Break Barriers (series), Topic III- Motivation

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I posted on the Facebook page recently that I am tired, and a bit lacking in motivation to follow through on my workout and nutrition plans this week. Motivation (or lack thereof) is a major obstacle to doing the things we need to do to be healthy and fit, so let’s break that barrier!!! If you’ve got 10 minutes, let’s dive in:

I am going to throw out some common reasons for lack of motivation to exercise/eat right/attend to our health, please connect with me if you have others and I’d love to do a follow up post or Facebook post.

  1. I’m tired
  2. I don’t know what I’m trying to achieve/I don’t have a sense of direction
  3. I’m stressed, I’m upset, I’m mad, I’m sad
  4. I thought that having a treat once in a while was ok, once in a while is now three times a week and I’m stuck
  5. I don’t have enough time/I’m too busy
  6. I feel like anything I do isn’t going to matter/make a difference to my health
  7. My family is not supportive of my healthy lifestyle, and it is impacting my motivation
  8. I don’t feel I’m in good shape, and therefore I am self-conscious about going to the gym/not motivated
  9. I don’t want to give up my favorite food/drink!
  10. I honestly just don’t see the point, so why bother?

That is a pretty daunting list, and I am sure there are many more reasons why people may lose motivation to be healthy. Hopefully, by reading this post, you can start to see a pattern on how one strategy may be helpful to apply to multiple reasons for loss of motivation. One by one, here are some ideas to get motivated and tackle these challenges:

  1. I’m tired…

Start with finding out why you are tired/lacking energy. How are you sleeping? Are you in a busy time of year at work/with your personal life? If so, give yourself a break and try to get some extra rest, don’t beat yourself up if you need to alter your routine to get your energy levels back. I knew I needed to do that for myself this week, and I am now getting back into the routine.

If not, take a look at your daily schedule…when are you the most tired/lacking energy to work out? For me, if I try to exercise in the evening, forget it. For some of you, the evening might be a time when you have high levels of energy. Try to rearrange your schedule so that you can exercise at a time that works well for you and helps you manage your energy, whether that is early morning, lunch time, or the evenings. Also, take a look at what you are eating/when you are eating, and see if you notice a pattern in how much energy you have following meals. For example, do you get up early and eat a big breakfast before attempting to work out? If so, is that impacting your energy level/motivation to move? Because of the function of the PNS (Nervous System involved in digestion), most of us would have a very difficult time doing any meaningful exercise after a big meal, even if it is healthy foods.

  1. I don’t know what I’m trying to achieve/I don’t have a sense of direction

Lack of motivation may have to do with a lack of direction…if you don’t know where you are going, it is tough to get started. If this applies to you, take a look at my previous post about goal setting, and see if that helps get started.

  1. I’m stressed, I’m upset, I’m mad, I’m sad

Our emotional state can be very powerful when it comes to a factor of motivation. If you are in a mood or a state that is taking away from your motivation to work towards your health and fitness goals, change your state. How to do it? Try changing what you are focusing on…whatever you are focusing on/thinking of currently has you mad, sad, stressed, not motivated, so change your focus to something more motivating. At the same time, try changing the way you are using your body…stand up, go for a walk, use a forceful hand clap…all while focusing on something more empowering. Maybe listen to some music you find motivating at the same time! If this is a more consistent issue for you, more exploration may be needed…however sometimes we just get into a funk, and need some strategies to snap out of it!

  1. I thought that having a treat once in a while was ok, once in a while is now three times a week and I’m stuck

This reads like an accountability issue. If you ever find yourself here, just remember that the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging that there is one. Although it may not (initially) be motivating to try and break a treat pattern you have identified as an issue, you can do it one step at a time. For motivation here, go back and make sure you have goals, and cross check to see how this frequency of treats is helping you reach that goal. It’s not?! Also take a look at my previous accountability post for strategies in this area.

  1. I don’t have enough time/I’m too busy

If this applies, please check out my post on breaking the barrier of time, there are some great time management strategies to help you prioritize what is important.

