

So..bottom line.  I am sticking with the Fitbit Flex way better than I stuck with Lose It. I didn’t gain any weight while my foot was broken and keeping track of calories in and out is more like a game and less like a pain in the tukis.

Do you have a FitBit Flex?  What do you think of yours?