If you’re looking for some inspirational music, this is a good song to listen to.
If you’re looking for some inspirational music, this is a good song to listen to.
Yes, it’s true. I’ve started a page for Not Your Average Fitness on facebook. It’s purpose is to post motivational/inspirational content and allow a lot more interaction. I’m happy to take questions, post suggestions for healthy eating, living. etc. I’m really hoping that you’ll stop by and ‘like’ my page. You can find it at
Thanks for sticking with me!
Monday morning, you wake up 10 minutes late and have to rush to get ready for work, You miss your morning shower and go to work feeling less than your best, as you’re trying to get your coffee, the line is crazy long and you’re nervously watching the minutes tick by hoping that your boss comes in later than you. Unfortunately he’s the first one to greet you as you walk in the door with a less-than-friendly reminder of all those deadlines you have coming up in the next few hours. The whole day you’re rushing, no time to eat lunch, and (barely) make your deadlines. As you go home you’re tired but your mind is racing with everything that happened today and even as you’re trying to fall asleep, your mind just won’t quit.
How many of us have experienced something similar to this? You have one of those days full of rushing and rushing and rushing, even when you come home it feels like the day is one whole bag of ‘hurry up’. That’s pretty much my opinion about American society. At work, we often have to do things quicker lest they replace us with someone who will work for cheaper and get the job done in 1/2 the time. It can start with something as small as waking up just a few minutes late and then you know your whole day is going to be a mess. It doesn’t just apply to stressful situations though, how many times have we looked forward to some special event that will happen ‘someday’ and just let the days whiz by us thinking about what could/would/will be? Why is it so difficult to enjoy the present without worrying about the past or future?
I was thinking about this as I took an impromptu walk today – a two hour impromptu walk. I couldn’t stand to be in my house anymore because I kept thinking and thinking and I couldn’t organize my thoughts because I felt so stir crazy! Everything was racing around and I just couldn’t get it all to calm down, so I got out of the house and I walked and walked and walked. I noticed a lot of amazing things on my walk, but by far the most outstanding was the perspective I gained on this walk. I’m not talking about some overarching perspective on the meaning of life, but physical perspective of my environment. I walked a road that I have driven for years, pretty much on a daily basis. As I was walking, the road looked different: the trees lining the streets seemed taller and more beautiful, the sun seemed to hit everything just right, and the beauty of my surroundings really flourished in a way I had never seen before. How is it that I could see this road which I have driven hundreds of times in a way I had never seen it before?
It’s because I slowed down
I truly believe that walking this path forced me to slow down and truly see what I was experiencing. As I’m driving, I am going fast and I’m driving with a purpose. Today my purpose was simple: walk until I couldn’t walk any more. The funny thing is, I thought that sitting around would be a slow activity and allow me to organize my thoughts, but when I’m still everything seems to build up and go into hyperdrive. When I move at a slow pace, my mind follows. I walked for two hours and was able to truly compartmentalize all my thoughts and feelings that have been plaguing me lately. I’m talking thoughts that have been keeping me up at night and I was able to sort them out and come to terms with everything.
I want everyone to experience this and I truly hope you all do. Walking may not be your thing, maybe bike rides are better or going for a relaxing swim or something. Whatever you do, put aside your extreme, fast-paced work/fitness/home life aside for just a little while and SLOW DOWN. Physically, slow down but don’t stop moving all together. Get out of your house and just go, go until you don’t feel your legs/arms/body anymore. Just go. Now, in an hour, whenever you have the time. It’s important to let yourself go slowly and leave behind our mentality of “hurry up or you’re (job, relationship, money) is on the line!!” I give you all permission to slow down just for a little while, then you’re allowed to build back up to your fast-paced life. Slowing down once a week may save your sanity, so please give it a try.
Have you tried to slow down? What activities work best for you to slow your body and mind? What has your experience been like taking some time away from the fast life?
Something that really bothers me is people’s negativity and lack of celebration. I say it bothers me because everyone deserves to celebrate themselves and their hard work. It’s way too easy to say “I didn’t lose as much weight as I wanted to this week” or “I still haven’t achieved my goals”. When we put these negative thoughts in our heads, they seriously eat away at our motivation. It starts out as not meeting goals, then it becomes a question of “Can I ever meet my goals?” and turns into “I’ll never make it so why bother?” Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced this
We all set long-term goals for ourselves like losing 50 lbs, 100 lbs, gaining 10 lbs of muscle, eating better, the list goes on and on. These are fantastic aspirations to have, just like being a CEO someday, however these goals take months, even years to achieve sometimes. Why are we limiting ourselves to only one occasion to celebrate success? Why aren’t we celebrating ourselves every single week?