  1. I feel like anything I do isn’t going to matter/make a difference to my health

Start with why on this one, why do you feel like nothing you do will make a difference? While you are unpacking this demotivating factor, remind yourself that something is always better than nothing. If you feel like nothing you do will make a difference, try educating yourself on the health benefits of something as basic as walking, to help motivate you. Track your progress, to show yourself that you are making a difference. Having clear goals, educating yourself on befits of what you are doing, and tracking progress will hopefully help bust this motivation barrier.

  1. My family is not supportive of my healthy lifestyle, and it is impacting my motivation

This can be tough, and demotivating in a few different ways. 1. Does your family make comments, essentially heckle you about your goals and aspirations related to health? “Eh, just have some pizza, it won’t kill you!” Something like that? If so, it may be time to have a frank conversation with this/these family members on how this type of commentary makes you feel. This may not be easy at first, but if they really care about you, they should respect that this is important to you and adjust their behavior.

2. Maybe nobody is heckling you or making comments, but your family is not really into doing healthy/active things with you, and your feel like you are on your own. This can be very demotivating, because you may feel like you need to choose between family time and health/fitness time. Try having a conversation with your family about why you would love it if you could all find one activity that you could all do together/enjoy, and brainstorm! Who knows, maybe someone in your family has always wanted to try Disc Golf, and you can have a new family activity. Ultimately, even if you can’t find common ground here, there are ways you can prioritize your healthy lifestyle, even if your family does not join with you. If it is the community/support you are seeking in this area, consider joining a gym, fitness class, or online community for the motivation/support. Or, if you are like me, use it is your time to decompress and work out on your own.

  1. I don’t feel I’m in good shape, and therefore I am self-conscious about going to the gym/not motivated

This is also a tough one. I have never been I the position to feel this way myself, but I have talked to people who are intimidated to join a gym because they are out of shape, feel they don’t know what they are doing, etc. One idea is to try and get together with a friend or friend group who are around the same fitness level as you, and who have similar goals and aspirations. The partnership and comradery may take the edge off of going to gym or class, as compared to going by yourself. There are also many options you can look into of exercise with no gym. Get creative on this one if it applies to you…do not let being self-conscious about going to the gym derail your motivation to be healthy.

  1. I don’t want to give up my favorite food/drink!

This one is easy, you don’t have to! Go back and look at my budget post(s), I added in a strategy to make a healthy lifestyle change that doesn’t cost you anything. In a nutshell, you don’t have to give up your favorite treat, you just want to make sure you are enjoying it in a way that is more empowering to your health and your goals.

  1. I honestly just don’t see the point, so why even bother?

Until you answer this question (in a more empowering way), you are going to be stuck. The most important aspect of any life style change or set of goals is to start with why. Why do I want to prioritize my health, how will this enhance my life? Do you see the difference between that previous question, and why bother?? If we ask ourselves lousy questions, we will get lousy answers. If this is where you are right now, you need to have a very frank (and empowering) conversation with yourself about why you need to make some changes, and what your reason why is going to be. I posted about this on my intro post launching the blog, my reason why is to be a strong example for my son, and to keep up with him and teach him activities as he grows up, rather than (only) sitting in the stands and watching. If you have a strong enough reason why you want to do something, how you do it will fall into place because your focus will be so strong on why this is important.

Whew! That actually took a lot of motivation to write about, I really hope that this helps you break through the barrier of motivation…we all have times when we need a little extra lift, I do plan to come back to these strategies when I need one. Have a great weekend!

Breaking Barriers (Series): Topic II-Time

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What is one of the most common reasons you hear for why people don’t commit to things in their life? “I don’t have enough time”. This is a “timely” topic for me, as I am entering one of my “busy times” in my work in Residential Life on a College campus (Opening)! On the list of life’s competing priorities, sometimes it may seem very daunting to find time for your healthy initiatives. Let’s examine, and start to break down this barrier to success. Here are a few examples of things related to our health and well-being which take, you guessed it, time!