As I said before, motivation is very easily lost. It is a constant struggle to keep convincing ourselves that this workout will make the difference and this meal will keep us healthy. What motivates us most easily is success and the sense of achievement. So today I challenge everyone to give yourself a reason to celebrate. Workout for an extra 5 minutes and tell yourself “I could have stopped at 30 minutes, but I pushed myself hard for an extra 5 I wasn’t even planning on doing.” Go for a 10-20 minute walk. It’s so quick and can benefit you much more than sitting on the couch will. If you’ve completed all your planned workouts for this week, give yourself a HUGE high-five. I’m sending you a hypothetical high-five through the internet right now! Just because you aren’t somewhere yet, doesn’t mean you’ve failed and shouldn’t acknowledge your work up to this point. To get the ball rolling, I’ll start by sounding off on my accomplishments this summer:
– I took on a 30 day squat challenge I never though I would finish, and now I’m 4 days away from finishing
– I climbed to one of the highest peaks in my state without a second thought. I could never have imagined I’d be standing on top of a mountain looking out over the valleys, but I did.
– I recently bought and started T25. I thought I’d follow the program for maybe two weeks and then start giving up on it. I’m now at the end of week 3 and have NO intentions of stopping.
So remember that it’s the small things in life, like continuing on when you thought you’d give in, pushing hard for those extra 5 minutes you didn’t have to do, drinking that bottle of water instead of that soda, and of course losing those inches and pounds. Celebrate yourself, and I promise you will stay motivated. Keep looking forward everyone and I know you will get to where you want to go.
When undertaking any new type of regimen for nutrition or exercise, there are many factors that can pose as challenges to success. Often times I have seen, and experienced, that even when people seem to really want to make a change, there are things that just keep getting in their way. As I’ve said before, a huge part of success is motivation. The more you want something, the more you are ‘hungry’ for it, the greater the chances that you will achieve it. However, change is complicated because we are doing something very different, we are essentially having to re-learn and adapt to some new concept. Humans are habitual creatures, we make patterns out of behaviors because it helps us function more efficiently. When you start a new exercise program for example, this is something your body and mind aren’t used to, so naturally there are going to be ‘growing pains’ as your body adapts and realizes the new pattern you are creating for it. So while motivation is a crucial factor for success, we may be inhibited by our natural tendencies. How the hell are we going to be as successful as we want to be when our body is telling us to do what we’ve always done? It feels like the odds are stacked against us.
Personally, I have had so many struggles with success and I still feel like I haven’t seen true ‘success’ to this day. I have seen steps towards success, but I still don’t feel that I’ve really reached any of my goals. I tend to do a lot of ‘falling off the horse’. My typical motivational ‘cycle’ (if you will) looks like this: one day decide that I am ready to make a change and I want to be incredibly fit and active, eat right, and look great. I’ll then make those changes and feel great for a few days, and something happens and I have a slip up where I eat something really bad or skip a workout. At this point, it is a HUGE spiral downward. If I eat something bad, I’ll eat a LOT of bad things and then I’m on a week-long binge of junk food before I restart my motivational cycle. If I skip a workout, then I skip the next day, and the next, and eventually I just stop working out until the motivation lights up in me again. I’m sure there are other people out there who have experienced a similar situation to this (if not, congrats!!). So what is the key to being successful and avoiding this deviation from our goals?
The first thing I’ll say is that it’s not always a bad thing to slip up. It may sound crazy, but slipping up has actually taught me so much. Each time I mess up and eat something bad or skip a workout, I learn something from that. Some of the things I have learned are:
What I’ve come to realize about all these times I messed up is that they actually hold some value and help me to know what to do for the future. Take the almond butter for example – one day I saw a packet of almond butter and I thought it would make a great snack. I had it, and then later I ran into MASSIVE cravings for chocolate and sweets. It was at that point that I realized that almond butter was a no-go, at least until I learned how to get past cravings. It is completely normal to deviate from your plans, everyone has those little mess ups and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. If you go off your diet/exercise routine/whatever then make sure you take something from that. Learn about yourself – what caused you to indulge? Was it some event that stressed you out? Were you overly excited and wanted to celebrate? Were you bored?
Part of ensuring success is learning why we ‘fail’ (by the way, I hate that word so please excuse me for using it. Failure I think is too negative, I like to consider slip-ups a learning experience). Think of this as something similar to ‘there wouldn’t be sunshine without rain’. We need to have comparisons in order to really have ‘success’ because in its very nature, success is a change or a difference in something.
Another part of ensuring success is taking what you’ve learned about yourself and planning for the future! You may have heard this a thousand times, but it is the best way to make sure that you will continue to succeed. ‘Winging it’ is very risky and may work for some, but it is not reliable at all. This is especially true for going on trips.
Plan times that you would be able to squeeze in a quick workout (or a longer one if possible). Alternatively, plan for some fun activities that you can get everyone involved in that require some movement (going on a hike, a long walk, sight-seeing on bikes, etc). Bring some light weights with you or think of household items that you can lift while you are there. Find some really quick and easy exercises that you can do anywhere, anytime.
For food – always bring snacks. I cannot stress this enough. I know that when I travel, eating schedules get so thrown off and I’m not sure when we’re going to stop, where we might eat, and if that place will have things that I’m able to eat. For those without allergies, this may be simpler because you don’t necessarily have to avoid foods, but those with allergies I’m sure are aware that you should always be prepared. I tend to bring larabars and pistachios with me at all times so that I know I will have an emergency reserve of food if I need it.
Also, do some research into the restaurants that surround the area that you’ll be staying in. Look for which places have gluten-free menus (if necessary, call the restaurant and ask), and try to look at their menus online ahead of time so you can figure out what they have that you’re able to eat. It’s much less stressful to figure these things out ahead of time so that you know what modifications to ask for if needed.
Finally (and this goes along with snacks), always have a back-up plan. Life is super unpredictable and having a backup plan helps with that. For example, you might want to go to a restaurant and come to realize that it’s closed for whatever reason. Know what else is around and again, always have snacks just in case you really need to eat soon.
The more effort you put into planning your workouts and meals while you’re away, the greater chance you have at staying successful and on-track for your goals. It’s difficult enough trying to stay on-track on any given day, but throwing travelling into the mix adds a whole other level of difficulty. So my advice to you is to over-plan. At worst – you don’t need to use most of your plan and you’re able to stay on track; at best – you use your plan and (hopefully) stay on track.
Next time I will continue this post and focus more on what we can learn from our slip ups and how to apply that to the future.
Have you ever used a plan when travelling? Did it work? What are some steps that you take to make sure you are successful every day?
This morning I wanted to blog about the differences between being ‘skinny’ and being ‘fit’, but after a bit of thought I have decided to go 180 with my topic and talk more about reasons for working out and who we are doing it for.
What difference does it make who I’m doing this for?
It makes a world of difference in my eyes. There’s no shame in wanting to get in shape for your partner (or to attract a partner), but it’s important to do some soul searching to determine what you’re really working towards and who you’re really working for. External motivation can be so helpful for us to jump start a new workout routine or a healthy lifestyle and that’s fantastic, but external motivation like that does not necessarily keep us going. I feel that when our fitness goals are aimed at pleasing someone else, we really give the benefits and good-feelings to that person which leaves us exhausted both physically and mentally. When I focus on working out to look good for my partner it gives me motivation, but at the end of each workout I keep questioning whether or not I went hard enough and wondering if I’ll look good enough for him. Eventually it leads me into an unhealthy vicious circle of feeling the need to workout even more, eat healthier, eat less, and then I get to a place where I feel like I’ll just never ‘win’ which leads to a binge of unhealthy foods. This may not be the case for everyone, but it certainly is for me.
Something I have come to realize though, is that I am not really working out for my partner. I really am working out for me. My partner just gets to enjoy the overflow of benefits that I am seeing. I know that I will come to a healthy and good-looking body at my own pace and that’s perfectly okay. I might not have my ideal body in 6 months, a year, or 10 years, but I have faith that I am working to get there some day. Every day that I exercise is another step closer to my hopes and goals, but I am the one who should get to celebrate that success. I should not give that right to others, especially when there’s no guarantee that they will celebrate it the way I would want them to. It is time for me to own my successes and my progress.
Are you suggesting that we shouldn’t use others for motivation?
Not at all. I am a huge proponent of ‘do what works for you’. I chose to share this experience today because I feel that when you let someone else own your success, you can very easily let them own your happiness. My experience with this was that I would feel like I looked good, and then I would think ‘wow my partner is going to tell me how great I look’ and I wouldn’t hear anything from them. This, in turn, would make me feel like I wasn’t doing enough working out because clearly they would have commented on it if I had done well. In essence, if my partner wasn’t noticing my progress, I wasn’t truly happy. Thankfully I have since begun to own my success and celebrate myself when I notice results. If my partner notices results, well then I get to celebrate twice!
The point I’m trying to make in this post is that it is so important to allow yourself to celebrate small successes on your own terms. If we don’t let ourselves celebrate, then what is our motivation to keep going? Make sure to set SMART goals – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. A good goal is something like “I want to go for a twenty minute run three times this week”. If your goal is focused around working out, be specific about what kind of workouts you want to do, how many, what counts as a ‘workout’, and make sure it’s something you can do! It’s easy for people to stretch waaaaaay too far on their goals – don’t do that. It’s setting yourself up for failure. Set a goal that is just above what you typically do. If you go on walks for 3 days a week, you might make a goal to go on a walk four days this week for an extra 5 minutes than you normally do. By setting these ‘microgoals’, you allow yourself to build up to bigger goals and eventually get to a place you never even thought you would be.
What are your goals for this week? What is your true motivation for achieving these goals?