  1. Exercise
  2. (Healthy) Meal planning and prep
  3. Commuting to and from the Gym
  4. Planning our exercise routine for the week

Let’s also frame out some in time commitments we all have, assuming a full time job, standard work week:

  1. Sleep: 6-8 hours (we hope)
  2. Work day, including commute 10-11 hours (assuming 1 hour lunch, depending on commute time each way)

There is really nothing we can do about the time commitments to work and sleep, which is around 16-19 hours out of each 24 hour day, Monday-Friday. Let’s also take a look at some other priorities which will compete for the remaining 5-8 hours per day during the week:

  1. Your daily routine/prep for the day (breakfast, hygiene etc)
  2. Spending time with your family
  3. After school activities/transportation for kids
  4. Cooking/meal prep for the family
  5. Errands/shopping
  6. Cleaning/home chores
  7. Distractions…TV, Web-browsing, Social Media

Any of the above items that you do not get to during the week, usually will need to be attended to on the weekends (and this is not an exhaustive list). Even for a single person these days, the daily and weekly grind can be a lot to handle, and it is tempting to use the weekends strictly for R & R. It’s a lot, I get it.

How to break the time barrier? Start with where you are, log in how you spend your time (including work and sleep) for a 7 day period. Once you have your baseline of how you currently spend your time, look at how much time you currently spend on health and fitness related activities. Are you satisfied with it, is it good enough for you!? If so, that is great, read no further. If you want to make an improvement/change, please read on…

If logging in how you spend your time is a new concept for you, please start by shoring up your time management practices. You should have a plan for each day, each week…if you do not have a plan, what you will end up doing is living out other people’s priorities. Please do some google searching or message me if you need help in schedule/time management, here is a link to get started:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2018/05/01/manipulate-time-with-these-powerful-20-time-management-tips/#6fa32d1457ab

If you are looking to spend more time on health and fitness during your week, decide how much more. 2 more hours, 4 more hours? Whatever it is just make sure you have the amount of time, and what you want to do with the time (meal prep, exercise, etc.). Now, look at your typical weekly schedule again, and ask yourself a question, “if I really wanted to find 2 more hours for my well-being each week, how would I do that?” Here are some ideas on how to find time in your busy schedule:

  1. Wake up an hour earlier, a few days per week.
  2. Creatively use some of your lunch hour (walk, employee fitness center, etc.)
  3. Maximize time on your weekend.
  4. Identify your distractions during your week, and cut into TV and Social Media time in favor of exercise.
  5. Use family time…maybe the family can join in on healthy meal prep, or take a walk or bike ride together!

The take-away, we all face constraints related to time, for all of our priorities. Like a budget, how we spend our time reflects our priorities. I hope this has been a helpful post to start the process of evaluating how you currently spend your time, and how that is (or is not) in line with your health and fitness goals. Have the time of your life this week! -Dom

Breaking the Budget Barrier-Part II

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This week, I posted on 10 Minute Fitness Take-Aways Facebook page about a low budget, versatile solution to owning exercise equipment, Kettlebells!

Today, I want to write something for anyone out there who wants to do something to be healthier, but right now doesn’t have any extra money to put towards it. We all have to start somewhere, and I promise there are things you can do right now, with zero cost and great benefits. If you’ve got 10 minutes, follow along with me. Here we go!

Step 1: Think of something you eat or drink on a semi-regular basis that you know isn’t great for you, and you’d like to cut back on…be honest, we all have something. Is it Pizza, Beer, Wine, Fast Food, Candy, Soda, Chips??? Pick something, and ask yourself why it is not healthy, and why you’d like to make a change. Move on to step 2.

Step 2: Track how often (frequency) and how much (quantity, servings) you eat or drink of this item in a standard week, and be honest with yourself. For example: Beer

  • Monday: 1 beer with dinner
  • Tuesday: 2 beers with dinner
  • Wednesday: No beers
  • Thursday: 2 beers with dinner
  • Friday: 3 beers in the evening
  • Saturday: 5 beers in the afternoon/evening
  • Sunday: No beers
  • Weekly total: 13 beers

Step 3: After taking a look at where you are, set a goal to reduce the frequency (times per week) to 1 day, and the quantity to something reasonable like a serving or 2 (a treat once per week). While making this plan, ask yourself why you want to make this change, and how it will make you healthier? Do some research if you do not know, sometimes knowing health implications can be motivation to change. You need to reinforce this every day to stay disciplined.

Step 4: Before you start, replace the item with an empowering, healthy alternative. Why? Because, think about why we eat or drink the stuff in the first place…we’re tired, we’re stressed, we’re angry etc., and this stuff tastes good/makes us feel better! As an example, if it is a beverage you are cutting down on, consider replacing with green tea, or a seltzer, and each time you replace with your empowering alternative, congratulate yourself for making this improvement to your health! Or, you could go for a walk anytime you want a slice of pizza, and while you walk think about the health benefits of these extra steps!

Step 5: Remove temptation. What do I mean? Do not have the item(s) you are trying to cut back on in your house while you are making this change. It is much easier to have self-control if you have to go out and buy your weekly treat, rather than having to walk by it every day or look at that nice 6 pack in your fridge all week. If you are tired, stressed, etc, it is easy to reach into your cabinet and derail your progress, without even really thinking about it. If you don’t have the item around, you need to make the conscious choice to drive to the store and give yourself time to think about your goal, and why you are about to break a commitment to yourself.

Try this for a month, and see how it goes. You may find that if you commit to an empowering alternative (not a different junk food), and build a routine, the change might stick even after a month! You just made a healthy, empowering life change, and it didn’t cost you any money (maybe it even saved you some). Let me know if you give this a shot, and how it goes. Enjoy! Please also give me a like on Facebook for quick updates and tips during the week. -Dom

Barriers, Road Blocks…and Breaking them down! (Series, Part 1)

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This is going to be a series of posts on common barriers which may get in the way of improving our health…and strategies to break them down! Please engage with me and send me topics you have experienced to be barriers; I only have my own perspective so I’d love to hear your experiences as well. Topic number 1 is going to be money, and resources…here we go!

Money, money, these days everything costs money! Living healthy is no exception; ultimately, making life style changes requires you do some things differently…exercise, what you eat, where you go, professionals you hire, and a lot of these changes can cost more money than you currently budget towards a healthier you. Like any organization or business, how you budget your own money tells a story about your priorities. I am not saying that some of this stuff is not outrageously expensive, just to be mindful of the resources you have available, how you currently allocate them, and what your priorities ultimately are.

Here is the bottom line, you can make meaningful lifestyle changes to improve your health which cost you NOTHING. Here are a few examples:

  1. Do you currently exercise? If no, use a step counter that we all have on our smart-phone, and see how many steps you take in your normal daily routine. Once you have a baseline, make time each day for 15 minutes of additional walking. Look how much more physical activity you will do in one week, and it cost you nothing!
  2. Do you eat snacks, processed food, or candy? If yes, limit yourself to only one day per week when you can have these foods as a treat. You just made a healthy lifestyle change, which cost you nothing (and maybe saved you some money)!

Granted, the examples I outlined may appear simple. There is more to improving one’s health than taking more steps, and cutting back on the sweets; but, ultimately, there are a lot of little things (such as the examples above) which can add up to make a big difference if we commit to them. Execution of the overall plan may be simple, but not easy (or everyone would do it).

I once heard a college classmate say “how much does a pushup cost, what about a sit-up?!?” Point taken for sure, however a pushup is another example of something which is simple, but not easy to perform properly without proper instruction and baseline core strength. If you are confident in your pushup game, it is a great exercise to add to your routine which you can do just about anywhere with no equipment. If you have never done a pushup, this might be any area you consider investing some resources on proper instruction.

I want to break out some major areas which can be cost barriers to health and fitness, and expand on how we can prioritize them based on flagging as essential (must spend), non-essential, or optional (could be essential, depending on goals):

–          Food/Drink: In general, organic, non-GMO, less processed, fresher foods tend to cost more than the inverse food types of processed junk. We could do a whole post on reasons why this is, but the short reality is this can be a financial barrier to making healthy choices. I plan to blog more on making good food choices at a later date, for now I will say that this gets an essential flag to invest some resources here. Consider the following basics:

o   Drinking clean water: Most people reading this have access to clean drinking water. It may be worth investing some of your budget in a means to make it even cleaner or buying distilled water, to eliminate some impurities from tap/well water: https://www.epa.gov/ccl/types-drinking-water-contaminants

o   Less processed food is healthier…even if you are not buying non-GMO organic foods due to budget constraints, making food choices that are fresher (not pre-packaged), and have short ingredient lists that you can read and understand will benefit you.

o   If budget is a consideration, doing your own meal shopping and prep will help you control factors related to health and your budget (as opposed to buying lunch or other meals out).

–          Apparel: There is no way around this, you can’t really exercise in a shirt and tie. What types of activities you are into can determine a lot of your budget for this area. If you are on a tight budget, consider consignment or thrift shop options. Please be careful what you look to save money on… do not pinch pennies with any safety equipment. Even for something as basic as running, spending a little more on the right pair of shoes can help you avoid some nasty overuse injuries, such as tendonitis. Apparel gets an essential flag, with more emphasis on how much depending on the type of apparel and its safety purpose.

–          Supplements/Vitamins: There are many schools of thought on this topic, I think I will make this a later blog post as well. Are there some wonderful products out there that help people meet their goals and stay healthy? Sure. Keep in mind that supplements and vitamins are part of an industry which, like all, needs to make money to sustain. My bottom line, are supplements essential to being healthy? NO. Can they be right for some people? Absolutely. Strictly from a budget standpoint I give this a non-essential flag.

–          Gym memberships: They cost money for sure, some more than others depending on the type of facility and area of the country. Depending on your goals and means, this may or may not be a priority. I personally do not have a gym membership, I have spent a number of years acquiring basic equipment to meet my fitness needs at home. Some people love the sense of community at their gym, and being part of this community is a driving force to their healthy life-style. Make the choice that is best for you. Optional flag, depending on goals and circumstances.

–          Equipment: By this, I mean exercise equipment for your home. This can range from a $15 medicine ball, to a $3,000 treadmill. From a budget standpoint, I give this an optional flag, depending on your goals and routine. You may have a gym membership, and/or meet all of your training needs with body weight exercises and therefore not need equipment at home (for example).

–          Personal Trainers: I always advise anyone who is serious about learning something new to bite the bullet and invest in someone to teach you. For example, if you want to learn the Olympic Weight Lifting exercises (Clean and Jerk, Snatch), don’t try to cut corners and learn from you-tube, that is a good way to make a mistake and drop heavy steel on your head. Bottom line is I give this an optional flag, with strong consideration to make sure you do not cut costs when trying to learn something new. There are two ways I have seen people find success with Personal Trainers:

o   Hire someone for a period of time to get you going on health and fitness in general, or a new exercise. Make it clear that you want to learn how to do this on your own.

o   Hire someone on-going, for the same initial purpose as step one, and then as an on-going support. This option is more expensive in the long term, but some people find it incredibly beneficial to have someone who designs workouts for them, and constantly consults them on progress towards goals, and provides motivation to keep going.

This is not an exhaustive list, but I do believe it covers the basics as far as major categories for health and fitness expenses. As mentioned before, your budget reveals your priorities, so before taking this on, look at the state of your personal budget/cash flow first: https://www.debt.org/advice/budget/ Once you have an idea of where you currently stand, think about how these major categories would fit in.

  1. Food/Drink-Monthly budgeted expense
  2. Apparel- Periodic expense, could come from savings
  3. Supplements- Monthly budgeted expense (or not)
  4. Gym membership- Monthly budgeted expense (or not)
  5. Equipment- Periodic expense, could come from savings (or not)
  6. Personal Trainer- Monthly budgeted expense (or not)

The take-away, to breakdown this barrier you need to examine the extent of how much this topic (money and resources) is a barrier for you. Once you have an idea of resources available to you, and how you could (or could not, right now at least) reallocate them to health and fitness, you have your starting point. The answer may be that you can’t afford everything you want right now, and that’s ok. I want to emphasize again, doing something is better than nothing. If you can’t afford to join a gym right now, start with a no cost option like taking the stairs every day. Set goals related to how much you want to spend on health and fitness, go back to the SMART model if you need to, and you will find a way to prioritize what is important and work towards it.

I hope this was helpful and thought provoking for you, my next topic will be time as a barrier, and how to work through that one and break it down! Have a great week everyone! -Dom

Accountability, getting it done…

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If you have been following along with previous posts, I hope you have found the most recent one on goal setting helpful to frame out a plan. Having a plan is crucial to success, but even more important is following through on your plan…accountability. Most of us think about accountability in terms of our job, or perhaps disciplinary action…essentially consequences for not following through on plans, goals, requirements. In the context of our health, we need accountability to ourselves, in order to make our goals and plans stick.

Imagine you have the goal of losing 20 pounds in three months which we used as an example in the last post, and part of this plan to accomplish this goal is to wake up at 5 am three days per week to exercise. There are many scenarios which can play out where your alarm clock goes off, and you may not want to answer the bell and be accountable to the plan. It is raining, you are tired from being up late with your child, you’ve had a tough week…I get it, I’ve been there. If you really want your goals to become reality, you do need some hard and fast rules for accountability, and ways to make sure you follow them.

That is a critical language point to consider, “rules”. What sounds stronger to you, “I really should get up at 5 am to exercise”, or “Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I must get up at 5 am to exercise, no exceptions!” When your “goals” and “plans” become “rules”, and “standards”, you are much more likely to follow through and be accountable.

If it is critical to your goals to never miss a 5 am workout, you need to structure accountability to make sure that never happens. You can have all the best intentions, but to help you push through distractions, it does help to build in some systems for accountability in areas you know will be challenging. Here are a few strategies to ponder, to stay accountable:

  1. Did you write down your goals??? If not, please take a look at the last blog post and write them down using the SMART model or another method that works for you. Writing goals down makes them much easier to track and stay accountable to, so go and do that if you have not!
  2. Have you told anyone about your goals? If you think about it, sharing goals with close friends or family is a great way to build in some accountability. We all want to take pride in our accomplishments and tell people when we are hitting the marks, and we would also not want to have to be in a position to report we’ve slacked off and skipped 2 out of three 5 am workouts this week.
  3. Sidebar on telling people about your goals, you could use the internet to tell even more people…like your social media, or a blog! I know when I get into exploring a topic and make a plan or a goal as part of my blogging experience, it would be a great degree of shame for me to not walk the walk and have to report that out to all of you. There are also many online/social media groups out there people can join to build community and help with staying accountable.
  4. Would investing in a coach/trainer be a good fit for you? For many of us, if we make a financial and/or personal commitment to a plan, we are more likely to follow through. A trainer/coach is not only a financial commitment, it is a person who is making the same time commitment you are, and you’d have to contact them if you want to cancel…rolling over and hitting the snooze bar is not an acceptable reason to cancel out of a personal training session in most people’s book, as most of these professionals have a strict cancellation/no refund policy for last minute call outs. Some feel that a Gym membership is financial motivation enough, since you pay for a membership. But, consider the impact of paying for someone’s expertise and time as you go, rather than a flat membership fee which is the same no matter how many times you go to the Gym.
  5. Is there someone who could be an accountability buddy for you, like a training partner? Maybe the financial impact of canceling out on a trainer is not as motivating to you as having to leave someone hanging who has made a personal commitment to go for a walk, or go to the gym with you.

Accountability is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and accomplishing our goals…even if you are not training to run in a race, you need accountability every day to make time for exercise, and make good food and lifestyle choices. As a take-away, think of areas of your healthy lifestyle that you could use more accountability in. What approach would resonate with you, and make you more likely to follow through? It is a personal answer for all of us, I hope you will spend some time on it and find success launching goals. More to come, stay tuned!

As always, please like 10 Minute Fitness Take-Aways on Facebook for the latest updates, and share with interested friends!